Mary Gostelow is often called the world authority on luxury hotels. In addition to being global ambassador for International Luxury Travel Market events,, she has a daily travelogue, http://www.girlahead. com. In this report, she takes us to the US west coast.


Napa is more than just wines – it is also superb lodging. Calistoga’s five- bedroom Francis House luxury B&B has been booked out since it opened August 2018. Architectural Digest and Robb Report immediately lauded how owners Richard and Dina Dwyer have so brilliantly transformed the former local hospital, built 1860 in the style of a Parisien palais.

Ten minutes’ drive south in St Helena, is the adult-only Los Alcobas, on St Helena’s Main Street, immediately next to the Culinary Institute of America (it’s sibling to Los Alcobas Mexico City – both Luxury Collection, managed by Mexico City- born Sam Leizorek). Here, in California, his partner is Presidio Companies. The 1907 main building, Acacia House, which has a total of three acres of land, has, with three, three-floor 2010-vintage bedroom blocks, a total of 68 rooms, designed by Yabu Pushelberg in soft greys that beautifully complement the Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards immediately behind.

GM Alain Negueloua feels he is back home – fortunately he kept his house here, from his days running Meadowood. He told me, over dinner at Acacia House restaurant, how all food here is overseen by Oliver Wharton, including room service and events (there is a gorgeous outdoor space, right in the centre of the development, that is really popular for weddings).

Former F&B guru for SBE, Oliver Wharton heads Las Vegas-based A Perfect Bite Inc: one of its divisions is Delicious MFG & CO, a partnership with Chris Cosentino. It is he, Cosentino, who is the ‘celebrity chef’ fronting Las Alcobas, and he who attracts locals to the restaurant. My night, we drank Beringer Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, from the vineyard just outside corner suite 338 – this is probably best-on-property, with two all-wall windows, both leading out on to an L-shaped balcony, with seating, and an electrically-operated fire pit.

Las Alcobas is a highly popular wedding venue, with a ready- built outside spot, grass and concrete, to hold up to 200: some parties have the ceremony here, and move into the adjacent just-built Acacia Barn for food – they might, alternatively, build in a tasting at the hotel’s wine shop. There’s also a great spa, and a 24/7 LifeFitness gym.

Talking of fitness, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills has a 24/7 poolside, and open to the elements that seldom interrupt workouts in California – the main equipment, Precor, is complemented by oh-so-trendy Peloton bikes.