Places & Spaces: Bardessono, Yountville, California

A premier example of eco-chic, Bardessono is one of only two U.S. hotels that are LEED Platinum certified.

Imagine going away on vacation without leaving the faintest trace? This is not a plot point for an episode of CSI, in which, should the aforementioned happen would make for the most unpleasant vacation ever. We’re talking footprint, your carbon one, while still relaxing, getting pampered, and using no fossil fuels.

Bardessono, in California’s Napa Valley, will make you feel wonderfully smug about your time away but this sense of environmental satisfaction comes at a formidable price.

Built from recycled materials, almost completely self-sustaining in terms of energy, and using only local food, the hotel is hard to fault on environmental grounds. Unsurprising, then, that it won LEED’s highest certification, awarded to only three hotels in the world.

Its list of building materials reads like a lesson in green construction practices: salvaged wood, including redwood wine casks, was used for doors, desks and tables, while stone reclaimed from an old wine store at the owner’s family home was reused on the exterior walls. Even the concrete and stainless steel have a high recycled content. The overall feel is modern and unfussy, yet warm.

Air temperature control comes from a geothermal pump, which also provides naturally-heated water – cooling is by automatically-lowered exterior blinds first, to keep the sun out (unusually rare in hotels, but so simple and effective), and by room thermostat second. Most of the hotel’s electricity is provided by nearly 1000 solar panels on the roof.

The best suites have bathrooms with their own treatment beds, for your in-room spa, and outdoor stone tubs; all of the 62 luxe-sized guest rooms have private patios or balconies (as they should, at this price). Take a dip in the rooftop pool, with views to tree-covered hills. As you’d expect, food and wine are both largely organic, with some grown on-site.

Apart from the knowledge that you’re treading so lightly on the planet, we like the free wine tastings and free yoga classes (I wonder if the two are connected, by any chance? Purge your Pinot with some hard-core sun salutations). Even better, go on a bike tour of nearby wineries and enjoy Napa Valley’s finest vintages, pedaling off the dizzying grapes between stops.

Rates start at $399/night plus tax. Clean conscience and shiny eco-halo included.


Places & Spaces is a travel guide that will inspire you to carve out a vacation on your calendar. All of the gorgeous locations and accommodations in our guide share our concern for the environment. From tent glamping to lavish built environments, fair warning, you’ll feel compelled to pack your suitcase.

Fiona Flores Watson

Fiona Flores Watson covers Places & Spaces for EcoSalon and currently resides in Seville, Spain.