November 13, 2017

AvroKO Channels Napa Valley Nostalgia for Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa

Whether drawn by the hot springs and the healing mud or by the wineries, folks have flocked to Calistoga, a town in California’s Napa Valley, for more than a century. Which has given rise to an array of options for soaking and sleeping. They now include the Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa at the top of the vineyard-lined Silverado Trail.

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Born in the 1940’s as the Sunburst Calistoga, a roadside collection of 50 cottages and a bathhouse, the property has experienced a radical makeover by AvroKO. The design takes its cues from the great American road trip, as viewed through the lens of filmmaker Wes Anderson, whose color-drenched, fictionalized depictions of the past feel at once familiar and magical. “There’s a nostalgia for the carefree, simpler days of the ’50’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s,” AvroKO design director Nicole Campion says, citing the “analog vibe.”

Backed by the Mayacamas Mountains, the 50 cottages date to the 1940’s. Photography by Aubrie Pick.

The lobby is imagined as a mash-up of a Brady Bunch–era living area, with green velvet on the sofas and a communal table for sipping coffee. Behind the reception desk is the first appearance of the hotel’s signature graphic, a swooshing striped pattern suggestive of the trucks going past on the freeway. Stripes are a running motif for tilework, rugs, pool umbrellas, and even the Hula-Hoops that hang in the guest rooms.

Channeling the inside of a camper van, each guest room’s booth-style banquette is backed by a mural of mountains, as if framed by the vehicle’s rear window. That quirky approach continues with the old-fashioned framed needlepoints admonishing: “No selfies in the bathroom.” In the spa, tongue-in-cheek signage proclaims “Restorative Libations” and “Snake Oil Cures,” while hand-painted pictograms depict services: mud bake, salt soak, steam, massage.

Each guest room features a walnut-veneered banquette. Photography by Aubrie Pick.

As one lounges in the sun, slathered in mud, the Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa feels like the Platonic ideal of a roadside motel—congenial, comfortable, subtly transformative. Every good road trip should leave you just a little bit changed.

Pictograms are hand-painted. Photography by Aubrie Pick.

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Project Team: Signum Architecture: Architect of Record. Brand Bureau: Graphics Consultant. Julie Coyle Art Associates: Art Consultant. Garden Route Company: Landscaping Consultant. Structural Design Group: Structural Engineer. Litzenberger Engineering: Mechanical, Plumbing Engineer. NAI Consulting Engineers: Electrical Engineer. Richard Williams Upholstery: Upholstery Workshop. RHA Builders: General Contractor.

> See more from the October 2017 issue of Interior Design

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