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Stay | Napa Valley

History and Hospitality at Calistoga’s The Francis House Words by Fran Endicott Miller

"Owners Rich and Dina Dwyer utilized their collective years of design and real estate development expertise to create their luxurious boutique inn, and their fusion of skills has produced a hospitality gem."

Long considered a Calistoga eyesore, The Francis House now reigns as one of Napa Valley’s most heralded and beautiful structures, thanks to the remarkable efforts of owners Rich and Dina Dwyer. The San Francisco based duo—and Napa weekend regulars—swooped-in to purchase the property just weeks before its scheduled demise. Originally built in 1886 and serving as Calistoga’s hospital from 1919 to 1964, the building sat empty and crumbling in its prominent corner location for nearly five decades, yet the Dwyers recognized its potential.

They spent three years carefully and authentically restoring the structure’s French Second Empire architecture before opening it as a sumptuous boutique inn. Dina, with an interior design degree from Parsons School of Design in New York City, and Rich, with his 30-year background in developing, building, and remodeling some of the finest homes in the Silicon Valley, never compromised. Every detail was deliberately chosen, from fabric to fixtures.

 

Featuring five beautifully and thoughtfully appointed rooms, The Francis House—named for original owner James H. Francis—artfully marries the building’s historic past with modern comforts. Casper beds feature premium linens. Bathrooms feature Carrara marble. A spacious backyard garden with gravel paths, limestone fountains, flowering jasmine, and citrus trees frames the heated swimming pool, next to which are outdoor showers and an infrared sauna. Varied eye-catching objects d’art punctuate the stylish living room. Every inch exudes character, and though the vibe is that of refined elegance, the hospitality is never stuffy.

 

Warm and welcoming, Rich and Dina strive to make their guests feel at home— and it is their home; they live in the building. The duo takes great pleasure in helping plan itineraries and outings. They are a wealth of local knowledge and have the connections to obtain those hard-to-get dinner reservations at the valley’s most lauded restaurants. Pick their collective brain over a glass of afternoon/evening wine, the label of which is most likely that of a local vintner whom they know well. Socialize with other guests, or retreat to a backyard lounge chair with a good read—the well-stocked living room library offers a multitude of choices. And if you tire of the opulent surroundings, simply walk two blocks to Calistoga’s main street for boutique shopping, cafes and restaurants, and of course the iconic mud baths for which the small town is most well-known. 

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