Downtown Napa’s Hidden Jewel: The McClelland House

Napa Valley’s posh resorts may steal a great deal of the region’s hospitality thunder, but equal luxury is found in some of wine country’s more under-the-radar offerings. The McClelland House, for instance, located on picturesque Randolph St. in Downtown Napa, features the same luxe linens found at high profile hotels. The six suite inn features plush robes and a fleet of Specialized Como e-bikes. Guests are greeted with their choice of red, white, or sparkling wines. And a gourmet breakfast awaits every morning. But perhaps the Inn’s most valued amenity is its innkeeper Choolwe Kalulu who oversees the stately property with charismatic charm.

The McClelland House Exterior. Photo: R. Brad Knipstein

Kalulu managed the recent restoration and transformation of the luxury inn, formerly the McClelland-Priest Bed & Breakfast, the origins of which date to 1878. The “bottom-to-top” refurbishment included a new foundation, earthquake retrofitting, new plumbing and electrical, the addition of an elevator, and completely redesigned interiors byinternationally acclaimed hospitality interior design firm Cole Martinez Curtis and Associates (CMCA). It took nearly two years, and millions, but the end result is more than Kalulu could have hoped for.

The McClelland House Parlor. Photo: R. Brad Knipstein

“I’m proud that we took this highly regarded yet aging historical home and transformed it into this stunning jewel,” said Kalulu who personally greets guests at check-in, while intuiting their preference for solitude or spirited conversation. (The inn has found a niche with guests who value the private personal service and attention that Kalulu and his staff provide.) “The new design equally attracts connoisseurs of history and those seeking modern luxury. To achieve that balance during the renovation process was indeed a challenge, but I think we nailed it.”

“Honoring the history of Napa Valley was our first priority when redesigning all public and private living spaces of McClelland House,” says Jill I. Cole, ISCH, managing principal of CMCA. “The interiors of the bed and breakfast reflect the sophistication of the late 1800s and early 1900s by accentuating the ornate architectural details of the mansion.”

“I’m proud that we took this highly regarded yet aging historical home and transformed it into this stunning jewel.” Innkeeper Choolwe Kalulu

Victorian by nature, and containing remnants of this gilded age, The McClelland House now boasts an elegant mix of classic and contemporary. The grand foyer and parlor welcome guests with custom sofas and gleaming chandeliers. Elegant draperies frame the floor-to-ceiling windows. The dining room features intricate crown molding and medallions that complement the grand, custom-made dining table. By contrast, the contemporary family room is a cozy gathering spot where two guitars invite impromptu jam sessions. The showcase kitchen, in which guests gather around the marble island for their welcome libation and gourmet breakfast, was elevated with a first-class Lacanche range-top and oven finished in a rich French Blue.

The McClelland House Kitchen. Photo: R. Brad Knipstein

Each themed suite (Master, Aviation, Library, Terrace, Bond, and Carriage House) boasts 12 to 16 foot ceilings, cozy fireplaces, lushly upholstered furnishings, Perrier-stocked mini-fridges, and electronic shades. Spacious bathrooms with intricately, hand-tiled floors feature freestanding jacuzzi tubs.

The McClellan House Master Suite. Photo: R. Brad Knipstein
The McClelland House Library Suite. Photo: R. Brad Knipstein
The McClelland House Master Suite Bath. Photo: R. Brad Knipstein

Beyond the thoughtful design and amenities, a stay at The McClelland House affords access. The well-connected Kalulu can help with hard-to-score winery and restaurant reservations. He can arrange for in-room spa treatments and in-house wine or tequila tastings. And for those who prefer to stay-in for dinner rather than explore the wealth of nearby Downtown Napa restaurants, he can arrange for a private chef.

“We cater to every request and demand,” said Kalulu.

The McClelland House, 569 Randolph St., Napa

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.