The Harmon Guest House Elevates Healdsburg’s Small Town Allure In Napa Valley

Americans love their small towns. Maybe it’s the pandemic and the lack of exotic travel options, but there’s certainly been no lack of small town round ups this summer, touting which towns are newest must-sees for their downright darling charm. One of my favorites which I return to every couple of years is Healdsburg, the Northern Napa town immersed in all things wine country: lush vineyards, cute storefronts, ample culinary destinations, and a white gazebo in the town square to match. Despite its small size, Healdsburg keeps up with new enticements, the latest being the Harmon Guest House, the stunning sister property of h2hotel right next store. 

The Harmon Guest House, so named after the man who designed and christened the town of Healdsburg in the 1800s, showcases the same level of enthusiasm for art as the town itself. Though Healdsburg has a population just over 11,000, the town counts more than 20 locally owned galleries within blocks of the main square. The 39 guest room, six suite Harmon Guest House itself could very well be considered a gallery in Healdsburg with its array of photography, dramatic sculptures, installations, and playful paintings, and I love how the art sets the Harmon Guest House apart from other Napa properties, even h2hotel next store. My favorite work is immediately noticed within the lobby: a swooping twin U-shaped installation made of yellow ribbon-like materials center the concrete room and announce a happy but chic space. Sabine Reckewell, the artist of Double Yellow, attached her sculptures directly to the ceiling, creating a seamless look for the lobby unlike other sculptures that can look like monolithic imports within hotels. 

Throughout the hallways, stairwells, and guest rooms, more pops of art delight. Seven California based artists were selected to design works just for the Harmon Guest House, and just like Reckewell’s Double Yellow sculpture, I can feel the art was made within and for the property adding to the distinct charm of the Harmon Guest House, almost like a wink one catches on the sly from an admirer. Carissa Potter, a whimsical artist that uses thick, bold brush strokes, painted vineyard inspired vignettes within each guest’s bathroom as well as happy pups in the hallways. An oddly nostalgic yet modern three-part photography series by Leigh Merrill is also in each guest room. Merrill created the works by taking thousands of photos of Healdsburg’s actual storefronts and then altered the images with imaginary facades. I had to do a double take looking at the photos because as someone who has been to Healdsburg a number of times, the photos have you ask, “But isn’t that….?” 

In addition to the hand-selected art, the Harmon Guest House claims the distinction of a LEED Gold building, a prominent sustainability rating by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) that was established in 1993. I look for this rating when I travel, and it’s becoming easier to find hotels (like h2hotel next store) that put energy and environmental stewardship in their designs and daily operations. In 2019, the USGBC announced that more than 100,000 properties around the world now held LEED certifications. At the Harmon Guest House, the certification was achieved through many initiatives to meet the points required for gold that included LED lighting, a sun-shading slat system, a bus station located at the building’s facade, reclaimed finish materials and more. Perhaps most impressively: 100% of the property’s irrigation needs are harvested through rainwater. Take a stroll through the property and you’ll note the subtle museum labels that detail the Harmon Guest House’s sustainability work, just like the ones that describe the artists’ origins and titles. 

The Harmon Guest House is about details, ones that delight and surprise for their art  and sustainability. It’s an ideal addition to a small town like Healdsburg that celebrates its locals and values keeping its place for generations to come.

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