Many travelers want to spend their vacation relaxing on the beach. With 840 miles of coastline, from San Diego to San Francisco, plenty of beachside cities suit your style. We’ve visited hundreds of California hotels to see how they stack up against the competition. So look at our best beachfront hotels in California and get inspired!
Post Ranch Inn
Post Ranch Inn is not only the most beautiful coastal hotel in California but also one of the most exceptional properties in the world. The 39-room property offers a romantic and intimate stay in a beautiful natural setting. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is impressive, seeming to grow out of the ground next to the hotel’s surrounding redwoods. The spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views (which are sometimes obstructed by the pervasive fog that the area is known to many for) and feature floor-to-ceiling windows to better display upon retreat. Rooms also have wood-burning fireplaces, heated floors, outdoor showers or Jacuzzis, private terraces, organic bath products, and linens, but no TVs or alarm clocks, as the hotel strives for a calm ambiance. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenating services and even has an on-site shaman; The Sierra Mar restaurant is one of the best in Big Sur. The hotel’s cliffside pools are stunning, and free services (like yoga and stargazing) abound.
One of the most beautiful hotels in the United States, if not the world
Magnificent views of Big Sur abound
Three on-site pools: two “hot” sunbathing cliffside pools kept at 104 degrees and a lap pool
The hotel-housed restaurant is arguably the best in Big Sur, with tremendous views
The acclaimed spa offers unique treatments, including shaman sessions
Free morning yoga, meditation sessions, nature walks, and stargazing
Stunning organic architecture
eco-friendly practices (guests can even borrow a Lexus hybrid)
Plenty of free snacks, including those from the well-stocked minibars
Adults-only establishment (a con for some)
The spa has only four treatment rooms (though guests can request services in their rooms)
There are no TVs or alarm clocks in the rooms (a pro for some)
Pervasive fog can block ocean views
Adults-only establishment (a pro for some)
The 39-room Post Ranch Inn is one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States — if not the entire world — and offers a romantic, intimate stay amid gorgeous natural surroundings. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is impressive, seeming to grow out of the ground next to the redwoods surrounding the hotel. The spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views (which are sometimes obstructed by the pervasive fog that the area is known to many for) and feature floor-to-ceiling windows to better display upon retreat. Rooms also have wood-burning fireplaces, heated floors, outdoor showers or whirlpool tubs, private decks, organic bath products, and linens — but no TVs or alarm clocks as the hotel strives to achieve a peaceful environment. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenating services and even has an on-site shaman; the restaurant, Sierra Mar, is one of the best in Big Sur; the hotel’s pools are stunning, and free services (like yoga and stargazing) are plentiful.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
The romantic, 261-room Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay serves the Ritz-Carlton name well, offering stunning rooms, a lavish spa, and gorgeous bay views — though the fog sometimes makes it hard to glimpse. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the hotel has excellent outdoor facilities, including oceanfront fire pits and a manicured 18-hole golf course. Rooms are spacious, elegant, and understated, with beautiful marble bathrooms and quaint shutters covering windows.
Superb oceanfront location on a cliff overlooking the bay
Luxurious 5,000 square meter spa
Well-kept golf course surrounding the bay
Beautiful outdoor spaces, including fire pits and gardens
Multiple biking and walking paths to explore
Luxurious bathrooms with bathtubs
Wifi (included in resort fee)
there is usually fog
No major attractions within walking distance
The romantic, 261-room Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay lives up to the Ritz-Carlton name, offering stunning rooms, an extensive spa, and gorgeous views of the bay — though the fog makes it sometimes hard to get a good look. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the hotel has excellent outdoor facilities like ocean-facing fire pits and a well-kept 18-hole golf course. The rooms are spacious and elegant but simple, with beautiful marble bathrooms and quaint shutters covering the windows. The fire pit rooms come with (obviously) cozy outdoor fire pits overlooking the rocky shoreline. But the on-site restaurants are underwhelming and expensive, and the indoor pool is mediocre.
Sea Rock Inn
The intimate Sea Rock Inn is an upscale bed and breakfast with resort touches, offering suites and cottages with panoramic ocean views and wood-burning fireplaces. Binoculars are provided for whale watching from private decks or the large lawn, which slopes gently to the edge of the rocky Pacific cliffs. The inn isn’t fancy but charming, with knotty pine furnishings, lush flower beds, and whimsical paintings and sculptures. The cabana-style rooms have plush beds from which guests can view the ocean.
Quiet location with panoramic views of the ocean and the sound of the waves
Delicious (accessible) breakfast with quiche, fresh bread, and home-baked scones
Ocean-view rooms with private terraces and wood-burning fireplaces
Beautiful garden with wooden benches and chairs for whale watching
afternoon tea and brownies, and a bottle of wine on arrival,
Small spa with massages and sauna
Bike rentals and bike trails are available on-site
Children over 12 years only
No children under 12 years of age
Fee for the use of the sauna
TVs are small and tube-style, not flat screen
The intimate Sea Rock Inn is a luxury bed-and-breakfast with resort touches, offering suites and villas with panoramic ocean views and wood-burning fireplaces. Binoculars are provided for whale watching from the private decks or the large lawn, which slopes gently to the edge of the rocky Pacific bluffs. The inn isn’t fancy but charming, with knotty-pine furnishings, lush flower beds, and whimsical paintings and sculptures. Cabana-style rooms have luxury beds from which you can see the sea.
Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
This upscale resort is easily the best option in Pismo Beach, with an oceanfront location, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a lovely full-service spa. The property was previously a condominium building, and all rooms are large, sophisticated suites with full kitchens. It’s hard to find fault, and most guests find few complaints. But it’s worth noting that there’s no direct beach access (a stairway just north of the property) and a nightly resort fee (though it covers a lot, including bike and beach chair rentals).
The property offers fantastic ocean views
Large, sophisticated suites with full kitchens
Gorgeous, upscale spa
Farm to Table Restaurant, Lido
Great fitness center
free bike rentals and area maps
DVD, board game, and lawn game rental
There is no direct access to the beach
limited organized activities for children
This luxury resort is hands down the top pick in Pismo Beach, with an oceanfront location, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a gorgeous full-service spa. The property was formerly an apartment building, and all rooms are large, sophisticated suites with full kitchens. As a result, it’s hard to find, and most guests find little to complain about. But it’s worth noting that there’s no direct beach access (there’s a stairway just north of the property) and that there is a nightly fee (though it covers a lot, including bike and beach chair rentals).
One of the few mega-resorts in Southern California, the 100-acre, 582-room Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a range of features unrivaled among Los Angeles-area properties, including a world-class spa, nine holes of golf, six restaurants, three swimming pools, and beautifully manicured grounds.
Spectacular views; an excellent place for hiking
Huge spa with outdoor pool and heated jacuzzi
9-hole golf course
Spacious and luxurious standard rooms
One of the only hotels in Los Angeles with a Kids Club
It does not have a sandy beach
Far from most Los Angeles attractions
extra daily fee
There are no bars or discos in the area
One of Southern California’s few true mega-resorts, the 100-acre, 582-room Terranea at Rancho Palos Verdes offers an array of features unmatched among Los Angeles-area properties, including an outstanding spa, 9-hole golf course, six restaurants, three swimming pools, and splendidly manicured parks.
The Inn Above Tide
A quiet alternative to busy downtown San Francisco hotels, the luxurious Inn Above Tide is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the ferry in quaint and upscale Sausalito (the scenic ferry ride to the city lasts about 30 minutes). The 31 upscale rooms here have sweeping bay views, and most feature patios overlooking the water. However, while there are a spa, complimentary breakfast, and free wine and cheese receptions, the lack of a pool and on-site restaurant may put some visitors off.
The tranquil location overlooking Richardson and San Francisco bays
Sophisticated rooms have binoculars, and all have bay views
Most rooms have terraces and fireplaces
Complimentary wine and cheese reception daily
free continental breakfast
Bikes available for loan
Valet parking fee
There is no restaurant in the hotel
A quiet alternative to busy downtown San Francisco hotels, the luxurious Inn Above Tide is within walking distance of the shops, restaurants, and ferry in quaint, ritzy Sausalito (the scenic ferry ride into town takes about 30 minutes). The 31 sophisticated rooms have views of the bay and most come with patios overlooking the water. Unfortunately, while there are a spa, complimentary breakfast, and free wine and cheese receptions, there needs to be a pool and on-site restaurant to put off some visitors.
The historic and upscale La Valencia hotel has maintained its prime location on the Pacific Ocean in the heart of sunny La Jolla since it was built in 1926. The Pink Lady, as it is affectionately called, a nod to Pepto’s pink exterior, was renovated in 2014, bringing it into this century with an updated Spanish style. Two restaurants, a lively bar, and an oceanfront Spanish-inspired saltwater pool are just part of the charm of this one-of-a-kind property. Expect to pay extra for wifi and breakfast. Pool-facing villas and rooms aren’t very private, but they include great touches like double showers and (some) outdoor fireplaces.
Quaint and convenient site on the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla
Elegant rooms, suites, and villas with (some) outdoor fireplaces and ocean views
Fabulous Spanish-style outdoor pool has plush sun loungers and sea views
The hotel’s restaurant, La Med, serves three meals a day indoors or out
Cafe la Rue does European bistro cuisine for lunch and dinner
The Lounge Room offers live music
Poolside cocktails and snacks
In-room and poolside spa services
24-hour fitness center and business center — plus 24-hour room service
Beautifully landscaped meandering garden grounds
Unique gifts for guests celebrating special occasions
small animals are accepted
Counseling Les Clefs d’Or
Daily charges for required valet parking, breakfast, and pets
Lower-floor rooms can be noisy from the pool and restaurants
Villas on the first floor facing the pool are not very private
The historic, upscale La Valencia Hotel has celebrated its prime location on the Pacific Ocean in the heart of sunny La Jolla since it was built in 1926. La Señora Rosa, as it is affectionately called — a nod to Pepto’s exterior rose — was refurbished in 2014, bringing it squarely into this century with an updated Spanish style. Two on-site restaurants, a lively bar, and a Spanish-inspired saltwater pool with ocean views are just part of the charm of this unique property. Expect to pay extra for free Wi-Fi and breakfast. Villas and pool-facing rooms aren’t very private, but they include great details like dual shower heads and (some) outdoor fireplaces. Small pets are allowed for a fee – a huge benefit in a state where puppies are considered part of the family.
Beach Village at Del
Beach Village at Del is the most luxurious section of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, offering large luxury cabanas right on the sand. Beach Village guests get exclusive extras than Hotel del Coronado guests: private pools, use of the Windsor Club Cottage, complimentary buffet breakfast, and better in-room amenities like iPod docks, fireplaces, kitchens, and terraces. The beachfront location is impossible to beat, and Beach Village guests get free beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas.
Large villas and cottages, all with fireplaces and terraces
Some units have hot tubs or fire pits
Large bathrooms, all with separate showers and tubs
Private pool and hot tubs that are quieter than the pool at the Hotel del Coronado
Exclusive access to the Windsor Club Cottage
Luxury spa with pool, steam rooms, and hydrotherapy tubs
Gourmet California Kitchen at 1500 Ocean
Wine, chocolate, and cheese at the Eno Wine Bar
Access to the pool and facilities at the Hotel del Coronado
Cost for valet service
Resort fee (covers Wifi)
Privacy issues on some terraces
The Beach Village at Del is the most luxurious section of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, offering large luxury cabanas right on the sand. Beach Village guests enjoy exclusive amenities that Hotel del Coronado guests do not: private pools, use of the Windsor Club Cottage, a complimentary breakfast buffet, and better amenities such as iPod docks, fireplaces, kitchenettes, and terraces. The beachfront location is impossible to beat, and Beach Village guests get free beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas. But prices are high, and there are a few flaws: Some ground-floor units have privacy issues due to foot traffic, there’s an extra charge for Wi-Fi and parking, and some complain that the service isn’t as transparent as it should be for a hotel of this level.
Bay Lodge Winery
Beautiful location, an hour north of San Francisco on the Pacific Ocean
Magnificent ocean views from every guest room
wood-burning fireplace and private balcony in all rooms
Outdoor full-service pool and spa for ultra relaxation
Free daily wine hour
Free (excellent) coffee in the lobby
Smoking is not allowed
environmentally friendly practices
Bikes available to borrow
Free Wi-Fi and parking
A car is necessary to explore the area
Some of the rooms are dark
Some guests complained that the siren noise was annoying at night.
The 83-room, upscale Bodega Bay Lodge sits on seven spectacular ocean-view acres, an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The property is an integral part of the Sonoma landscape, with lush gardens, stone walls, and fire pits dotting the grounds. Wine tastings, good coffee, and hearty artisan food add to the luxurious ambiance. Spacious rooms with hardwood floors, comfortable seating areas, and balconies with phenomenal views combine to make the lodge a destination.
Montage Laguna Beach
With beautifully landscaped grounds, an elegant spa, and modern rooms (all with stunning ocean views), this hotel is arguably the most peaceful and relaxing in Orange County, California. It sits directly on the beach, and the building’s “U” shape allows for stunning views from the lobby and all pools, restaurants, and rooms.
directly on the beach
Beautiful pool and pool deck
Stunning views from every room
No resort fee
Internet is $15.95 (for up to seven days)
Spa clients can only use the lap pool
Rooms are small compared to nearby luxury hotels
$30/day for parking
With beautiful facilities, a sleek spa, and modern rooms (all with stunning ocean views), this hotel is arguably the most peaceful and relaxing in Orange County, California. It is perched directly on the beach, and the “U” shape of the building allows for amazing views from the lobby, all pools, restaurants, and rooms.
Sea & Sand Inn
The 22 rooms at this cliffside motel are cozy and spacious, and all have beautiful views of the Pacific. The inn is conveniently located near the boardwalk and downtown Santa Cruz and offers a continental breakfast every morning and complimentary wine and cheese in the afternoon. An outdoor patio and deck allow for proper relaxation in the California sun.
Beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean
Homey rooms, all with water views
Close to many attractions
Complimentary continental breakfast and wine and cheese hour in the afternoon
Free parking and rooms with free Wi-Fi
24-hour reception service
room decor is a bit outdated
Not all units have a mini-fridge or a flat-screen TV
There is no air conditioning or fans in the rooms
The 22 rooms of this cliffside hotel are comfortable and spacious, and all have beautiful views of the Pacific. The hotel is close to the boardwalk and downtown Santa Cruz and offers a continental breakfast each morning and complimentary wine and cheese in the afternoon. An open-air patio and deck allow for proper relaxation in the California sun.
Shutters on the Beach
A spot known for celebrities, Shutters on the Beach has an atmosphere of formal opulence, expensive artwork in its lobby and restaurants, luxurious features, and rooms belonging to a billionaire’s beach house. Its beachfront location and caring service are hard to beat, but Casa Del Mar rivals it with a more intimate atmosphere and better amenities.
Built directly on Santa Monica State Beach, with magnificent views and access to the water, pier, and boardwalk
Beautifully decorated rooms with large bathrooms, soaking tubs, and balconies; many have ocean views
Beachfront pool with stylish loungers and cabanas for rent
Shore, Casual Beachfront Cafe & Bar – Pacific Ocean Views
1 Peak for gourmet cuisine from the California coast.
Living room lounge for cocktails, tea, bites, and special nights, with ocean views
ONE Spa for relaxing treatments and nail services.
Vintage-inspired gym with modern equipment and steam room.
Bicycles to rent on the beach.
Cozy lobby with two fireplaces and a grand piano, known as a local hot spot
Valet parking (for a fee)
Daily resort fee (covers Wi-Fi, newspapers, beach activity center, and two drinks)
Fee for valet parking (standard in Santa Monica)
Not all rooms have ocean views
Two-night minimum stays are required during peak times.
If you’re dreaming of a hotel on the beach in Los Angeles, California, Shutters on the Beach is your only option, and it’s a good one. The luxurious hotel has a chic ocean cabana vibe, and the 198 rooms and suites were impeccably designed by Michael Smith and feature huge soaking tubs and cozy details. Features include an oceanfront pool, luxe spa, three gourmet restaurants/bars, and Pacific Ocean views from virtually every corner. In addition, its Santa Monica location puts the boardwalk and shops of the 3rd Street Promenade within walking (or biking) distance. Downsides include a resort fee and an extra charge for valet parking. The sister hotel next door, Casa del Mar, is the only other beachfront hotel in Los Angeles, and it has more of a Mediterranean villa vibe (and occasional lower rates).
L’Auberge Del Mar
The 120-room L’Auberge Del Mar is among the best hotels on the Southern California coast. It’s located in beautiful Del Mar Village, right next to the beach, and its farm-to-table restaurant is exceptional. But while the rooms are cozy and have high-tech amenities, some of the views could be better, and few have soaking tubs.
Located in the charming town of Del Mar, with direct access to the beach
Stylish rooms with 42-inch flat-screen TVs, minibars, and Keurig coffeemakers
Rooms have private balconies or terraces, some with ocean views and fireplaces
Plenty of outdoor living space with several ocean-view terraces
Acclaimed restaurant with farm-to-table dishes, plus alfresco dining and two bars
An outdoor pool and hot tub with loungers, cabanas, and ocean views
Luxury Full-Service Spa
Modern gym and two tennis courts
Extensive meeting and event facilities
mandatory resort fee
Spotty Wi-Fi signal reports
The pool is small
Rooms facing the parking lot can be noisy
Do not take baths in most rooms
Only valet parking available for a fee
The 121-room L’Auberge Del Mar is a luxury beachfront property in beautiful Del Mar Village and one of the best hotels on the Southern California coast. Lovely, homey rooms have private balconies or terraces, some with ocean views, though others have lackluster views of the parking lot (and noise could occur). The hotel’s renowned restaurant serves farm-to-table food, and there are two bars (one with live music) and alfresco dining on a terrace overlooking the coastline. Guests can enjoy a dose of pampering at the full-service spa or work up a sweat in the hotel’s modern fitness center or two tennis courts. The pool is small, but it offers cushioned loungers and cabanas and a direct path to the beach. Rates include a mandatory resort fee, which covers facilities and Wi-Fi, but the signal is reportedly patchy and slow.