While many travelers head to the Golden State to visit wine country or national parks, many want to spend their vacation relaxing on the beach. With 840 miles of coastline, from San Diego to San Francisco, plenty of beachside cities fit your style. We have visited hundreds of hotels in California to see how they compare to the competition. So look at our best beachfront hotels in California and get inspired!
Post Ranch Inn
One of the most beautiful hotels in the United States, if not the world
Magnificent views of Big Sur abound
Three pools on-site: two “hot” cliff pools basking held at 104 degrees and a lap pool
The hotel houses the restaurant is possibly the best in Big Sur, with tremendous views
The acclaimed spa offers unique treatments, including shaman sessions
Complimentary morning yoga, meditation sessions, nature walks, and stargazing
Impressive organic architecture
eco-friendly practices (guests can even borrow a Lexus hybrid)
Lots of free snacks, like those in 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)
No TVs or alarm clocks in 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 magnificent natural surroundings. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is impressive, appearing to grow out of the ground alongside redwoods surrounding the hotel. The spacious and eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views (which are sometimes obstructed by the penetrating fog that the area is known for by many) and feature floor-to-ceiling windows to show off the retreat better. 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 clifftop pools are impressive, and free services (like yoga and stargazing) are plentiful.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Gorgeous beachfront location on a bluff overlooking the bay
Luxurious 5,000-square-meter spa
Well-maintained golf course surrounding the bay
Beautiful outdoor spaces, including fire pits and gardens
Multiple bikes and hike 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 impressive rooms, a large spa, and beautiful views of the bay, though fog makes it hard to get a good look at times. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the hotel has great outdoor amenities like ocean-facing fire pits and a manicured 18-hole golf course. Rooms are spacious and elegant, yet understated, with beautiful marble bathrooms and quaint shutters covering the windows. Fire pit rooms come with (obviously) cozy outdoor fire pits overlooking the rocky shoreline. But the on-site restaurants are unimpressive and pricey, and the indoor pool is lackluster.
Sea Rock Inn
Quiet area with panoramic views of the ocean and the sound of the waves
Delicious (free) breakfast with quiche, fresh bread, and home-baked scones
Ocean-view rooms with private terraces and wood-burning fireplaces
Beautiful garden with benches and wooden 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 old only
No children under 12 years old
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 cliffs. The inn isn’t fancy but charming, with knotty pine furnishings, lush flower beds, and whimsical paintings. Cabana-style rooms have luxurious beds that can see the sea.
Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
The property offers fantastic ocean views
Large, sophisticated suites with full kitchens
Beautiful, exclusive spa
Farm to Table Restaurant, Lido
Great fitness center
free bike rentals and area maps
DVD, board game, and lawn game rentals
There is no direct access to the beach
organized activities for limited children
This luxury resort is undoubtedly the top choice in Pismo Beach, with oceanfront views, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a gorgeous full-service spa. Unfortunately, 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 (a stairway just north of the property) and a nightly fee (although it does cover a lot, including bike and beach chair rentals).
Spectacular views; an excellent place for hiking
Huge spa with outdoor pool and heated Jacuzzi
Nine-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 rate
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 a featured spa, 9-hole golf course, six restaurants, three pools, and lavishly manicured parks.
The Inn Above Tide
Peaceful location overlooking Richardson and San Francisco bays
Sophisticated rooms with binoculars and all have bay views
Most rooms have terraces and fireplaces
Complimentary wine and cheese reception daily
free continental breakfast
Bicycles 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 reception, its lack of an on-site pool and restaurant may deter some visitors.
Quaint and convenient site on the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla
Elegant rooms, suites, and villas with (some) outdoor fireplaces and ocean views
The fabulous Spanish-style outdoor pool has plush sun loungers and ocean views
The hotel’s restaurant, La Med, serves three meals a day indoors or outdoors
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 accepted
Counseling Clefs d’Or
Daily charges for required valet parking, breakfast, and pets
Rooms on lower floors can be noisy from the pool and restaurants
Villas on the first floor facing the pool aren’t 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. The Pink Lady, as it’s affectionally called — a nod to Pepto’s pink exterior — was renovated 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 rooms facing the pool aren’t very private but include great details like dual shower heads and (some) outdoor fireplaces. Small animals are allowed for a fee – a huge benefit in a state where doggies are considered part of the family.
Beach Village at Del
Grand 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 Hotel del Coronado pool
Exclusive access to the Windsor Club Cottage
Luxury spa with pool, steam rooms, and hydrotherapy tubs
California Gourmet Cuisine at 1500 Ocean
Wine, chocolate, and cheese at the Eno Wine Bar
Access to the pool and facilities at the Hotel del Coronado
Fee for valet service
Resort fee (covers Wi-Fi)
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 perks that Hotel del Coronado guests don’t: private pools, use of the Windsor Club Cottage, a complimentary breakfast buffet, and upgraded amenities such as iPod docks, fireplaces, kitchenettes, and terraces. The beachfront location can’t be beaten, and Beach Village guests get free beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas. But prices are high, and there are some 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.
Bodega Bay Lodge
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
Pool and full-service outdoor 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 customers complained that the siren noise was annoying at night.
The 83-room, exclusive Bodega Bay Lodge sits on seven spectacular ocean-view acres, one 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, great coffee, and hearty artisanal 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
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, an elegant spa, and modern rooms (all with stunning ocean views), this hotel is possibly 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
Beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean
Homey rooms, all with water views
Close to many attractions
Complimentary continental breakfast and evening wine and cheese hour
Free parking and rooms with free Wi-Fi
The reception service is open 24 hours
The room decor is a bit dated.
Not all units have a mini-fridge or flat-screen TV
No air-conditioning or fans in rooms
The 22 rooms at this cliffside hotel are comfortable and spacious, with beautiful views of the Pacific. The hotel is located very 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
Built directly on Santa Monica State Beach, with great views and access to the water, pier, and boardwalk
Beautifully decorated rooms with large bathrooms, soaking tubs, and balconies; many have ocean views
Oceanfront pool with chic loungers and cabanas for rent
Costa, 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.
A vintage-inspired gym with modern equipment and a 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 hours.
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-cabin vibe, and the 198 rooms and suites were impeccably designed by Michael Smith and feature huge soaking tubs and inviting details. Features include an oceanfront pool, a luxury spa, three gourmet restaurants/bars, and views of the Pacific Ocean from virtually every corner. Furthermore, its Santa Monica location puts the 3rd Street Promenade boardwalk and shops within walking (or biking) distance. Cons 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
Located in the charming town of Del Mar with direct beach access
Stylish rooms with 42-inch flat-screen TVs, minibars, and Keurig coffeemakers
Rooms have private balconies or terraces, some with ocean views, and fireplaces
Lots of outdoor living spaces with multiple ocean view terraces
Acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, plus alfresco dining and two bars
An outdoor pool and hot tub with loungers, cabanas, and ocean views
Spa luxury full service
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 get noisy
Do not take baths in most rooms
Valet parking only 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 ensue). The hotel’s renowned restaurant serves farm-to-table food, and there are two bars (including one with live music) and alfresco dining on a terrace overlooking the coastline. Guests can indulge in a dose of pampering at the full-service spa or work up a sweat in the hotel’s state-of-the-art fitness center or on 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 spotty and slow.
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Opened in 1927, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a luxurious oceanfront property set on 22 acres of lush, manicured grounds fronting beautiful Butterfly Beach, just four miles from all the things to do in downtown Santa Barbara.
It features Spanish Colonial design, red tiles, adobe walls, graceful arches, and wood-beamed ceilings. Accommodations here are the epitome of sophisticated California casual and come in several styles, including rooms and suites in the main building, and 12 stand-alone bungalows tucked away in a secluded jungle garden. This is a fantastic choice for couples looking for a romantic getaway.
On-site amenities include two restaurants, one serving Italian fare and the other California cuisine, and a poolside cafe and tapas lounge. There are also two swimming pools and a relaxing spa.
The Resort at Pelican Hill
This luxury resort in Newport Beach is perched on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. The hotel, some beautiful rooms, and suites have ocean views, but it’s a long walk or short drive to get to the sand (the resort itself is 504 acres).
The hotel has a luxury van, which operates every hour between Pelican Hill and the picturesque beach area of Crystal Cove State Park. It’s a clean and protected state beach, and the nearby small historic district has a few shops and restaurants. Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided for guests.
Back at the resort, the pools are beautiful. The Colosseum’s main pool is nearly 150 feet in diameter, with more than a million hand-laid glass mosaics forming the bottom. In addition, there is a separate children’s pool and a separate pool for villa guests.
The hotel has live music in various lounges and poolside music during summer. For dinner, there’s Andrea, a fine-dining Italian restaurant; the Pelican Grill, with elegant yet casual Californian cuisine; and a cafeteria on the pool terrace.
Monarch Beach Resort
Monarch Beach Resort is a fabulous luxury option for families. The upscale resort sits on a hill overlooking the beach at Dana Point, which sits on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego.
The rooms and suites here have a casual beach house vibe but are very comfortable and spacious, with a blue, green, and white color palette and fully furnished balconies.
Away from the rooms, there are seven restaurants to choose from, serving various cuisine from the Mediterranean to modern Mexican/California fare.
The resort is also home to the first seaside Miraval Life in Balance Spa, offering some 40 different wellness and fitness classes per week along with the usual array of treatments; a championship golf course; Tennis courts; Children’s Club; and a multi-level pool layout, featuring a family pool and an adults-only whirlpool.