These resorts, hotels, and B&Bs are the best of the Golden State, complete with picturesque settings and relaxing rooms.
1 of 19Photo: Courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach
Montage Laguna Beach
On a coastal bluff above the Pacific, the Montage's classic wood-and-stone architecture fits right into the surrounding artists' colony. Each guest room has a private oceanfront balcony, local art on the walls, and feather-top beds with 400-thread-count linens. The 20,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor Spa Montage offers herbal and hydrotherapy body treatments including a Post-Travel Compress and Massage—just the thing to combat your jet lag upon arrival.
Minutes from the ocean, La Costa Resort and Spa is composed of a fragrant herb garden, lush tropical trees, championship golf courses, and stylish shops. Comfortable rooms have flat-screen TVs, marble baths, and plush beds. Holistic physician Deepak Chopra is one of the founders of the onsite Chopra Center for Wellbeing.
Nestled in the heart of Laguna Beach, Surf & Sand Resort is a seamless blend of SoCal style and sophistication. The newly renovated 154 guest rooms and 13 suites inspire relaxation with soothing tones of lavender and driftwood, and all rooms overlook the shimmering Pacific. Beachy details such as custom furnishings with mother-of-pearl accents and sea glass knobs help bring Laguna's nautical charm indoors.
Prominent figures such as Sir Winston Churchill and Charles Lindbergh have frequented the resort since Pebble Beach Golf Links opened in 1919; today, there are five courses to choose from. Non-golfers can hike, bike, kayak, ride horses, and play tennis. Just outside the south gate of Pebble Beach is the storybook village of Carmel-by-the Sea, home to white beaches and leafy streets lined with charming shops and art galleries open for shopping.
Cozy up by the fireplace or enjoy views of the Pillar Point Harbor, Pacific Ocean, and Montara Mountain from the private balcony of one of 95 luxe suites. Located just west of famed (and picturesque) Highway 1, the hotel offers organic bamboo linens, a full-service spa, and the Oceano Bar & Grill restaurant. Don't miss the 12 boutiques and eateries at Harbor Village, accessible from the hotel lobby. Stop at The Wine Bar for a sunset glass of local Santa Cruz Mountain vino.
A 28-room Asia-inspired hotel that offers kimono robes for use during your stay, organic Aveda products, and gourmet chocolate-covered strawberries at check-in. Most rooms have fireplaces and ocean views. Looking for relaxation or activity? Packages are available that pair a stay with local spa services or golf at discounted rates.
This iconic 1886 Victorian mansion has 25 bedrooms in seven buildings with spectacular views of the ocean, Monterey Bay, and Monterey Peninsula. Days begin with a full English breakfast, followed by wine and cheese at 4 p.m. and warm homemade cookies and milk with nightly turndown service. Explore the walking trail that skirts the spewing sea, and tour the 1855 Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. A visit here also means a stroll through the vineyards and the nearby town of Pacific Grove, home to restaurants and shops just two blocks away.
Inspired by the playful ambience and natural surroundings of the Canary Islands off the coast of northern Africa, the lobby in the boutique Canary Hotel is filled with the sweet sounds of (recorded) birds, tree frogs, and nature. Also music to animal lovers' ears: Pets are welcome.
9 of 19Photo courtesy of Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
Guest rooms and suites at this 10-story oceanfront tower have crisp blue-and-white interiors; some have private, furnished balconies. Thirty-two bungalows are secluded amid the tropical gardens, with 24-hour concierge service. Cool off in the pool, indulge in spa therapies, and dine at FIG Restaurant. Don't miss the boardwalk and aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier, just steps from the hotel.
Inside Jamaica Bay Inn, the soothing West Indies-inspired decor creates a tranquil atmosphere. It's Marina del Rey's only hotel with a pool on the famous beach, and is close to dining, shopping, and local attractions including Santa Monica's Looff Hippodrome, a National Historic Landmark with a 1920s carousel. There are also plenty of watery diversions, from kayaking and paddleboating to sportfishing excursions. For lunch, dine on the patio of the on-site Beachside Restaurant & Bar. You might also head to the downtown farmers' market and admire the dewy, just-picked produce that inspired Alice Waters's farm-to-table crusade.
On 102 oceanfront acres, Terranea Resort offers luxurious hotel rooms, bungalows, and oceanview casitas and villas. Try your swing on The Links golf course, or take a dip in your choice of three pools. (One has a 140-foot water slide.) Award-winning chef Michael Fiorelli oversees mar'sel restaurant, which features seasonal ingredients from his kitchen garden.
The only Huntington Beach hotel located near the iconic intersection of Main Street and the Pacific Coast Highway—in the heart of Surf City—the Shorebreak is in the midst of shopping, dining, and live entertainment, all within earshot of the crashing Pacific.
The resort's guest rooms and villas perch above the Pacific Ocean—overlooking miles of Crystal Cove State Park woodlands, the golf course and gardens, and some of the best sea views on the West Coast. Between the spa and the world-class golf course (36 holes!), you may never leave the property. For the ultimate in luxury, rent one of the butler-equipped private villas, with between one and four bedrooms.
15 of 19Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
Known as one of the finest luxury resorts in California, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is situated atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Rooms are spacious, with marble baths, 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets, and DVD players. The property includes a 12-room spa, Adirondack chairs on the lawn with a Pacific Ocean view, plus complimentary oceanfront yoga and Pilates classes.
This landmark boutique hotel, with its calming decor, is steps from the shore in quaint downtown La Jolla, and is the perfect spot to rub elbows with the stars—or at least their spirits. Visitors in Hollywood's heyday included Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, and Groucho Marx—all of whom enjoyed this establishment's discreet entrance. Some of these stars may have loved the luxury hotel so much that they've returned after their deaths to enjoy it. The partying here is so popular among the ethereal-and-famous set that the hotel instituted a ghost diary to document eyewitness accounts from staffers who've watched pans move across the kitchen and chased the sound of running footsteps only to find themselves in an empty room.
Nestled between Los Padres National Forest and the Pacific Ocean, this getaway remains true to the region’s hippie roots. The comfortable yurts include queen-size beds, pine flooring, and decks overlooking the coast. Guests can hike through redwood forests, kayak in the marine sanctuary, or indulge in an in-yurt massage.
You'll really be California dreamin' at the oceanfront Four Seasons Biltmore. The old-Spanish style resort has 207 suites and 12 garden cottages, all offering luxury amenities and quiet seclusion. On-site services include a state-of-the-art fitness center, beach and cabana club, and a full-service spa.
Inspired by the sea, playful accents around the 209-room Huntley Hotel inject a hip attitude, starting with the lobby's funky wall of fish—a modern art "aquarium" installation of glittering white piranhas that has become the star of the hotel. But you don't have to be a star to get into the penthouse here; one of the only rooftop restaurants in Santa Monica, The Penthouse stuns with 360-degree views of the Pacific and crowds of beautiful people meeting for drinks and dinner.