HUNTLEY SANTA MONICA BEACH
Santa Monica, California
You can't beat the Huntley for location―two blocks from both the Pacific and Santa Monica's shop-lined Third Street Promenade. And the 42-year-old high-rise, which recently emerged from an $18 million makeover, still exudes Hollywood glamour. Guests now linger in a candlelit lobby that mixes tribal-influenced furnishings with splashes of whimsy, including a wall sculpture of 300 white ceramic piranha. Rooms offer high-thread-count comfort, big-screen plasma TVs, and ocean views. Definitely stop for a drink in the 18th-floor Penthouse restaurant, with what may be L.A.'s best Pacific panorama.
• Rates range from $469 to $1,900; 310/394-5454 or thehuntleyhotel.com.
LITTLE HOTEL BY THE SEA & GARDEN TERRACE SUITES
La Jolla, California
The Grande Colonial Hotel has been a city staple since 1913. Last year, after a $5 million renovation, it brought the same sophistication and comfort to two adjacent historic buildings, the Little Hotel by the Sea & Garden Terrace Suites. All have kitchens or kitchenettes, and some have fireplaces. Guests love Little Hotel's rooftop library and terrace. Best of all, the buildings are a block from the beach and steps from the Prospect Street and Girard Avenue Shopping District, known for water-view dining, boutiques, and art galleries.
• Rates start at $375; 866/229-1146 or thegrandecolonial.com.
Manhattan Beach, California
The town's first boutique hotel, Shade, feels as cool as its name. Decorated in a crisp, modern style by Christopher Lowell, the rooms showcase king-size exotic wood beds and two-person tubs. The rooms will also cater to your mood. A special chromatherapy feature lets you adjust the color of lighting in your room from soothing blue to bold red, or any other shade that suits you. Or, you can always unwind with cocktails by the rooftop pool, or with a ginger-butter facial in the spa. The next morning, fire up the in-room espresso machine to kick off your day.
• Rates range from $295 to $805; 866/742-3377 or shadehotel.com.
Can't get to Bali? Tradewinds may be the next best thing. A recent reincarnation, designed by Charles Gruwell (best known for his work on Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino), follows the lines of the original 1959 motel: 28 units built on two levels enclosed around a central courtyard. What was the pool is now a multilevel meditation garden with waterfalls, tropical plants, and fire torches. Wooden Balinese beds, trickling in-room fountains, and Chinese cabinets hiding TVs bring the Zen indoors. Only glimmering views of Carmel Bay remind guests that they are, in fact, still in California.
• Rates range from $325 to $550; 800/624-6665 or tradewindscarmel.com.
San Francisco, California
Breeze through the superefficient check-in. Pause to savor the "welcome tea service" delivered to your door. Relax. Notice the serenity of the East-West blend of decor-conventional American furniture, but shoji screens instead of window curtains. Take a few minutes to enjoy the koi pond and Japanese gardens. Stroll the surrounding Japantown community, or learn about bonsai, calligraphy, sushi preparation, or other specialties in one of the weekly (starting in November) cultural presentations. Experience the elaborate, calming Japanese bath ritual, either at the nearby Kabuki Springs & Spa or in your room (where the bath butler can prepare everything for you). Close your eyes. Smile.
• Rates range from $159 to $389; 415/922-3200 or hotelkabuki.com.
CANNON BEACH HOTEL
Cannon Beach, Oregon
It may be one of the oldest lodgings on the Oregon coast (it's been in continuous operation since 1914), but it certainly doesn't feel like it. Recent upgrades―such as custom-designed furnishings and bedding―have brought this New England-style hotel up to modern luxury standards, all while retaining its warm character. Ask for a room with a claw-foot soaking tub and a four-poster bed. Most come with fireplaces and deep armchairs, but all get room-service breakfast delivered in a French market basket. It's hard to decide the best bonus feature: its proximity to one of Oregon's most picturesque beaches or the fact that it shares a building with Gower Street Bistro, a classy European-style eatery. Both are compelling, but the room rates probably win.
• Rates range from $85 to $185; 800/238-4107 or cannonbeachhotel.com.
CHINA BEACH RETREAT
From the private deck of this B&B's sturdy Audubon Cottage, you'll scan Baker Bay and its heron-filled marshes, the old-growth forest of Cape Disappointment State Park, and the mouth of the distant Columbia River charging into the Pacific. Inside, the wood craftsmanship and tile work of Washington artists will capture your gaze. With one bedroom, one-and-a-half baths, and a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker, the cottage marries fine antique furnishings and modern technology, such as wireless Internet and a 42-inch flat-screen TV. With equally dazzling views, the adjacent Main House has three individual guest room/bath suites and a common area. Complimentary breakfast is five minutes away at the owners' other property, the 15-room Shelburne Inn.
• Rates range from $215 to $295; 360/642-5660 or chinabeachretreat.com.
BRENTWOOD BAY LODGE & SPA
Victoria, British Columbia
This modern, sleek lodge seems out of place on the banks of Brentwood Bay. The wooded setting is peaceful, yet only a short drive from bustling Victoria. The boutique resort, which opened in 2004, features contemporary Pacific Northwest design and floor-to-ceiling bay views from each of its 33 suites. Furnishings include Italian linens and spa tubs that open to the bedroom. And forget parking in the Disneyland-like lot at nearby Butchart Gardens. Take a private water taxi directly from the lodge to the gardens' back entrance.
• Rates range from $179 to $699; 888/544-2079 or brentwoodbaylodge.com.