The Best Beach Hotels to Book in California, USA

Relax by the pool at the Terranea in Los Angeles
Relax by the pool at the Terranea in Los Angeles | Courtesy of Terranea /
Photo of Andrea Schulte-Peevers
17 December 2021

Surf, sand and sun – nothing embodies California more than its beaches. As sultry as a Hollywood starlet’s pouting and as bubbly as a Beach Boys song, these idyllic strands awaken a longing for the good life where an endless parade of waves crashes away everyday worries. And there are plenty of California Dreamin’ hotels and resorts to help you connect with the magic. Here’s our pick of the best beach hotels in California, all bookable on Culture Trip.

La Valencia Hotel, for pink-tinted Spanish-style glamor in San Diego

Bedroom with a double bed and a grey armchair at the La Valencia Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of La Valencia Hotel /
Dubbed Pink Lady for the blushing shade of its façade, this rambling Spanish-style hotel with its landmark tower has cut a commanding presence in La Jolla since 1926. Despite its pedigree, there’s nothing stuffy about this glam yet intimate beach hotel in California. Rooms capture an aura of timeless elegance and are packed with such covetable perks as Keurig coffee makers. Sip a gin-and-bubbly-based Pink Lady cocktail by the palm-fringed pool; then, feast on fanciful Cali coastal fare with the Pacific as a backdrop at the Med restaurant.

Venice V Hotel, for historic charm on Venice Beach

Cosy and modern bedroom at the Venice V Hotel, with wooden ceiling beams
Courtesy of Venice V Hotel /
If you like hotels with a dash of quirk and history, this lifestyle lair on the boardwalk in Venice Beach should fit the bill. Though a total update has catapulted the 1915 brick gem into the 21st century, its grand central staircase and mahogany-and-brass elevator still recall the times when Charlie Chaplin and other Hollywood heroes resided here. There are three room themes – beach boho, artist and skate/surf – all with ocean views, local art and Aesop bath amenities. Some rooms feature sleek Marshall retro fridges.

Oceanpoint Ranch, for a beach retreat in Cambria

Elegant suite at the Oceanpoint Ranch with horse art on the wall
Courtesy of Oceanpoint Ranch /
This California beach hotel in Cambria is like the hospitality version of “surf and turf” – an earthy rancho-chic retreat cuddling up to ethereally beautiful Moonstone Beach. Spend the day strolling in the sand, observing sea otters and tide pool critters, or head up the road to kooky Hearst Castle. A hearty dinner (ribs or blue crab) at the onsite restaurant is a fitting coda to a day of adventure. Or retreat to your cabin-style room to luxuriate in a clawfoot bathtub before falling asleep to the soft crackling of a wood-burning fireplace.

L'Auberge Del Mar, for romancing your sweetie in San Diego

Airy bedroom with a balcony at the L'Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa
Courtesy of L'Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa /
In the heart of the posh San Diego coastal suburb of Del Mar, this famous California beach hotel is a bastion of warmth and romance. Have the beach valet set you up for a day in the silky sand, or get comfortable in a luxurious poolside cabana. Other de-stressing stations include the divine spa, a 24/7 fitness center with Peloton bikes and the smart Adelaide restaurant. Even the rooms exude an air of tranquility, thanks to crisp white sheets and furniture and ocean-inspired splashes of color.

Sanctuary Beach Resort, for watching the sunset from your private deck in Monterey

Beach-view balcony at the Sanctuary Beach Resort
Courtesy of Sanctuary Beach Resort /
It’s hard to get any more immersed in the oceanic vibe than during a stay at this aptly named hideaway in Monterey Bay. Surrounded by the crashing surf and a sensuously curving dune preserve are 60 rooms in sand-colored low-rise cottages with private decks or patios for unimpeded sunset views. Beach yoga, nature walks and a sublime spa provide additional Zen moments. At the restaurant, a wood fire crisps fish and meats to perfection, and there are other delicious eating options (and the world-famous aquarium) in nearby Monterey.

Paséa Hotel & Spa, for sunny SoCal vibes in Huntington Beach

Spacious bedroom at the Paséa Hotel & Spa, decorated in light cream colors
Courtesy of Paséa Hotel & Spa / | Courtesy of Paséa Hotel & Spa /
In the heart of Surf City USA, aka Huntington Beach, the Paséa epitomizes SoCal’s easy-going, sunny spirit. An upbeat, go-go mood rules especially on weekends, when DJs heat up the action in the rooftop lounge and by the pool. This is not to say that you can’t relax at this fine California beach hotel: that’s what the Balinese-inspired spa is for, after all. Or your room, for that matter. Unwinding comes easy in Frette-linen-draped beds backed by a wall-sized wave image and the real thing outside your window.

Surf & Sand Resort, for art lovers in Laguna Beach

Ocean-view outdoor pool at the Surf and Sand Resort
Courtesy of Surf and Sand Resort /
The Pacific Ocean is showcased to maximum effect at this tony coastal getaway hugging a dreamy stretch of pristine white sand in Laguna Beach. All 167 amenity-laden rooms feature balconies with sea views stretching to the horizon. The Splashes restaurant serves elevated Med-cuisine right above the waterline, and even the pool sits within earshot of the waves. Make time for a spin around lovely Laguna that honors its artist colony roots with eye-catching public art, a slew of galleries and the well-respected Laguna Art Museum.

Terranea Resort, for outdoor activities in LA

Bedroom with two beds and a balcony at the Terranea
Courtesy of Terranea /
Although hemmed in by high-octane Los Angeles, this vast luxury resort draped across a 102-acre (41ha) blufftop on posh Palos Verdes Peninsula feels like a world unto itself. There’s no sandy beach, but, with four pools and adventures like ocean kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and tide pooling, you’re never far from aquatic fun. Land-based activities range from guided nature walks and sessions with the resort’s falconer to a nine-hole golf course and the soulful spa. No matter what you do, the mighty Pacific Ocean will forever sparkle right below.

Looking for a romantic place to stay in California? Check out our guide to the most romantic hotels in California, bookable on Culture Trip. Or for more great hotel options in California, check out our pick of the best hotels in Lake Arrowhead, California, bookable on Culture Trip.

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