The Best Boutique Hotels to Book in California, USA

Ventana Big Sur offers rustic luxury and even glamping
Ventana Big Sur offers rustic luxury and even glamping | © Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort / Expedia
Kayleigh Roberts

Hotels in California exude relaxation and offer unique on-site amenities. Whether you fancy staying in a private canyon in Napa Valley or by McAbee Beach in Monterey, the Golden State is never short of options, particularly if you are looking for the quaint and quiet luxury of boutique hotels. Here’s our pick of the best, bookable on Culture Trip.

1. Shutters on the Beach, for ocean vibes in Santa Monica

Hotel

A stylish outside pool area at the Shutters on the Beach hotel, with white and blue sun loungers beside a sandy beach
© Shutters on the Beach / Expedia
Right on the front of Santa Monica’s soft-sand beach, this classy resort includes decks with white bannisters that look out over the Pacific Ocean and house a pool terrace, a casual Coast Beach Café and Bar and private balconies. Each plush room, dappled with pot plants, trinkets and lined with white-wood shutters, feels like a bedroom in a private beach house. 1 Pico restaurant serves up Californian fare from the sea in romantic surroundings; their lobster roll makes for a particularly good Sunday brunch.

2. Palihotel San Francisco, for classy chic

Boutique Hotel, Chain Hotel

A stylish separate bedroom area separated by pink-striped curtains at the Palihotel, San Francisco
Courtesy of Palihotel San Francisco / Expedia

Five minutes from Union Square, the Palihotel, in San Francisco, puts the city’s indie art galleries, eclectic eateries and buzzing bar scene right at your front door. Classy rooms in coffee and cream colours come in kings and queens, or a two-bedroom suite. If you’re looking for an evening tipple, or to start the day with a hot breakfast, head up to Fisher Loft, a wood-panelled bar, reminiscent of San Francisco’s yesteryear. This place is pet-friendly, too.

3. Petit Ermitage, West Hollywood, for a Moroccan twist

Boutique Hotel

The outdoor pool at the Petit Ermitage, with orange and white stripy sunloungers, white parasols and plants
© Petit Ermitage / Expedia

Mingle with West Hollywood’s rich and famous at this ultra-hip hotel, hidden away on a residential street. Inside is a bohemian wonderland, while the decor has a distinctly Moroccan twist. A saltwater pool, lined with kumquat trees, offers enchanting city views, while the fairy-lit fire deck hosts Sunday evening movies under the stars with fur blankets, cocktails and popcorn. You can dine among hummingbirds and butterflies in a rooftop garden restaurant or join tarot readings, yoga lessons and bedtime-story sessions.

4. Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, for Marilyn's favorite hangout

Boutique Hotel

The outdoor dining area, with modern graphic-design coloured walls at the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, beside the wavy-edged swimming pool
© Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills / Expedia

Walk in the footsteps of Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe at the Avalon Hotel, one of the movie star’s favorite hangouts. It still has a glamorous retro feel with its curved pool, private cabanas and residential Beverly Hills location. Tranquil rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, Apple TV, Jambox Bluetooth speakers and a curated minibar for discreet partying. Recover over a Californian brunch of overnight oats and detox green juice at the poolside Viviane restaurant.

5. Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, Sausalito, for Victorian glamor

Boutique Hotel

A white room with a navy blue carpet and sofa at the Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, facing a wide window with a harbor view
© Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa / Expedia

Craving a complete Californian overhaul? Book one of the wellness rooms at this airy Victorian hotel, built into a hillside in the resort town of Sausalito, overlooking San Francisco Bay. The rooms come with a smart mattress to track sleep, a meditation headband to monitor brain activity, AI personal training, personalized meal plans and detoxing juices, with an on-site spa for pampering. Regular guests still enjoy the hotel’s contemporary opulence, serene harbor views and independently owned trattoria.

6. Phoenix Hotel, San Francisco, for a musician-approved stay

Boutique Hotel

The outdoor pool lit up at night at the center of the retro-cool Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco
Courtesy of Phoenix Hotel, San Francisco / Expedia

Party like a rock star at this 1950s motor lodge in the heart of San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district. Close to the city’s many music venues, it has been a favorite with touring musicians since the ’80s, welcoming the likes of Neil Young, Debbie Harry and Kurt Cobain. Here, you can mingle with passing musicians at the outdoor heated pool or on-site restaurant, Chambers, where walls are lined with vinyl records.

7. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, for a tranquil escape

Boutique Hotel, Inn

A rustic hilltop room at the Post Ranch Inn Big Sur California, with big windows overlooking an ocean and mountain view
© Richard Broadwell / Alamy Stock Photo
Big Sur is the perfect destination for travelers seeking tranquility. The area is home to unforgettable landscapes, world-class hiking trails and Instagrammable landmarks, such as the Bixby Creek Bridge. For those seeking luxury and immersion in nature, the Post Ranch Inn has rooms featuring ocean or mountain views.

8. Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco, for Japanese zen

Boutique Hotel

A well-lit bar area at the Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco, with stylish bar chairs and a large window view of the garden
© Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco / Expedia
The Japanese-themed Hotel Kabuki, a Joie de Vivre boutique hotel, lies in Japantown, San Francisco. It boasts 218 rooms, a captivating modern design, a Zen garden and a koi pond. To start your morning off right, you can take advantage of the complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby. What’s more, the hotel is pet-friendly.

9. Spindrift Inn, Monterey, for thoughtful service

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Deluxe corner view king room in soft pink and olive green colours and ocean views at Spindrift Inn
Courtesy of Spindrift Inn / Booking.com
The Spindrift Inn lies on Cannery Row, right on the shores of McAbee Beach in Monterey. As a guest, you’ll have a complimentary breakfast served to your room – on a silver platter, no less – every morning. The hotel also hosts social gatherings, including a gourmet wine and cheese reception and coffee and tea every afternoon in the lobby.

10. Tower23 Hotel, San Diego, for ocean views

Boutique Hotel

A light modern bedroom at the Tower23 Hotel, with large sliding doors leading to a balcony with a beach view
© Tower23 Hotel / Expedia
Named after a lifeguard tower on Pacific Beach, this boutique hotel offers a perfect blend of chic style and relaxing vibes. As gorgeous as the hotel is itself, the real beauty at Tower23 is the sprawling views of the Pacific Ocean from each guest room. Dinner at the on-site, oceanfront restaurant, JRDN, is a must.

11. Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, for an outdoor lover's paradise

Boutique Hotel

The Ventana Big Sur offers rustic luxury like no other. In addition to its flagship resort, the hotel also has glamping packages, allowing you to experience “outdoor splendor, with a luxury twist.” From hiking trails with stunning views of Big Sur for the outdoor enthusiast to a world-class spa for those seeking R&R, this resort has something for everyone.

12. Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, Rancho Santa Fe, for gorgeous casitas

Boutique Hotel

An outside area at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, with colourful sofas, white parasols, flowers and palm trees
© Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa / Expedia
Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa has 49 spacious casitas or hacienda-style suites, each featuring a private patio and Natura Bissé toiletries. The resort offers a wellness program with year-round activities such as bicycling, yoga and pilates, making it a perfect destination for the active traveler.

13. Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, for Gallic charm

Boutique Hotel, Resort

An exterior view of the well-lit and cosy Auberge du Soleil, surrounded by trees and a large outdoor swimming pool
© Auberge du Soleil / Expedia
The French-inspired Auberge du Soleil is an adults-only luxury inn, complete with a Michelin-star restaurant that offers delicious food and incredible views of Napa Valley. Other amenities at the upscale resort include a spa, an outdoor pool, a gym, a yoga pavilion and even a sculpture garden.

Looking for eco-friendly accommodation? Check into one of the best sustainable stays in California – bookable now on Culture Trip. For a different type of stay, book one of the best resorts in Santa Cruz, or check out the boutique hotel options in San Diego.

Siobhan Grogan and Suzy Pope contributed additional reporting to this article.

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