The Best Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is an idyllic coastal town full of romantic allure
Carmel-by-the-Sea is an idyllic coastal town full of romantic allure | © Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Nick Dauk

The California of your dreams? The California that looks too good to be true on TV? Take it from us, it’s waiting for you at Carmel-by-the-Sea. From the views to the cuisine to the wonderfully serene small-town atmosphere, there’s absolutely no way that you can have anything other than an unforgettable stay in this central beach town. Don’t believe us? These amazing hotels will prove it.

1. Tradewinds Carmel

Hotel

A bed, armchair, desk with a flower, and a potted bamboo plant in a hotel room at Tradewinds Carmel
Courtesy of Tradewinds Carmel / Expedia

Asian-inspired elements such as bamboo and flowering ginger create the serene sanctuary that is the family-run, boutique beauty Tradewinds Carmel. Its 28 rooms are havens of feather-down beds and silk pillows. Spend time in the spa or in the Zen garden to recenter your mind, body and soul. Unwind before bed with a drink from your suite’s Japanese tansu wet bar. Throw on a kimono robe and simply do nothing as you sit beside the cozy fireplace; or soak your troubles away in your jetted bath tub.

2. Carriage House Inn

Inn, Luxury

A bed, desk with chair, armchair and window seat with pillows in a hotel room at Carriage House Inn
Courtesy of Carriage House Inn / Expedia

Fancy a romantic retreat? Carriage House Inn is in the business of lovey-doveyness, with airy feather beds, cozy fireplaces, sensual jetted tubs and that brand of ringing silence that is balm to the urban-weary soul. Should you leave your suite, you’ll discover wine and hors d’oeuvres in the evening and fresh baked cookies throughout the afternoon. Venture farther from the Carriage House Inn, and the two of you will be in love with more than each other: you’ll fall head over heels for the Monterey Peninsula.

3. La Playa Carmel

Hotel, Luxury

Two beds, a desk with a chair, an armchair and a large window with a view of the sea in a hotel room at La Playa Carmel
Courtesy of La Playa Carmel / Expedia

Whether you favor the paintbrush, the pen or even the lathe, La Playa Carmel seeks to indulge the creative in you: it’s Carmel-by-the-Sea’s historic artists’ retreat, after all, with 75 beach cottage-style rooms, and a fine neighborhood bar in Bud’s (for bracingly good martinis). There is inspiration by the bucketload outside your suite: the sights and sounds of the sea, lulling you to sleep. You’re bound to awake with a brilliant idea. You’ll be happy if you picked the oversized Poolside Casita, seemingly designed to accommodate a torrent of unleashed talent.

4. Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Hotel, Luxury

The blue outdoor pool, trees and bungalow buildings of Hyatt Carmel Highlands, with the ocean in the background
Courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands / Expedia

Hyatt Carmel Highlands overlooks the Big Sur Coast, so unbelievably lovely views are the calling card of this century-old hotel. Of course, there are other draws. Rooms exude Zen-pale serenity, with wood-burning fires and marble tubs. World-class dining at Pacific’s Edge is made using the best organic, locally produced ingredients – we’d go for the lobster risotto or pistachio-crusted lamb rack, given the choice. Here with the kids? The secure babysitting service is a welcome bonus – since you can while away the hours switching between the three outdoor jacuzzis, worry-free. A signature cocktail at Sunset Lounge is already waiting for you.

5. Carmel Bay View Inn

Boutique Hotel, Inn

A bed and two bedside tables with lamps in a guest room at Carmel Bay View Inn
Courtesy of Carmel Bay View Inn / Expedia

Budget travelers will have no qualms about staying at Carmel Bay View Inn. For such a classy boutique hotel, it’s quite affordable – if you’re a golfer, you’ll definitely feel like splurging on a round at the Pebble Beach Course. The generously carpeted, gently decorated rooms have fireplaces, and there’s complimentary breakfast and all-day coffee or tea every morning. Meanwhile, the views of the Pacific are priceless – actually, make that free of charge – giving you a slice of paradise from sunrise to sunset.

6. Hotel Carmel

Hotel

Two beds, an armchair and a balcony in a hotel room at Hotel Carmel
Courtesy of Hotel Carmel / Expedia

Start your classic old-school journey along the coast at Hotel Carmel. California living here means relaxing in a suite with a hearth and a courtyard view – or alternatively, a balcony suite. Arrive hungry so you can dip straight into bites and beverages: we’d steer you towards the truffle fries and Madden Mules at Brophy’s Tavern. Sated, you’ve just enough time for a wander down to the village to explore the best shops, galleries and restaurants Carmel-by-the-Sea has to offer. Back at the hotel, you’ll be issuing Zzzzs before you know it.

7. Tally Ho Inn

Boutique Hotel, Inn

A bed with a wooden frame, tables and chairs in a guest room with a terrace at Tally Ho Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Courtesy of Tally Ho Inn / Expedia

Tally Ho Inn is as perfect as it is picturesque. All 12 rooms are resplendent with marble-accented bathrooms and have whirlpool tubs for a swanky, spa-worthy experience. Handcrafted pillow-top mattresses see to it that you enjoy a deep, deep sleep. Feeling flush? The Superior King Suite dazzles with hanging tapestries, an inviting hearth and an indoor/outdoor private deck opening onto magnificent ocean views. For dinner, there’s always Il Fornaio, opposite Tally Ho’s sibling establishment, the Pine Inn. Sit at the counter and watch the chefs work their magic, before stepping out for a last glass of wine and a stirring ocean view.

8. Cypress Inn

Inn

A bed, TV, fireplace and chest of drawers in a guest room at Cypress Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Courtesy of Cypress Inn / Expedia

No matter the size, shape or breed of your pet, they’re welcome to stay with you at the Spanish-colonial Cypress Inn, with its 44 tranquil, Mediterranean-infused suites of luxurious linens and complimentary cream sherry. Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its animal-loving attitude, making it one of the best places to be – watch the crowds let their critters run free on Carmel Beach. The staff here haven’t forgotten about human guests, of course; a grand buffet-style breakfast is rolled out every morning, while Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge pours a super-kicky Rum Zombie for anyone who’s been a good boy or girl.

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