The Best Luxury Hotels to Book in California

Celebrate the finer things in life at one of these luxurious hotels in California
Celebrate the finer things in life at one of these luxurious hotels in California | © wendy connett / Alamy Stock Photo
Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

Whether it’s for a special occasion or to relax after a stressful work stint, everyone deserves a spoiling stay at a luxury hotel at some point. From an exclusive surfer’s lodge in Malibu to a hilltop palace in Santa Barbara, California‘s best luxury hotels are worth their weight in gold – delivering stunning spas and amenities galore.

1. Auberge du Soleil

Boutique Hotel, Resort

Stylish, beige-toned bedroom with a double bed and a freestanding tub on the balcony at Auberge du Soleil
Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil / Expedia
A renowned culinary destination, many guests are drawn to Auberge du Soleil for its Michelin-starred restaurant, a fixture in Napa Valley since the 1980s. But the luxurious amenities and services don’t stop there. Staff accommodate guests’ every whim, whether it’s setting up a celebratory tasting of Napa sparklers and French champagne, or presenting fresh fruit on arrival. The rose-hued property, designed to resemble a house in Provence, has plenty to discover beyond the restaurant – including a sculpture garden, ryokan-style yoga pavilion, and a pool deck with views of the valley.

2. Beverly Hills Hotel

Spa Hotel, Hotel

Romantic cream-toned bedroom with colorful pillows, a private terrace with green sun loungers and pink flowers
Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Hotel – Dorchester Collection / Expedia
The Beverly Hills Hotel has been a home away from home for Hollywood royalty for over a century. The so-called Pink Palace radiates glamour, all the way from the signature red carpet leading up to the grand lobby, to the fabled Polo Lounge – the epicenter of L.A. power dining. Even entry-level Superior rooms have marble bathrooms and tropical gardens of their own. For the ultimate luxury, choose between one of six Legendary Bungalows, inspired by the hotel’s most famous guests.

3. Belmond El Encanto


Stylish bedroom with dark hardwood floors, a double bed, a writing desk and a beige armchair at Belmond El Encanto
Courtesy of Belmond El Encanto / Expedia

Popular with the Plein Air School of artists, Belmond El Encanto has been a retreat for creatives and the well-heeled since the 1920s. Original Spanish and Californian craftsman details were uncovered and restored during a seven-year renovation. Architects added modern luxuries like an infinity-edge pool with ocean views, a boutique spa, and guest rooms with marble bathrooms and heated stone floors. Sip bellinis during brunch overlooking Santa Barbara or stroll through the hotel’s seven-acre (3ha) grounds and understand why Belmond El Encanto is called a hilltop utopia.

4. Bardessono

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Modern bedroom with a four poster bed, looking out onto a private courtyard with a small private plunge pool and mountain views
Courtesy of Bardessono / Expedia
This clean-lined hotel in Yountville has a rooftop pool, gardens, and an excellent restaurant, Lucy, which serves sustainable ingredients and cocktails that are works of art. Earth-toned guest rooms with organic cotton sheets, fireplaces, and soaking tubs foster restful sleep and relaxation. A spa butler can set the mood by decorating your space with candles or setting up an in-room massage.

5. Rancho Valencia

Boutique Hotel

Stylish bedroom with a tall, wooden-beam ceiling, a large wooden-frame bed, chandeliers and a separate sitting area with couches and chairs at Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa
Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa / Expedia
Tucked away in a canyon perfumed with eucalyptus and citrus, Rancho Valencia feels like a secret. But luxury travelers and tasteful locals know this is one of the most magical five-star hotels in California. Spanish hacienda-style buildings are surrounded by 45 acres (18ha) of gardens and olive groves. Casitas – starting at a huge 900sqft (84sqm) – have sunken living rooms with fireplaces, walk-in closets, and wrap-around patios. Rancho Valencia’s wellness hub also has a yoga pavilion, spa pool, and outdoor treatment areas with water features.

6. Ventana Big Sur

Boutique Hotel

Aerial shot of hotel building, outdoor pool and surrounding mountain landscapes at Ventana Big Sur
Courtesy of Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort / Expedia
When you book a room at Ventana Big Sur – a luxe hippie hideaway with Tai Chi classes and Volvos for use – a so-called leisure concierge will help plan every aspect of your stay. Personalized itineraries might include a picnic under the redwoods or a couple’s massage in a cabana. Guest rooms have wood-burning fireplaces and substantial stone bathrooms. Guests can dine in their rooms or in the Sur House, a restaurant with stunning mountaintop ocean views and a 10,000-strong wine cellar. Ventana also offers safari-style glamping tents, set in a redwood canyon.

7. Timber Cove

Resort, Luxury

Rustic bedroom with a wooden-beam ceiling, a wood-panelled accent wall, two double beds and a desk with a record player at Timber Cove Resort
Courtesy of Timber Cove Resort / Expedia

A rustic-redux lodge, the subtle luxuries, and secluded location define this Sonoma Coast experience. Guests are privy to free wine tastings from local estates, and suites kitted out with large soaking tubs and Crosley record players. Located on a stretch of rugged coastline north of San Francisco, Timber Cove was built in the 1960s by famed architect Richard Clements, Jr. and has inspired artists like Ansel Adams – whose photographs hang on the walls. Another of the architect’s creative friends, sculptor Beniamino Bufano, designed the hotel’s 93-foot (28m) obelisk, a symbol of peace and tranquility.

8. Shutters on the Beach


Outdoor pool, white sun loungers and a shaded sitting area decorated with blue cushions and towels just steps away from the beach at Shutters on the Beach
Courtesy of Shutters on the Beach / Expedia
Santa Monica‘s Shutters on the Beach merges the laid-back architecture of a Cape Cod cottage with the bohemian cool of a SoCal beach house. Los Angeles-based designer Michael S. Smith, a favorite of former President Obama, designed the residence-like guest rooms with hardwood floors, Tibetan rugs, and in-room libraries. Guests can spy Santa Monica’s candy-colored sunsets from nearly every vantage point.

9. Olema House

Hotel, Luxury

A double bed in front of a fireplace and a cushy window seat with yellow and grey pillows in a bedroom at Olema House at Point Reyes
Courtesy of Olema House at Point Reyes / Expedia

An interior remodel has elevated Point Reyes’s Olema House to a luxury lodge. A starburst chandelier dangles from the two-story ceiling in the lobby, which is decorated with local artwork and regional maps. The new Fireplace Lounge has an elongated gas-lit fireplace, built-in bench seating, and a horizontal planked wood chandelier. The newfound refinement carries over into the loft-style apartments and private cottages, too – with vaulted ceilings, heated floors, down blankets, and mountain views. The hotel’s concierge can also arrange red-letter experiences like visiting a local artist’s studio, visiting a hermitage meditation center, or touring a winery.

10. The Surfrider Malibu


Double bed with crisp white linens in front of a white wood-panelled wall and hanging wicker lamps at Surfrider Malibu
Courtesy of the Surfrider Malibu / Expedia

A California beach house may be the inspiration for the Surfrider Malibu – it’s decorated with reclaimed wood furniture and local art – but it’s also as exclusive as they come. There are just 20 guest rooms, and the rooftop bar and restaurant – serving après-surf smoothies and Manuka-honey-infused hot toddies – is only open to hotel guests. Guests can also access heated outdoor showers, surfboard storage, and beach amenities like umbrellas, beach towels, and sunscreen. Fittingly, Surfrider Beach is just across the street.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article