The dramatic cliffs and rocky coastline of central California form the perfect backdrop for a glass of white with a view. It’s a far cry from the drinking, fighting and general depression of an early John Steinbeck novel set here, though; today, it’s more of an evening of genteel wine-sipping at a trendy restaurant overlooking the bay. Then there’s the beach: not really ideal for sunbathing – summer days can be cool and foggy – but perfect for long walks or a refreshing swim in the cold surf. Naturally, you’ll want to stay in one of the best beach hotels in Monterey, so we’ve compiled a handpicked selection – all bookable with Culture Trip.
Nestled among the dunes backing Marina State Beach, this is one of the few hotels on the beach in Monterey where you can step out the door and immediately have sand between your toes. The bungalow rooms and suites have their own patios or terraces overlooking the dunes, and you can join a beach bonfire or yoga session; you can bring your pup, too. Unlike the ocean, the outdoor swimming pool is heated. As you approach the on-site Salt Wood Kitchen with its oyster bar, where chefs transform locally sourced produce into wood-grilled dishes, scents of lavender drift from the hotel garden.
Technically, it counts as one of the Monterey hotels by the beach because it’s only a pebble’s throw away from the sand. That pebble will first pass the Monterey History & Art Association: Salvador Dalí Exhibition and cross the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. Tuck into your huevos rancheros or Monterey Bay salmon at Jack’s Monterey while your kids pillage the seven seas as part of the Pirate Program and your pooch enjoys pet-friendly outdoor dining; the hotel has pet-friendly rooms, too. It’s also eco-friendly and actively involved in local conservation efforts. Soak away an action-packed day in the outdoor pool or jacuzzi, or indulge in a Leaf Me Be aromatherapy bath.
Not many Monterey beach hotels can say that they truly are on the beach, but Monterey Tides even has a private beachfront at the eastern end of Del Monte Beach. Patterned carpets mimic the waves in the cream, gray and ocean-blue rooms; splurge on the floor-to-ceiling sea views. Rent a bike at the hotel for a ride out on the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, which goes right past the hotel. Then have a dip in the heated outdoor pool, where a high wooden wall provides shelter from the wind. Just off Cabrillo Highway and with plenty of parking, this pet-friendly hotel makes for a good stopover on your California road trip.
It’s not only the location that sets this inn apart from all the beach hotels in the Monterey area. Each of the 10 rooms is uniquely decorated, ranging from antique-filled – think claw-foot tubs – to taking the nautical theme to 11, with beds mounted on old boats. A 20-minute drive north of downtown Monterey, the inn overlooks the wetlands of the Old Salinas River, so bring binoculars – not only for birdwatching from the bathtub but also for spotting seals and sea otters from the deck. There’s a strict policy about quiet hours, which start at 8:30 at night, to ensure a good night’s sleep for all.
This Monterey beach hotel is perfectly positioned if you’re traveling with kids: it overlooks El Estero Lake with its park and playground, and you only need to cross the road to hit Monterey Bay Park and the beach. The Old Fisherman’s Wharf is within walking distance, too. Decorated in warm tones with blue comforters, the rooms surround a sunny courtyard with a heated pool and fun fountain for the kids to splash in. The shady gardens and flowers in pots along the second-floor walkway lend the place an almost tropical air. Fido, Spot and other well-behaved canine friends are welcome.
A member of Four Sisters Inns, this hotel – built in 1888 – is all about Victorian splendor: think floral-patterned wallpaper, Queen Anne chairs and four-poster beds. Some rooms have fireplaces and big tubs; others come with window seats and ocean views. You get a bespoke wine-and-cheese mini-picnic as part of your stay, so borrow a bike from the hotel, grab some freshly baked cookies and go explore: the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is across the street, and a harbor seal lookout only a few hundred feet away.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip 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 — and this is still in our DNA today. 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 certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.