The Best Beach Hotels to Book in Monterey, California

Relax in the Victorian splendor of Green Gables Inn on your next beach trip to Monterey
Relax in the Victorian splendor of Green Gables Inn on your next beach trip to Monterey | Courtesy of Green Gables Inn, A Four Sisters Inn / Booking.com
Photo of Doug Murray
1 December 2021
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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.

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, for live music

Room at Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa with a large double bed, dark-wood headboard, gray armchairs and patio doors
Courtesy of Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa / Expedia
You don’t get more waterfront than having the surf crash right underneath the deck you’re relaxing on. Steps away from Cannery Row and Monterey Harbor, it’s all about the ocean vistas at this elegant beach hotel in Monterey – you don’t even have to get out of your cream-colored bed to enjoy the scenery. Pro tip: bring binoculars for spotting marine life. Sunset cocktails crafted from small-batch artisan spirits turn into dancing to daily live music in the hotel lounge or an evening soak in a hot tub out on the deck.

Spindrift Inn, for local history

Deluxe corner view king room in soft pink and olive green colours and ocean views at Spindrift Inn
Courtesy of Spindrift Inn / Booking.com
If the roof looks vaguely Asian, it’s because this was one of the first Monterey hotels on the beach to be built by a member of the local Chinese community, back in 1927. As Cannery Row became the wrong part of town during the Great Depression, the original hotel lost its splendor, but Spindrift Inn has gone back to its elegant roots, complete with hardwood floors, antiques, window seats and continental breakfast delivered on a silver tray. Monterey Bay Aquarium is just down the street and if you’re hungry, the Sardine Factory (phenomenal seafood) and Estéban Restaurant (Spain-meets-California) are both a short stroll away.

The Sanctuary Beach Resort, for locavore cuisine

Large luxe king room with fireplace and balcony with oceanfront views at Sanctuary Beach Resort in Monterey
Courtesy of Sanctuary Beach Resort / Expedia

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.

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay, for pet-friendly stays

Soothing luxe king room with blue wall mural at Portola Hotel and Spa
Courtesy of Portola Hotel and Spa / Booking.com

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.

Monterey Tides, for great ocean views

Mid-century modern room in gray and ocean-blue tones with panoramic ocean views at Monterey Tides
Courtesy of Monterey Tides / Expedia

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.

Captain’s Inn at Moss Landing, for wildlife-spotting

Nautical-themed room with bed mounted on an old boat and a spa tub with ocean views at Captain's Inn at Moss Landing
Courtesy of Captain's Inn at Moss Landing / Booking.com

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.

Monterey Bay Lodge, for family stays

King room with warm yellow walls, wood flooring and a fireplace at Monterey Bay Lodge
Courtesy of Monterey Bay Lodge / Booking.com

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.

Green Gables Inn, for Victorian elegance

Four-poster bed in Victorian-style bedroom with forest-green walls at Green Gables Inn, A Four Sisters Inn, in Monterey
Courtesy of Green Gables Inn, A Four Sisters Inn / Booking.com

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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