The Best Hotels to Book in Salinas, California

If you're a fan of John Steinbeck and the glistening ocean, Salinas is the place to be
If you're a fan of John Steinbeck and the glistening ocean, Salinas is the place to be | Courtesy of Captain's Inn at Moss Landing /
Photo of Rikki Ward
16 December 2021

The pride of Salinas, John Steinbeck, brought stories of his hometown and early 20th-century agricultural California into world consciousness. A visit to modern-day Salinas – Spanish for “Saltworks” – has much to recommend it. Wild dunes and beaches, marshlands with a host of local critters and, yes, the National Steinbeck Center. If you want to stay for a few days, there are a wide range of excellent places to lay your head. Here are the ones we’re especially fond of – bookable on Culture Trip.

The Sanctuary Beach Resort, for natural healing

Double room with fireplace at Sanctuary Beach Resort
Courtesy of Sanctuary Beach Resort /
Tucked into the dunes of Monterey Bay, this luxury hotel in Marina offers unique opportunities to experience the natural surroundings. Start your day with beach yoga and a complimentary lavender-infused face mask – before joining one of the guided group nature walks, or hire a guide for a private hiking excursion. Come evening, you’ve earned the oysters and cioppino dinner that you’ll tuck into at the on-site Saltwood Kitchen and Oysterette. Cap off the day snuggled up at one of the nightly bonfires on the private beach and fall asleep to the sound of the Pacific Ocean outside your patio door.

River Rd Mansion, for a good old-fashioned stay

Double room at River Rd Mansion
Courtesy of River Rd Mansion /
This pretty Salinas bed and breakfast features updated guest room furnishings mixed with classic Victorian decor. Enjoy a glass of Madeira poured from a crystal decanter while lounging on a red velvet settee in the bar room. Challenge your partner to a game of billiards in the games room – complete with framed jersey of San Francisco 49ers football legend, Jerry Rice. Or, take in the fresh air while strolling around the property’s lush lawn. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to try the bacon at breakfast here – it’s outstanding.

Best Western Salinas Monterey Hotel, for the epic food

Double room at Best Western Salinas Monterey
Courtesy of Best Western Salinas Monterey /
A great budget option for your stay in Salinas, this hotel features a palm-lined outdoor pool and a fitness center with weights, stationary bike and treadmill. If you’re working out, why not take advantage of the complimentary grab-n-go breakfast. Or, treat yourself and make your own Belgian waffles. If your tummy is grumbling later in the day, try the nearby Culturas Hidalgo y Oaxaca Restaurant. Oaxacan Mexican food is a rarity around these parts, so dig in and try the huaraches and tlayuda.

Hampton Inn and Suites Salinas, for Steinbeck fans

Family room at Hampton Inn and Suites Salinas
Courtesy of Hampton Inn and Suites Salinas /
With the hub for all things Steinbeck just five minutes away, you can spend hours perusing the Pulitzer Prize-winning works of this Salinas native. When your brain needs a break but your body needs some endorphins, head back to the hotel and hit the fitness room. The elliptical machines and treadmills will help you get your blood pumping. Maybe you’ll have so much energy afterwards that you’ll be inspired to write the next great American novel – from the oversized desk in your room, of course.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott, the Dunes on Monterey Bay, for all the family

Double room at SpringHill Suites by Marriott the Dunes on Monterey Bay
Courtesy of SpringHill Suites by Marriott the Dunes on Monterey Bay / Expedia
A rooftop deck with Monterey Bay views? Check. Outdoor firepits? Check. Suites with stylish modern decor, oceanside views and enough room – two queen beds and a sofa bed – for the whole family? Check. An affordable and awesome beach vacation is possible with a stay at this Marina hotel. Fort Ord Dunes State Park is just down the street, so spend the day strolling around the stunning and wild California coastline – before warming up by the hotel’s firepits with a glass of Californian red. Bliss.

Captain's Inn at Moss Landing, for a coastal-themed space

Quirkly coastal double room at Captain's Inn at Moss Landing
Courtesy of Captain's Inn at Moss Landing /
Each of the 10 rooms at this cozy inn is decked out with a unique look and nautical name – and you’ll find feather pillows on every bed. “The Admiral’s Wife” is a sweetly old-fashioned space with a lace bedspread on the antique wooden bed, a curvy beveled glass mirror above the fireplace and a clawfoot tub in the bathroom. Alternatively, in “The High Seas”, you’ll sleep atop an antique wooden boat – with the wheelhouse attached to the wall above. The two-person soaking tub, fireplace in the bathroom and panoramic view of nearby wetlands surely bring the romance, making this inn a funky and charming must-see in Moss Landing.

Inn at Moss Landing Point, for a peaceful hideaway

Double room at Inn at Moss Landing Point
Courtesy of Inn at Moss Landing Point /
Moss Landing State Beach is just two minutes away from this boutique hotel. Rooms are straightforward – each has a minimalist bed, chair, desk, Keurig coffee maker, bathroom with Beekman toiletries – and are very clean. There’s also boat parking for those coming to Monterey by sail. For food, just stroll 2 minutes down the road to the Moss Landing Cafe. A cute little mom-and-pop restaurant, this place features reasonably-priced American classics like blue cheese burgers and lots of local seafood options. The open-faced crab sandwich with steamed artichoke tastes just like SoCal on your plate.

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