The Best Hotels to Book Near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California

Enjoy a swim in Butterfly Grove Inn's outdoor pool before heading over the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Enjoy a swim in Butterfly Grove Inn's outdoor pool before heading over the Monterey Bay Aquarium | Courtesy of Butterfly Grove Inn / Expedia
Photo of Matt Charlton
9 September 2021

The central Californian town of Monterey – made famous by the Nicole Kidman HBO sensation Big Little Lies as well as several John Steinbeck novels – is the kind of California you dream about.

We challenge you to not breathe a deep sigh of relaxation as you arrive in Monterey. Unassuming yet luxurious, bustling yet calm with ridiculous sunsets and unspoiled sea views, what’s not to love? You’re also moments away from the gorgeous Pacific Coast, Big Sur, Carmel Highlands, oh and a very popular aquarium, too. Take a look at our favorite hotels – all bookable on Culture Trip.

InterContinental the Clement Monterey

Courtesy of InterContinental the Clement Monterey / Expedia
Dominating the main strip of this beautiful town, the luxurious InterContinental is so all-encompassing that it even incorporates a quaint bridge to access half of it. The attractive timber-clad structure slots right into the fisherman’s wharf aesthetic – and the ocean views from the rooms and the restaurant terrace are unbeatable. The indulgent modern bedrooms are geared around the ocean, and you might even find a cuddly otter waiting for you on your bed – not a real one, mind you.

Wave Street Inn

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Courtesy of Wave Street Inn / Expedia

Minutes away from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the buzzing Cannery Row, this charming boutique hotel offers a modern design with a warm coastal vibe and an intimate atmosphere of style and comfort. The beautifully finished bedrooms keep that cool Cali ocean vibe going – with muted colors, popping pastels and bathrooms worthy of a luxury spa. Surrounded by downtown Monterey and its incredible shopping and dining options, you’ll never need anything else here.

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Room at Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa
Courtesy of Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa / Expedia
Dramatically perched on historic beachfront property above the crashing Pacific waves below, the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa has the kind of warm hospitality you’ll find all over Monterey. It boasts an oceanfront restaurant, an award-winning rooftop luxury spa and a prime location just 10 minutes’ walk from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Meanwhile, the elegantly appointed guest rooms are pure class, with relaxing hues set against dark woods and luxury fixtures, and some with stunning ocean views.

Centrella Inn

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Courtesy of Centrella Inn / Expedia

​​In the heart of downtown Pacific Grove and just a short walk from the beach, this historic hotel is a great choice if you’re keen to immerse yourself in the rich history of the local area. Built in 1889, this inn is registered as a National Historic Landmark, and the rooms reflect this in their old-fashioned yet romantic and luxurious decor – such as claw-tooth bathtubs and antique potbelly fireplaces. Centrella is a real find in the center – no kidding – of the action.

Lovers Point Inn

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Courtesy of Lovers Point Inn / Expedia

Overlooking Monterey Bay and nestled on the coastline of Pacific Grove, this comfort-friendly hotel is ideally located adjacent to Lovers Point Beach and Park – and just a short walk from the beloved Monterey Bay Aquarium and historic Cannery Row. The clean, comfortable and modern rooms – some with an ocean view – include a complimentary breakfast and a 24/7 concierge. You can even watch the sunrise from the patio if you get up early enough.

Sunset Inn

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Courtesy of Sunset Inn / Expedia

Located in a quiet, secluded area near downtown Pacific Grove, Sunset Inn offers 22 cottage-style guest rooms. The New England-style accommodation is decorated in relaxing shades, and the hotel staff pride themselves on their curated personalized service. Pacific Grove was once named Most Romantic City by Life magazine, and this couldn’t be more accurate. Sunset Inn is just a short stroll away from Pacific Grove Golf, the Point Pinos Lighthouse and Asilomar Beach, where plentiful romantic evenings await.

Monterey Peninsula Inn

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Courtesy of Monterey Peninsula Inn / Expedia

Also placed conveniently in Pacific Grove, this hotel features 40 guest rooms on nearly two acres (0.8ha) of land. Just 0.6mi (1km) from the beach, a five-minute drive from Monterey Bay Aquarium and a further five minutes to Cannery Row, its location is unmatched – surrounded by trees, coast and frequented by the famous Monarch butterfly. Rooms are comfortable, modern and spacious, and there’s even a fire pit and hot tub.

Butterfly Grove Inn

Hotel, Inn
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Courtesy of Butterfly Grove Inn / Expedia

​​Speaking of butterflies: next door to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, you’ll find Butterfly Grove Inn, offering a quiet boutique experience. The understated rooms feature 40-inch flat-screen HDTVs, plus microwaves, minifridges and free wifi – with some also offering gas-burning fireplaces. The service is wonderfully friendly, and complimentary breakfasts and an outdoor pool are on offer – plus a few classic cars dotted about the place. The inn is also minutes away from downtown Monterey and the bucket list-worthy 17-Mile Drive in Carmel.

Not convinced? Find everything you’re looking for at one of the best hotels in Monterey or venture further afield and book a stay at one of the most incredible hotels in San Francisco. You can then enjoy seaside views at one of the best restaurants in Monterey or explore the best beaches near San Francisco. While in the area, make sure to also check these must-visit attractions in San Francisco off your bucket list.

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