The 10 Best Beachfront Hotels & Resorts in California

The iconic Shutters on the Beach is our top choice

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Brides / Designed by Amelia Manley

Planning your next beach vacation or the perfect sand- and sun-soaked honeymoon? The lure of the California coastline is undeniable, thanks to its 840 miles of Pacific Ocean views, breathtaking bluffs, and stunning beaches. These 10 seaside properties promise dazzling design, superb service, thoughtful amenities, and cinematic vistas to fuel your wanderlust. From boutique hotels to lavish resorts, these best beachfront hotels in California are sure to deliver a memorable vacation in the Golden State.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Shutters on the Beach

Pool at Shutters by the Sea in Santa Monica California
Pool at Shutters by the Sea in Santa Monica California.

Courtesy of Shutters on the Beach

Why We Chose It

Spend your days on the beach or taking a short stroll to historic Santa Monica Pier, and your evenings enjoying onsite, al fresco dining overlooking the ocean.

Pros

  • Walking distance to Santa Monica Pier, shops, and restaurants
  • Excellent celebrity spotting
  • Heated pool and whirlpool spa

Cons

  • Beach can be very crowded in high season

Shutters on the Beach is a Santa Monica institution with tons of star power that’s set on one of Southern California’s most iconic beaches. Famous faces—including Jennifer Aniston, Zac Efron, and Eva Longoria—perennially descend upon this property. Why? There are plenty of posh extras for the Hollywood elite (and honeymooners will appreciate them, too). The sun-splashed pool deck flaunts chaise lounges and private cabanas. And guests can keep busy with personal beach butler service, surf lessons, paddle tennis, volleyball, and complimentary yoga classes and use of beach cruisers. 

Coastal decor is another trademark of this best beachfront hotel in California. Airy interiors draped in the same blue and green hues you’ll see outside your breezy balcony evoke images of elegant summers in New England and Cape Cod. Because it’s not a true A-list escape without a little pampering, there’s also a decadent spa, whose menu includes such treatments as a HydraFacial, microcurrent facial, and Swedish massage. With three separate restaurants on the premises, guests can choose from dishes like fresh seafood platters, wagyu burger sliders, and even more decadent plates like lobster and shrimp tagliatelle. 

Notable Amenities

  • Beach butler service
  • ONE Spa

Best Budget: Mission Pacific Hotel

Mission Pacific Hotel

Mission Pacific Hotel

Why We Chose It

This hotel is undeniably Southern Californian in vibe and within walking distance to many of Oceanside’s hotspots, making it ideal for free-spirited travelers on a budget.

Pros

  • Laid-back SoCal style
  • Brand-new property
  • Rooftop pool and direct access to Oceanside beach

Cons

  • Traffic in Oceanside can be challenging
  • Valet parking is $44

Looking for the quintessential bohemian vibe SoCal is known for, but also pinching your pennies? Mission Pacific Hotel in Oceanside, on San Diego’s North Shore, offers guests an authentically local experience at an affordable price. The guest rooms feature earthy textures paired with bold artwork curated by the Oceanside Museum of Art and many of the rooms and suites offer views of the Pacific Ocean. 

The most spectacular views of all are found at the rooftop pool and hot tub (don’t miss sunset), especially from the private cabanas and lounge seating while sipping a craft beer or biting into a Baja street-style taco. For a casually upscale dinner, choose Valle for its award-winning chef, Roberto Alocer, who draws upon the flavors and traditions of the Valle de Guadalupe region of Mexico.

Stop by High Pie, an onsite vintage dessert lounge you may recognize as the historic Graves House (built in 1887, but has since been given a $1 million restoration) from the film “Top Gun.” When you’re ready to explore beyond the property line, you’re within walking distance to Oceanside Pier (the west coast’s longest over-water wooden pier), boutique restaurants and shops, breweries and tasting rooms, The California Surf Museum, Oceanside Museum of Art, and more. 

Notable Amenities

  • Beach kiosk provides chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen, surfboard rentals, and more
  • Weekly wellness classes and bikes available to rent

Best Activities: Kimpton Shorebreak Resort

Kimpton Shorebreak Resort
SHOREBREAK DAY1_0509_Final.jpg.

Courtesy of Kimpton Shorebreak Resort

Why We Chose It

There’s no shortage of ways to pass the time at the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, from evening hosted happy hours and nightly fireside s’mores to a giant chess set and book club.

Pros

  • Steps from Huntington Beach and Main street
  • Daily surf report provided
  • Onsite restaurant

Cons

  • Located right off Pacific Coast Highway, which can be noisy

Seeking sun, sand, and swells? You’ll be stoked to stay at the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort—it's steps away from the Huntington Beach Pier, and the artsy haunt is swimming in surf-themed accents and chill vibes. The resort is a hip home base that’s chic yet delightfully quirky and has just enough upscale elements to feel grown up without losing its youthful exuberance. Rooms are inspired by Surf City, with record players and vinyl, yoga mats, therapeutic sound machines, and luxury bath amenities and linens. The hotel's own restaurant, Pacific Hideaway, serves New Californian cuisine like charred cauliflower with turmeric and coconut, grilled Pacific swordfish, and blackened mahi mahi tacos. 

Adding to the awesomeness? The myriad amenities, including s’mores kits for the fire pits, hosted daily happy hour, ping pong, a giant chess set, table tennis, cornhole, and a 24-hour fitness center. Of course, you can also skip the indoor workouts in lieu of running on the boardwalk, joining complimentary Sunday morning yoga sessions, and tackling the 40-foot outdoor climbing wall. Complimentary cruisers and surfboard rentals are also available if that’s more your speed. And if you’d rather just curl up on the beach and read a good book, the resort has partnered with world-renowned library platform Literary Hub; three book club picks are available each season, and are chosen for their ability to help amplify diverse voices.

Notable Amenities

  • Complimentary wine during daily social hour
  • Complimentary Sunday yoga classes
  • Nightly fireside s’mores

Best Views: Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Why We Chose It

The views from this coastal bluff property are second-to-none, so keep your eyes peeled for pods of dolphins and whales.

Pros

  • Oceanfront pool
  • Onsite dining
  • Daily wellness activities, such as sunrise yoga and lagoon hikes

Cons

  • Pricey resort fee
  • Not pet friendly

Perched atop a coastal bluff with unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas is the epitome of barefoot luxury. The resort’s calming aesthetic pays homage to its San Diego surroundings, blending natural materials and native plants with sophisticated design elements and eco-friendly touches. For the ultimate in romance, choose a coastline view room with a firepit and cozy outdoor seating or select a Grandview Suite with a double-sided fireplace and floor-to-ceiling picture windows.

Carve out some time to nourish your soul at Spa Alila, which draws upon nature to sooth and invigorate guests. Try the Vitality Pacific salt scrub, Talisman hot oil Swedish massage with herbal poultice, or the Paradigm craniosacral therapy energy work. And when you’re ready to nourish your body, there are three onsite dining options from which to choose. VAGA Restaurant and Bar is the property’s signature dining destination, featuring James Beard semifinalist and “Top Chef” competitor chef Claudette Zepeda, who serves up Baja sea bass, heirloom bean soup and yellowtail crudo. 

Notable Amenities

  • Spa Alila
  • Tesla charging stations
  • Surfboard rentals and lessons, and electric bikes

Best Luxury: Rosewood Miramar Beach

Rosewood Miramar Beach

Rosewood Miramar Beach

Why We Chose It

Montecito is known as The American Riviera, and the luxurious Rosewood Miramar Beach capitalizes on the area’s stunning architecture, perfect weather, and pristine beach.

Pros

  • Adult and family pools
  • 6 restaurants and bars
  • Pampered Pets program

Cons

  • Very pricey

The Rosewood Miramar Beach welcome’s guests into the lap of luxury, set on 16 acres of lush landscape and beachfront property. Designed as a private residence and inspired by the grand estates of Montecito, guests often feel as though they are being hosted in a private home. Choose from one of the resort’s 123 guest rooms with furnished terraces or patios, freestanding tubs, personal Nespresso machines, and a highly curated mini bar. Or cast your FOMO aside and take your posh vacation to the next level with one of 35 ultra-luxe suites featuring a powder room and fireplace. Plus, there are two individually designed signature suites that also include a full kitchen and dining area.

Traveling with your furry friend? The Pampered pets program extends the same luxe experience to your pooch, with daily dog walking, a customized pet menu, and exclusive pet products and amenities. 

Relax in a cabana at the adults-only Cabana Pool or pop by the Manor Pool’s Scoop Shop for a sweet afternoon treat. Soak in the tranquility at Sense Spa, which features treatments that change with the seasons, along with traditional skincare services and massages. 

When not swimming or soaking, reserve a guided hike in Santa Barbara’s Los Padres Mountains or sunset yoga on the beach. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy any craving. Caruso’s sources local ingredients for its Southern Italian-inspired Prix Fixe dinner menu (vegan options available), while The Revere Room is a sustainable concept with breathtaking views of Miramar Beach.

Notable Amenities

  • Sense Spa
  • Vehicle charging station
  • Lincoln house car (available for use within a 3-mile radius)

Best Splurge: Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Nobu Ryokan Malibu

  Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Why We Chose It

Exclusivity, privacy, hospitality, tranquility and indulgence are just a few enticing adjectives to describe this traditional Japanese Ryokan (or inn). 

Pros

  • Intimate 16-room property
  • Located on Carbon Beach
  • In-room dining options

Cons

  • Very pricey
  • 2-night minimum stay requirement

Many hotels walk a fine line between elevated and elitist, but very few properties are able to strike such a graceful balance as Nobu Ryokan Malibu. This luxurious 16-room hotel is a brilliant example of what happens when Japanese minimalism and hospitality traditions meet coastal California soul. Given its Zen atmosphere and emphasis on privacy, you might assume Nobu Ryokan Malibu was tucked away on some remote spit of land that’s completely isolated, save a few celebrity mansions. On the contrary, it occupies a prime piece of Pacific Coast Highway real estate next door to locally renowned social club and restaurant, Little Beach House Malibu. 

Oceanfront rooms—with traditional Japanese artwork, teak soaking tubs, cashmere robes, Italian bed linens, bamboo towels, and complimentary mini bar beverages and snacks—and a stellar staff-to-guest ratio level up the posh appeal. Watching the waves kiss the shore from the comfort of your sun-splashed deck is worth its weight in gold—or, at the very least, it helps justify the hefty price tag. Plus, you wouldn't get the full experience of this Nobu hotel without excellent dining; its famed eponymous restaurant serves inventive dishes like spicy miso chips and more classic sushi plates like Ikura (guests receive priority reservations).

Notable Amenities

  • Access to nearby partner CURE Spa
  • Access to private, members-only Malibu Racquet Club
  • Access to Malibu Fit Concierge, which curates high-end fitness services

Best Boutique: The Surfrider Hotel, Malibu

The Surfrider Hotel, Malibu

The Surfrider Hotel, Malibu

Why We Chose It

Every room comes with a view at this recently renovated California beach house. 

Pros

  • Every room has a private terrace with panoramic views
  • Sustainable and organic food and beverage menu
  • Complimentary surfboards and SUP

Cons

  • No swimming pool
  • No pets allowed (except service animals)

Looking for the ultimate beach house on the Pacific Coast Highway? The Surfrider Hotel is your ticket to living the California dream, if only for a few days. Built in 1953 as a beach house, the property recently underwent a renovation by local surfer and architect Matthew Goodwin and interior designer Emma Crowther-Goodwin. Together, they brought it into the twenty-first century without losing sight of its history. Guests will be delighted by spa rain showers, Grown Alchemist amenities, and mini bars stocked with local California treats, not to mention panoramic views of Malibu Pier, Santa Monica Bay, and the ocean.

There are tons of amenities included with your stay, such as stand-up paddle board rentals, umbrellas, beach baskets, sunscreen, and beach yoga, plus upgrades such as surf lessons, in-room massages, and horse riding. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, The Roof Deck Bar, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, dishes up Coastal-Californian cuisine (think: tahini kale salad, poke bowl and steamed local black mussels) featuring locally sourced, sustainable and organic produce. The property’s mixologists are passionate about crafting cocktails and infusing ingredients from local farmers into their creations. 

Notable Amenities

  • Complimentary use of Mini Coopers
  • Surf lessons, picnics, in-room massages, yoga, and horse riding available upon request
  • Electric car charging stations

Best Wellness: The Sanctuary Beach Resort

The Sanctuary Beach Resort

Courtesy of The Sanctuary Beach Resort

Why We Chose It

With numerous activities to revive your body, mind and spirit, The Sanctuary Beach Resort offers more than just R&R.

Pros

  • Set on 19 secluded acres of Pacific shoreline
  • Pet friendly
  • Outdoor heated pool

Cons

  • Large property with plenty of walking (golf cart shuttles available)
  • Nothing within walking distance, so you will need a car

Need to get away from the stresses of everyday life? Few things are more soothing than the sensation of digging your toes into the sand as cooling ocean breezes and the sounds of waves gently lapping the shore to induce a sense of calm. That’s just the sort of serenity you can expect to find at The Sanctuary Beach Resort, earning it a spot as one of the best beachfront hotels in California. With its placid surroundings and intimate atmosphere, this aptly named respite is the perfect place for seaside relaxation alongside your partner. Cottages spill onto the pristine dunes, blurring the line between nature and interior, and their massive windows give a perfect view of the ocean outside. 

Each stay includes an hour-long beach yoga and meditation experience to help get you grounded. Join a complimentary two-mile guided nature walk through Monterey Dunes Preserve (adjacent to the resort) on Saturdays and Sundays, or explore Monterey Bay by renting a retro-style beach cruiser (complimentary; first-come, first served). Enjoy scenic strolls, couple’s massages, whale watching, and sunset bonfires or get competitive with bocce ball, volleyball, or croquet on the lawn. 

Take your ravenous appetite to dinner at Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette Restaurant, where you’ll be treated to grilled octopus, cornmeal crusted halibut, and cioppino. To end the day, unwind with a glass of organic wine from the nearby Carmel Valley wineries or grab a cozy blanket and constellation guidebook for an evening of stargazing. 

Notable Amenities

  • Nightly bonfires weekend wellness activities
  • Complimentary hour-long beach yoga and meditation experience

Best History: Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

Why We Chose It

Since 1888, this legendary property across the Coronado Bridge has been creating vacation memories to last a lifetime.

Pros

  • Freshly remodeled (2022)
  • Instagram-worthy iconic red Victorian turret 
  • Plush daybeds and half-moon cabanettes on the beach

Cons

  • Only one small elevator for the main building
  • Need a car to leave the island and explore San Diego

For more than 130 years, the legendary Hotel del Coronado has been a San Diego icon thanks to its Victorian architecture and Old Hollywood glamor. The property has boasted an impressive guest list over the decades, from U.S. presidents (such as Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Regan, and Bill Clinton) to celebrities (Charlie Chaplin, Rita Hayworth, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and Walt Disney). Marilyn Monroe stayed at The Del while shooting “Some Like it Hot'' in 1958, while Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz had a lengthy stay in 1950 while working on their characters for “I Love Lucy.”  

When you’re not lounging on the beach or participating in a beach spin class or mermaid fitness class, you can visit one of eight on-site bars and restaurants or take the Haunted Happenings Tour to learn about ghostly guest encounters.

Notable Amenities

  • Electric vehicle charging stations complimentary with parking rate
  • Complimentary cardio-blasting beach spin workout class
  • Upgraded experiences available, including private beach bonfire, mermaid fitness

Best Pet-Friendly: Pasea Hotel & Spa

Pasea Hotel & Spa

Pasea Hotel & Spa

Why We Chose It

This hip oasis in the heart of Huntington Beach caters to pets and is the perfect carefree California getaway. 

Pros

  • Private dog park and a pet package
  • Near Huntington Dog Beach, where dogs can run leash-free
  • Named #3 in USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice awards for Best Pet-Friendly Hotel in 2022

Cons

  • Pool gets crowded and chairs are limited

Traveling with your pooch and want them to feel like a treasured guest rather than a nuisance? Then check into the Pasea Hotel & Spa, which has earned numerous accolades for its above-and-beyond treatment of four-legged friends. Dog-friendly accommodations include an in-room bed, food and water bowls, and a dog treat welcome gift. But your pup’s favorite part of the property may very well be the Pup Play Park, an 1,100-square-foot outdoor area with a lifeguard station doghouse and an Instagram-worthy mural of dog angel wings that was commissioned by a local artist. Oh, and did we mention leash-free Huntington Dog Beach is just 2 miles away?

Since your vacation isn’t only about your dog’s happiness, there’s plenty of human-centered elements to love, too. Use complimentary beach bicycles and scooters, pop by the 24-hour fitness studio, work up a sweat with an in-room fitness video, and make your way to the beach or pool. Or book a treatment at the Balinese-inspired Aarna Spa.

There are several on-site restaurants  including a grab-and-go café, a rooftop lounge with panoramic views of the ocean, and a restaurant serving such coastal cuisine as artichoke carpaccio, jackfruit arepas, and a shishito burger.

Notable Amenities

  • Aarna spa
  • Live music on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Complimentary use of beach bikes, electric cruisers, and scooters

Final Verdict

There’s no shortage of beautiful hotels in California, but its beachfront properties are the most highly coveted. While it’s hard to go wrong with any choice when you have the Pacific Ocean in view, we’ve rounded up the most impressive coastal options. There’s no better way to soak up the history of Hollywood royalty than with a stay at the Hotel del Coronado, which also happens to be undergoing a massive makeover. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any resort as luxurious as Nobu Ryokan Malibu, with its traditional Japanese decor and utter tranquility. And the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort earns a spot as one of the best beachfront hotels in California because it proves there’s more to do on a beach vacation than just hang at the beach, thanks to its seemingly never-ending list of onsite activities (many of which are included).

Methodology 

We evaluated dozens of hotels and narrowed them down to this selection of the 10 best beachfront hotels in California. To determine the best of the best for the chosen categories, we considered such factors as the hotel’s reputation, quality of service, and crowd-pleasing amenities (e.g., beach access, ocean views, and live music). We also took into account the property’s dining venues and unique experiences (like mermaid fitness classes, beach cruisers, and spa services) available to guests. In addition to customer reviews, we gave note to each of the hotel’s sanitation and cleanliness measures.

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