Anyone who has traveled the California coastline knows just how varied the terrain is. There’s everything from rugged cliffs with waves crashing against rocks to smooth sandy beaches where families and tourists alike soak in the Golden State sun. What stays consistent however, are the luxurious resorts that populate the coast. We take you on a journey from San Diego to just south of San Francisco to visit these extraordinary resorts.
Hotel del Coronado
Opened in February 1888, Hotel del Coronado debuted as an architectural masterpiece, acclaimed for its spectacular seaside setting and world-famous weather. Set on one of America’s most iconic beaches, the legendary Hotel del Coronado has welcomed discerning travelers for more than 130 years to experience Southern California coastal lifestyle at its best. Today, the resort is known for its stunning beachfront setting, architectural beauty, iconic skyline and luxurious rooms and amenities.
STAY… Three distinct buildings along the beachfront offer incredible in-room and resort amenities that create an unforgettable visit. Whether you prefer the historic charm of the Victorian building, the contemporary Ocean Towers and California Cabana Buildings, or the luxurious beach village, the sprawling 28- acre resort has something for everyone.
EAT… Four restaurants provide guests with many food and drink options. Sheerwater menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner with classic bistro-style cuisine focused on fresh and sustainable seafood. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Serea features a sea-to-table coastal cuisine experience with fresh seafood prepared in a simple yet elegant manner and raw bar.
DO… Named one of the top 20 hotel spas in the world, The Spa at Hotel del Coronado has been treating guests and locals to the time-honored powers of the ocean to heal and restore, relax and invigorate. Guests should also be sure to spend a day in a luxurious daybed on Del Beach and take a surf lesson.
www.hoteldel.com; Photo: Hotel del Coronado.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
San Diego, CA
Situated amidst the striking fairways of The Grand Golf Club, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Resort and AAA Five Diamond Fairmont Grand Del Mar is just minutes from Southern California’s most sought-after beaches, restaurants and boutiques and is conveniently located near San Diego International Airport.
STAY… An intriguing amalgam of Mediterranean elements and different styles lend a relaxed yet sophisticated ambiance to 249 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites. With commanding golf course or pool-front views, the guestrooms feature gilded gold and wrought iron accents, a deep blue, pale yellow and gold color palette with intricately hand-stenciled ceilings.
EAT… There are six dining venues on the property. Addison is an award-winning signature fine dining restaurant featuring contemporary French cuisine from Chef William Bradley. The Clubhouse Grill & Club M is a casual eatery that transforms into a nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights with live music and guest DJs.
DO… The resort offers a complete spectrum of first-class amenities, including four sparkling swimming pools, tennis, fine dining, San Diego’s only Tom Fazio designed golf course, and a Renaissance-inspired spa. The 21,000 square foot spa symbolizes a bygone era with its emphasis on renewal and rebirth.
www.fairmont.com/san-diego; Photo: Hotel Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
Montage Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach, CA
Perched on a coastal bluff above the Pacific, Montage Laguna Beach welcomes guests into the heart of Southern California’s preeminent artist colony. Spanning 30 acres, the beachfront sanctuary features two outdoor pool decks, a 20,000-square-foot spa and three signature restaurants with spectacular views of the California coast.
STAY… Experience a coastal getaway and unwind in light-filled accommodations, thoughtfully redesigned to blend modern and traditional elements with coastal California style.
EAT… Signature restaurant Studio offers modern coastal cuisine with California influences. Also to note, three new chefs were appointed in 2019 to service the resorts various dining venues.
DO… The 20,000-square-foot spa features eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, state-of-the-art fitness center, movement studio and lap pool featuring stunning views of the Pacific.
www.montagehotels.com/lagunabeach; Photo: Montage Hotels.
Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA
Monarch Beach Resort, the AAA Five-Diamond beachfront resort nestled along the coast of Dana Point, introduces guests to a reimagined destination experience steeped in the relaxed sun-splashed sophistication of coastal Orange County. Expressions of the resort’s personality are equal parts sophisticated, approachable and intimate.
STAY… A coastal palette of cool blues, greens and crisp whites distinguish the 400 newly appointed guest rooms and suites designed by Los Angeles-based Rodrigo Vargas Design, known for its passion for understated luxury.
EAT… The Forbes Four-Star Stonehill Tavern offers tavern fare with a twist in an elegant setting. Executive Chef Collin Thornton was recently appointed to oversee the resort’s various dining venues.
DO… The 30,000-square-foot Miraval provides guests with a new expansive wellness and spa experience. The Monarch Beach Golf Links is an award-winning, championship 18-hole golf course. Guests also enjoy private beach access.
www.monarchbeachresort.com; Photo: Monarch Beach Resort.
Palos Verdes, CA
Poised above coastal bluffs with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Terranea Resort is a Mediterranean-inspired luxury destination resort on the Los Angeles coast. Celebrated for its natural beauty, the resort provides a sophisticated retreat for guests with a relaxed ambiance and panoramic seascape views.
STAY… The 102-acre estate features 582 guestrooms and suites, including spacious casitas and villas, and The Bungalows at Terranea, a collection of guest accommodations featuring spa and wellness-focused amenities. The spacious guest retreats exude a warm and luxurious feel with comfortable furnishings and private balconies that overlook elegant gardens and breathtaking ocean vistas.
EAT… Catering to an international palate, there are eight exceptional dining venues on the grounds. Terranea’s signature restaurant Mar’sel reflects a modern twist on California cuisine that spotlights local ingredients alongside herbs and produce grown on property in the chef ’s garden. The other venues offer both casual and formal dining options covering breakfast through after-dinner drinks.
DO… The award-winning Spa at Terranea is a 50,000-square-foot oasis set amid sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island where tantalizing treatments and state-of-the-art amenities pamper guests. The Links at Terranea is an award-winning, 9-hole, par 3 golf course on one of the most scenic peninsulas in Southern California.
www.terranea.com; Photo: Terranea.
Hotel Casa del Mar
Santa Monica, CA
Offering breathtaking views of the Pacific, Hotel Casa del Mar brings the luxury, romance and relaxing feel of a Mediterranean resort to the Southern California coast. Once an exclusive beach club in the 1920s, the hotel’s timeless charm and elegance remain. The lobby’s original soaring ceiling and dramatic windows offer spectacular sunsets and a picturesque place to unwind.
STAY… With the most spectacular setting in Los Angeles and world- class amenities, Hotel Casa del Mar sets the standard for comfortable, relaxed luxury. 129 beautifully appointed guest rooms and 16 suites, including three two-story Penthouse Suites and the Pacific View Suite; all complete with Italian marble bathroom floors and whirlpool bathtubs.
EAT… The hotel features two restaurants, a lively lobby bar and lounge with nightly entertainment. Terrazza Lounge features California cuisine driven by seasonal products and local ingredients. Catch Restaurant serves Coastal California cuisine, sushi, and farmer’s market selections with a wine list recognized by Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Lobby Lounge features light bites and cocktails, spectacular ocean and Santa Monica Pier views and nightly entertainment.
DO… The eco-friendly designed Sea Wellness Spa features luxury skincare, body care, and HydraFacial Systems. Complimentary fitness center and daily fitness classes; and personal trainers, surf lessons, bike rentals, yoga and meditation instructors available by appointment. The Palm Terrace pool is located on the 5th floor and overlooks the ocean with whirlpool spa, chaise lounges and towel service.
www.hotelcasadelmar.com; Photo: Hotel Casa del Mar.
Shutters on the Beach
Santa Monica, CA
Located directly on world-renowned Santa Monica Beach, Shutters on the Beach is your seaside haven set in one of Southern California’s most desirable enclaves. Comfortable and luxurious, the hotel recalls the quintessential cottages of Cape Cod with its shuttered doors opening onto breezy balconies and a sun-drenched pool deck replete with chaise lounges. Best of all, the beach is just steps away from you at any given time.
STAY… 186 gracious guestrooms and 12 suites showcase the residential-style designs of Michael S. Smith. A room at Shutters is like no other hotel room in the country. Comfortable bedrooms you won’t want to leave give you the feeling of living in that oceanside home you wish you had on the Pacific Ocean.
EAT… Offering breathtaking views of the ocean, the restaurants feature refined food in a relaxed setting. Perched above the beach is 1 Pico with a seasonal market menu and unique wine list. Coast is a casual beachfront café and bar with imaginative chefs and California-inspired dishes. The Lobby Lounge has spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and is known as the Happy Hour spot in Santa Monica.
DO… ONE Spa features six multi- purpose treatment rooms – including a pair of wet rooms and room for manicures and pedicures. The interior is crisp and ship-shape, recalling the romantic era of the 1930s yachting scene. Natural woods and stone combined with subtle tones of sand and sea evoke the healing powers of the Pacific.
www.shuttersonthebeach.com; Photo: Shutters on the Beach.
After an extensive transformation of Casa Malibu, the 1950s-era beach motel, Nobu Ryokan Malibu opened in 2017 as an exclusive hideaway escape, offering guests distinctive service and luxury products set in the authentic Ryokan inspired style. The prestigious Malibu location further marries the chic elegance of the California coastline with the signature exclusivity of the Nobu brand.
STAY… The private teak and glass entrance opens to a lush Japanese garden with views of the Pacific ocean. Nobu Ryokan Malibu features 11 guestrooms and 5 beachfront bungalows, each room being uniquely designed to offer specialized guest experiences. Traditional Japanese design elements like tatami mats, shoji-style closets, and limestone walls are set against the stunningly chic California background and handcrafted Japanese-inspired teak soaking tubs are located beneath skylights in each retreat to truly create the luxurious tranquility known from the Nobu brand.
EAT… Nobu Malibu restaurant is just steps away from Nobu Ryokan Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Inspired by his classical training in Tokyo and time abroad in Peru, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa continues to bring the latest trends in Japanese-fusion cuisine to life with an extensive menu of inventive dishes and bold cocktails.
DO… Live life to the fullest during your stay. Explore classic Malibu and its many attractions or stay on the resort and soak up the sun on Carbon Beach. Leading from the courtyard are winding paths to a sheltered enclave with a monumental concrete fireplace or to the inn’s central Ipe wood deck looking out over the expanse of Carbon Beach. If you’re in need of a workout during your stay, play at the private Malibu Racquet Club or receive onsite personal training courtesy of the Malibu Fit Concierge.
www.noburyokanmalibu.com; Photo: Nobu Ryokan Malibu.
Rosewood Miramar Beach
Rosewood Miramar Beach is an idyllic coastal retreat blending traditional glamour with residential elegance located just 80 miles north of Los Angeles in picturesque Montecito along the coastline of the American Riviera. Inspired by the beautiful homes and grand estates of Montecito, Rosewood Miramar Beach was manifested from owner Rick J. Caruso’s idea of a sprawling Montecito estate.
STAY… Spread across 16 acres of prime beachfront real estate, the new resort is the only property in Southern California to offer guest rooms set directly over the sand, offering unparalleled views of the glittering Pacific. There are 161 ultra-luxury rooms including 37 suites. The Beach House suites, studios and guestrooms feature direct access onto the sand and guests enjoy several exclusive services. Each Bungalow and Lanai House guestroom and suite is light- filled and spacious and offers a furnished balcony or patio, a roomy dressing area, lavish bathrooms and awe-inspiring views of the garden, ocean or mountainside.
EAT… Helmed by Executive Chef Massimo Falsini, seven distinctive culinary and bar outlets comprise California’s newest dining destination, including Caruso’s, a lively and inviting oceanfront restaurant that introduces a taste of Southern Italy to coastal Montecito.
DO… With the Pacific Ocean in the resort’s backyard, guests can easily enjoy early morning yoga, swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing and sunset walks along the water. Outdoor recreational facilities include two separate pools with full cabana service as well as bocce and shuffleboard courts. At Sense, A Rosewood Spa, guests enjoy unique treatments and rituals inspired by the healing traditions and native plants found in the local surroundings.
www.rosewoodhotels.com; Photo: Rosewood Miramar Beach.
Santa Barbara, CA
An unexpected mix of California Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and stylish, Moorish-themed interior designs makes Santa Barbara’s Hotel Californian one of the hottest places to stay in Southern California. The urban seaside property offers a new perspective on the “American Riviera” and defines the new center of Santa Barbara.
STAY… The 121-room Hotel Californian features paseos, gardens, fountains, open plazas, and unparalleled venues, including a rooftop deck with 360-degree views, a rooftop pool with ocean views, a stunning ballroom, best-in-class meeting and event spaces, a luxurious Moroccan-inspired spa, a fashion boutique, and a spacious Presidential suite.
EAT… A myriad of fresh and distinctive dining options includes the hotel’s signature restaurant, Blackbird, a 70-seat, indoor/outdoor restaurant showcasing exquisite Mediterranean and Contemporary American cuisine featuring local produce, seafood, and wines. On property is also Goat Tree café and Djinn, a hideaway lounge with craft cocktails curated by acclaimed Los Angeles mixologist, Devon Espinosa.
DO… Hotel Californian is at the core of what makes Santa Barbara one of the most fascinating travel destinations embraced by Hollywood elite, stylish locals, and discerning international visitors. At the hotel is Spa Majorelle, a Moroccan-inspired spa. Atop the Californian Building’s 4th floor is a deck offering one of the city’s most expansive vantage points of the mountains and coastline.
www.hotelcalifornian.com; Photo: Hotel Californian.
The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
A favored retreat of old Hollywood and America’s elite since it opened in 1927, the stunning Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara is situated on Butterfly Beach and features a Spanish Colonial adobe building with red roof tiles and graceful archways set amidst lush tropical gardens.
STAY… Historic and custom handcrafted furnishings, art objects and treasures are featured throughout the 206-guestroom hotel cradled between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains.
EAT… There are two restaurants and one lounge on the property, all which make use of locally sourced ingredients.
DO… A 10,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial style spa with fireplaces, deep soaking tubs and French doors overlooking an English rose garden and the Pacific Ocean is the perfect place for relaxing treatments.
www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara; Photo: Four Seasons Resorts.
Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur, CA
High atop the cliffs of Big Sur, 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean, sits Post Ranch Inn, a sanctuary for the soul. Located along California’s Highway One, known as one of the world’s most scenic drives, Post Ranch Inn is set amongst majestic state parks, beaches and waterfalls. Recognized as one of the top luxury resorts in the country and the only hotel in Big Sur able to offer an ocean view, Post Ranch Inn offers the ultimate destination for romance, relaxation and rejuvenation.
STAY… Post Ranch Inn has 40 architecturally innovative guestrooms and suites placed along the ridge that parallels the Pacific Ocean. Different accommodations include Cliff Houses, Pacific Suites, Peak Houses, Ocean and Coast Houses, Tree Houses, Butterfly Rooms, the Mountain House and Post House.
EAT… Under Executive Head Chef Elizabeth Murray, Sierra Mar Restaurant presents guests with an unconventional fine dining experience, showcasing unique and inquisitive food creations featuring bold, primal flavors along with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Sierra Mar offers a nine course Taste of Big Sur Menu with optional wine pairing, as well as a four-course prix fixe menu which changes nightly.
DO… Activities include yoga and meditation classes, guided nature hikes and garden tours and nightly star gazing on the deck at Sierra Mar using a computerized 12-inch Meade telescope. Award-winning spa treatments are also available to relax and rejuvenate using the healing properties of nature.
www.postranchinn.com; Photo: Post Ranch Inn/ Kodiak Greenwood.
Pebble Beach, CA
Just steps away from the first fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links and located within the Del Monte Forest is Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach. This enchanting enclave of lush landscaping, trellised walkways and tiled patios is perfect for your next retreat.
STAY… The elegant and intimate Mediterranean-style estate features 24 private guest roomsadjacent to the main house, each offering wood-burning fireplaces and oversized soaking tubs.
EAT… On the Pebble Beach Resorts’ property are various dining experiences including Stillwater Bar & Grill, The Tap Room, The Bench, Gallery Café, Peppoli, Roy’s, STICKS and Stave Wine Cellar.
DO… A trip to Pebble Beach is the perfect getaway and offers activities for all to enjoy. Partake in grand recreation, including tennis, hiking, surfing, the world-famous 17-Mile Drive, and of course, legendary golf.
www.pebblebeach.com; Photo Credit Scott Campbell.
In the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea just blocks from the famed Carmel Beach is L’Auberge Carmel, a full-service Relais & Château property. Originally built in 1929, the historic hotel is known for its graceful architecture, personalized guest services, European-style and elegance.
STAY… The ambiance of the hotel blends romantic old-world charm with the luxury of modern amenities. Individually designed guest rooms feature the finest fabrics and linens and enlarged bath areas with radiant floor heating.
EAT… Executive Chef Justin Cogley and Pastry Chef Yulanda Santos prepare skillful, ingredient-driven cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the region at the award-winning, Forbes Five Star restaurant Aubergine.
DO… The perfect Carmel escape getaway, the hotel is an easy stroll to the village’s numerous art galleries, shops and restaurants.
www.laubergecarmel.com; Photo: L’Auberge Carmel.
The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay, CA
When California residents seek reprieve from the city, they head to the northern coastline, drawing energy from the scenic beaches, untouched nature and fresh air. Set amid this tranquility is The Ritz- Carlton, Half Moon Bay, a blufftop resort overlooking the ocean.
STAY… Guest rooms and suites at this Half Moon Bay resort define luxury in a multitude of ways. It is found in soft-to-the-touch bedding, 24- hour in-room dining, a deep soaking tub and a sweeping views of the golf course, Northern California mountains or ocean.
EAT… Dining in California is strongly connected to the land, built upon locally grown ingredients and chefs who honor the purity of what they put on the plate. Restaurants at this Half Moon Bay resort carry that tradition by incorporating local seafood, produce, herbs and products into dishes and drinks.
DO… Opportunities to disconnect are abundant: walks along the beach, a few rounds of golf, a day at the spa, outdoor activities designed for kids, a glass of wine and a colorful sunset. Guests are invited to spend the day at the spa enjoying the whirlpool, sauna, steam room and other relaxation facilities.
www.ritzcarlton.com/Half-Moon-Bay; Photo: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.