Gorgeous, charming and a little rough around the edges (but in a good way!), the quaint seaside Californian gem is one of the must-stops along the Pacific Coast Highway. Formally a canning town, today buzzing Monterey is filled with restaurants housed in former factories, souvenir shops, bars and restored buildings from the Spanish and Mexican periods.
Its surroundings are just as special and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects dense kelp forests and is home to a huge variety of marine life, including seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales.
The beaches and coastal scenery are another highlight and head out to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve to see some of the best. In such a special place you’ll also be able to find some gorgeous places to stay, so from intimate boutiques to fun and modern, here are the best cool and unusual hotels in Monterey, California…
1. Portola Hotel & Spa – a trendy, unique and very Instagrammable hotel perfect for Millenials and Gen Zs
The pet-friendly, AAA Four Diamond Portola Hotel & Spa has been voted among the Top Twenty Hotels in Northern California by Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers, and often features as Monterey’s premier destination for family travel.
This is, of course, courtesy of its award-winning spa, 60000 square feet of flexible meeting space, epic wine-tasting tours on offer, and its 379 newly renovated guest rooms which boast extravagant amenities.
As one of Central coast’s first environmentally friendly hotels, Portola Hotel & Spa provides a perfect escape for a relaxing vacation, located on a waterfront overlooking Monterey Bay, and a short drive from the world-class Pebble Beach Golf Course.
A very cool and trendy hotel in Monterey perfect for fun-loving visitors or those looking for a great spa!
- To book, check prices or availability for Portola Hotel & Spa
2. Monterey Tides – a cool, hip unique hotel and the only one in Monterey with a privately-owned beachfront
This waterfront, boutique California hotel is the perfect place to set your wanderlust free and enjoy the quintessential Monterey experience.
It is no doubt that your California escape shines a little brighter when it is accompanied by a private beachfront, s’mores by a bonfire, a heated outdoor pool, and bike rentals to explore the beautiful inland vistas.
The 196 guestrooms boast vivid colours and adobe textures which conspire to bring a lush ambience to compliment this brand of modern luxury, and are the ideal spot to reflect on the day’s adventures.
The two on-site eateries, Bayside Bar and Lounge and Tides Waterfront Kitchen, support local fishermen and farmers, with the freshest produce from Salinas Valley to satisfy your culinary cravings.
- To book, check prices or availability for Monterey Tides
3. Hotel Pacific – a chic Spanish-style boutique hotel within walking distance from the beach
If you have that itch to breathe in the alluring coastal charm and beach-side energy of Monterey, you cannot go wrong with this tranquil seaside hideaway, ideally situated along California’s central coast and moments from the very best of downtown.
The tranquillity of the sea is a clear influence which runs through the lobby, breakfast area, and all of the modern, redesigned guest rooms (which feature panoramic vistas of the Bay, and opportunities for an in-room massage).
The bounty of Northern California is celebrated at this picturesque Montery boutique hotel, which comes in the form of Spanish Colonial-style buildings Surrounded by lush garden scenery. Here, guests can enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Pacific
4. Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa – an upscale hotel & spa that overlooks beautiful views from Monterey Bay
The classic, California coastal experience greets guests at this stunning Monterey hotel, perched dramatically above the crashing surf of the Pacific, on historic beachfront property.
The warm hospitality compliments its well-appointed guest rooms which come with touches of luxury, in a delightful hotel which effortlessly blends elegance with contemporary coastal inspirations.
The irresistible spirit of conviviality and play, the rugged natural surroundings of azure blue waters, and its breath-taking rooftop spa and fitness centre have drawn travellers to its storied shores for centuries.
The chef-driven oceanfront restaurant provides an elevated dining experience which celebrates the treasures of this gorgeous coastal region.
- To book, check prices or availability for Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
5. Old Monterey Inn – a charming, quirky-chic and cozy B&B located in the heart of beautiful Monterey
This Monterey bed and breakfast embodies the true spirit of Old World romance and offers a special retreat for couples, especially those searching for an idyllic, intimate honeymoon venue.
The elegant estate transports visitors to another time and place, through its soothing melody of water features under majestic live oak trees and dazzling English gardens. Tastefully appointed rooms and suites boast exquisite furnishings and state-of-the-art amenities.
The Inn has earned national acclaim, most notably featuring in Patricia Schulz’ book ‘One Thousand Places to See Before You Die’, and gaining a place on the coveted Conde Naste Traveler’s Readers Choice Gold List.
- To book, check prices or availability for Old Monterey Inn
6. InterContinental The Clement Monterey, an IHG Hotel – a modern waterfront resort that offers panoramic views, perfect for Millennials and Gen Zs
Overlooking the peaceful, sapphire waters of Monterey Bay on Cannery Row, panoramic ocean views and coastal charm await guests who want to let beauty and luxury indulge their senses.
Waterfront dining experiences and rejuvenating spa sessions are amongst many incredible delights which guests will be greeted at this contemporary IHG hotel.
The InterContinental has an answer for any occasion, and for those seeking an adrenaline-fuelled day out, hand-gliding, biking, hiking, and boating experiences are offered right on their doorstep.
- To book, check prices or availability for InterContinental The Clement Monterey, an IHG Hotel
7. Wave Street Inn – a vibrant and modern design inn that features a refreshing coastal setting
Take your romantic escapes, weekend getaways and family vacations up a notch at this beautifully renovated boutique hotel. The vibrant modern design and warm coastal vibe create an atmosphere of sophisticated style and comfort, which complements the hip, contemporary décor and nature ocean-inspired colour accents in its 32 rooms and suites.
Wave Street Inn invites guests back to a truly authentic hotel experience, after spending their days exploring scenic Monterey, or taking a wander down Cannery Row for local dining and shopping.
In-room amenities include a refrigerator, laptop safes, and a welcome basket with some hand-selected treats. Softwoods, plush beds, and flat-screen TV’s further bolster the refreshing experience at this glorious Monterey getaway.
- To book, check prices or availability for Wave Street Inn
8. Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa – one of the most Instagrammable resorts in Monterey
The picturesque gardens, hacienda-style buildings, and reimagined accommodations at this peaceful Monterey refuge, play homage to Northern California’s Spanish heritage, whilst its sprawling grounds and gardens embrace the great California outdoors.
Blending modern comforts with historic grace and elegance, the Spanish vibe extends into the décor of all guestrooms and suites. The rooms boast a charming hacienda style with custom furnishings, granite bathrooms, fireplaces, and many more chic features.
The hotel’s spa is the perfect spot to renew body and soul, and the patio at Estéban offers Spanish-California cuisine and homemade sangria. Only steps from the beauty of Monterey Bay and downtown, guests can also hop on rental bikes to explore and embrace the spirit of the Northern California coast.
- To book, check prices or availability for Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa
9. Victorian Inn – a boutique-style inn where guests can experience the ultimate tranquillity of a coastal vacation
The tranquillity of a seaside vacation is epitomized at this boutique hotel in Monterey, which radiates a warm, historic charm. Located only a stone’s throw away, scenic coastal trails, whale-watching afternoons, and kayaking experiences keep guests engaged at all times.
The beautiful rooms and suites at the Victoria Inn are the perfect place to return to, with beautiful marble fireplaces and terraces with ocean breezes welcoming guests at the end of a busy day.
Serenity, romance, and adventure are all key features of this hotel’s splendour. The hotel also meets the Green Seal Environmental Standard for Lodging Properties, and lays much emphasis on its sustainability protocols.
- To book, check prices or availability for Victorian Inn
10. Merritt House Hotel – a quirky-chic romantic historic hotel that offers unique and gorgeous decor
This beautifully preserved, family-owned and operated adobe boasts historically furnished rooms and suites, with the elegant reminiscence of another era. Each of the suites features fireplaces, and some come with balcony views over the private, secluded gardens.
Nestled among towering magnolia, holly and olive trees, the setting of the well-appointed accommodations make a tremendous contribution to the nostalgic atmosphere of the Merritt house.
The hotel’s location is second to none, situated walking distance to the Fisherman’s Wharf, many fine shops and restaurants, and only a stone’s throw away from the lavish golf courses which permeate the region.
While you’re in Monterey and staying at the Merritt, you are truly in the heart of it all.
- To book, check prices or availability for Merritt House Hotel
11. Spindrift Inn – a cool and historic inn set on the iconic Cannery Row
Housed in a three-story stucco building originally built in 1927, this historic boutique hotel is a true landmark of Cannery Row. The elegant design of this stylish inn evokes nostalgia and intimacy.
Right on the shores of McAbee Beach, the romantic charm of the Spindrift Inn embellishes breath-taking waterfront views, which can be enjoyed from the European-inspired rooms and suites.
This gorgeous, chic hotel has been listen in TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice’s ‘Top 10 of the Best Hotels for Romance in the United States’, three years in a row, owing to the sense of romance, adventure, and relaxation which permeates the hotel.
- To book, check prices or availability for Spindrift Inn
12. 11th Heaven – a contemporary holiday home that features creative furnishings, ideal for large groups
The serene surroundings which encapsulate 11th Heaven make for a trendy tranquil retreat, perfect for couples, families, and friends alike. This spacious, recently remodelled Monterey getaway features stylish, high-end finishes, a statement gas fireplace, and creative, chic furnishings.
Guests can whip up delicious, home-cooked meals in the state-of-the-art kitchen, before dining together at the cosy table-for-four, topping off their days in the warm and inviting living area. 11th Heaven comes equipped with a wall-mounted, flatscreen TV.
The home is located in Seaside, often famed as the sunniest part of Monterey, a quick three-mile drive to the great kayaking adventures of Del Monte Beach.
- To book, check prices or availability for 11th Heaven
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Beth was born under a wandering star, with drama in her veins and ink in her pen. After stints studying theatre in Dublin and Utrecht she used her creative streak to see as much of the world as she could on as little money. She toured Italian Schools with a children’s theatre troop, lived as an au-pair in both Rome and Washington DC, explored the British countryside, worked her way through much of Europe, Salsa danced in Cuba and road tripped down America’s west coast where she discovered her spiritual home; Portland, Oregon. In between adventures she resides peacefully with her family, cats and ukulele.