The 7 Best Monterey, California, Hotels

A prime location makes InterContinental The Clement Monterey first on our list

A scene from inside the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Adam Hester / Getty Images

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The Rundown

Located on California’s central coast, Monterey is best known for its dramatic landscape, where Pacific breezes and pine forests make for one of the country’s most enchanting atmospheres. The beach town—whose setting has been revered in everything from John Steinbeck novels to HBO’s "Big Little Lies"—is unsurprisingly one of the most popular destinations for a seaside getaway. From oceanfront mansions to big-ticket beach resorts, Monterey hotels are equally appealing.

The best hotels in the area provide guests with a quintessential Monterey experience by offering beach access, fine dining, and proximity to can’t-miss locations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Read on for our expert list of the best hotels in Monterey, California.

01 of 07

Best Overall: InterContinental The Clement Monterey

InterContinental The Clement Monterey

InterContinental The Clement Monterey

Why We Chose It

California charm meets modern luxury at Intercontinental, which offers a prime beachfront location and crowd-pleasing amenities.  

Pros
  • Multilingual concierge

  • Rooms have a marble bathrooms with a soaking tubs (except the ADA-accessible rooms)

Cons
  • Some room décor lacks personality

Description

Located a block from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row, the InterContinental tops the chart thanks to its enviable waterfront setting. Comprising several beach-house-style buildings accented by floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, the hotel puts guests as close to the ocean as possible, with panoramic views in many guest rooms and common spaces. 

Accommodations are decorated with neutral hues and handsome wooden accents, made extra comfortable with smart technology (including HD TVs) and Frette linens. When not soaking up the bay breezes from the outdoor pool and hot tub, guests have access to a full-service spa with a jacuzzi and fitness center. The C restaurant is not to be missed, offering sustainable California cuisine, local wines, and epic bay views. 

Notable Amenities

  • The library
  • Private dining available (up to 24 people)
  • Patio with firepit
  • Themed packages available (e.g., aquarium package and spa package)
02 of 07

Best Setting: Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Why We Chose It

Ocean views are the name of the game at the Monterey Plaza, which makes the most of its dramatic setting overlooking the Pacific.

Pros
  • State-of-the-art spa regularly tops nation-wide lists

  • Sustainability programs include on-site recycling and water conservation

Cons
  • No outdoor pool

Description

For guests looking to experience Monterey in all its glory, look no further than this luxurious mainstay on the north end of Cannery Row. Guests stay in modern rooms outfitted with coastal touches like starfish-shaped sculptures and turquoise sofas, along with creature comforts like Keurig coffee makers and Zents bath products. 

But the star of the show is the dazzling view found throughout the hotel, including at the rooftop spa, with a couples’ bath suite overlooking the ocean; in the airy fitness center, with floor-to-ceiling windows; and on the panoramic sundeck, complete with two hot tubs and a fireplace. The views continue in the hotel’s several restaurants, including Schooners, with its nautical decor (wood-paneled walls and sailboat figurines), and the artisanal coffee bar.

Notable Amenities

  • Complimentary bicycles
  • Wine tastings
  • 24-hour room service
03 of 07

Best for Families: Portola Hotel & Spa

Portola Hotel & Spa

Portola Hotel & Spa

Why We Chose It

Located in downtown Monterey, this hotel is not only family-friendly but offers several adult draws, including a well-known craft brewery.

Pros
  • LEED-certified hotel

  • Pet friendly

Cons
  • Shares a space with a conference center

Description

For families, it doesn’t get much better than the Portola Hotel, with its sublime bay views, contemporary-cool design, and ample children’s programming. Guest rooms, many of which were renovated in 2020, feature airy, white-on-white decor with abstract artwork and plenty of natural light. Family-friendly suites boast private courtyards, dining areas, and spacious living areas, while other suites feature luxuries like chandeliers, telescopes, and wet bars. 

Children will be well-entertained, between the outdoor pool and Portola Pirate Program, which includes a treasure hunt around the property. Adults can take advantage of the oasis-like spa, with 40 signature treatments including aromatherapy facials and seaweed cocoon wraps. Of the ever-popular on-site restaurants, Peter B’s Brewpub is not to be missed, with its award-winning locally brewed beer and elevated comfort food.

Notable Amenities

  • 24-hour fitness center on-site (classes available)
  • Concierge offers specialized tours
04 of 07

Best Sense of Place: Jabberwock Inn

Jabberwock Inn

Jabberwock Inn

Why We Chose It

Whimsical decor, fanciful gardens, and a dramatic cliffside setting make this historic B&B feel straight out of a storybook. 

Pros
  • Exquisite bay views

  • Individually designed rooms

Cons
  • No restaurant or gym on-site

  • Some rooms are small with detached bathrooms (accessed down the hall)

Description

Built in 1911, the romantic Jabberwock Inn is located on a half-acre of landscaped gardens several blocks from Cannery Row. The Victorian inn is named after Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem, and pays homage to literary whimsy at every turn, including in the rooms, which are named for storybook characters.

While accommodations are decidedly Victorian in style (antique mahogany headboards and plenty of florals), they also feature luxuries like private gardens, fireplaces, and Jacuzzis for two. While there is no restaurant, guests are well-fed with a full hot breakfast, afternoon tea, freshly baked cookies, and wine and hors d’oeuvres each afternoon (all complimentary).

Notable Amenities

  • Bocce ball court
  • In-room massages available
  • Special romantic packages available
Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Best Outside of Town: Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel And Spa

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel And Spa

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel And Spa

Why We Chose It

Surrounded by pine tree forests, the Hyatt Regency offers a peaceful countryside retreat just minutes from the ocean. 

Pros
  • Pet friendly, with a pet suite and “barking lot” play zone

  • Multilingual staff and currency exchange

Cons
  • Rooms look a bit corporate

Description

While most people come to Monterey for the sea, the surrounding scenery is equally gorgeous, and the Hyatt Regency offers guests the best of both settings. The hotel is ideal for active guests, with its ample forest trails, tennis courts, a health club, and 18-hole Del Monte Golf Course​. But it’s also an ideal place to simply relax in the great outdoors, with its two outdoor pools, gazebo, and fire pits. 

Guest rooms are designed with earthy hues and fresh (albeit simple) decor and are outfitted with ample amenities, such as smart TVs and Bluetooth alarm clocks. Higher category suites make for great family and group gatherings, with a full kitchen, backyard, firepit, and private pool.

Notable Amenities

  • Multiple restaurants including Hearth (features fireplace, live music)
  • 12,000-square-foot spa and salon
06 of 07

Best for Romance: Spindrift Inn

Spindrift Inn

Spindrift Inn

Why We Chose It

Couples will be hard-pressed to find a more romantic setting in Monterey than the Spindrift Inn, known for its waterfront location, intimate atmosphere, and European-inspired design.

Pros
  • Only three blocks from the aquarium

  • ADA-accessible rooms

Cons
  • No spa or pool on-site

  • No restaurant on-site

Description

Located in the heart of Cannery Row, the Spindrift Inn is best described as a Parisian pied-à-terre on the beach. Couples are welcomed by the striking, two-story lobby filled with pink and green pastel furniture, vintage mirrors, and cherubic marble sculptures (but we promise it’s not too kitschy).

Rooms are equally romantic, with four-poster beds, wood-burning fireplaces, and sweeping ocean views. Guests are delivered a silver tray breakfast of fresh muffins and fruit daily, and while there is no restaurant on-site, the hotel's location and atmosphere cannot be beat. 

Notable Amenities

  • Rooftop garden
  • Specialzed packages offered
07 of 07

Best Budget: The Monterey Hotel

The Monterey Hotel

The Monterey Hotel

Why We Chose It

With an iconic Victorian facade in the heart of downtown, this historic boutique hotel is surprisingly affordable.

Pros
  • Pet friendly 

  • Contactless check-in offered

  • ADA-accessible accomodations

Cons
  • Some reviews noted inconsistent service

  • Old building comes with kinks (complaints of slow WiFi)

Description

Located a few blocks from Monterey’s top attractions like the aquarium and Old Fisherman’s Wharf, the Monterey Inn is a budget-friendly home-base for an excellent visit to Monterey. While the hotel is located in a historic building, several rooms have been updated to offer gas fireplaces, which is a lovely amenity in the town’s breezy climate. The historic rooms feature more traditional decor such as marble flooring, hand-carved furniture, and large, arch-top windows. And while there is no restaurant or spa on-site, guests are within walking distance of all of Monterey’s best restaurants and sites.

Notable Amenities

  • Fitness room

Final Verdict

For a cool California getaway, it doesn’t get much better than Monterey, and travelers of all styles will find a lovely place to rest their head here. For culture gurus and romantics, consider a stay at the Jabberwock Inn or Spindrift Inn. Beach lovers cannot go wrong at either Intercontinental or the Plaza. And for a taste of Monterey that’s easy on the wallet, the Monterey Hotel is an excellent option.

Compare the Best Monterey, California, Hotels

 Property Resort Fee   Rates  Number of Rooms  WiFi
InterContinental The Clement Monterey Best Overall  None  $$$  210 At cost
Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa Best Setting  $29  $$$  290 Free
Portola Hotel & Spa Best for Families  None  $$  379 At cost
Jabberwock Inn Best Sense of Place  None  $$  8 Free
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel And Spa Best Outside of Town  None  $$  560 Free
Spindrift Inn Best for Romance  None  $$$  45 Free
The Monterey Hotel Best Budget  None  $  69 Free

Methodology

We evaluated over two dozen hotels in Monterey before choosing the best in each category. We considered various elements when making our decisions, such as the property’s quality of rooms, its design, proximity to the beach and other locations, and notable amenities (kids' clubs, pools, concierge services, etc.). We also assessed each property’s dining options, whether there is a spa on-site, and the types of experiences are available to guests. In addition to customer reviews, we noted each of the hotel’s sanitation and cleanliness measures.

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