Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
The famous California seaside town of Monterey, set just a few hours south of San Francisco, is popular with all sorts of travelers. Famous sites — there’s the Monterey Bay Aquarium, renowned across the world for its living kelp forest — as well as great dining and drinking along Cannery Row or near Fisherman’s Wharf, world-class golf courses, some of the state’s best wineries, and, of course, the Monterey Bay itself, where wild dolphins, seals, sea lions, whales, and other animals make frequent appearances, draw crowds with ease. If you’re looking for a place to stay, we’ve rounded up our top recommendations based on a variety of categories. Monterey is great for families, but it can also be a romantic getaway. And with the Monterey Convention Center, this town is well-suited to business travelers, as well. Whatever your purpose is during your visit to Monterey — and whatever your budget — we have great hotel picks for you.
With a prime location on Cannery Row — the waterfront district made famous by John Steinbeck in his novel of the same name — InterContinental The Clement Monterey is our top choice in the seaside town. It’s housed in several Craftsman-style buildings set right on Monterey Bay, and its 208 rooms feature simple but elegant decor in neutral, earthy hues. Not all rooms have water views, but upgrade to a suite to get a private balcony overlooking the ocean (or opt for an inland-view if you're looking for something pet-friendly). Boasting a number of amenities like a full-service spa, a one-lane lap pool and hot tub with a sun deck, a large fitness center, a business center, and a children’s club, the hotel offers guests plenty to do during their stay. The on-site restaurant and bar serves cocktail and seafood in a space with panoramic water views, plus an expansive patio. The InterContinental The Clement Monterey is located just a block away from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the town’s top tourist attractions.
If you’re on a budget on your next trip to Monterey, you’d do well booking a stay at the Lone Oak Lodge, an inland motel that’s a 10-minute drive from downtown Monterey and a 10-minute walk to the beach (unfortunately, water views and proximity to attractions will cost you a pretty penny). But while the property has some retro vibes, it’s surprisingly updated and has a friendly, youthful vibe. Rooms have relatively nondescript beige decor, but they’re impeccably clean with microwaves and mini-fridges. Some even have fireplaces and hot tubs. You can also book a cottage that has a full kitchen, which will likely come in handy as there’s no on-site restaurant. There is, however, a tiny “spa” with a hot tub and sauna, as well as a few exercise machines. Plus, there’s a patio and a barbecue area available for all guests to use. The Lone Oak Lodge is popular with surfers, divers, and roadtrippers.
Located in a quieter part of town, the 196-room, pet-friendly Monterey Tides, a Joie de Vivre Hotel, is a great pick for travelers looking to be on the beach as it’s just steps from the sand. Though the beach in this area is public, you won’t find too many crowds here. If swimming in the ocean isn’t your style, there’s a large heated pool that’s open year-round. With so much water around, it’s not too much of a surprise that the rooms take an aquatic vibe with sapphire blue walls and navy carpets with undulating patterns. Other amenities at the hotel include a gym, a business center, and 9,000 square feet of meeting and event space, should you want to host a function. Guests can sip craft cocktails at Bar Sebastián, then enjoy Spanish cuisine at the oceanfront Vizcaino Waterfront Food + Drink. For a unique dessert option, the hotel offers guests bonfire and s’mores kits to enjoy on the beach.
The Hotel Pacific is a great choice for vacationing families, as all 105 rooms are suite-style and start at 450 square feet, meaning there’s plenty of space for everyone to spread out. The Spanish-style hotel is also ideally located to top attractions — it’s just a few blocks to Fisherman’s Wharf and the beach, while the Monterey Aquarium is just over a mile down Cannery Row. A number of golf courses are a short drive away, too. Rooms are comfortable with a residential vibe and feature hardwood floors, gas fireplaces, soaking tubs, private balconies or patios, microwaves, and mini-fridges. Plus, a complimentary continental breakfast is served each morning, and though there’s no on-site restaurant, refreshments are served in the afternoon, too. It’s not an inconvenience, though, as the hotel is within walking distance of a number of great eateries. There are also beautifully landscaped gardens, a large meeting room, and a business center.
The luxurious Spindrift Inn is one of the most romantic hotels in the area. It’s got a prime waterfront Cannery Row location, but unlike its larger neighbors, there are only 45 rooms. Decorated with soft pinks and greens, the accommodations are sophisticated yet cozy with marble baths, window seats, hardwood floors, and canopy beds — some rooms even feature wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, waterfront rooms have binoculars for you to keep an eye on the wildlife outside. Breakfast is included and served in the room each morning, with a complimentary wine and cheese reception held in the lobby in each evening. Coffee and tea are also available. Though there’s no on-site restaurant, the hotel’s Cannery Row location means great dining is within walking distance, as are attractions like the Monterey Aquarium and Fisherman’s Wharf. And, while there’s also no pool or spa, in-room massages can be organized. During sunset, take a glass of wine to the rooftop deck to take in the excellent views.
Monterey might have more of a laid-back California vibe than some of the posher towns along the coast, but you can still find a luxury hotel for your stay. Consider the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, a 290-room property with a prime waterfront location on the north side of Cannery Row. Sophisticatedly decorated, Mediterranean-inspired guestrooms feature touches of beachy elements, like coral art prints on the walls, but the muted, earthy hues and luxe furnishings keep the vibe far from tacky. If you’re looking for more of a nautical theme, head down to Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar, the on-site restaurant. There’s also a more casual café, too. Of course, as the hotel’s name implies, its top amenity is an 11,000-square-foot spa, located on the top floor of the hotel. After your treatment or workout in the adjacent fitness center, you can relax on the sundeck overlooking the Pacific.
California — and especially the area around Monterey — might be better known for its wines, but there’s a strong craft beer scene, too. Beer lovers should stay at the Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay, which has its own microbrewery: Peter B’s Brewpub. The 379-room LEED-certified hotel, located near Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, is also great for business travelers as it’s adjacent to the Monterey Convention Center, as well as families, thanks to great children’s programming. The accommodations take on a hint of a nautical theme with some stripes and red-and-blue fabrics. Amenities include a full-service spa with a nail salon and steam room, a 24-hour fitness center with classes for guests, and an outdoor pool with a hot tub. Aside from the brewpub, there’s also the Club Room, where a breakfast buffet is served in the morning, as is a bottomless-mimosa brunch, and Jacks Monterey, a lobby restaurant and bar serving California cuisine.
For business travelers in Monterey, it doesn’t get better than the Marriott. The hotel is not only connected to the Monterey Convention Center by a skybridge (Marriott staff can help you rent space within it), but it’s also got 16,500 square feet of its own meeting and event space on-site. The 319-room hotel is conveniently located just a few blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf and a five-minute drive from the Monterey Aquarium, meaning it’s easy to sneak away from work to see some sights or grab a bite to eat. The Marriott has its own restaurant, Fin + Field, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s also a buffet breakfast available for guests for a fee. When you’re done working for the day, head to the outdoor pool and hot tub or the fitness center before retreating to your room. Accommodations are exactly what you’d expect from a large chain hotel, but they certainly do their job.
Located just five blocks inland — and uphill — from Cannery Row, the Jabberwock Inn feels a world apart from the bustling street. The Craftsman-style house, built in 1911, sits on half an acre of beautifully landscaped grounds, and thanks to the hills of Monterey, it’s got sweeping views of the ocean. The decor is Victorian-inspired (think patterned wallpaper, floral upholstery, and either dark wood or bright white furnishings) with elements inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, from which the inn takes its name. The seven bedrooms are individually decorated, and some even feature fireplaces and Jacuzzis. As a proper B&B, breakfast is served each morning, and as a bonus, hors d’oeuvres and wine are served each evening. Plus, all guests receive freshly baked cookies with tea. While there aren’t as many amenities as you might find at a full-service hotel, there is a bocce ball court in the garden.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular hotels in Monterey, California. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different hotels and read over 100 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.