Top 10 Hotels on California’s HWY 1

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a James Bond character.

Michelle Kratzer
Kratzer. Michelle Kratzer.

So, its probably no surprise that I love driving the hilly cliffs of HWY 1 up through Big Sur, over the Pacific and back down to SLO (although I do it obeying all traffic laws while car-dancing to 80’s music).

California’s HWY 1 technically begins at Mendocino County in the North and ends at Dana Point in the South. It runs concurrently with US 101 and is called by different names at various points (Cabrillo Highway, Pacific Coast Highway, Shoreline Highway). This drive is the ultimate way to experience California’s breathtaking coastline views, from jagged rocky shores to sandy surf spots.

Along the way, you’ll pass some of California’s most unique hotels and exquisite resorts. They are listed for you below, from San Francisco to San Diego. Plan to stay at one of these to make your California HWY 1 road trip beyond epic!

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Top 10 Hotels Along California HWY 1

1. Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

Newly renovated in shades of grey, blue and white to symbolize the city’s fog, redwood trees and ocean, Four Seasons San Francisco offers easy access to the wonders of SF. Walk a few blocks to elite, world-class shopping at Union Square, hop on a cable car to sample culinary delights at the Ferry building or visit unique museums and historic sites. After you work up an appetite, enjoy locally sourced California cuisine and 180° city views at the MKT Restaurant – Bar.

2. The Lodge at Pebble Beach

Golfers from all over the world flock to the ocean view course at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, located on 17-Mile Drive just outside Carmel. Guests staying at the lodge receive special golf booking privileges. Non-golfers have plenty to do with nearby activities including: an equestrian center, tennis club, Big Sur hiking trails and the Laguna Seca Raceway. After an exhilarating day of golf and other activities, guests are welcome to rejuvenate at the lodge’s award winning spa.

Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach
Photo:  Gavi Virabyan

3. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

The Post Ranch Inn, with panoramic ocean and mountain views provides a peaceful space to replenish body and soul. Spa treatments, natural beauty, star gazing and accommodations without television or alarm clocks encourage guests to reconnect with themselves and each other. In addition, Falconry, sound journey meditation, guided nature hikes and infinity meditation spas make this a special place you will never forget.

4. Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Located about 30 minutes outside of San Francisco on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean sits the beautiful Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. Everything in the hotel has been designed to showcase the majesty of the ocean below. Half Moon Bay offers several activities like surfing, hiking, horseback riding, shopping and wine tasting. Those looking for relaxation are to find the perfect treatment in one of the hotel spa’s 15 luxury treatment rooms.

Ritz Carton Bacara
Half Moon Bay
Photo: DanMSchell

5. Ritz Carlton, Bacara, Santa Barbara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is set on acres of oceanfront natural beach. Enjoy private balconies with ocean views, visit the wellness center or discover the area’s activities (hiking, sailing, horseback riding, surfing). At the hotel, experience wine tasting in a private room or dine in one of their 6 restaurants. After a day of play, rejuvenate in the award winning spa or ocean view pools.

6. Hotel Casa Del Mar, Santa Monica

Santa Monica’s Hotel Casa Del Mar features panoramic views from Palos Verdes to Malibu, offering a stunning way to experience the beauty of Southern California. The lobby, originally an exclusive 1920’s beach club, still features soaring ceilings and windows from the original structure. Oceanfront Casa Del Mar sits right on the sand, presenting the ideal getaway for beach lovers. Toast to the good life at the Terrazza Lounge or regain a sense of peace at the Sea Wellness Spa.

7. Montage Laguna Beach

There is nothing like the seaside luxury of the Montage Laguna Beach. Discover new experiences like whale watching, sailing, surfing, stand-up-paddle-board and golf. Dine at the Studio, featuring delicacies from chef Benjamin Martinek. Renew yourself in the Montage Spa Elements of Wellness with eucalyptus steam rooms, ocean air whirlpools and a full menu of massage therapies, facials and other treatments.

Montage, Laguna Beach
Montage Laguna
Photo:  Joshua Sukoff

Celebrities and Royalty come to Montage for award winning accommodations. Here are a few of the accolades:

  • Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Rating (2013-2018)
  • AAA Five Diamond Award (2013-2018)
  • Orange County Register Best of Orange County “Best O.C. Resort” (2017-2019)
  • Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award “Top Hotels in Southern California” (2016-2018)
  • Travel + Leisure “The Best Resort Hotels in California” (2016)

8. Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point

The luxurious AAA FIVE-DIAMOND Monarch Beach Resort sits on a hillside overlooking the coast at Monarch Beach. The restaurants offer breathtaking ocean views and world class dining. Active visitors have access to numerous activities like whale watching and hiking trails. Ask for a Resort Experience Planner to schedule the perfect vacation for you, whether whether you prefer oceanfront golf, premier pools or a spa day. If you want to relax and restore your inner balance, a package at Miraval Spa with massages, facials, meditation and yoga will get you back to your center.

9. Hotel Del Coronado, Coronado

Built in 1888, San Diego’s Hotel Del Coronado, aka “The Dell”, combines modern luxury with iconic architecture. Inside, rooms decorated in ocean blues, gold and warm tan welcome guests to their own beach getaway. Celebrities, royalty and presidents frequent this hotel, which has been the backdrop for various television and movie projects. Plenty of beach activities await guests, including holiday events and everyday celebrations.

Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado
Photo: nightowl

10. L’Auberge Del Mar, San Diego

San Diego’s L’Auberge features estate-style guest rooms with mesmerizing ocean views. The hotel overlooks the quaint Village Del Mar, with shopping, hiking, golf and art galleries nearby. Guests are invited to explore surfing and cycling the coast, then reward themselves with a trip to the hotel’s ocean-inspired spa.

So, schedule your coastline getaway on HWY 1. Stay at one of these hotels and let us know what you think. If you have a favorite spot that’s not on the list, mention it in the comments so that I can check it out!

Published by Michelle Kratzer

I like to write. I love the ocean. I live for babies and dogs and giggles.

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