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12 Luxury Oceanfront Hotels

Wake up to waves crashing on the California coast

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California’s luxurious oceanfront hotels offer an incredible range of ways to spend the night in style. There’s the scenery, of course—from the rugged, hidden coves of the North Coast to views of sand, surfers, and dolphins in Southern California. And each getaway has its own menu of world-class amenities, including posh spas, fine dining, pools, golf courses, and yoga classes on the sand. Browse these 12 resorts, listed north to south, that offer lodgings as spectacular as their settings.

Little River Inn, Mendocino County

Overlooking a rocky cove, the Little River Inn has been a go-to spot for secluded getaways along the North Coast since 1939. About a 3 1/2-hour drive north of San Francisco, the resort sits on 225 acres of forests, gardens, and never-ending ocean views (bring binoculars if you reserve a room with a private veranda—they make the perfect perch for whale watching). Golfers can play at the inn’s challenging course, the only one along the Mendocino Coast. For wilder adventures, arrange to go ocean kayaking or stroll along the adjacent, driftwood-strewn Van Damme State Beach. (more)

Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

The laid-back Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is an hour’s drive south of San Francisco but feels a world away. Stylish rooms overlook secluded coves, and trails lace the property, so you can stretch your legs after getting head-to-toe pampered at the onsite spa. Golfers can test their game on the resort’s Ocean Course, with blue Pacific views from every hole. Sit by the private fire pits to watch the sun go down or scan the horizon for migrating whales. (more)

The Lodge at Pebble Beach

The Lodge at Pebble Beach

Stately and elegant, the historic The Lodge at Pebble Beach offers an incomparable setting next to one of golf’s iconic landmarks: the oceanfront 18th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Off the golf course, you can enjoy a wood-burning fireplace in your room and stunning ocean views out your picture windows. Tear yourself away long enough to get pampered at The Spa at Pebble Beach, or dine on wood-fired specialties while watching golfers finish up their rounds from the terrace at The Bench. Hotel guests also get booking privileges at other fabled Monterey Peninsula courses including Spyglass Hill and the Links at Spanish Bay. (more)

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

The Post Ranch Inn's jaw-dropping architecture—which blends seamlessly with its bluff-top setting—makes this a sublime way to experience this stretch of the Central Coast. First opened in 1992 on a former homestead and cattle ranch, the resort is comprised of 40 accommodations miraculously sculpted into the cliffs—including ocean-view suites, treehouses on stilts, and the freestanding Cliff House. Adding to the Zen ambience are the absence of televisions or alarm clocks, and the relaxed calm that comes with an 18-and-up age policy. (more)

Ventana Big Sur

Surrounded by 243 acres of lush forests, Ventana Big Sur feels like a secret enclave in the woods. Its 59 refurbished rooms (including two guest houses) are tucked into the hillsides—many with mountain or ocean—and equipped with soaking tubs, fireplaces, and winsome amenities like walking sticks or lanterns to take outside while you explore. To immerse yourself even more in the scenery, go glamping. The resort’s 15 safari tents come outfitted with plush mattresses and bedding, daily housekeeping service, and access to a spa-worthy Bath House. (more)

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

This is paradise, Santa Barbara-style: the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara sits among 22 acres of lush grounds with stately oaks, flowers, and swaying palm trees. The 1920s Spanish Colonial architecture is mighty impressive, too. The lobby features tile details, wood-beamed ceilings, and graceful archways, while the 207 rooms have the vibe of a refined bungalow. You can stay in actual bungalows, too, such as the Anacapa Suite with its own plunge pool, fire pit, and private driveway, plus views of Butterfly Beach. The Spa, meanwhile, features treatment rooms with their own ocean views. (more)

Malibu Beach Inn

This posh Malibu Beach Inn sits on what is known as “Billionaire’s Beach”—a good excuse to splurge on an oceanfront room, relax on your balcony, and see if any of Malibu’s celebrity locals happen to walk by. Then shift your gaze to Malibu Pier and beyond, to look for surfers or passing dolphins. Enjoy breakfast on an oceanfront terrace, just above the waves, or loosen up with private yoga and Pilates classes on the beach. Do some shopping in the Malibu Country Mart—another great place to look for celebs—then return to the inn’s Carbon Beach Club for ginger margaritas or fresh basil juleps. (more)

Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica

Even if you don’t have a wealthy uncle with a rambling oceanfront house, the Cape Cod–inspired Shutters on the Beach lets you live like you do. Sunshine pours through the big windows of the homey yet elegant rooms, created by star designer Michael S. Smith. There’s even a peek-a-boo window between the bedroom and the bathroom, with its jetted tub complete with one of the hotel’s signature rubber whale toys. Head to One Spa for an ocean-inspired healing treatment, then finish the day at the hotel’s 1 Pico restaurant, pairing dishes such as the Skuna Bay salmon with the stunning sunset views. (more)

Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes

When you arrive at Terranea Resort, you’re greeted with a glass of bubbly and jaw-dropping views of the Pacific. The warm welcome sets the tone for your stay at the 102-acre resort on the secluded Palos Verdes Peninsula, where the ocean plays an integral part—from the spa treatments to the water activities and unique culinary program. Located just south of Los Angeles, the Mediterranean-style resort offers 582 elegant guestrooms and suites—including 20 oceanfront bungalows, 50 ocean-view casitas, and 32 villas—as well as eight restaurants, four pools, and a 50,000-square-foot spa. There’s even a private cove and beach. (more)

Montage Laguna Beach

With its stunning architecture and artwork by Californian artists throughout the resort, Orange County’s Montage Laguna Beach celebrates Laguna Beach’s long tradition as an arts colony. Pacific breezes wash through a sun-splashed lobby, with its views of bluff-top gardens, secluded coves, and Santa Catalina Island in the distance. That’s the same scenery you’ll enjoy from the 258 rooms, as pretty and inviting as a summer beach house. Things stay luxurious with the California-inspired contemporary French cuisine and beach cottage ambience at Studio, the resort’s signature restaurant. Don’t miss Spa Montage, a 2,000-square-foot retreat featuring dry redwood saunas, fireplace lounges, and its own ocean-view swimming pool. (more)

The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla

Though this coastal stunner opened in 2002, The Lodge at Torrey Pines looks every bit like an Arts & Crafts masterpiece from the early 1900s. Refined details—think stained glass, dramatic fireplaces, and gleaming wood trim work—fill every corner. At the spa, with its own fireplaces and mosaic floors, try the Ancient Oceans Ritual treatment, which includes a warm body wrap scented with lavender, sandalwood, and sage. Or, head outside and breathe in the scent of the area’s feathery evergreen trees while hiking the trails of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, which neighbors the hotel. (more)

Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego

A stone’s throw from the city, the appealing island community of Coronado feels like a private enclave, wrapped with perfect beaches. Its crown jewel is Hotel Del Coronado, topped by red, castle-like turrets. Explore the lobby and grounds on your own, or join a guided tour to learn about the 1888 hotel’s remarkable history and guest list (including Marilyn Monroe, who starred—alongside the hotel—in the 1959’s Some Like It Hot). The Del also serves a sumptuous Sunday brunch, and the Babcock & Story bar is fine for sipping a craft beer with views of the Pacific. (more)

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