Best Value Hotels on the Monterey Peninsula

Stay_MP_Value_NoRCShould a traveler to the Monterey Peninsula of California be so inspired, they could spend upwards of $5,000 on lodging for a given trip, easy. That wouldn’t be to finance a house for a week, but a single room, for one night. This list is the antidote to that sort of spending — without sacrificing the luxury. A helpful reminder therein: Value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, it demonstrates the most quality for the fairest price.

One way each of the following spots delivers on that axiom is by maximizing access, visually and geographically, to the wonders of the Pacific Coast, buttressed by a range of creature comforts and superior service. So without further ado or breathless adjectives, here appear our Monterey Peninsula Value Hotel winners for 2022, selected by our editors – look for our readers’ choice winner, selected by our audience.

Photo above: Tickle Pink Inn

Big Sur Cabins Campground-Monterey Peninsula-Value-credit Big Sur Cabins-800x450
Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Campgrounds

Big Sur Campground and Cabins

It’s family first here, with a wonderland of endeavors to explore, starting with splashing in the Big Sur River and wandering among the towering redwoods, with all the sensorial joy available inches from where you rest your head. Tent and RV camping are high-value plays to embrace life on the forest floor, and there are also a range of cabin possibilities, from rustic cabins for the more wild and free to more extensively equipped — think kitchens and fireplaces — for more those for whose default gear is glamping.

HIGHLIGHTS: In a word, nature. Pristine river plus impossibly fresh air plus delicious fragrant coastal redwoods equals an elevated state in the lowest-key setting. And that’s just on property, which also connects to trails from the belly of the ravine it calls home. Big Sur itself is the lead actor in this production. Bring on Garrapata State Park and Beach, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, each unforgettable in their own right and, collectively, why the almost mythic South Coast is a beacon to poets, explorers, travelers and Pacha Mama lovers from around the world.

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Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Campgrounds

Carmel Mission Inn

Across from the Carmel Crossroads center off Highway, Carmel Mission Inn is centrally located for either exploring Carmel, wine tasting in Carmel Valley or breezing down the road to Big Sur. Its recently renovated rooms and public spaces also feature a breezy, contemporized midcentury modern style. Handsome wood-paneled walls are brightened by light flowing through large windows that open (more breezes!) King rooms, some with private balconies or decks, offer roomy seating areas and workspaces. The new casual-chic Shearwater Tavern serves daily breakfast and, Tuesday through Saturday, regionally inspired dishes and libations for happy hour and dinner.

HIGHLIGHTS: The large, heated pool and landscaped courtyard has the same inviting vibe as the rest of the unpretentious but attractive compound, which also has special pet-friendly ground-floor rooms with lawn access and hard flooring. Free parking and electric-vehicle charging as well as the fast access to Highway One make this a great road trip option; cyclists and others will want to include it with these options for best group getaway hotels.

Carmel Valley Lodge-Monterey Peninsula-Value-800x450-credit Carmel Valley Lodge
Photo: Courtesy of Carmel Valley Lodge

Carmel Valley Lodge

While classic Carmel Valley Lodge charges a fraction of what other hotels around the valley do, it proves more conveniently located. That means walkability to rolling community parks, homespun restaurants and — wait for it — an absurd amount of locally sown wine tasting rooms, with roughly 30 ready to have you swirl and sip their small-batch Pinots and Chardonnays within 1,000 steps. The grounds deploy old-growth oaks, water features, a welcoming pool, modest spa and integrated fire pits, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful Carmel Valley hills. Each lodge unit benefits from a wood deck, balcony or flagstone patio, exposed wood-beamed ceilings, refrigerators, flat-screen TVs and convenient free parking.

HIGHLIGHTS: To paraphrase the famous refrain, a main highlight here is location, location, location, right on the apron of sunny and irresistible Carmel Valley Village. Within a short drive you can encounter expansive Garland Ranch Park, routinely voted the area’s best hiking spot. The 1950s lodge takes pride in its rustic texture, but new owners have begun updating the 3-acre sanctuary, without sacrificing heritage. Complimentary continental breakfast and dog-friendly rooms rank among additional perks, as does on-site yoga Friday-Sunday.

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Photo: Courtesy of Portola Hotel & Spa

Portola Hotel & Spa

In the heart of Old Monterey, Portola Hotel & Spa is steps to the historic Custom House Plaza, the shops and restaurants on Old Fisherman’s Wharf, quaint adobes and intriguing museums. Its recently renovated 379 rooms and suites, some with harbor views, boast a bright and light coastal palette with modern, streamlined furnishings. Dining options are tasty and convenient: clubby Jacks Monterey, the acclaimed indoor-outdoor Peter B’s Brewpub and Peet’s Coffee. Larger parties, especially families, should also consider this hotel along with our choices for best hotels for group getaways.

HIGHLIGHTS: The number one highlight might be sitting in a puppy-soft robe by a wood-burning fireplace or on the private balcony — or slipping out of the robe and into an outdoor hot tub. But there are more highlights where that came from: fresh ground coffee in each room; deluxe continental breakfast with fresh-baked breads and pastries, eggs Florentine and more; and local red and white California wines paired with an cheeses at the nightly reception in the Terrace Lounge by the Cliffside Deck. Bonus things to take advantage of: proximity to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Monastery Beach, and the one and only Carmel-by-the-Sea itself.

Tickle Pink Inn-Monterey Peninsula-Value-800x450-credit Tickle Pink Inn
Photo: Courtesy of Tickle Pink Inn

Tickle Pink Inn

Stay_MP_Value_RCYou could say Tickle Pink Inn enjoys a sweet spot — a ticklish spot? — as it captivates guests with the almost-stupid splendor of the Big Sur coast, while still on the cusp of Carmel. The iconic spot with the return rate to prove its popularity has been around for 60 years, piling up awards for hospitality that starts with a welcoming bottle of chilled champagne paired with a (yes) pink rose. (Many won’t immediately notice because they’re hypnotized by the view.) Its somewhat ornate decor may seem a little dated, but its scenic perch and many perks have earned a loyal following as well as numerous awards. Consider it an option along with these best hotels for romance.

HIGHLIGHTS: The number one highlight might be sitting in a puppy-soft robe by a wood-burning fireplace or on the private balcony — or slipping out of the robe and into an outdoor hot tub. But there are more highlights where that came from: fresh ground coffee in each room; deluxe continental breakfast with fresh-baked breads and pastries, eggs Florentine and more; and local red and white California wines paired with an cheeses at the nightly reception in the Terrace Lounge by the Cliffside Deck. Bonus things to take advantage of: proximity to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Monastery Beach, and the one and only Carmel-by-the-Sea itself.

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Photo: Courtesy of The Getaway

The Getaway

Carmel’s original crop of simple motels have been morphing into higher-priced boutique hotels for years now, with their main draw being their convenient in-village location and off-street parking. But San Francisco’s upscale PlumpJack Group has wielded particular care in transforming the former Village Inn into the Getaway, a chic but cozy spot with super-comfy beds, stylishly retiled bathrooms and showers hidden behind sliding barn doors, and thoughtful perks like the delicious breakfast basket delivered to your door and loaner beach cruisers with helmets and bike locks.

HIGHLIGHTS: The 34 rooms spread across two two-story wings offer king beds with down comforters and plush mattresses; gas fireplaces and warm robes also encourage curling up on a foggy day. Its location across from Devendorf Park and kitty-corner from Carmel Plaza invites strolling or cycling through Carmel, but be sure to return by 5pm to enjoy the complimentary wine hour with well-curated drinks and savory nibbles. If you like its style, check out its sibling, the Hideaway, in our picks of best hotels for romance. 

Did we miss your favorite hotel?
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