Best Waterfront Hotels in Monterey

Best Waterfront Hotels in Monterey

On California’s Monterey Peninsula, luxury means something a little bit different — upscale amenities and attentive service, for sure, but also a sense of serenity, relaxation and retreat. These high-luxe getaways will treat you to a wealth of natural beauty along with a heaping dose of pampering, making them our picks for the best waterfront hotels in Monterey.

Featured photo courtesy of Monterey Tides. 

Outdoor patio overlooking ocean at Intercontinental's Clement Monterey in Monterey, California.
Photo: Courtesy of InterContinental The Clement Monterey

InterContinental The Clement Monterey

One of the newest structures in historic Cannery Row, the 220-room InterContinental The Clement Monterey spreads its rooms and facilities between a waterfront building and one across the street, connected by a second-story bridge. All of its luxurious accommodation comes with gas fireplaces (perfect for foggy nights), soaking tubs, walk-in showers and plump beds with Frette linens, making this a viable addition to our list of Monterey’s best luxury hotels. The street-side building hosts the small but well-regarded spa and the more commodious fitness center, which overlook a courtyard with modest heated pool. Everyone can soak in the sea air from the expansive deck with firepits, an easy walk to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, shops and dining.

HIGHLIGHT: Although chefs may change, the hotel’s C Restaurant has always wowed diners with its ocean vistas, locally caught seafood and other regional fare. The central location makes it easy to get around, but the relatively large rooms (425 to 450 square feet) with their high-end entertainment systems, plush beds and soothing neutral-toned decor make it just as easy to cocoon, especially with the fireplace going and a bottle of your latest Monterey wine find at the ready.

Hotel room with bed, couch, fireplace and balcony overlooking the bay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach in Monterey, California.
Photo: Courtesy of Kodiak Greenwood

The Lodge at Pebble Beach

Home to world-renowned 17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach Golf Links, the gated enclave of Pebble Beach also boasts several resorts that capitalize on the stunning ocean and fairway views. The oldest and most renowned, the Lodge at Pebble Beach, opened in 1919, the same year as the eponymous golf course, but it’s been expanded and modernized several times since then, including the 2017 addition of the modern Fairway One cottages. Spacious rooms and suites feature patios and balconies to bring the views even closer, with contemporary decor that has a classic, clubby feel; many offer gas-burning fireplaces, perfect for foggy days. The Lodge also makes our list of the best luxury hotels in Monterey. 

HIGHLIGHT: Besides the stunning ocean views, it’s all about access: Guests staying in a Pebble Beach resort can book a tee time at Pebble Beach Golf Links — often hailed as the top public golf course in the country — up to 18 months in advance, compared with 24 hours in advance for everyone else. You gain admission to the equally impressive but private Beach and Tennis Club, with its heated 25-meter lap pool perched just above the chilly Pacific.

King bed, sitting room and fireplace within a hotel room at Spindrift Inn in Monterey, California.
Photo: Courtesy of Spindrift Inn

Spindrift Inn

On the golden sand of Cannery Row’s compact McAbee Beach, the Spindrift Inn showcases European flair and a sense of romance in its three-story building, built in 1927 by an enterprising Chinese American hotelier on the site of a historic Chinese settlement. While his hotel didn’t survive the industrial era of sardine canning, the modern establishment (opened in 1984) has won a loyal following for endearing touches like window seats, gas fireplaces, canopy beds with matching drapery, and seating areas with cozy armchairs.

HIGHLIGHT: The intimate scale — just 45 rooms and suites — and perks like breakfast delivered to your room on a silver tray create a romantic atmosphere, similar to these top hotels for romance in Monterey. Book an ocean-view room for maximum enjoyment of your waterfront setting. Monterey Bay Aquarium and tons of shops and restaurants are just steps away, too.

Two chairs face a window with a view of Monterey Bay at Monterey Tides hotel
Photo: Courtesy of Monterey Tides

Monterey Tides

The exposed corridors are about the only remnant of the Monterey Tides’ past incarnation as a Best Western motel near Seaside on Monterey’s northern border. A stylish overhaul in 2016 brought in a boutique sensibility — but still relatively moderate prices — to its 196 guest rooms and public areas, including a lobby-level lounge and penthouse restaurant with dazzling views across Monterey Bay. In an unusual arrangement, the hotel actually owns much of the broad sands (part of Monterey State Beach) in front of it, which means guests can take advantage of bonfire and S’mores kits.

HIGHLIGHT: The heated pool and hot tub are sheltered by a handsome wood wall, while the rooms feel warm and cheery, thanks to rich navy hues and whimsical midcentury modern touches. Its location just off the highway on the outskirts of Monterey mean many visitors overlook its wonderful dining and drinking options. Work up an appetite by renting one of the hotel’s beach cruisers and taking the coastal recreation trail all the way to Pacific Grove and back (about 10 miles round trip).

Two chairs arranged with brunch and orange juice at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Monterey, California.
Photo: Courtesy of Noah Webb

The Inn at Spanish Bay

Hidden coves and beaches lie just below the boardwalk outside the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, where a bagpiper plays daily as the setting sun illuminates the Scottish-style Links at Spanish Bay. As with the resort’s Lodge at Pebble Beach and Casa Palmero, it’s among our choices for top luxury hotels in the region. Guests of the 269 rooms and suites get advance tee time reservations to the famed Pebble Beach golf course plus country club access, including the nearby private Spanish Bay Club and Tennis Pavilion as well as the Beach and Tennis Club some 5 miles south.

HIGHLIGHT: All of the roomy lodgings include fireplaces and most have balconies or patios. Foodies won’t have to walk far for fun. After listening to the bagpiper outside Sticks restaurant, check out Stave Wine Cellar for small bites, cheese and charcuterie paired with some of the 50 wines or eight craft beers by the glass. Then head to Peppoli at Pebble Beach for some of Monterey’s best Italian fare, or Roy’s at Pebble Beach for Hawaiian-fusion cuisine.

Waves in the Monterey Bay beside the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa
Photo: Courtesy of Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

If your ideal group getaway involves shopping, dining, spa treatments and sightseeing, then Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa should be on your list. On the quiet end of Cannery Row, but close to everything, the upscale hotel offers 290 recently renovated rooms and suites. Many feature dazzling Monterey Bay views and some have balconies so close to the water you might think you’re aboard a yacht. Dining at the new fine-dining Coastal Kitchen and the lively, bay-view Schooners Monterey are excellent, as is Vista Blue Spa, which provides its own panoramic views from a rooftop terrace with whirlpool spas.

HIGHLIGHT: With a large, well-equipped fitness center overlooking Monterey Bay, the award-winning spa and proximity to the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, this is also on our list of best hotels for wellness. Those looking for a hotel suited to group getaways will love the suites that feel residential-sized, with classic yet contemporary decor, as well the easy access to Cannery Row, Pacific Grove and Monterey.

Queen bed, fireplace and a balcony connected to a hotel room at Sanctuary Beach Resort in Monterey, California.
Photo: Courtesy of Sanctuary Beach Resort

Sanctuary Beach Resort

A tranquil enclave of beach bungalows, boardwalks and sand dunes near Marina, Sanctuary Beach Resort hosts 60 recently renovated rooms and suites with ocean views. Each wood-framed cottage contains a room and a suite that can easily be combined for group stays. Families will love the heated pool, nightly bonfires and quick drive to Monterey attractions; adults will gravitate to the weekend nature walks and beach yoga sessions, nightly wine and cheese tastings, and the services at the Spa at Sanctuary Beach Resort. It’s one of the best group getaway hotels in the region, and is a contender for best wellness options, too. 

HIGHLIGHT: Saltwood Kitchen & Oysterette serves detour-worthy seafood in a casual-chic, indoor-outdoor setting. Active types can pursue bocce ball, volleyball and croquet on site, or rent one of the resort’s bicycles to head farther afield — the nearby Monterey Bay Coastal Trail spans 18 miles, from Castroville to Pacific Grove. 

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