The Best Hotels in California (For Every Type of Traveller)

The Best Hotels in California (For Every Type of Traveller)

From a Barbie-pink motel extravaganza to an adobe design house pitched against the dusty desert horizon, we’ve rounded up the best stays in California for you to book right now.

In partnership with

health-conscious surf lodges, sultry desert
boltholes decked out in hand-picked objets d’art, ranch-style
hideaways, gloriously kitsch motels and stalwart spa stays:
whatever your persuasion, California has your dream accommodation
covered. We’ve cross-checked the road maps, fuelled up the Cadillac
and cruised along iconic west coast highways to compile this list
of the very best sleepover spots for every type of traveller in the

Golden State
. Pick your travel tribe ­- beach-ready surfer
babes, Sonoma County wine buffs, cowboy boot-wearing thrifters or
Skims-sporting LA devotees – and you’ll find a place to rest your
head and restore your equilibrium with our top 14 Cali addresses.
Time to check-in.

Book now: the 14 best hotels, motels and stays in



1 Hotel West Hollywood

West Hollywood, LA

Best for: eco-conscious city slickers

This one’s for luxe-seekers with a social conscience. Turning
the Sunset Strip green, this sleek bolthole is redefining
star-studded LA living with its sustainable approach. Biophilic
design puts fresh foliage centre stage, while a moss-covered wall
and hanging gardens help keep the hotel cool in the sizzling
Californian heat. Elsewhere, surfaces feature wood that’s been
reclaimed from fallen trees (to reduce commercial cutting), carpets
are made from recycled ocean plastics and the hotel takes the crown
of being one of the city’s most energy-efficient. On top of all
this, visitors can expect floor-to-ceiling views of the Hollywood
Hills, a sun-drenched pool deck and a rooftop cocktail bar beloved
for its seasonal pours.

Photo credit: Eric Laignel


8490 Sunset Boulevard, CA 90069



White Water

Cambria, SLO CAL

Best for: eager explorers

Squeezed between coastal curves on the mystically named
Moonstone Beach, this 25-bedroom seaside lodge offers a Californian
take on wholesome Scandi living, and easy access to the great
outdoors. You’ll be swapping fjords for a surf-blessed beach,
mountain hikes for coastal strolls along rocky expanses and New
Nordic food for casual Californian, with freshly baked pastries
delivered to your door each morning. In your suite, Stockholm-style
birch-wood panelling, white walls and textured linens meet accents
of warm mustard, indigo blue and sage green, while bathrooms come
stocked with Aesop Geranium products, perfect for soothing
post-walk muscles. We recommend starting your day with an almond
butter-spiked smoothie and plate of blue-corn waffles at nearby
Hidden Kitchen, then grabbing one of the
hotel’s minty-green bikes and pedalling up to the Paso Robles wine
region for some tasting sessions. After a windswept afternoon
stroll along the shore, head down the little dirt track, lantern in
hand, to well-loved local oyster bar Sea Chest, where you can feast
on steamed mussels and buttery bay scallops.


6736 Moonstone Beach Dr, Cambria, CA 93428



The Sea Ranch Lodge


Best for: community-loving conservationists

This secluded Sonoma Coast lodge is a feat of sustainable
development. One of the oldest buildings in the Sea Ranch
community, the cedar-and-redwood clapboard property on the
dramatic, rock-strewn expanse above the churning waves of the
Pacific at Black Point Beach is being thoughtfully restored into
guest accommodation that aligns both with the beauty of this stark
spot and with the beliefs of its community-minded architect owners.
Rooms won’t open until later this year, but, in the meantime, you
can stop by to browse the general store, feast in the restaurant or
attend one of many discussion sessions, classes and programmes open
to locals and weekenders alike. Run by Eric Piacentine, of Big Sur
Bakery fame, The Dining Room is the place to savour New Nordic
dishes expertly prepared using fresh-off-the-boat Sonoma Coast
fish, foraged seaweeds and stellar produce from small-town
producers based nearby.


60 Sea Walk Dr, Sea Ranch, CA 95497


Cara Hotel


Best for: work-from-anywhere warriors

The honeyed exterior, silvered planting and understated design
of California’s new Cara Hotel bring to mind balmy summer evenings
on the Med. Despite its city location, the property’s olive
tree-lined courtyard – accessed through an oversized arched door –
transports visitors straight to a Greek oasis, albeit one
frequented by MacBook-touting LA creatives and the
work-from-anywhere nomads who’ve made this chic stay their forever
office. Airy rooms are characterised by a pared-back design,
softened by earthy tones and natural linens, and showcase ceramics
and artworks by a raft of young city artists. Dishes at the Michael
Patria-helmed restaurant are plucked straight from Italy’s
cookbook, using produce sourced from local farmers, all paired with
an excellent wine list with a focus on natural bins. We recommend
sipping a Lemon Drop beside the lantern-lit pool (and leaving your
laptop back in your room, please).


1730 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027


Sparrows Lodge

Palm Springs

Best for: grown-up summer campers

Confirming that not all Palm Springs stays have to conform to
the city’s modernist flex, this ranch-style log cabin puts a new
spin on an age-old American tradition. Nestled just outside the
city, under the shadow of the San Bernardino peaks, Sparrows Lodge
offers a woodsy take on 1950s design – we’re talking log-cabin
aesthetics, bathtubs made from old horse troughs and gently
distressed wood cladding. Think of it as channelling the ambience
of a classic US summer-camp experience, without the enforced
archery lessons. Native planting trickles into cottage-style veg
patches, inspired by American farm living, and you’ll dine on long,
country-style communal tables shaded by the property’s citrus grove
(there’s no ignoring your neighbours here). Most guests opt to end
their night around the backyard fire pit, Steinbeck novel and gooey
marshmallow s’mores in hand, as is the summer-camp tradition. ­


1330 E Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264, US



Hotel Covell


Best for: alternative LA lifestylers

Located in the hills of the breezy Loz Feliz neighbourhood, this
nine-suite boutique bolthole shuns the glitz and glamour of
downtown LA for the low-fi living favoured by the city’s creatives
(those sans a Casablanca condo). Opened by respected Eastside
restauranteur Dustin Lancaster – the mastermind behind nearby
L&E Oyster Bar and El Condor – this light-flooded hotel offers
a distinctive take on Cali cool: think clean white lines paired
with choice antiques, time-worn Turkish rugs and rustic wooden
floors. Funky, but luxe, it’s a great reflection of the
neighbourhood it calls home – and perfect for return visitors to LA
wanting to explore the city’s outer edges. Downstairs, Bar Covell
has local beers on draft, as well as a good selection of wine by
the glass.


4626 Hollywood Boulevard


The Surfrider Malibu


Best for: beach babes

No Californian road trip would be complete without a stopover in
the state’s sunniest city. Malibu might be known for its
paparazzi-pursued residents, but this well-heeled enclave’s first
claim to fame was as a prime surfing spot – all tie-dye sunsets,
sandy feet and beachy waves in hair. Times might have changed, but
new coastal hotel The Surfrider reminisces beautifully on Malibu’s
golden era, while adding luxe touches to cater for 21st-century
whims. Stepping into the lobby is like entering a high-spec beach
home: expect reclaimed teak floorboards, wicker lampshades, scented
candles and a well-curated collection of coffee-table books to
peruse. The 20 boutique rooms are decked out in bone white and pale
wood, complemented by linen furnishings, jute rugs and hammock
seats. Upstairs, you’ll find a residents-only rooftop restaurant,
overlooking those oh-so-famous waves. Lunch on Buddha bowls piled
high with quinoa, houmous, avocado and seared tuna, while a
breakfast must-try is the energy-giving bircher muesli.

Photo credit: Brecht Vant Hof


23033 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265



Madonna Inn

San Luis Obispo

Best for: Instagram exhibitionists

An eclectic collection of of faux-alpine chalets, turrets and
rooms with names such as Jungle Rock, Caveman and Country
Gentleman, this kitsch motel is a California landmark. Part
drive-in accommodation, part spa and part remote office for the
parade of creatives looking to be inspired by its extravagance,
it’s a stopover for the outlandish and the kind of traveller who
needs a trolley to exit LAX, following a detour to the bulky
luggage desk. Each of the 110 rooms has been individually designed
and decorated by founders Alex and Phyllis Madonna. Rest your head
in the rock-panelled Yosemite Rock grotto, or chill out atop the
hot pink shagpile carpet in the Love Nest suite. The overwhelming
explosion of avant-garde gloriousness doesn’t end in the rooms,
either. Settle in at one of the booths in the Barbie-pink Gold Rush
Steak House restaurant, grab a Madonna Cadillac cocktail, or book
in for a Day-Glo-coloured Arctic Berry Peel at the much-loved day


100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405



Skyview Los Alamos

Los Alamos

Best for: high-end road-trippers

Road trips call for motels, but we’re inclined to look for a
little OTT luxury when deciding on our Pacific coast pit stops.
Step forward, Skyview Los Alamos – a 33-room Santa Barbara crashpad
that pairs all the classic motel tropes with vineyard views and
five-star feels. Head to Norman restaurant and start with a glass
of locally produced wine on the airy terrace, or perhaps a
refreshing Michelada – a Mexican beer-based Bloody Mary. The casual
dinner menu pairs modern California fare with Southern touches:
think skillet-cooked cornbread with fermented pepper honey, a
summery farm salad drizzled in a blackberry balsamic vinaigrette
and Skuna Bay salmon on a bed of earthy celery root purée – all
complemented by golden California views.

Photo credit: Carly Mask


9150 US-101, Los Alamos, CA 93440



Dr Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs


Best for: spa junkies

In California’s sprawling Calistoga – a thriving city in Napa
Valley’s wine country – this 1950s-built landmark has been drawing
in the crowds to its three mineral pools and mud baths since the
heyday of California mineral waters. Spend a day indulging in “The
Works”, an immersive full-body pampering session that includes a
mud bath, face mask, spin in a mineral whirlpool, steam bath, plus
blanket wrap and massage, then slink back to your recently
renovated room – decked out in warm colours and cool mid-century
furnishings – for a pre-prandial nap (we’ll be skipping the Peloton
King room, but feel free to book it if you fancy a pre-dinner
cardio workout). Mealtimes at the House of Better restaurant see
top-notch produce star in a wellness-led menu created by Trevor
Logan, of San Francisco’s Green Chile Kitchen. Expect the likes of
kale and mushroom omelettes and huevos rancheros for brunch, crispy
chicken tacos for lunch and wood-fired flatbreads topped with
roasted green peppers, maitake mushrooms and toasted hemp hearts
for dinner.

Photo credit: Katie Newburn


1507 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515



Mendocino Grove


Best for: discerning glampers

Calling all lazy hikers: grab your Snow Peak gear and get down
to the Mendocino coast. Dappled by sunshine refracting through
emerald leaves, the picturesque camping spot in this peaceful
redwood grove offers all the breathtaking beauty of a traditional
hiking holiday without the sweaty-under-the-tarp realities. You’ll
be bedding down beneath crisp white canvas in luxurious tents fully
outfitted with heated beds, French linen, woollen blankets and
elegant design touches, all set within 15 hectares of Pacific coast
forest. Group activities are low-key: think guided nature hikes
rather than Into the Wild-style climbs. Evenings, meanwhile, belong
to the fire pits, where you’ll grill dinner over open flames and
keep cosy after dark. Our favourite part? The campsite bathhouse,
which is stocked with locally produced EO toiletries, fluffy towels
and hot, steamy showers. We’d hardly call it camping.


9601 CA-1, Mendocino, CA 95460


Coachman Hotel

South Lake Tahoe

Best for: outdoor obsessives

Originally built to house Squaw Valley visitors during the 1960
Winter Olympics, this gold-medal mountain stay brings
design-focused living to South Lake Tahoe. Step into a 21st-century
spin on a lumberjack’s hideaway: the revamped motel pairs chic,
grey-toned wood panelling with rubberised flooring (for your ski
boots), and offers Malin + Goetz bath products on tap in
utilitarian bathrooms. Potter through the pine-clad lobby to grab a
locally roasted coffee, then tie up your laces and head out into
the great outdoors. This is the perfect launch pad for an
adventure, with hiking, biking and rock climbing all on the
doorstep. The motel’s next door neighbour? Heavenly Mountain
Resort. And when you’ve exhausted yourselves on the slopes, head
back for complimentary s’mores at the day’s close.


4100 Pine Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150


Phoenix Hotel

San Francisco

Best for: California sound-seekers

After pounding San Francisco’s streets, follow the rock’n’roll
beat of musicians past to this 44-room motel. The revamped landmark
has welcomed a host of seasoned musicians in its time – think Kurt
Cobain, David Bowie and Debbie Harry – and continues to cater to
the music industry today, with some of the city’s best live-music
venues just a five-minute stroll away. The property casts a knowing
nod to pilgrims passing through, with pop art on walls, red retro
phones in bedrooms and a killer soundtrack poolside. Catch a gig at
the nearby Great American Music Hall, rest up, then revive yourself
with a leisurely brunch between the vinyl displays at the hotel’s
Chambers Eat + Drink.


601 Eddy St, CA 94109


The Ahwahnee

Yosemite Village

Best for: history hunters

Wishing to live deliberately? Thoreau fanatics will want to book
a stay at this historic hotel in Yosemite National Park. Built in
1927 beneath Yosemite Valley’s craggy rocks to entice American
urbanites into the wilderness, the majestic property is an integral
part of the park’s rich tapestry. Now designated a National
Historic Landmark, Gilbert Stanley Underwood’s architecture mirrors
the vibes of a classic log cabin – all redwood timber, granite
pillars, crackling fireplaces and wildlife murals. Rooms are a
touch rustic, but you’re here for the legacy, not luxury. Cleverly
built-in viewpoints provide vistas of the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome
and Glacier Point, while a stone’s throw away await all good things
wild and free (including the razzleberry pies at nearby Jantz


1 Ahwahnee Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

The Lowdown

Feeling inspired? Visit to book your dream California
trip now.

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