Hidden Gem Hotels for Your California Coast Road Trip


May 23, 2021

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This may be a biased statement coming from someone born and raised in California, but the west coast is the best coast. One of the most notable trips you can take on this side of the country is a road trip on the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. The Pacific Coast Highway takes you up and down over 600 miles of California’s scenic and diverse coast. Along the way you’ll come across some of California’s most prominent cities, as well as lesser known charming coastal towns that you can’t miss. Today, I’m sharing 7 hidden gem hotels for your California coast road trip. All images in this post are courtesy of hotel websites and Trip Advisor.

Hidden Gem Hotels for Your California Coast Road Trip

Hotel Joaquin – Laguna Beach

Right off the Pacific Coast Highway in the laidback surfer town of Laguna Beach is Hotel Joaquin, a super chic and intimate hotel. The hotel has 22 rooms, all of which are independently named and designed. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast and exclusive access to the hotel’s restaurant, Saline. Relax with cocktails by the saltwater pool, take a quick walk down to the beach, or explore downtown Laguna. Do note that this hotel is not kid or dog friendly.

Price: $$$

The Surfrider – Malibu

Take a scenic drive about an hour and a half up PCH to Malibu, and you’ll find where modern luxury meets the sea. The Surfrider has been on my hotel bucket list for years. With its 20 rooms and beautiful guest only spaces, The Surfrider is sure to make you feel like a local in your own Malibu beach house. Lounge around the gorgeous roof deck or venture out with the hotel’s complimentary Mini Cooper and surfboards. The Surfrider is conveniently located right across from Malibu Pier, so make sure to stop by Malibu Farm for brunch.

Price: $$$

San Luis Creek Lodge – San Luis Obispo

If you thought Malibu was laidback, just wait until you reach San Luis Obispo. This charming little town is a convenient base for those who want a taste of California’s beaches and wine country. The newly renovated San Luis Creek Lodge is a quaint hotel with contemporary farmhouse vibes to match the agricultural seaside town. The hotel is designed beautifully from top to bottom and is located near downtown. Guests get daily morning pastries delivered to their door and can hop on the hotel’s Linus bikes to explore the town. We are staying here in just a few weeks when we take our central coast road trip!

🐾 Price: $$$

White Water Cambria – Cambria

White Water Cambria is a newly renovated luxury boutique hotel in the central coast of California. It’s just 30 minutes north of San Luis Obispo, and it was designed by the same team behind San Luis Creek Lodge. Every inch of this intimate hotel is design heaven. Here, you’ll also receive daily morning pastry deliveries and the option to explore the town or Moonstone Beach on the hotel’s Linus bikes. If you’re a wine lover, make sure to visit the neighboring town of Paso Robles.

🐾 Price: $$$$

La Ventana – Big Sur

About two hours north of Cambria is Big Sur, a place of unmatched beauty with towering trees on one side and seaside cliffs on the other. The area is untouched and sparsely populated, making this the perfect place for a retreat. At La Ventana, you can immerse yourself in nature while enjoying the comforts of a luxurious king sized bed. The hotel offers a variety of rooms, including glamping options, and many amenities on their 160 acre property. Whether you’re looking for picnic supplies or hiking supplies, La Ventana has what you need. We plan to take a romantic getaway here before we have kids since the hotel is adults only.

🐾 Price: $$$$

The Hotel Carmel – Carmel

I’ve dreamt of going back to the adorable town of Carmel-by-the-sea since I lasted visited 10+ years ago. A visit to this seaside town is like stepping into a fairytale. The Hotel Carmel is a boutique hotel in the heart of town. The hotel’s cozy spaces are sure to make you feel at home. Stop by the hotel’s tavern for a bite, explore the town by foot, or go on the infamous 17 Mile Drive to explore the rest of Monterey County.

🐾 Price: $$$$

Timber Cove Resort – Jenner

I have yet to explore California’s northern coast, but the views at Timber Cove Resort make me want to plan a trip as soon as possible. Secluded has a new meaning up here. Timber Cove Resort, which is about 3 hours north of San Francisco, is situated atop a seaside cliff on 25 acres of land. Newly renovated, the resort keeps true to its rustic vibe with a modern and stylish twist. Guests never have to leave the property as they can participate in the resort’s daily curated activities, dine at Coast Kitchen, or soak in the scenic views by the fire pit.

🐾 Price: $$$$

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