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15 Best Hotels in Big Sur, CA

Written by Brad Lane
Dec 16, 2019

Encompassing roughly 90 miles of unforgettable California coastline between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle, Big Sur offers hotels that are in hot demand. In a region where the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains abruptly meet the sea, Big Sur is better defined by state parks and the winding Highway 1, instead of a downtown district or main streets. With such dramatic landscapes, hotels in Big Sur are limited in number, but they deliver on coastal beauty.

Of the few places to stay along the Big Sur coast, many of the hotels are near the world-famous Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Pfeiffer Beach. Hotels on this part of the Big Sur coast range from adults-only, five-star resorts to family lodges with fire pits. For a quick connection to the nature of the Big Sur coast, a few resorts also offer luxurious glamping opportunities, with canvas yurts and safari-like tents.

Lined with scenic roadside attractions, Big Sur is a popular thoroughfare for a road trip along the coast. Both the north and south end of the Big Sur coast offer great hotel options to bookend the driving. It can take all day to drive between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Cambria on either side of the Big Sur coast.

To the north, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers luxurious resorts in the city's highlands, valleys, and bustling downtown district. Boutique hotels and five-star resorts can also be found farther north in the bayside city of Monterey, and some have gas fireplaces in ocean view rooms. To the south, hotels in Cambria offer quick access to Ragged Point and the rest of the Big Sur Coast, as well as an easy drive to historic Hearst Castle.

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Best Hotels in Big Sur

1. Post Ranch Inn

Photo Source: Post Ranch Inn

For the most luxurious hotel experience in Big Sur, this five-star hotel goes beyond sophistication and style with its ocean and mountain-facing rooms. From lush furnishings to special amenities like outdoor infinity spas overlooking the ocean, every aspect of staying at the Post Ranch Inn perfectly caters to savoring the Big Sur coast. The Post Ranch Inn also features meals cooked from the Chef's Garden, and an in-house astronomer with a high-powered telescope.

Spa services are available at the Post Ranch Inn, as well as morning yoga sessions and guided nature walks. Guests at the Post Ranch Inn don't have to leave the property to fully indulge in the Big Sur coast, and the hotel's cliffside Sierra Mar restaurant features fine dining with a locally sourced menu.

A popular hotel to celebrate a special occasion, the Post Ranch Inn offers honeymoon packages ranging from two to five-day stays.

Address: 47900 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Post Ranch Inn

2. Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort

Photo Source: Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort

An adults-only, 5-star resort at the heart of the Big Sur coastline, the luxurious accommodations at Ventana Big Sur cater to a romantic experience. Situated on a 160-acre property littered with old-growth redwood trees, guest rooms at Ventana feature private decks overlooking either the ocean or the lush forest. Many rooms have fire pits right outside the door. There is plenty of acreage to explore on the property, and the sprawling Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is also less than four miles away.

Address: 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort

3. Big Sur River Inn

Photo Source: Big Sur River Inn

Featuring lodge and guest rooms on either side of Highway 1, the Big Sur River Inn is popular with families looking to have an extended stay near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

One of the oldest hotels and restaurants in Big Sur, the Big Sur River Inn has been hosting guests for over 80 years. Memorable stays have been perfected in that time, and alongside comfortable furnishings and common areas, the hotel offers a sun-drenched pool with a lounge deck.

For the ultimate way to cool off during the day, the hotel also leaves a couple of Adirondack chairs in the gently flowing Big Sur River next to the hotel.

The adjacent Big Sur Restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner alongside a fantastic view of the river. The hotel holds special outdoor music performances on Sundays, weather permitting, and it's also a popular spot for large group gatherings like weddings and reunions.

Address: 46800 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Big Sur River Inn

4. Big Sur Lodge

Photo Source: Big Sur Lodge

At the heart of the Big Sur coast, the Big Sur Lodge is surrounded by a peaceful redwood forest. Rooms at the Big Sur Lodge range from standard family cottages to fireplace suites with kitchenettes, and each room comes with a private furnished deck.

The Homestead Restaurant at Big Sur Lodge features menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the hotel's Espresso House serves up hot beverages throughout the day.

Popular for family vacations in Big Sur, the hotel is a short drive away from many nearby natural attractions like Pfeiffer Beach.

Address: 47225 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Big Sur Lodge

5. Fernwood Resort

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park near the Fernwood Resort

Just north of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Fernwood Resort features modern cabins and motel rooms tucked into a tranquil redwood forest. Alongside easy access to the neighboring state park, the cabins at Fernwood Resort feature fully stocked kitchens, separate living areas, and a bunk bed set.

Fernwood Resort also offers motels rooms, which feature one or two-beds, as well as special rooms that include private hot tubs.

Address: 47200 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Fernwood Resort

Best Hotels at the North End of Big Sur in Carmel-by-the-Sea

1. Bernardus Lodge & Spa, Carmel Valley

Photo Source: Bernardus Lodge & Spa

In the verdant Carmel Valley, inland from Carmel-by-the-Sea and 15 miles north from the end of the Big Sur coast, Bernardus Lodge & Spa is one of those kinds of places you never want to leave. Nestled among 28 acres and surrounded by vine-covered fields and orchards, this four-star resort features luxurious guest rooms, villas, and suites. Alongside plush furnishings and gas fireplaces, some rooms also include romantic outdoor private spas.

The entire Big Sur coastline is easily accessible from Bernardus Lodge & Spa. With fine dining on the property and several amenities, including a heated pool, guided hikes, and spa services, a full vacation can be had without leaving the resort.

Other luxurious features include outdoor lighted tennis courts and complimentary yoga on the weekends. The Bernardus Lodge & Spa is a popular venue for wedding events, and the hotel offers special packages to help plan a memorable event.

Address: 415 W Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, California

Accommodation: Bernardus Lodge & Spa

2. L'Auberge Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Photo Source: L'Auberge Carmel

Within the charming city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a few miles north of the Big Sur coastline, L'Auberge Carmel is a full-service hotel and restaurant within a historic building. Originally constructed in 1929, the hotel still radiates old-world European charm, as do the 20 recently renovated guest rooms. Alongside decadent canopy beds and pillow-top mattresses, the guest rooms also have special features like original antiques and French windows.

The five-star, award-winning Aubergine restaurant at the hotel provides a very intimate experience with only nine tables available. In-room spa services offer other romantic experiences at this luxurious hotel, including a 90-minute couple's massage.

Special packages at the hotel include a sailing adventure package and a Big Sur picnic and hiking package.

Address: Monte Verde Street & 7th Avenue, Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Accommodation: L'Auberge Carmel

3. Hyatt Residence Club Carmel, Highlands Inn, Carmel Highlands

Photo Source: Hyatt Residence Club Carmel, Highlands Inn

In the Carmel Highlands, at the northern Big Sur border, the 48 luxurious guest rooms at this four-star hotel have guests sleeping close to the beach. Accommodations at the Hyatt Residence Club Carmel include ocean-view rooms and stylish suites, as well as decadent common areas, including a beautiful lobby. On the grounds of Highlands Inn is a heated outdoor pool area with fire pits and lounge chairs.

The California Market at Pacific's Edge is an award-winning restaurant at the hotel that features seasonal menus and views of the ocean. The hotel's Sunset Lounge also has great views of the ocean and is the perfect place to socialize with someone new or someone special. Near the Big Sur coast, the hotel is also four minutes from downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Address: 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Accommodation: Hyatt Residence Club Carmel, Highlands Inn

Best Hotels on the North End of Big Sur in Monterey

1. Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Photo Source: Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Steps from Cannery Row and perched atop a sea cliff, this luxurious four-star hotel is the top hotel in Monterey. Many of the elegant guest rooms and luxurious suites at the Monterey Plaza Hotel have sweeping views of the ocean or the harbor, and some have in-room fireplaces.

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is less than a 30-minute drive from Garrapata State Park on the northern end of the Big Sur coast, and other central Big Sur attractions, like Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, are an hour-long drive away.

Monterey Plaza Hotel offers plenty of amenities to keep guests on the property, including an open-to-the-public day spa with services like massages, facials, and full-body wraps. The spa is located on the top floor of the hotel, with stunning ocean vistas, alongside two soothing whirlpools that share the same dramatic view.

The in-house Schooners Coastal Kitchen is an award-winning eatery with ocean views, and the hotel's Tidal Coffee offers fresh pastries and hot beverages on Cannery Row.

Address: 400 Cannery Row, Monterey, California

Accommodation: Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

2. InterContinental The Clement Monterey

Photo Source: InterContinental The Clement Monterey

In the heart of Cannery Row near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this luxurious resort and spa provides everything you need to enjoy a California coastal vacation. With jaw-dropping views of Monterey Bay and the ocean, rooms at the InterContinental provide a comfortable place to relax in the times between exploring the coast.

The Spa at the InterContinental features an array of rejuvenating services, including a specialty natural skincare technique.

When it comes time to drive south on Highway 1 along the Big Sur coastline, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is located less than 10 miles away and is a good first place to stop.

If you're arriving at the InterContinental after a day of driving through Big Sur, the historic Cannery Row surrounding the hotel is filled with local restaurants to grab an easy bite to eat.

Address: 750 Cannery Row, Monterey, California

Accommodation: InterContinental The Clement Monterey

Best Hotels on the South End of Big Sur in Cambria

1. Blue Dolphin Inn

Photo Source: Blue Dolphin Inn

Near Moonstone Beach in Cambria, on the southern end of the Big Sur coastline, this adults-only hotel is just steps from the ocean. Every room at the Blue Dolphin Inn has a fireplace, as well as pillow-top mattress and a subtle coastal décor. Many rooms also have stunning views of the ocean.

Dolphin sightings are common at the Blue Dolphin Inn, and a fascinating elephant seal rookery is located three miles away.

A complimentary warm picnic-to-go breakfast is offered each morning at the Blue Dolphin Inn, which includes seasonal and made-fresh items like a puffed pastry sandwich.

The entire 90-mile Big Sur coastline stretches immediately north on Highway 1 from the Blue Dolphin Inn, and the historic Hearst Castle is a seven-mile drive away.

Address: 6470 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, California

Accommodation: Blue Dolphin Inn

2. Sea Otter Inn

Photo Source: Sea Otter Inn

With easy access to the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, this family-owned, country-style inn features comfort and character in every room. This pet-friendly hotel also delivers with great views of the ocean from select guest rooms and throughout the common spaces of the hotel.

A complimentary breakfast basket is delivered to each room every morning at the Sea Otter Inn, which features hand-picked items like breakfast burritos, pastries, and coffee. This on-the-go breakfast is perfect for those heading north for a big day on the Big Sur coast.

Address: 6656 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, California

Accommodation: Sea Otter Inn

3. Cambria Beach Lodge

Photo Source: Cambria Beach Lodge

Featuring deluxe ocean-view rooms with fireplaces, this reimagined roadside hotel offers coastal indulgence for a great value. Popular for romantic vacations along the coast, deluxe rooms at the Cambria Beach Lodge feature a coastal-inspired theme, with wood floors, oversized showers, and snuggly wool blankets.

This oceanside hotel on the southern end of the Big Sur coastline also features a spacious, one-bedroom Ocean Cottage suite with two patios overlooking the ocean.

Address: 6180 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, California

Accommodation: Cambria Beach Lodge

The Best Glamping in Big Sur

1. Treebones Resort

Photo Source: Treebones Resort

A unique lodging option in Big Sur, the Treebones Resort offers luxurious glamping yurts within sight of the ocean. Yurts at the Treebone Resort include contemporary decor and a heating unit, as well as a location that makes it easy to connect with the surrounding coastal environment.

The tent-like walls of the yurts at Treebone Resort allows guests to sleep to the soundtrack of the ocean, and the generous ocean-facing decks come complete with comfortable Adirondack chairs.

Most yurts accommodate a maximum of two guests, which tends to cater to a romantic experience. Shared and impeccably clean bathrooms are within a short stroll of the yurts. Alongside these gorgeous yurts and surrounding Big Sur views, the Treebones Resort also features two restaurants and a day spa, as well as weekly yoga offerings.

Address: 71895 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Treebones Resort

2. Ventana Campground

Photo Source: Ventana Campground

On the 160-acre property of Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort, the Ventana Campground offers luxurious glamping to easily connect with nature. Each safari-style tent at Ventana Campground features heated blankets, running water, and an ice chest, as well as a generous fire pit with a stack of wood.

Crafted with romantic intentions for those who love the outdoors, the private accommodations at the Ventana Campground make it feel like you have the beautiful property to yourself.

Overnight glampers at Ventana Campground have exclusive access to a brand-new Glamping Bathhouse that has heated floors and marble vanities.

Address: 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, California

Accommodation: Ventana Campground

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