16 Best Hotels in Santa Cruz, CA

Written by Brad Lane
Dec 2, 2019

The best hotels in Santa Cruz include the smell of the ocean at this oceanfront city and Central California vacation destination. Some of the best places to stay in Santa Cruz are near the world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where fun and sun often come together with long days spent at the beach. Popular with families and for romantic travel, other Santa Cruz hotels on the beach provide quite the view.

With pet-friendly hotels close to downtown and the beach, all members of the family are welcome on a Santa Cruz vacation. Other special amenities offered by Santa Cruz hotels include quaint cottages, spa facilities, and luxurious resorts, as well as surprisingly affordable hotels that are far from cheap when it comes to the quality of a stay. Another common aspect of many of the best hotels in Santa Cruz are rooms with an ocean view.

Budget-friendly hotels in Santa Cruz are slightly more inland from the ocean, but still within a short walk or commute to places like the Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Even if you are visiting Santa Cruz on business, the best hotels all offer a sunny slice of coastal California style. Thanks to a thriving culinary scene, hotels in Santa Cruz are all located close to local flavors and seafood-inspired menus.

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Best Luxury & Resort Hotels in Santa Cruz

1. Sea & Sand Inn

Photo Source: Sea & Sand Inn

One of the best Santa Cruz hotels on the beach, the Sea & Sand Inn provides a luxurious stay and views of the ocean in each room. Overnight accommodations at the Sea & Sand Inn range from light and breezy Standard Kings to spacious cottage suites complete with four-person hot tubs overlooking the ocean.

Alongside balcony views of the ocean, this luxury hotel also features special amenities, including daily refreshments and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the building.

The location of the Sea & Sand Inn adds to its luxurious features. Within easy walking distance of the hotel, visitors can enjoy the Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Restaurants, shops, and downtown establishments are also within an easy commute from the hotel, as well as redwood forests, state parks, and other inland attractions of Santa Cruz.

The hotel offers a great package deal that includes dinner certificates to a variety of local restaurants.

Accommodation: Sea & Sand Inn

2. Bella Notte - The Inn at East Cliff

Photo Source: Bella Notte - The Inn at East Cliff

For an upscale and luxurious place to stay near the beach in Santa Cruz, Bella Notte features 10 carefully curated rooms full of comfort and style.

Within the quiet Twin Oaks neighborhood of Santa Cruz, blocks away from the beach and a short commute to downtown and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Bella Notte allows guests to escape the city without traveling too far. Alongside an authentic Mediterranean aesthetic, Bella Notte has a great reputation for a home-away-from-home feeling.

Going well beyond your average hotel room accommodations, the Mediterranean style of the hotel seeps into each spacious room, which also include fireplaces and walk-in closets. Other features of the luxurious guest rooms at Bella Notte include marble countertops, Italian bedding, and heated tile floors in the bathroom.

For an easy start to the day, the hotel also features a free continental breakfast served in a beautifully decorated dining room.

Accommodation: Bella Notte - The Inn at East Cliff

3. West Cliff Inn - A Four Sisters Inn

Photo Source: West Cliff Inn - A Four Sisters Inn

Blocks from the Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this luxurious hotel is a fully renovated Victorian inn atop a scenic bluff overlooking the ocean.

Featuring 10 upscale rooms with a distinctive coastal decor, including hues of crisp white and blue, this hotel oozes with romantic possibilities and is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. Special features of the guest rooms include marble floors, luxurious king beds, and cozy fireplaces.

The scent of the ocean infuses the West Cliff Inn, and the wide shores of Cowell Beach are within view of all guest rooms at this luxurious boutique hotel.

Alongside complimentary social hours in the late afternoon, the West Cliff Inn features a signature breakfast buffet with made-from-scratch items like frittata, French toast, and fresh-baked pastries. Guest can opt for breakfast in bed at the hotel for a small additional fee.

Accommodation: West Cliff Inn - A Four Sisters Inn

4. Chaminade Resort & Spa

Photo Source: Chaminade Resort & Spa

Near the sprawling acres of DeLaveaga Park, this mountain-top resort and spa is only five minutes from downtown and features a true escape from the city, with over 150 guest rooms spread throughout the forested property.

Alongside luxurious linens and modern style, all overnight accommodations at the Chaminade Resort & Spa feature views of either manicured grounds or Monterey Bay. The Chaminade Resort also features decadent suites with separate living and dining rooms.

A favorite venue for big events, including wedding ceremonies and receptions, the Chaminade Resort & Spa is also popular with big business functions, including conferences and meetings.

The Spa at Chaminade adds extra indulgence to each visit with a long list of services, including massages, body wraps, and facials.

For in-house appetites, the hotel's signature Linwood's Grill features authentic Californian cuisine that is popular for hotel guests and members of the public alike.

Accommodation: Chaminade Resort & Spa

Best Hotels for Couples in Santa Cruz

1. Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection

Photo Source: Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection

Near Santa Cruz Riverwalk Park and a mile from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this chic boutique hotel offers a new twist on romantic beach vacations.

With an earthy aesthetic, complete with warm wood paneling, river rock shower drains, and bountiful natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows, the guest rooms at the Hotel Paradox offer a breath of fresh air. The contemporary furnishings of Hotel Paradox also add to the naturally inspired decor of this stylish hotel.

For an easy romantic dinner date without leaving the property, the in-house Solitaire Restaurant features a stylish vibe and locally sourced entrees with fresh ingredients.

The pool deck at Hotel Paradox invites intimate and social time with fire pits, poolside beverage service, and comfortable cabanas available for guests of the hotel.

For pet-owning couples, the Hotel Paradox welcomes well-mannered dogs and cats.

Accommodation: Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection

2. Edgewater Beach Inn & Suites

Photo Source: Edgewater Beach Inn & Suites

For a romantic hotel overlooking the beach, the Edgewater Beach Motel has a central location on Beach Hill close to downtown. Ideal for a cozy seaside vacation, all 17 rooms at the Edgewater Beach Motel are uniquely decorated. Alongside the sound of the ocean, all overnight spaces include luxury linens that encourage sleeping in.

The hotel offers a free breakfast each morning and also features a large barbecue area, where couples can enjoy cooking outside or entertaining friends.

Accommodation: Edgewater Beach Inn & Suites

3. Babbling Brook Inn

Photo Source: Babbling Brook Inn

One of the best B&Bs in Santa Cruz, the Babbling Brook Inn features 13 cozy rooms. A breakfast of fresh-baked pastries and sumptuous entrees is served each morning in the historic Main House of this bed and breakfast, and the entire property lends access to lush redwood surroundings and fresh sea air.

For a memorable date night, many great restaurants are accessed from the Babbling Brook Inn with a 15-minute walk through a scenic neighborhood lined with Victorian architecture.

Accommodation: Babbling Brook Inn

4. Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages

Photo Source: Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages

Near scenic Sunny Cove Beach, this charming boutique hotel is located at the end of a quiet street and within earshot of the ocean. Offering a true getaway for couples looking to spend intimate time together, rooms at the Ocean Echo Inn range from cozy captain's quarters to private beach cottages with great views of the ocean. Cottages at the hotel also feature fully equipped kitchens and personal patios.

Accommodation: Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages

Best Family-Friendly Hotels in Santa Cruz

1. Beach Street Inn and Suites

Photo Source: Beach Street Inn and Suites

With breathtaking views of Main Beach and Cowell Beach, and steps from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Beach Street Inn is one of the most popular hotels for families in the city. Featuring coastal-inspired rooms with a sea-breeze aesthetic, accommodations like the ocean-view balcony rooms come with two beds and plenty of space for the whole family.

Other special features of the guest rooms at Beach Street include Murphy beds, electric fireplaces, and fully equipped kitchens.

Alongside easy access to the beach, the central location of Beach Street Inn also allows families to enjoy downtown with a short commute. The Picnic Basket Cafe adjacent to the hotel is a favorite spot for casual bites close to the ocean. The complimentary coffee, espresso, and hot cocoa bar at the hotel is often well used by the entire family at Beach Street, as is the outdoor heated pool and hot tub.

Accommodation: Beach Street Inn and Suites

2. Dream Inn Santa Cruz

Photo Source: Dream Inn Santa Cruz

With over 160 rooms available, all with views overlooking the ocean, the Dream Inn Santa Cruz provides ocean waves for a sleeping soundtrack. The inn is popular for all types of travel, and families tend to enjoy the safe and secure atmosphere of the hotel alongside the spacious rooms.

The retro chic furnishings of the Dream Inn provide an easy place to relax, and an outdoor pool that is just steps away from the beach offers a great place to unwind at the end of the day.

Accommodation: Dream Inn Santa Cruz

3. Hyatt Place Santa Cruz

Photo Source: Hyatt Place Santa Cruz

For a dependable and long-standing family vacation, this Hyatt Place features over 100 rooms near the Santa Cruz Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Alongside great access to the fun and sun of Santa Cruz, the hotel also features a sun-drenched pool and deck area complete with a hot tub.

The free continental breakfast at the hotel is great for feeding the whole family, and dining out together is made easy with numerous local restaurants nearby.

Accommodation: Hyatt Place Santa Cruz

4. Carousel Beach Inn

Photo Source: Carousel Beach Inn

Near Main Beach and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this family-friendly hotel is also friendly on the budget. Perfect for families looking to spend their time and money on other attractions in Santa Cruz, the Carousel Beach Inn provides a comfortable and safe space to spend the night.

Decorated with a coastal flair, rooms at Carousel Beach Inn feature modern furniture and artistic design, with some King Suites also featuring an in-room Jacuzzi.

Accommodation: Carousel Beach Inn

Best Budget Hotels in Santa Cruz

1. Quality Inn Santa Cruz

Photo Source: Quality Inn Santa Cruz

For an affordable hotel near the ocean, this Quality Inn has a reputation for clean and efficient rooms in a great location. With easy access to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, guests at the Quality Inn can also access downtown with a short commute. Great for family vacations and budget travel, the rooms at Quality Inn feature modern furnishings and comfortable beds.

The complimentary breakfast each morning at the Quality Inn caters to most appetites, and everyone at the hotel enjoys the sun deck and pool, complete with plenty of spots to lounge.

With a pet-friendly policy, Quality Inn is also one of the most affordable dog-friendly hotels in Santa Cruz. Guests at the hotel also enjoy free parking, which is scarce in this part of town.

Accommodation: Quality Inn Santa Cruz

2. Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East

Photo Source: Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East

Near the banks of the San Lorenzo River, and a short walk from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this budget-friendly hotel delivers a first-class stay. Rooms at this Super 8 feature a sleek and modern design with local art on the walls. Special features like a well-kept pool area, free continental breakfast, and sparkling clean rooms make the Super 8 tremendous value.

Accommodation: Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Cruz/Beach Boardwalk East

3. The Islander Motel

Photo Source: The Islander Motel

A budget and family-friendly hotel, The Islander Motel is located near Santa Cruz Riverwalk Park and approximately one mile from Main Beach and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Alongside two stories and 22 rooms, this clean and efficient motel offers the best value in town. Every room at the hotel is allotted one free parking spot—a hot commodity in this part of town—and every guest has access to a seasonal outdoor pool.

Accommodation: The Islander Motel

4. Beachview inn

Photo Source: Beachview Inn

For a budget-friendly hotel with in-room views of the ocean, the Beachview Inn near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk lives up to its name. Alongside great ocean views, some of the 22 rooms available at this affordable downtown hotel also include personal jetted tubs.

A great location and great value, rooms at the Beachview Inn tend to book months in advance. Alongside a personable staff, the hotel is known for high standards when it comes to cleanliness and the upkeep of each room.

Accommodation: Beachview inn

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