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Where to Stay in Monterey: Best Areas & Hotels, 2019

Written by Carri Wilbanks

Legendary Monterey Bay anchors the Central California coastline and is a popular tourist destination whether you are heading into town for a family vacation, honeymoon, or an adventure with friends. The town fronts the sea and is very walkable, with lots of shops, galleries, and restaurants in its downtown area. Monterey Bay's must-see attractions include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf, and Cannery Row, and the best areas to stay will generally be at hotels within walking distance of these sites.

If you're looking for a luxury property, choices like the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa and the InterContinental The Clement Monterey pamper guests with posh rooms and a location within strolling distance of these attractions. If you'd like something a little less pricey, but still easily accessible, look for mid-range hotels like the Wave Street Inn. Families tend to enjoy the Holiday Inn Express Monterey - Cannery Row, and couples will find romance in Monterey Bay Inn. There are even solid budget bets, like the Pacific Inn Monterey, which are less than three miles' drive from downtown.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Trail to the Pacific Ocean, Monterey

Trail to the Pacific Ocean, Monterey

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is an elegant luxury choice, which looks out on Monterey Bay and is just a block from Cannery Row. It's also within walking distance of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman's Wharf. The hotel features posh rooms and suites with artwork, custom crown molding, and luxe drapes and carpets. The best also come with full ocean views and in the case of suites, fireplaces and separate living areas. There are also options for suites with Jacuzzi soaking tubs. On-site amenities include a seafood restaurant with an al fresco patio, a cafe, and a lounge with live music. There is also a rooftop spa with a fitness room and sundeck. Guests also have access to a complimentary car service to local attractions and restaurants, and loaner bicycles.

Another top-end hotel in a prime location is the InterContinental The Clement Monterey. It is located next to Monterey Bay and just a few minutes' walk from Cannery Row. The property features spacious and modern rooms and suites in a variety of sizes, which all come with large windows and a beige and cream color scheme. If you want a view, book one of the upgraded rooms with balconies overlooking the bay or one of the posh waterfront suites, with separate seating areas, which are also a good bet for parents with young children. On-site amenities include a restaurant, heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, spa, and a workout room. Paid parking is also available.

Spindrift Inn is right on Cannery Row and less than a five-minute walk from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and downtown shops, restaurants, and galleries. The boutique property dates back to 1927 and has a retro chic vibe to its posh rooms and suites. These feature swanky furnishings, bold patterned fabrics, and canopy beds. Some also come with balconies, window seats, and wood-burning fireplaces. Breakfast is served on a silver tray in bed for free and there is also a lovely rooftop garden with sea views for guests to enjoy.

Where to Stay: Mid-Range

Pacific Grove, Monterey

Pacific Grove, Monterey

Hotel Abrego is in the upper mid-range bracket but still relatively good value for Monterey, especially if you want a luxe-feeling property. It is a contemporary Spanish-style property, which is about a half-mile walk from the waterfront and slightly farther from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It offers bright and well-maintained rooms, which are spacious with comfy beds, mini-fridges, and flatscreen TVs, and in the case of most, fireplaces as well. Wi-Fi is free and so is parking. Other amenities on-site include a bistro, which is open for breakfast and dinner; a swimming pool; workout room; and business center.

Stage Coach Lodge is another mid-range option, which is very affordable and is within walking distance of the Monterey State Beach and El Estero Lake and is a short three-mile drive from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other downtown sites. A small, family-run motel, it features just 27 tidy and comfortable rooms, which are done up in fun colors. It also offers connecting room options for families. On-site amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, well-maintained grounds with flower gardens, and a free continental breakfast.

Also check out the Wave Street Inn, which features a fantastic location just a block from Cannery Row and a quick 10-minute stroll from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The hotel offers a variety of rooms and suites, which are spacious and comfortable with free coffee, tea, and snacks in the rooms. Some come with bay views, Jacuzzi tubs, and fireplaces, and for families there are also suites with separate living and sleeping spaces. Amenities include complimentary coffee and pastry baskets for breakfast, as well as parking.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Pacific Inn Monterey is a popular pick for budget travelers, just a three-mile drive from Fisherman's Wharf and a mile farther from Cannery Row. It offers basic but clean rooms, which are spacious and updated with comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs with premium cable, mini-fridges, and microwaves. If you're traveling with the kids, the family rooms can sleep up to four people. Amenities include a free continental breakfast, on-site hot tub, restaurant, and parking. The hotel is also kid-friendly.

Another budget choice is the Ramada by Wyndham Monterey, just a mile from beautiful Monterey State Beach. This clean and comfortable chain hotel features rooms with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and microwaves. Parents will appreciate that kids under 18 stay free, and there is also a complimentary continental breakfast. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and free parking.

Where to Stay for Families

Dolphins in Monterey Bay

Dolphins in Monterey Bay

Families will like the upgraded rooms at the Hampton Inn Monterey, as they feature sitting areas with pullout sofas along with custom beds, flat-screen TVs, and coffee makers, and they are clean and comfortable. This contemporary chain hotel also has a convenient location, just a few minutes' drive from Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row and within walking distance of Monterey State Beach. Amenities include a free hot breakfast, free parking, a workout room, and 24-hour market.

Holiday Inn Express Monterey - Cannery Row is a good choice for families that want to be within walking distance of Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The hotel offers contemporary rooms, which are decorated in light earthen hues and feature flat-screen TVs and kitchenettes. The upgraded rooms come with sleeper sofas for the kids. Away from the rooms there are amenities like a free hot breakfast, evening cheese hour, and complimentary parking.

Where to Stay for Couples

The Lone Cypress, 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach

The Lone Cypress, 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach

Monterey Bay Inn is a popular couples' choice and has a great location right near the restaurants and shops along the quiet end of Cannery Row. This boutique hotel also overlooks San Carlos Beach Park and features rooms and suites with some of the best views around from a private balcony. The in-room continental breakfast is free and a perk for romantic getaways, as are the massages, which can be arranged in your room for an extra fee. Amenities include a great rooftop hot tub, which looks out on the ocean, and a second whirlpool on an outdoor patio with tables and chairs. There is no on-site restaurant or gym, however.

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay is another option for romantic vacations. It is an elegant spa hotel, within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf. It features nautical-themed abodes, which are trendy and comfortable, with marble bathrooms and Keurig coffee makers. They come in room and suite sizes, and most also offer balconies with ocean views. On-site amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub, spa, gym, and a restaurant serving organic fare. Dogs are also welcome.

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