A summer road trip up California's Highway 1 wouldn't be complete without a top-notch selection of hotels to make your trip even dreamier.
From hidden beach cottages to posh resorts, these are our favorite California coastal hotels, listed from south to north.
San Diego's hippest beachfront boutique property guards lively Pacific Beach.
Sleek rooms feature hardwood headboards, deep blue chaises and multicolored throws, all invoking the ocean just beyond your balcony. The JRDN restaurant lures model types and techies for liquid lunch meetings and well-curated brunches. Rates start at $300. www.t23hotel.com.
Crystal Cove Beach Cottages
These 1938 beachfront cottages and rooms occupy a slice of Newport Beach's Crystal Cove State Park. Initially developed as a movie set, these cozy houses, now repainted in lively beach hues, aim to retain that era of yesteryear with Murphy beds and open-beamed ceilings.
Book well in advance, as the cottages sell out the moment they are available. Dorm-style cottage room rates start at $42. Cottages start at $162. www.crystalcovebeachcottages.com.
Montage Laguna Beach
Standing guard over 30 beachfront acres, Laguna Beach's most posh resort caters to luxury lovers with marble baths, plush bedding and ocean views.
The massive Spa Montage, three pools (including one just for kids and another mosaic-tiled relaxation space), four eating establishments, a kids club and an onsite marine biologist all just scratch the surface of the exceptional service offered by this sophisticated escape. Rates start at $895. www.montagehotels.com/lagunabeach.
Just south of Los Angeles, atop the Palo Verdes Peninsula, Terranea offers ocean view guest rooms decked out with luxurious perks such as deep tubs and rain showers.
Families love the huge pool, waterslide, the kids program, the nightly bonfire (bring your own marshmallows) and the selection of kid-friendly restaurants. Romance seekers appreciate the selection of hot tubs and the access to dirt trails that snake along the cliffs and spill out to remote coves. Rates start at $515. www.terranea.com.
Shutters on the Beach
Favored by celebs wanting a quiet escape, Santa Monica's glamorous beachfront resort transports you to that cozy beach house of your dreams, with comfy throws and breezy interiors.
The two onsite restaurants and spacious lobby bar all front the ocean. Their decadent One the Spa rejuvenates after a day in biking or swimming the sun. Rates start at $625. www.shuttersonthebeach.com.
El Capitan Canyon
Just north of Santa Barbara in a coastal nook, El Capitan Canyon promotes a life lived outdoors, with some extra comfort.
Dubbed glamping, guests stay in heated safari tents or cedar cabins decked out in Native American décor with raised beds, private outdoor picnic tables and fire pits. Add to the mix a pool, gourmet restaurant, market, and access to hiking trails and the beach. Rates start at $155. www.elcapitancanyon.com.
Post Ranch Inn
Perched 1,200 feet atop Big Sur's expansive swath of the Pacific Ocean, this luxury adults-only property is a magnet for celebs and tech execs.
The two infinity basking hot tubs overlooking the sea, a spa offering shamanic treatments, the Sierra Mar restaurant's award-winning California cuisine, complimentary yoga classes and rooms decked in out all the luxury money can buy add to up to make this a truly relaxing retreat. Rates begin at $675 and include a full buffet breakfast. www.postranchinn.com.
Hugged by hiking trails and redwood groves, this iconic Big Sur lodge on the shores of the Big Sur River is fit for romance. The lodge rooms, cabins and cottages all feature heated floors and rustic chic décor.