THE CALIFORNIA BOUTIQUE HOTELS YOU DEFINITELY WANT TO CHECK INTO THIS SUMMER
Curated by Ashlee Polarek
This is the year: You’ve been dreaming about it for years and you're finally going to visit California! You’ve booked a plane ticket, you have a list of places to go and things to do, you know exactly where to get the best Mexi-Cali cuisine, and which Insta-trendy murals you’re going to pose by...all thanks to our handy-dandy guides.
However, one question remains: Where are you going to stay to get the most out of your California experience? Stress no more, we have that covered as well. From San Diego to San Francisco, here are some of the dreamiest boutique hotels and motels that you definitely want to check into (and likely never want to check out of).
PALIHOUSE SANTA MONICA
1001 3rd Street, Santa Monica, CA
Located within walking distance of all the best attractions, this historic boutique lodge is a stunning respite amid the palm trees, shaded sidewalks, and sunny skies of Santa Monica. What originated as the Embassy Hotel Apartments in 1927, Palihouse Santa Monica offers 38 rooms, studio residences, and one and two-bedroom suites. Granted Santa Monica Historic Landmark status in 2001, the hotel is nestled in a quiet neighborhood, providing guests with the opportunity to experience Santa Monica like a local. If the location isn't enticing enough, the marvellous courtyard and breathtaking masonry and woodwork of the hotel will certainly captivate. If only these walls could talk! All of the design features—from the custom furnishings right down to the wallpaper—were meticulously selected by owner and hotelier, Avi Brosh. If you ever decide to check out, this hotel may have you contemplating some serious redesigns when you get home.
SIXTY BEVERLY HILLS
9360 Wilshire Blvd.., Beverly Hills, CA
This Beverly Hills daydream is where luxury and style collide. Sixty Beverly Hills is within walking distance of the famed Beverly Hills sign and Rodeo Drive. The sophisticated hotel is home to Above 60, one of the LA's chicest rooftop bars and poolside lounges. Sip, snack and socialize with bites and beverages provided by in-house restaurant Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room, all while enjoying the 360-views that make this one of the hottest tickets in town for travelers and Angelenos alike. If you want to hang by the sexy pool, you'll have to book a room, however, as it is exclusive to hotel guests only. Either way, you’ll feel like Hollywood elite when you check in here.
FREEHAND LOS ANGELES
416 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA
Freehand is a unique hotel/hostel offering a variety of rooms, including shared bunk rooms, suites, and studios. Located in the heart of DTLA, the hotel is walking distance or a quick public transit ride away from everything you need to see in what has become a very vibrant downtown neighborhood.
Our favorite spot is the rooftop pool where you can enjoy a quick dip amidst the famed Los Angeles skyscrapers, or take a yoga class taught by local yogis. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at Cafe Integral, a tea infused cocktail at Rudolph's Bar & Tea, indulge in Middle-Eastern-inspired dishes at The Exchange for dinner and finish off your day with a creatively delicious cocktail at the rooftop's tropical bar, The Broken Shaker—all without leaving the hotel.
THE NATIVE HOTEL
28920 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
If ever there was a secret hideaway along the SoCal coast, The Native Hotel would be it. This 13 room treasure is perfect for anyone traveling up or down the coast on a road trip! Keys to your room come with a little tube of incense, and the bathrobes are made of beautiful vintage fabrics. Kickback in a hammock on your porch or relax on the king sized Casper mattress in each room. This recently renovated hotel is a perfect overnight location for all your PCH travels.
THE SURFRIDER MALIBU
23033 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Literally across the PCH from the famed Malibu Pier on Surfrider Beach, the Surfrider Malibu offers recently updated 1950s charm. All but one room at this hotel have ocean-views so there’s no reason not to book this seaside escape. Bask under the luxurious rain shower head in each room, or rinse off after a day in the surf in the hotels heated outdoor shower. Enjoy beach club services, custom surfboards, a library, or the hotel guests-only restaurant and bar, Roof Deck.
RANCHO VALENCIA RESORT & SPA
5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, CA
About a 30-minute drive from downtown San Diego, near Del Mar, the oasis that is Rancho Valencia is a must visit. This award-winning Relais & Chateau property is hidden away on 45 acres of olive groves and tropical gardens. Take your pick of a stunning suite, a luxury villa or a private adobe home. Later, wind down at the five-star spa, lounge by the pool, or hit the tennis court or the gym, where 95 fitness classes a week are held, free for resort guests.
With fresh orange juice and a newspaper delivered to your door each morning, lush scenery and accommodations fit for VIPs like yourself, and a grade-A fitness program, the only problem with Rancho Valencia is that you may never want to leave!
ARRIVE PALM SPRINGS
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
When you check in at ARRIVE, you have truly arrived in Palm Springs! Built for the neighborhood —reflecting the surrounding Art Deco-style, SoCal culinary scene, and relaxed vibe - this 32-room desert oasis comes greets guests with king-sized beds, rain showers, natural light and epic views of the San Jacinto Mountains! Beat the heat at the pool or grab a scoop of gourmet ice cream from the hotel's very own Ice Cream & Shop(pe). At night, hang by the fire pits after an enjoyable dinner at Draughtsman, an elevated pub. The next day, grab and go at Customs Coffee or sit down to a gourmet brunch at Reservoir
ARRIVE breaks the mold, foregoing the traditional front desk for check in at the bar, and a concierge service that works via text message! With speedy wifi and low minibar prices ARRIVE is every nomad's dream!
OJAI VALLEY INN
905 Country Club Road, Ojai, CA
Visitors to Ojai, California have loved the Ojai Valley Inn since it first opened in 1923. The resort offers a little bit of everything luxury, with something for everyone: A golf course, the artist’s cottage, a spa, an apothecary, gourmet dining, bicycle rentals, and adult-only and family-friendly pools. Resort guests receive complimentary access to the Mind & Body wellness classes offered by the hotel, and for a unique and delicious treat, guests can sign up for the beekeeping and honey class at the apiary. If you check-in over the weekend, don't forget to check out the Ojai Farmers Market on Sunday in downtown Ojai.
If we were you, we would buy all the fixings for a picnic, grab the bikes and a blanket and find a secluded spot with views of the mountains, which turn pink at dusk (the Pink Moment, as locals call it). At the entrance of the Inn, you will find a sign that tells you when the Pink Moment will take place that day!
1576 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA
Just up the coast from Ojai you will find Santa Barbara wine country. Nestled in the heart of Solvang, the perfect replica of a Danish village, lies the charming Landsby Hotel. The Landsby is a small 50-room boutique hotel that effortlessly merges modern and Scandinavian style. As you prepare for the day, enjoy the L'Occitane products and cozy robes in your perfectly appointed room . After day of wine tasting and eating too many stroopwafels - a waffle made with two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel filling sandwiched in between - wind down in the village courtyard next to a fire pit. If you're still hungry, indulge in the “Spoon Service,” where locally made McConnell's Fine Ice Cream is brought straight to your room, or order or an in-room charcuterie board. For dinner options, we suggest The Landsby's Mad & Vin for seasonal wine country-inspired dishes, The Hitching Post II for Santa Maria-style BBQ (as featured in the wine cult film, Sideways). or Pico at the Los Alamos General Store, voted one of the Top 100 Wine Country Restaurants in 2018 by Wine Enthusiast magazine.
HOTEL MILO SANTA BARBARA
202 W. Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, CA
This Spanish hacienda-style hotel offers a gorgeous park, a bocce ball court, and two heated outdoor pools, just steps away from the beach. Included with your resort fee is Milo Uncorked, a daily wine tasting in the lobby from 4 to 6 pm where a unique local winery in featured, giving attendees a chance to sample the diversity of Santa Barbara wine, as well as a continental breakfast, and rentals of the adorable Hotel Milo Republic Bikes, so you can easily zip around the Funk Zone or up and down the boardwalk! The hotel doesn't have a restaurant to call its own but there are plenty of incredible dining options within walking distance. Be sure to check out our 24 Hours in Santa Barbara guide, for the some of our faves.
INN AT THE PRESIDIO
24 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Built in 1903, this Georgian revival-style hotel was once an Army post where unmarried soldiers were housed. Today, 26 rooms offer a tranquil retreat surrounded by hiking trails and natural beauty. The Inn is only about a mile and a half away from the Golden Gate Bridge, and just far enough away from downtown to offer an escape from the hustle and bustle.
Each of the guest rooms feature distinct artisan details and memorabilia reminiscent of the hotel's rich past. The Standard King rooms come with windows that open to a spectacular view of the Presidio, while every guest gets to enjoy a buffet breakfast and an evening wine and cheese reception, as well as a classic furnishings. We love that this hotel embraces the concepts of "green and local," a commitment to buy local whenever possible, and engage in enviro-friendly practices.
545 Post Street, San Francisco, CA
Embrace San Francisco's love of counterculture when you stay at this amazing hotel within walking distance of Union Square. Hotel Zeppelin plays homage to the rebels and music makers, turning revolutionary rule-breaking into a sensory experience. Dramatic historic architecture paired with unexpected design accents, like visible backlit poetry in the bar, combine to make make this hotel playful, rebellious and rather unexpected in a sea of rather traditional hotels.
Amenities include The Den, a game room consisting of Peace, Love and Soul, John Boos desks in each room, and record players in select rooms. For dinner, be sure to check out the hotel's Rambler for flavor-forward California fare.
Ashlee Polarek is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer, focused on promoting exploration and stepping out of your comfort zone. She loves reading, eating good food, and exploring new places. Find her on instagram: @thegreatbigwonder