There really is no place quite like Carmel-by-the-Sea. Located on northern California’s Monterey Bay Peninsula, this picture-perfect village has been a retreat for artists, writers, and poets since the early 1900s. With its unique and artsy roots, it’s no wonder why this tiny town is brimming with over 100 galleries.
But you don’t have to be an art aficionado to fall head over heels for Carmel-by-the-Sea! Nature enthusiasts will love spending their vacation frolicking in the waves at Carmel Beach, going hiking at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, or embarking on an unforgettable whale watching tour.
Then there are Carmel-by-the-Sea’s magical fairy-tale cottages to check out before ducking into one of the town’s bustling bistros and cafes. If it’s a day trip you’re after, you can take a scenic drive on the famous 17-Mile Drive or head further afield to nearby Monterey, Big Sur, or the vineyards in Carmel Wine Country.
No matter how you spend your days, you’ll love spending your nights exploring everything the one-square-mile downtown has to offer. This is a city for foodies, so expect to find all sorts of locally sourced California fusion restaurants and sea-to-table eateries dotting the streets.
At the end of an action-packed day, you’ll want a nice hotel room to come home to. It’s no secret that Carmel-by-the-Sea is home to all sorts of charming inns, historic B&Bs, luxurious boutique hotels, and extravagant resorts. So many, in fact, that you might have a hard time choosing the perfect one. So we’ve created a list of the 12 best hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea to help you plan your perfect getaway!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 12 Best Luxury Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea
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The 12 Best Luxury Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea
It’s well-known that Carmel Mission Inn is one of the best hotels in Carmel. But what makes it really stand out from the rest is that the entire place was recently given a complete facelift.
So rest assured everything is new, modern, and luxurious. Plus, Carmel Mission Inn is pet-friendly if you want to bring your furry friends to this incredibly pet-friendly city!
When you’re not out on the town, you can spend your days lounging around a poolside cabana and your nights sipping cocktails around one of the outdoor fire pits. If you prefer to dine at the hotel, the newly-opened Shearwater Tavern serves up seriously good locally sourced California fare and a long list of creative and classic cocktails.
Once you’re ready to relax, you’ll love the designer rooms, which are outfitted with mid-century decor, natural wood elements, and 49-inch flat-screen TVs. Plus, the eco-friendly bath amenities, complimentary Wi-Fi, and in-room coffee makers are handy extras.
If you really want to go all out, the Mountain View Junior Suite is the best room in the house. Pick this stylish guest room, and you’ll get a spacious indoor sitting area and a private balcony with chairs overlooking the mountains.
If you’re looking for an upscale Carmel-by-the-Sea boutique hotel, you’ll love The Hotel Carmel. From magazine-worthy guest rooms to high-tech amenities, you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Plus, The Hotel Carmel is located right in the heart of town, so you can walk to all of the city’s best tasting rooms, shops, and restaurants.
You can choose from Courtyard, Fireplace, and Balcony rooms, which all boast pillow-top platform beds, cottage-style rattan furnishings, and large flat-screens with STAYCAST media streaming. For something a bit more deluxe, the Suite guest rooms feature extras like kitchenettes and stylish living rooms.
One of the coolest things about this residence-style hotel is the picture-perfect courtyard. It’s the ideal spot to gather over a bottle of wine and socialize around the fire pit.
If you’re hungry, Brophy’s Tavern dishes out upscale pub grub, craft brews, and handcrafted cocktails. It’s also one of the most popular places in town for locals and visitors alike!
Set in a 1905 mansion just down the road from Carmel Beach, La Playa Carmel offers the perfect blend of historic elegance and modern touches. Not only is the beach steps away, but all of the bars, restaurants, and boutiques of Ocean Avenue are just two blocks away.
You can choose from a variety of guest rooms at this historic 75-room hotel. Opt for the Premium Ocean View room, and you’ll be treated to a plush pillow-top bed, a sumptuous cotton robe, and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
Alternately, the Poolside Casita offers extras like easy pool access, a fireplace, a sitting area, and a wet bar, while the Garden Patio guest rooms offer lush patios with views of the hotel’s award-winning gardens.
You’ll also get complimentary amenities, including a champagne breakfast buffet and a shuttle to Carmel’s best restaurants and attractions. When hunger strikes, the hotel’s revamped Bud’s restaurant is a longstanding local institution that serves up excellent burgers, salads, and sandwiches.
Head here during their famous “Dime Time,” and you’ll get .10-cent drinks for 10 minutes. The secret is you have to pay with dimes!
If you’re looking for a luxurious retreat, Quail Lodge & Golf Club is easily one of the best hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Tucked away in Carmel Valley, Ocean Avenue is a quick 10-minute drive to the heart of town. But with so many incredible amenities, you’ll never need to step foot off this property if you don’t want to!
You can spend your days teeing off on the award-winning 18-hole championship golf course, playing pickleball and tennis on the multiple courts, splashing around in the pool, or getting massages in the spa. There’s also a state-of-the-art gym if you are planning on keeping up with your exercise routine during your vacation.
Plus, when it comes to drinking and dining, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Start the day by fueling up on craft coffee and all of your breakfast favorites at the hotel’s Breakfast at the Lodge. For lunch and dinner, you can dine with beautiful golf course views at Edgar’s Restaurant or enjoy USDA-grade steaks and sustainably sourced seafood at Covey Grill.
However you decide to spend your days, you’ll love relaxing in your luxurious guest room or suite. Whichever room type you select, you’ll get elegant Carmel Valley-inspired decor, in-room Nespresso coffee makers, smart TVs with Sonifi Chromecast integration, and high-end Molton Brown toiletries.
Whether you’re in town for work or play, Carriage House Inn is the perfect pick if you want to be right in the heart of charming Carmel-by-the-Sea. This adorable hotel is just one block from Ocean Avenue and two minutes from the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum.
Carriage House Inn has 13 beautifully decorated rooms and suites. No matter which you choose, you’ll get comfy feather beds with luxurious Italian linens, cozy fireplaces, and large flat-screen TVs. Most guest rooms also boast jetted tubs and vaulted ceilings.
Freebies at Carriage House Inn include daily continental breakfasts, evening wine and appetizers in the beautiful library, turn-down service, Wi-Fi, parking, and freshly baked cookies. While there is no onsite restaurant, the hotel has partnered with some of the best restaurants and businesses in town. Just show your room key, and you’ll get all sorts of discounts and freebies!
If you’re searching for unique Carmel-by-the-Sea hotels that don’t skimp on luxury, the L’Auberge Carmel is tough to beat. Housed in a 1929 châteaux-style building, the hotel prides itself on its European elegance and personalized customer service.
This boutique hotel offers 10 luxe guest rooms, which boast original antiques, custom curtains and fabrics, and spa-like baths with radiant floor heating and Penhaligon’s Quercus bath products. Depending on which room you choose, you’ll get added perks, including ocean views, regal four-poster beds, and freestanding soaking tubs.
The real highlight of this hotel is its Forbes Five-Star restaurant, Aubergine. Even if you don’t stay here, you’d be remiss if you didn’t indulge in the eight-course Tasting Menu at this award-winning eatery. You can even have your meal paired with the over 2,500 bottles of wine in the wine cellar!
True food connoisseurs can also arrange to take a cooking class with Aubergine’s Executive Chef Justin Cogley.
Couples looking for a romantic retreat will love the rooms at Candle Light Inn. Plus, this lovely inn is set right in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, so you’ll have endless dining and entertainment options.
The hotel’s 20 beautiful rooms all feature plush beds with deluxe French linens, in-room gourmet coffee stations, and large flat-screens with DirectTV. If you’re in town on a special celebration, it’s well worth upgrading to one of the suites for their cozy fireplaces, full kitchens, and two-person whirlpool tubs.
The friendly staff also offers a range of freebies, including hearty continental breakfasts, Wi-Fi, off-street parking, and delicious freshly baked cookies. Plus, in the evenings, you can grab a glass of wine or cup of hot cocoa, head out to the lovely patio area, and get cozy by the fireplace.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands is one of the best hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea if you’re looking for a home away from home during your trip. This hotel offers everything you need for a comfortable stay. Plus, you’ll be located right on the edge of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and Ocean Avenue is an easy 10-minute drive away.
You can choose from rooms with an ocean or garden view. Either way you go, guest rooms are outfitted with high-tech amenities like free Wi-Fi, iPod docks, and 42-inch flat-screen TVs and handy extras like Keurig coffee makers, sumptuous bathrobes, and individually controlled AC.
If you’re in town for an extended stay or just want more space, it’s well worth upgrading to one of the spacious suites. Opt for the Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite, and you’ll get a fully outfitted kitchen, a living room and dining area, and an ensuite with a deep soaking tub.
Explore the rest of the hotel, and you’ll find a heated outdoor pool, three hot tubs, a 24-hour fitness center, and an oceanfront lounge and restaurant.
Located two blocks from Ocean Avenue, Svendsgaard’s Inn is an ideal option if you plan on doing some serious shopping, wining, and dining during your trip. Plus, this place regards itself as “the pet-friendliest Inn in Carmel,” so look no further if you’re planning to bring your pups along.
Your dogs will be lavished with plush beds, unlimited treats, food and water bowls, and cozy blankets upon arrival. You’ll also have easy access to dog-friendly Carmel Beach and a nearby park for walks and exercise. The friendly staff will even recommend the best pet-friendly restaurants and activities for you and your furry friends!
You don’t have to be traveling with your dogs to stay at the Svendsgaard’s Inn, though. Both pet-friendly and non-pet-friendly rooms boast traditional decor, in-room coffee and tea makers, and mini-fridges. Upgraded rooms offer cool extras like jetted tubs, fireplaces, and kitchenettes.
You’ll also have access to a lush garden courtyard and a large heated pool. While there is no hotel restaurant, all of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s best eateries are just steps from this charming inn.
10. Wayside Inn
If it’s not obvious by now, Carmel-by-the-Sea is brimming with adorable inns, and Wayside Inn is one of the best of the bunch! With its downtown location, you’ll also have easy access to all of the galleries and restaurants on Ocean Avenue.
The inn boasts 22 rooms and suites, all outfitted with English- and French-country decor, comfy beds with French linens, and large flat-screen TVs with DirecTV. Plus, you’ll love that you can brew your morning coffee with the in-room coffee maker and store drinks with the handy mini-fridge.
If you’re traveling as a family or group, the Deluxe Suites offer separate bedrooms and living rooms, fireplaces, and fully outfitted kitchens perfect for cooking homemade meals. You’ll also get freebies, including breakfast baskets delivered to your room each morning, parking, Wi-Fi, and freshly baked cookies.
You’ll be able to walk to a wide range of bars, tasting rooms, and restaurants. But if you don’t want to go far, Blair Estate Tasting Room and the upscale Rise + Roam bakery and pizzeria are right across the street.
11. Coachman’s Inn
Located right in the center of town, Coachman’s Inn is easily one of the coolest boutique hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This intimate inn is comprised of 30 guest rooms, which offer the perfect blend of California coastal vibes and luxurious amenities.
Before you head out for the day, you can fill up on the inn’s complimentary breakfast buffet, where you can choose from made-to-order gourmet items like the artichoke quiche, potato and cheese omelet, and spinach and mushroom frittata.
The staff will even shower you with a free wine and cheese mini-picnic, which you can enjoy on the beach or in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Plus, at the end of the day, you can mix and mingle over wine and cheese at the complimentary wine social.
Once you’re ready to relax for the evening, you’ll appreciate the room’s plush pillow-top bed, cottage-style furnishings, and handy Keurig coffee makers, mini-fridges, and microwaves. Guest rooms also come with free popcorn for the perfect movie night!
Explore the grounds, and you’ll find an outdoor whirlpool, a dry sauna, and a spacious sun deck.
If you prefer to stay in a bed and breakfast, Carmel Green Lantern Inn is one of the best places to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This 1927 boutique inn is located right downtown and just four blocks from Carmel Beach, so the location can’t be beat!
The 17 quaint guest rooms are spread across six charming cottages surrounded by gorgeous gardens with fountains and redwood trees. Expect period-style furnishings, gabled ceilings, and floral touches. Depending on which room type you choose, you’ll get different amenities, from fireplaces to private decks with ocean views.
Be sure to fill up on breakfast before an action-packed day of exploring. You’ll get a generous spread of waffles, yogurt parfait, fresh fruit, freshly baked frittatas, and gourmet coffee. The staff will also put out freshly baked cookies in the lobby for you to enjoy throughout the day.
If this is your first time in town and you’re not sure what to do, the ultra-friendly and knowledgeable staff will pepper you with all sorts of insider information about the best restaurants, entertainment, and sightseeing options in town.
That completes our list of the 12 best Carmel-by-the-Sea hotels! Did we miss any cool boutique hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea? Comment below so we can add them to the list!
Where to Stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea
It’s no surprise that most of the best boutique hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea are clustered around the quaint downtown area. If this is your first visit to this California coastal town (or your 10th!), this is the best place to base yourself. This is especially true if you want to be in the heart of all the action.
Not only will you be close to Carmel Beach, but you’ll be steps away from the bustling galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants that line Ocean Avenue (Carmel-by-the-Sea’s main drag). Plus, you can have your pick of a wide range of historic inns and luxe, art-filled boutique hotels.
If it’s ocean views or a beach vacation you’re looking for, there are quite a few family-friendly hotels clustered around Carmel Beach and tucked away near Carmel River State Beach, Monastery Beach, and Pebble Beach.
There are also a handful of luxurious resorts on the outskirts of town. If you don’t mind being a 15-minute drive from town, these incredible retreats offer amenities like championship golf courses, world-class spas, and incredible gourmet restaurants. Honestly, with so many tempting features, you won’t have to leave if you don’t want to.
But no matter where you choose to base yourself, you’re bound to have an incredible time getting to know this one-of-a-kind city!