Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Built in the 1980s but fully renovated in 2018, the 290-room Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is the closest hotel to the ocean on the California coast—and we mean close. It’s actually on the water, rising up from the waves on dozens of pylons. The sound of the waves provides a constant reminder of its location, as do the stunning views from just about every spot in the hotel. With a refined coastal style and plenty of amenities, it’s a classic luxury retreat in Monterey. 

What You Need to Know

The Look at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Almost every spot in the hotel reminds you you’re on the coast, and the lobby is no exception. Dark wood flooring, beams, and bannisters are matched with blue furnishings in all shades, and the classically elegant room is worthy competition for view of the sparkling blue water just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. In the hallways, vintage black-and-white photographs document Monterey’s former life as the center of the sardine industry. And in the rooms, binoculars make it easy to spot sea life like whales, dolphins, seals, and otters from the window or balcony (70% of rooms have the latter). 

The 290 rooms and 10 suites range in size from a generous 400 square feet on up to a sprawling 2,100 square feet. Pastel and neutral tones compliment dark wood furnishings and modern sea-themed art like sketches of seahorses and coral. Pillow-top mattresses, down-filled feather bed covers, and Plum wine machines (which dispense samples of two different wines) add an extra touch of luxury. 

Additionally, the hotel is a certified green business by the Bay Area Green Business Program for its water conservation program. It also uses environmentally safe cleaning supplies and participates in the Monterey Bay Aquarium program to promote sustainable seafood. 

The Vibe at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Guests at the Monterey Plaza run the gamut, from young couples on a romantic trip to sightseeing families to conventioneers and wedding groups using some of the hotel’s 30,000 square feet of event space. The result is that, depending on what’s happening at the hotel that day, it can feel a bit busy, especially around the meeting rooms. Thankfully the hotel’s large footprint means you can easily find a quiet space to admire the ocean views. 

Who Will Love the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Guests who want to be in the heart of Monterey with beautiful bay views will love the hotel’s location. Those planning a spa retreat or who appreciate a bevy of amenities will also value the options available onsite. 

Who Might Not Love the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

The hotel is a classic, and its decor reflects that. While the hotel was recently renovated, it still has a very traditional look. Those who prefer a more hip, design-forward hotel might find the Monterey Plaza a bit too conventional for their taste. 

Best Amenity at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

The hotel’s location makes it easy to explore the best of Monterey, but if you don’t feel like straying far, you don’t have to. Tidal Coffee is the perfect spot to grab some caffeine and a light breakfast, and Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner with stunning views of the sea; an extensive locally focused wine list; and delicious California farm-(and sea-)to-table cuisine. The Vista Blue Spa is another gem, located on the top floor of the hotel, with stunning views, two rooftop jacuzzis, and treatments ranging from facials to hydrotherapy. 

Money Matters

What’s Included at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

The hotel offers guests complimentary bicycles for cruising around town as well as complimentary shuttle service via Land Rover. There’s a 24-hour business center, free wifi throughout the property, complimentary shoeshine and dairy newspaper, nightly turndown, and access to the onsite fitness center. There’s also an expert concierge team that can arrange activities like sailing, kayaking, whale watching, wine tasting, or whatever your heart desires. 

Fees and Extra Costs at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Valet parking costs $32 plus tax each day (there is no self parking).

How to Get a Deal at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Rooms start at around $230 per night for an inland view room and can go up to around $1,000 per night for an ocean view balcony room during peak seasons like fall weekends or when events take over the hotel. Weekdays and winter months offer the lowest prices. The hotel also offers packages and special offers, such as 15% off when you stay three nights or more. 

Getting There

In the Neighborhood of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

The Monterey Plaza is set right against Monterey Bay on the southern end of Cannery Row and a short walk to all the major attractions. It’s just 10 minutes on foot to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. There are dozens of restaurants, shops, and cafes and several wine tasting rooms all within a few blocks, so once you park your car you really don’t need to take it out again unless you want to do a day trip to the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea (five miles away), Big Sur (30 miles away), or the Carmel Valley (17 miles away). 

Nearest Airport to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) is just four miles away, a drive that takes about 10 minutes and costs under $10 via taxi or rideshare service. The larger Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is 75 miles (about 90 minutes with no traffic, or 2+ hours in rush hour) north of Monterey, while San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is 100 miles away. Monterey Airbus offers shuttle service from San Francisco International, San Jose International, or Monterey Regional airports with rates starting at $37 each way. 

The Bottom Line

The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is a classic luxury hotel that never disappoints. Its ideal location right on the water, beautiful views, and proximity to the best of Monterey make it a stress-free spot to relax. Add in the many amenities—from spa to dining to bike rentals—and it’s the perfect retreat on the coast.

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