California's Best Luxury Hotels

by Megan DuBois

California's Best Luxury Hotels

by Megan DuBois
Smart Luxury

The Golden State boasts beautiful beaches, rolling acres of vineyards, lush greenery, and of course, an array of lavish properties that will take care of your every need. Ahead, our favorite luxury hotels in California.

The Golden State boasts beautiful beaches, rolling acres of vineyards, lush greenery, and of course, an array of lavish properties that will take care of your every need. Ahead, our favorite luxury hotels in California.

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Montage Laguna Beach / Courtesy of the property
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Nobu Ryokan Malibu: Malibu

This Japanese-style inn sits between Carbon Beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. Each of the 16 guest rooms features minimalist-inspired design elements and a warm, neutral color palette. Some accommodations also have teak soaking tubs and en-suite fireplaces.

This Japanese-style inn sits between Carbon Beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. Each of the 16 guest rooms features minimalist-inspired design elements and a warm, neutral color palette. Some accommodations also have teak soaking tubs and en-suite fireplaces.

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Nobu Ryokan Malibu: Malibu

Why we love it: Nobu Ryokan Malibu is a top-notch retreat that’s centered around R&R. Guests can soak up the sun along the ipe wood deck, gain access to the members-only Malibu Racquet Club, and score priority reservations at the acclaimed Nobu Malibu restaurant.

Why we love it: Nobu Ryokan Malibu is a top-notch retreat that’s centered around R&R. Guests can soak up the sun along the ipe wood deck, gain access to the members-only Malibu Racquet Club, and score priority reservations at the acclaimed Nobu Malibu restaurant.

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Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: Rancho Santa Fe

The 45-acre Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is surrounded by beautiful gardens and citrus groves. Despite the property’s sprawling size, there are just 49 casita-style accommodations — each of which is equipped with a private patio that overlooks the surrounding canyons. When you’re not admiring the views from your room, take advantage of ample on-site activities and amenities, including a spa, yoga pavilion, tennis, pickleball, and pilates. 

The 45-acre Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is surrounded by beautiful gardens and citrus groves. Despite the property’s sprawling size, there are just 49 casita-style accommodations — each of which is equipped with a private patio that overlooks the surrounding canyons. When you’re not admiring the views from your room, take advantage of ample on-site activities and amenities, including a spa, yoga pavilion, tennis, pickleball, and pilates. 

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Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: Rancho Santa Fe

Why we love it: Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is known for its top-ranked tennis facility, where guests can take private lessons or play a pick-up match with friends. The property can even arrange a handful of bucket-list-worthy experiences, such as hot air balloon rides and helicopter tours of Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico's most famous wine region. Alternatively, spend the day relaxing by the cabana-lined swimming pool. 

Why we love it: Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is known for its top-ranked tennis facility, where guests can take private lessons or play a pick-up match with friends. The property can even arrange a handful of bucket-list-worthy experiences, such as hot air balloon rides and helicopter tours of Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico's most famous wine region. Alternatively, spend the day relaxing by the cabana-lined swimming pool. 

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Post Ranch Inn: Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn is perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean in beautiful Big Sur. The adults-only resort has 40 rooms and private residences, each of which features warm wood tones to help elevate your connection with nature (which is also why you won't find in-room TVs or alarm clocks). The panoramic cliff and coastal views are a bonus. 

Post Ranch Inn is perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean in beautiful Big Sur. The adults-only resort has 40 rooms and private residences, each of which features warm wood tones to help elevate your connection with nature (which is also why you won't find in-room TVs or alarm clocks). The panoramic cliff and coastal views are a bonus. 

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Post Ranch Inn: Big Sur

Why we love it: Post Ranch Inn includes everything you could ever want (or need!) in a luxury hotel. Your stay includes daily breakfast, wifi, valet parking, pool access, and on-site activities like yoga, guided nature hikes, and garden tours. Best of all, there is no resort fee.

Why we love it: Post Ranch Inn includes everything you could ever want (or need!) in a luxury hotel. Your stay includes daily breakfast, wifi, valet parking, pool access, and on-site activities like yoga, guided nature hikes, and garden tours. Best of all, there is no resort fee.

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San Ysidro Ranch: Montecito

San Ysidro Ranch is an idyllic retreat spanning 500 acres. (Fun fact: John and Jackie Kennedy spent part of their honeymoon here in 1953, and the 2,700-square-foot cottage that they stayed in now bears their name.) This dynamic property is set along the San Ysidro Creek, where walkable gardens lead to open lawns, making the perfect setting for a picnic lunch. 

San Ysidro Ranch is an idyllic retreat spanning 500 acres. (Fun fact: John and Jackie Kennedy spent part of their honeymoon here in 1953, and the 2,700-square-foot cottage that they stayed in now bears their name.) This dynamic property is set along the San Ysidro Creek, where walkable gardens lead to open lawns, making the perfect setting for a picnic lunch. 

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San Ysidro Ranch: Montecito

Why we love it: The bungalow-style accommodations offer stone fireplaces, four-poster beds, outdoor rain showers, and gorgeous antiques. The resort's signature eatery, Stonehouse Restaurant — which serves up regionally inspired cuisine featuring herbs and produce sourced straight from the chef's organic garden — is incredibly impressive, as is the 12,000-bottle wine cellar.

Why we love it: The bungalow-style accommodations offer stone fireplaces, four-poster beds, outdoor rain showers, and gorgeous antiques. The resort's signature eatery, Stonehouse Restaurant — which serves up regionally inspired cuisine featuring herbs and produce sourced straight from the chef's organic garden — is incredibly impressive, as is the 12,000-bottle wine cellar.

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The Inn at Spanish Bay: Pebble Beach

The Inn at Spanish Bay, which is part of the Pebble Beach Resorts complex, offers an ultra-luxe guest experience. Each of the charming rooms is equipped with a gas-burning fireplace and beautiful ocean, garden, or forest views. The property is also home to The Links at Spanish Bay, which is ranked among the country's best golf courses.

The Inn at Spanish Bay, which is part of the Pebble Beach Resorts complex, offers an ultra-luxe guest experience. Each of the charming rooms is equipped with a gas-burning fireplace and beautiful ocean, garden, or forest views. The property is also home to The Links at Spanish Bay, which is ranked among the country's best golf courses.

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The Inn at Spanish Bay: Pebble Beach

Why we love it: The resort has six drinking and dining options, including Stave Wine Cellar, which offers over 50 local wines by the glass. Guests also gain access to the members-only Spanish Bay Club, which is best known for its fitness programming. 

Why we love it: The resort has six drinking and dining options, including Stave Wine Cellar, which offers over 50 local wines by the glass. Guests also gain access to the members-only Spanish Bay Club, which is best known for its fitness programming. 

 

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Farmhouse Inn: Forestville 

Farmhouse Inn is ideal for travelers searching for a luxurious hotel with a warm ambiance and cozy vibe. Here, rustic-chic guest rooms are complete with plush bedding, jetted tubs, and oversized fireplaces. Cap off each evening on a sweet note with homemade cookies and milk, delivered during turndown service. 

Farmhouse Inn is ideal for travelers searching for a luxurious hotel with a warm ambiance and cozy vibe. Here, rustic-chic guest rooms are complete with plush bedding, jetted tubs, and oversized fireplaces. Cap off each evening on a sweet note with homemade cookies and milk, delivered during turndown service. 

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Farmhouse Inn: Forestville 

Why we love it: This beautiful property is known for its epicurean adventures into the world of food and wine. The acclaimed Farmhouse Restaurant is famous for its use of locally sourced ingredients. Hotel guests are also privy to VIP treatment at nearby vineyards. 

Why we love it: This beautiful property is known for its epicurean adventures into the world of food and wine. The acclaimed Farmhouse Restaurant is famous for its use of locally sourced ingredients. Hotel guests are also privy to VIP treatment at nearby vineyards. 

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El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel: Santa Barbara

El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1918. All accommodations have heated stone floors and marble bathrooms, while some offer deep soaking tubs. For even more pampering, visit The Spa at El Encanto, where you can indulge in CBD massages and custom facials. 

El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1918. All accommodations have heated stone floors and marble bathrooms, while some offer deep soaking tubs. For even more pampering, visit The Spa at El Encanto, where you can indulge in CBD massages and custom facials. 

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El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel: Santa Barbara

Why we love it: The property offers an array of activities to help you relax and unwind, including sound bath meditations, gourmet picnics, and outdoor movie screenings. Don't miss the delectable Sunday brunch, which is complete with bubbly and decadent desserts. 

Why we love it: The property offers an array of activities to help you relax and unwind, including sound bath meditations, gourmet picnics, and outdoor movie screenings. Don't miss the delectable Sunday brunch, which is complete with bubbly and decadent desserts. 

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The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe: Truckee

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is ready to welcome you and your family any time of year. In the winter months, the property is a prime ski-in/ski-out resort, and, come summertime, guests gain exclusive access to the swanky Lake Club. Here, you'll find a private pier, beach access, and complimentary kayak and standup paddleboard rentals. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is ready to welcome you and your family any time of year. In the winter months, the property is a prime ski-in/ski-out resort, and, come summertime, guests gain exclusive access to the swanky Lake Club. Here, you'll find a private pier, beach access, and complimentary kayak and standup paddleboard rentals. 

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The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe: Truckee

Why we love it: Each of the guest rooms offers luxurious touches like gas fireplaces and deep soaking tubs. Other amenities include an in-room s’mores kit, a 17,000-square-foot spa, and five drinking and dining options. 

Why we love it: Each of the guest rooms offers luxurious touches like gas fireplaces and deep soaking tubs. Other amenities include an in-room s’mores kit, a 17,000-square-foot spa, and five drinking and dining options. 

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Montage Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach

With panoramic ocean views and airy accommodations, Montage Laguna Beach exudes all things beachy chic. The 30-acre property is home to a spa, three restaurants, and a sparkling swimming pool. When it comes time to explore the surrounding Laguna Beach area, guests can take advantage of complimentary local chauffeured transportation. 

With panoramic ocean views and airy accommodations, Montage Laguna Beach exudes all things beachy chic. The 30-acre property is home to a spa, three restaurants, and a sparkling swimming pool. When it comes time to explore the surrounding Laguna Beach area, guests can take advantage of complimentary local chauffeured transportation. 

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Montage Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach

Why we love it: Wellness enthusiasts will love Montage Laguna Beach for its 20,000-square-foot spa, which offers several signature splurge-worthy experiences. The California Wildflower Ritual — which combines vibrational work, a massage, and a foot scrub that utilizes ingredients like rice, calendula flower, lavender, and chamomile — is especially noteworthy. 

Why we love it: Wellness enthusiasts will love Montage Laguna Beach for its 20,000-square-foot spa, which offers several signature splurge-worthy experiences. The California Wildflower Ritual — which combines vibrational work, a massage, and a foot scrub that utilizes ingredients like rice, calendula flower, lavender, and chamomile — is especially noteworthy. 

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Carneros Resort & Spa: Napa

A trip to Wine Country is a dream for any oenophile, and Carneros Resort & Spa makes the perfect home base for exploring. The property features three restaurants, two pools (including an adults-only one), a spa, and complimentary bike rentals. 

A trip to Wine Country is a dream for any oenophile, and Carneros Resort & Spa makes the perfect home base for exploring. The property features three restaurants, two pools (including an adults-only one), a spa, and complimentary bike rentals. 

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Carneros Resort & Spa: Napa

Why we love it: The private cottages allow for a serene couples’ retreat or a family-friendly vacation. Each has a private fenced-in yard and garden, along with an in-room wine dispenser, a fire pit, and a sundeck. 

Why we love it: The private cottages allow for a serene couples’ retreat or a family-friendly vacation. Each has a private fenced-in yard and garden, along with an in-room wine dispenser, a fire pit, and a sundeck. 

 

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Carmel Valley Ranch: Carmel-By-The-Sea

The all-suite Carmel Valley Ranch offers everything from studios to four-bedroom accommodations, making it ideal for groups of all sizes. Even better? Each suite is equipped with a fireplace, private deck, and soaking tub. Additionally, guests can choose from an abundance of on-site activities (but more on that on the next slide). 

The all-suite Carmel Valley Ranch offers everything from studios to four-bedroom accommodations, making it ideal for groups of all sizes. Even better? Each suite is equipped with a fireplace, private deck, and soaking tub. Additionally, guests can choose from an abundance of on-site activities (but more on that on the next slide). 

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Carmel Valley Ranch: Carmel-By-The-Sea

Why we love it: The resort amenities alone — which include nightly s’mores, access to three swimming pools, daily fitness classes, tennis doubles mixers, guided hikes, and garden tours — are worth a stay here. Other activities include honey tasting, cookie decorating, and pickleball. 

Why we love it: The resort amenities alone — which include nightly s’mores, access to three swimming pools, daily fitness classes, tennis doubles mixers, guided hikes, and garden tours — are worth a stay here. Other activities include honey tasting, cookie decorating, and pickleball. 

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Shutters on the Beach: Santa Monica

At Shutters on the Beach, beachy blues and creamy hues blend seamlessly with the surrounding sun and surf. Each accommodation evokes a coastal seaside vibe, and the in-room soaking tubs are a bonus. The expansive pool deck is another highlight, and it's even more beautiful at sunset. 

At Shutters on the Beach, beachy blues and creamy hues blend seamlessly with the surrounding sun and surf. Each accommodation evokes a coastal seaside vibe, and the in-room soaking tubs are a bonus. The expansive pool deck is another highlight, and it's even more beautiful at sunset. 

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Shutters on the Beach: Santa Monica

Why we love it: After a day well spent exploring Santa Monica, it’s nice to come back to a hotel that feels like home. For even more R&R, visit the beachfront spa, where rejuvenating treatments range from CBD massages to oxygen facials. Plus, all three on-site restaurants face the ocean, so you can always enjoy dinner (or breakfast or lunch) with a view.

Why we love it: After a day well spent exploring Santa Monica, it’s nice to come back to a hotel that feels like home. For even more R&R, visit the beachfront spa, where rejuvenating treatments range from CBD massages to oxygen facials. Plus, all three on-site restaurants face the ocean, so you can always enjoy dinner (or breakfast or lunch) with a view.

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The Peninsula Beverly Hills: Beverly Hills

The Peninsula Beverly Hills is one of The Golden State’s most luxurious hotels. The 195 guest rooms are immaculately appointed with high ceilings, plush bedding, marble bathrooms, spacious seating areas, and bespoke furnishings. Your stay includes complimentary fruit and a welcome beverage, as well as free shoe shining service.

The Peninsula Beverly Hills is one of The Golden State’s most luxurious hotels. The 195 guest rooms are immaculately appointed with high ceilings, plush bedding, marble bathrooms, spacious seating areas, and bespoke furnishings. Your stay includes complimentary fruit and a welcome beverage, as well as free shoe shining service.

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The Peninsula Beverly Hills: Beverly Hills

Why we love it: The Peninsula Academy offers something for every traveler. Children will love the Young Chef’s Academy, while adults can splurge on the Rolls Royce Wine Country Road Trip Experience, which includes a day trip to Pismo Beach followed by a visit to Tolosa Winery for a vineyard tour and lunch.

Why we love it: The Peninsula Academy offers something for every traveler. Children will love the Young Chef’s Academy, while adults can splurge on the Rolls Royce Wine Country Road Trip Experience, which includes a day trip to Pismo Beach followed by a visit to Tolosa Winery for a vineyard tour and lunch.

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Hotel Bel-Air: Los Angeles

A stay at Hotel Bel-Air is like stepping back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The charming hotel, which dates back to the 1940s, is famous for its Mission Revival-style architecture, vibrant gardens (which boasts over 4,000 plants), the beautiful Swan Lake (which, as its name suggests, is home to several swans), and a tranquil, palm tree-lined pool. 

A stay at Hotel Bel-Air is like stepping back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The charming hotel, which dates back to the 1940s, is famous for its Mission Revival-style architecture, vibrant gardens (which boasts over 4,000 plants), the beautiful Swan Lake (which, as its name suggests, is home to several swans), and a tranquil, palm tree-lined pool. 

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Hotel Bel-Air: Los Angeles

Why we love it: Hotel Bel-Air offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. No stay here is complete without a meal at the on-site Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, where you can feast on the chef's signature schnitzel. Bon appétit!

Why we love it: Hotel Bel-Air offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. No stay here is complete without a meal at the on-site Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, where you can feast on the chef's signature schnitzel. Bon appétit!

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Fairmont Grand Del Mar: San Diego

From the outside, Fairmont Grand Del Mar looks like a beautiful Italian villa. The 249 guest rooms and suites have dark wood furnishings, marble bathrooms, and deep soaking tubs. A meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Addison, is also a must.

From the outside, Fairmont Grand Del Mar looks like a beautiful Italian villa. The 249 guest rooms and suites have dark wood furnishings, marble bathrooms, and deep soaking tubs. A meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Addison, is also a must.

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Fairmont Grand Del Mar: San Diego

Why we love it: The 400-acre property offers a variety of on-site activities, including biking, tennis, pickleball, and archery. The Grand Golf Club — which is home to San Diego's only Tom Fazio-designed course and a 5,000 square foot driving range — is a draw for golf enthusiasts.

Why we love it: The 400-acre property offers a variety of on-site activities, including biking, tennis, pickleball, and archery. The Grand Golf Club — which is home to San Diego's only Tom Fazio-designed course and a 5,000 square foot driving range — is a draw for golf enthusiasts.

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