When it comes to hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea, these are the most luxurious inns and lodges located in town. Carmel-by-the-Sea or Carmel in Monterey County is a personal favorite for a weekend escape in California. With proximity to the Pacific Ocean, a charming downtown to explore, and wineries nearby, there is something to do for everyone.
Over the past two years, I’ve explored Carmel up, down, and sideways researching for a retreat I hosted there. As part of this, we took into consideration every single hotel choice. It resulted in stopping at multiple hotels to see what the rooms looked like and the overall quality. So I’m taking all of this research I did and compiling it into my personal selects for the best hotels in Carmel.
Carmel is a truly wonderful gem. A weekend there is relaxing and can include several activities — whether you want to be outdoors in nature or experience downtown. You won’t want to miss a day trip to Carmel Valley which is only a fifteen-minute drive. This travel guide to Carmel Valley will give you all of the details for planning an epic wine tasting day there.
When it comes to the hotels in Carmel, they do run pricey — they seem to have no off-season. A big part of that is that the temperature is considerably mild year-round for a coastal town. The rates are often lowest after the holidays in January/February and to my surprise, the weather is still great.
The peak season in Carmel is definitely May through September months. If you know your dates, I’d highly recommend booking in advance especially for the weekends. If you can go mid-week, you’ll find it much quieter as well.
For me, one of the best parts of staying on the grid in Carmel is the plethora of restaurants to choose from, check out this list for 20 best restaurants in Carmel. If you’re looking to plan your entire weekend trip, this Carmel guide will help you.
Ready to explore? Check out the best hotels in Carmel, California!
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The Best Hotels in Carmel, California
Frequently Asked Questions About Carmel
Are Carmel and Carmel-by-the-Sea the same thing?
Yes! Both names are used for the town. I often refer to it as just Carmel since it is shorter.
Is it better to stay in Monterey or Carmel?
Carmel is much more charming and has a village feeling to it. It is certainly an elevated experience and has a lot of luxury stores and nice restaurants. Monterey is diverse, you have a range of experiences. For myself personally, I prefer Carmel.
Why is Carmel-by-the-Sea so famous?
At first glance, the town of Carmel is incredibly charming. It has a fairytale feeling to it. The town is also home to a lot of artists, it was an enclave in the eighties. Today, lots of art retreats happen there, there are tons of art studios and galleries in town. It’s also popular for its proximity to Pebble Beach Golf Course, one of the top courses in the nation.
How far is Big Sur from Carmel?
This is a frequently asked question about staying in Carmel since it’s a popular day trip. It’s around twenty-five minutes to Bixby Bridge. Into the heart of Big Sur, around forty-five minutes should there be no traffic or road construction. It is an easy day trip if you’re planning not to continue further south. If you do want to continue south, I would consider staying one-two nights in Big Sur. My travel guide for Big Sur can help you plan your time there.
Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Hotel Carmel is my first choice for hotels in the center of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s the most modern hotel, with charming rooms and great design. You’ll find a wonderful outdoor area to hang out by firepits and a jacuzzi to use throughout the day.
The room rate at Hotel Carmel comes with breakfast which is an awesome bagel bar and a happy hour with wine by their terrace. I have personally stayed here numerous times and always love the experience. The front desk team is incredibly welcoming and can always help you plan out your time in Carmel.
Availability at Hotel Carmel is normally minimal since this is such a great hotel. I’d recommend booking this one in advance if you can. They are a pet-friendly hotel. Plus, you’re within walking distance of the best things to do in Carmel!
This is the sister property to Hotel Carmel on the opposite end of the downtown. La Playa has more of a resort feel to it so it’s great for bigger groups and families.
I would consider the style here more classic luxury. The rooms are cozy and spacious here, and definitely a good spot for those who want more downtime and to be closer to the beach. They are also home to the famous 10 cents happy hour that happens every Sunday night at 5 pm. It only happens for 10 minutes, so be sure to arrive early to snag this deal.
Certainly, the nicest (and most expensive) is the luxury hotel, L’Auberge Carmel. Time and time again, it is awarded for its incredible service and attention to detail.
The hotel has an old-world luxury feeling and is charming. Its location is one of the best as it’s only a block from Ocean Avenue, so you are well located for your time on the grid.
It is a Relais & Châteaux property, so for those who love this brand, you will feel right at home at L’Auberge.
Located off of Juniper Street, the Hideaway is rated one of the best hotels in town. Set back, it feels more hidden and intimate. Its rustic rooms are perfect for a weekend away and you can often snag a last-minute deal here for a stay.
The Hideaway has 24 rooms available and the hotel has a Craftsman-style architecture. They are also the sister property to the Getaway as well. If you check their website, oftentimes there are incredible offers and deals on multiple night stays.
This is is one of the more budget-friendly hotels in Carmel downtown. It was recently renovated, so the rooms have been given a great refresh here.
Another younger hotel in town, The Getaway is perfect for couples or friends traveling. They converted a motel, modernized it, and put some chic outfittings in each of the rooms.
We went back and forth on this hotel for our retreat, it has a similar vibe to the Hotel Carmel. The location on Ocean Avenue is at the start of the grid, so you are incredibly close to everything in town. You can easily walk to Carmel Beach from here as well.
This is an adult-only hotel in Carmel, so for those who want a romantic getaway, this is a good win. It’s very close to the ocean and even comes with afternoon tea.
The atmosphere at the Sandpiper Inn is a California country-style inn. You are in the footsteps of the stunning Carmel Beach as well, located in a residential neighborhood.
A lot of the rooms do have ocean views, so if you’re looking for a hotel with that specifically, this is the one hotel to consider.
Hotels in Carmel Valley
The most luxurious hotel in Carmel Valley is Bernardus Lodge. Set with a spa, sprawling acreage, and chic rooms, this is the ultimate getaway. I stayed at the Bernardus Lodge this fall, and it feels like you are tucked away at an estate in Tuscany.
The rooms are a classic luxury and beautifully outfitted with all of the amenities you could need for a stay. With its location in the vineyards, there are some incredible places to explore from here.
One thing to note for your stay is to consider eating at Lucia. The restaurant right at the lodge is iconic and served farm to table food done with a French twist.
Set on a golf course, the resort has a long list of activities to experience from hiking trails to tennis courts. The rooms are stunning, and of course, the location is amazing.
The property has 139 rooms available, and offer a lot of different categories to choose from. They are a pet-friendly hotel, however, there is a fee per pet for the stay. You’ll find there are plenty of walking trails here as well, so you can easily get outdoors right from your room.
Carmel Valley Ranch is a great option and offers a luxury stay in the valley. The location is up a hill, so you do get some beautiful views down the valley.
Other Hotels Nearby Carmel
If you’re looking to stay in Big Sur, my number one pick is Ventana. It’s steep in price but the experience here is unforgettable. Ocean views, a stunning spa, and each room outfitted perfectly, it’s a memorable stay.
This last year, the hotel turned into an all-inclusive hotel. So for your room rate, it includes all of your meals (excluding alcohol) and select experiences. If you’re wanting a resort experience that is near the ocean, you’ll be really happy here.
We stayed in the early fall and were pleasantly surprised by how well-done the food was. The dinners down at the restaurant were three-course and really tasty. Our room was intimate and cozy. It had a wood-burning fireplace and a spa tub. Something unique about the Ventana is that it’s in the redwoods, so you get a different feeling for the stay here.
Ventana’s location gives you access to Big Sur’s natural beauty.
If you want to be close to Carmel and just south along the ocean, the Hyatt is the closest option. It’s an older property but has stunning views and cozy rooms.
You’ll be a short drive to places like Point Lobos State Reserve and about a ten-minute drive to downtown Carmel.
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