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Updated July 2023

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 in Monterey County is a personal favorite for a weekend escape in California.

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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-by-the-Sea 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.

A weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea 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 for wine tasting.

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 of 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-by-the-Sea, California!

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for Best Hotels in Carmel:

  1. Hotel Carmelfor the best village hotel
  2. Le Petit Pali at 8th Avefor the best new hotel
  3. Villa Mara, for the best boutique hotel
  4. Carmel Mission Inn, for the best design-for-dollar hotel
  5. La Playa Carmel, for the best larger hotel
  6. L’Auberge Carmel, for the best luxury hotel
  7. Carmel Valley Ranch, for the best luxury resort

For a more in-depth guide on where to eat in Carmel, read 20 Best Restaurants in Carmel.

The Best Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea

1. Hotel Carmel

The Coolest Design Hotels in California

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! Book the best rates here.

Address: 4th &, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

2. La Playa Carmel

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

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. Book the best rates here.

Address: Camino Real &, 8th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

3. L’Auberge Carmel

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

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. Book the best rates here.

Address: Monte Verde St &, 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

4. Villa Mara Carmel

Perched effortlessly upon the pristine coastline of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Villa Mara stands as an elegant testament to luxury hospitality. Its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, richly adorned with terracotta roof tiles and whitewashed adobe walls, creates a picturesque spectacle against the breathtaking backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Every one of the boutique guest rooms, featuring plush, neutral-toned interiors and panoramic views, is curated meticulously to inspire serenity and capture the town’s whimsical charm. Book the best rates here.

Address: 2408 Bay View Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

5. Le Petit Pali at 8th Avenue and At Ocean Avenue

Tucked into the idyllic surroundings of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Le Petit Pali emerges as a beacon of chic comfort and refined simplicity. Its design gracefully blends coastal charm with French sophistication, creating an inviting environment for guests seeking both relaxation and inspiration. With two locations to choose from (formerly the Hideaway and Getaway), the hotels are more of a boutique stay. Each of the hotel’s bespoke rooms bathes in the warm, California sunlight, offering plush furnishings and tranquil views that encapsulate Carmel’s unique allure. Book the best rates here.

Address: 8th Ave &, Junipero St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

6. Sandpiper Inn

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

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. Book the best rates here.

Hotels in Carmel Valley

7. Bernardus Lodge & Spa

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

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 with a French twist. Book the best rates here.

Address: 415 W Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

8. Carmel Valley Ranch Resort

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

Set on a golf course, Carmel Valley Ranch 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 offers 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. Book the best rates here.

Other Hotels Nearby Carmel

9. Alila Ventana Big Sur

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

If you’re looking to stay in Big Sur, my number one pick is the Alila Ventana. It’s steep in price but the experience here is unforgettable. With 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 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 your stay here. Ventana’s location gives you access to Big Sur’s natural beauty. Book the best rates here.

Address: 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920

10. Hyatt Carmel Highlands

The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

If you want to be close to Carmel and just south along the ocean, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands 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. Book the best rates here.

Address: 120 Highlands Dr, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

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-by-the-Sea 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 night in Big Sur. My travel guide for Big Sur can help you plan your time there.

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The Best Hotels in Carmel, California

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1 Comment

  1. Such beautiful places to stay, and they fit in so seamlessly into that environment of easy breezy seaside.

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