Salt & Wind Travel

Our Top 25 Picks Of Luxury Boutique Hotels California

When it comes to luxury boutique hotels California, our clients often ask which are the best hotels. That answer is relative because it depends on what makes an excellent hotel for you. And in a state as diverse as California, you could be talking about a property cliffside on the ocean, one in the mix of the Hollywood glitz, or a bucolic stay tucked among redwoods in wine country. 

Having grown up in California and now, as a travel planner who curates itineraries to California, I have been able to experience many of these hotel properties firsthand. My first job in hospitality was at the legendary Hotel Bel Air, and it helped me appreciate the effortlessly chic style that defines luxury boutique hotels in California.

These days, our travelers often stay in at least one luxury hotel as they cross the Golden State. So, we’re sharing some of the most legendary and lesser-known, from Rancho Valencia and Terranea to the Whitewater Cambria and the Cavallo Point. 

Luxury Boutique Hotels California
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Luxury Boutique Hotels California

This guide to the 25 best luxury boutique hotels in California is your compass to navigating these exquisite havens, where unparalleled service, breathtaking views, and sumptuous comfort meet to create the ultimate luxury experience.

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of city lights or the call of the wild, California’s boutique hotels offer a sanctuary of elegance and exclusivity for the discerning traveler. We’re sharing what we like about each property, any things to note, and, when applicable, any perks you can get by booking directly with us!

Southern California Luxury Boutique Hotels

Think breezy, easy, and laidback luxe; you know how these Southern California hotels roll. This region of the Golden State includes some of our best surf breaks, off-the-beaten path small towns like Ojai, and, of course the glam of Hollywood. Here are Southern California luxury boutique hotels that showcase that all:

Rancho Valencia (San Diego)

What You’ll Love: This Spanish colonial-style resort is located north of downtown San Diego near the chic beaches of La Jolla and Del Mar. The tiled-roof bungalows set among eucalyptus and orange trees allow you to be in San Diego while escaping the city. Many of our local friends head here for a staycation and indulge in wellness treatments like reflexology or their “suitest massage.”
Need To Know: 
It’s inland, so not ideal if you want to be beachfront.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full breakfast for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability 
  • Complimentary WIFI

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe

The Ranch at Laguna Beach (Laguna Beach)

What You’ll Love: Nestled in a secluded canyon just a 10-minute walk from the water, this luxury hotel in Laguna Beach is often described as “peaceful.” It is minutes from the best restaurants of Laguna and yet chock full of amenities — pools, golf, spa — so you may not want to leave. 
Need To Know: The secluded location might be too secluded for some.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability at check-in
  • Complimentary bottle of Prosecco on arrival
  • US$50 food and beverage credit per room per stay
  • Complimentary welcome gift on arrival 

The Ranch at Laguna Beach, 31106 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach

The Parker (Palm Springs)

What You’ll Love: There are numerous luxury boutique hotels in Palm Springs, so there’s something for everyone. But if we had to choose just one property, it would be The Parker. The whimsical and eclectic decor allows you to live your best mid-century modern life. I personally have stayed here whenever I need an escape because you can stay on the property all day enjoying the fresh farm-to-table food and excellent spa services (hello, salt scrub)!

While the bar makes a great cocktail and the outdoor swimming pool is lovely, we’re particularly fans of the on-site restaurant, Norma’s, and the full-service spa, which has yacht club-meets-Turkish bath vibes. 
Need To Know: 
As one of the more trendy hotels in Palm Springs, it can be a scene in high season.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Breakfast
  • VIP Status
  • Early check-in/late check-out

Parker Palm Springs, 4200 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

Terranea Resort (Palos Verdes Peninsula)

What You’ll Love: Get off the beaten path at this 582-room resort in the quiet cliffside community of Palos Verdes. You’ll have unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island and access to incredible coastal hikes and lovely tidepools. The pool and spa are a must visit as are the bars and restaurants where you can soak in the sunshine. I grew up minutes from this resort and always love visiting for their epic brunch and their indulgent spa services. 
Need To Know: The tucked-away location means you’re far from the main part of Los Angeles.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast credit of $30 per person for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Terranea Resort, 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes

Hotel Bel Air Grounds

Hotel Bel Air (Bel Air)

What You’ll Love: An oasis in the city, this all-out luxe hotel is set among 12 acres of lush gardens. Though minutes from Westwood, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, the Bel Air location is tranquil, with an idyllic swan lake and an alfresco restaurant. This is Hollywood glamour at its best. This is the first hotel I ever worked at, and their dedication to excellence (and privacy) is unparalleled. Also, be sure to get Nancy Reagan’s Chopped Salad for the ultimate classic dish. 
Need To Know: 
The secluded location may feel too quiet.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Guaranteed one-category upgrade at the time of booking for all room categories
  • US$100 hotel credit applied at checkout
  • Complimentary breakfast for two daily,
  • Complimentary WIFI

Hotel Bel Air, 701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles

The Pierside Hotel (Santa Monica)

What You’ll Love: Stay in the middle at this casual surf-themed hotel right off the Santa Monica Pier. Our clients love the friendly staff and the short walk to the beach, shops, and restaurants.
Need To Know: The central location near a major street means it can get noisy.
The Pierside Hotel,120 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica

Chateau Marmont (West Hollywood)

What You’ll Love: Stay at a legendary Hollywood property on the Sunset Strip with access to music venues, comedy clubs, and vibrant nightlife. This hotel exudes iconic Hollywood glamour and has a reputation for privacy and exclusivity. The bungalows are a total oasis, and the restaurant on the garden terrace is one of Hollywood’s most legendary spots for lunch. When I lived in Los Angeles, I insisted on taking visitors for a meal here since it’s quintessentially Hollywood.
Need To Know: The exclusivity can sometimes feel off-putting.
Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

The Langham Huntington Hotel

The Langham Huntington (Pasadena)

What You’ll Love: Dating to 1907, this is one of California’s most historic properties. This landmark hotel is located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, just minutes from downtown L.A. and Pasadena. There are gardens, tennis, golf, and a spa, but our clients’ favorite is their high tea!
Need To Know: Its traditional vibes may not appeal to everyone.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Daily Breakfast For 2 
  • VIP Welcome Amenity
  • Next-tier room upgrade
  • Early check-in, late checkout

The Langham Huntington, 1401 S Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena

Nobu Ryokan (Malibu)

What You’ll Love: Sleep soundly as the Pacific Ocean waves crash at your door at this intimate beachfront property, which combines Japanese minimalism with midcentury California chic. Located south of Malibu Pier and adjacent to Soho House and Nobu restaurant, it means you have plenty to explore.
Need To Know: The only road in and out of the property can have heavy traffic and make it hard to access the rest of Los Angeles.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full breakfast for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit 
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Nobu Malibu, 22752 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Ojai Valley Inn (Ojai)

What You’ll Love: Recharge with all the best amenities at this upscale hacienda-style resort that dates back to 1934. The town of Ojai is known for its wellness meets village vibes, reflected in this property, which offers a comprehensive wellness focus.

We like the views of the nearby Topatopa mountains, the lovely breakfast, and the incredible spa, golf, and tennis. But, as a food-focused company, we’re particular fans of the culinary events at the Farmhouse.
Need To Know: 
The traditional vibes of the property may not suit everyone’s tastes.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full breakfast for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Ojai Valley Inn, 905 Country Club Road, Ojai

El Encanto (Santa Barbara)

What You’ll Love: This luxe hotel, a mix of Spanish Colonial Revival and Craftsman buildings amid 7 acres of lush gardens, is in a private hillside setting in Santa Barbara’s chic Riviera neighborhood. This is the only U.S. location of Belmond Hotels (one of our favorite luxury brands) and this property brings it. Head here for brunch even if you aren’t staying to soak in the laidback luxe for whic Santa Barbara is known.
Need To Know: You’ll need to drive for beach access and city exploration.
El Encanto, 800 Alvarado Pl, Santa Barbara

Rosewood Miramar Beach (Santa Barbara)

What You’ll Love: This posh hotel is one of the newest additions to Santa Barbara’s luxury hotels. It is just west of Highway 101 and next to Miramar Beach. The rooms are airy and elegant; some have direct beach access and/or ocean views. Amenities include an oceanfront restaurant, a bar, two outdoor pools, and a spa. As with all Rosewood properties the service is excellent but some of our clients don’t like that it’s not in Santa Barbara.
Need To Know:
It is just west of the freeway so some rooms may be noisy.
Rosewood Miramar, 1759 S Jameson Ln, Montecito

Central California Big Sur

Central California Luxury Boutique Hotels

As you leave the major cities and wander through Central California, things slow down, and the luxury hotels do, too. Here, you’ll find resorts with the best views in Big Sur, upcycled beachfront spots that harken back to midcentury, and some of California’s most under-the-radar luxury boutique hotels.

The Inn At Mattei’s Tavern (Los Olivos)

What You’ll Love: California preppy meets central coast wine country at this, one of the top boutique hotels in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern is a historic property renovated and reopened in 2021. The hotel combines rustic charm with luxury. Our guests love the on-site restaurant and its walking distance to the shops and restaurants of Los Olivos.
Need To Know: 
The property abuts the busy San Marcos Pass Road, so rooms on that side of the property can be noisy.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, 2350 Railway Ave, Los Olivos

White Water Moonstone Beach (Cambria)

What You’ll Love: Moonstone Beach, in the sleepy beachside town of Cambria, is an ideal overnight spot for travelers heading up California Highway 1. It’s north of San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach and provides easy access to Paso Robles wine country, San Simeon Beach, and Hearst Castle. This midcentury mod property offers stunning ocean views and direct access to the beach.
Need To Know: The remote location might not be ideal for guests looking to explore urban attractions.

White Water Cambria, 6736 Moonstone Beach Dr, Cambria

Post Ranch Inn Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn (Big Sur)

What You’ll Love: A storied property in the heart of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn is arguably one of the greatest places on the California coast. The unique architecture blends into the surroundings, so you feel like you’re sleeping in nature. This 100-acre resort includes guest rooms perched on cliffs above the ocean (and others with mountain views), a top-rated fine dining restaurant (where I had my best-ever meal in Big Sur), and phenomenal spa treatments.
Need To Know: 
The exclusivity comes at a high cost.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Post Ranch Inn, 47900 Highway 1, Big Sur

Carmel Valley Ranch (Carmel-By-The-Sea)

What You’ll Love: Yes, downtown Carmel-By-The-Sea has lovely hotels, but they’re on the smaller side. If you want something spacious, head to this hotel at the start of Carmel Valley.

Here, the ocean meets the land in everything from the weather to the topography and activities. I adore this property’s location: one minute, you can shop or dine in Carmel-By-The-Sea; the next, you can visit a farm, go wine tasting, or rest and relax at the hotel. 
Need To Know: The property size might require considerable time to travel between activities and amenities.
Carmel Valley Ranch, 1 Old Ranch Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea

Château du Sureau (Yosemite National Park)

What You’ll Love: If you want to be at the footstep of the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury, head to this hidden gem just outside the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The vibe is a French chateau in the forest with plush decor and one of the best restaurants in the area. Our clients really enjoy the contrast this luxe spot provides after a day of roughing it in the park. 
Need To Know: 
The focus on a luxury experience may not align with the more rustic expectations of national park visitors.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Complimentary Continental or Buffet Breakfast per night and person
  • VIP Welcome per room and stay

Chateau du Sureau, 48688 Victoria Lane, Oakhurst

Northern California Luxury Boutique Hotels

With Silicon Valley, San Francisco, the Lost Coast, and Napa Valley, Northern California has much to explore.

Some of the best boutique hotels in this region are spas, while others are legendary retreats perched on craggy cliffs. But every single one has a distinct sense of place. Here are our picks of the best luxury hotels in California from the Bay Area to the Oregon border:

Canyon Ranch (Woodside)

What You’ll Love: The legendary Canyon Ranch brand brings this spa escape in the hills above Silicon Valley. Set in the woods along Skyline Boulevard, you’ll feel a world away from it all, yet it is still just a few minutes’ drive from civilization. This luxury retreat focuses on wellness, with comprehensive health and fitness programs.
Need To Know: 
focus on wellness might not appeal to those seeking a more traditional leisure or vacation experience.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade  on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Canyon Ranch, 16350 Skyline Blvd, Woodside

Lodge At The Presidio

Lodge At The Presidio (San Francisco) 

What You’ll Love: Located in the heart of the Presidio at the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge, this historic barracks has been remade into a hotel. The historic building offers unique views of the Golden Gate Bridge and easy access to Presidio Park, so you can escape the city while staying just a few blocks away from it all.
Need To Know: 
The location to the city’s north means you will be far from major sights. 

Lodge at the Presidio,105 Montgomery Street, San Francisco

Cavallo Point (Sausalito)

What You’ll Love: Sleep under the Golden Gate bridge with a view of the City by the Bay one of the most unique hotels on our list. Situated on a former military base overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, this upscale resort is set across a collection of former officers’ residences and modern buildings.

This hotel combines historic lodging with modern luxury, offering stunning views of the San Francisco Bay. We have spent many days here sipping bubbles on their patio while watching boats pass under the bridge, and our guests like everything from the unique decor, historic architecture, top-rate food, and always interesting programming. 
Need To Know: Most rooms are in historic buildings, so they do not have all the perks of a newly built hotel.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Breakfast for Two Daily
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Complimentary WIFI
  • Room Upgrade (subject to availability)
  • Priority Check-in and Check-out (subject to availability)

Cavallo Point, 601 Murray Circle Fort Baker, Sausalito

Bardessono (Yountville)

What You’ll Love: An intimate boutique experience in the heart of wine country, this modern hotel is highly focused on design and sustainability. This 62-room hotel with its sleek design is a welcome change from the many classically-decorated hotels in Napa Valley.

Its location in the heart of Yountville means you are within walking distance from some of the best places for classic wine country dining, such as French Laundry, Mustards, and Brix.
Need To Know: 
It is not a large property since it’s in the middle of a town.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast Credit for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Bardessono Hotel & Spa, 6526 Yount Street, Yountville

Meadowood (St Helena)

What You’ll Love: One of the most classic California boutique hotels, the Meadowood Resort is a sprawling property that immerses you in the food and wine culture of Napa. It recently underwent an extensive renovation, so everything from the spa to the fitness center is updated.

This is minutes from Napa’s best wineries and the famed Calistoga hot springs. However, you’ll want to spend a lot of time on the property so you can enjoy the many on-site amenities, including the renowned Restaurant At Meadowood (which is set to open soon after suffering a fire).
Need To Know: 
The secluded, upscale experience is expensive.
Perks When You Book With Us:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability 
  • Daily Full breakfast for up to two guests per room
  • US$100 hotel credit
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary WIFI

Meadowood, 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena

Dawn Ranch

Dawn Ranch (Guerneville)

What You’ll Love: Nestled along the river in Sonoma’s wine Russian River Valley, Dawn Ranch provides a rustic retreat amidst the redwoods. This property is on 15 lush acres for those seeking a nature escape without camping. The cabins and cottages cluster but leave ample room to wander peacefully amid nature. Our clients like staying here since it allows them to just as easily access the rugged Sonoma Coast and the area’s best wineries. 
Need To Know: Some of the cottages are across from the main resort, so you may only want to stay in those rooms if you seek privacy.

Dawn Ranch, 16467 CA-116, Guerneville

The Sea Ranch Lodge (Sea Ranch) 

What You’ll Love: A storied oceanfront escape with all the modern conveniences, it provides secluded accommodations with breathtaking coastal views. This is one of the great Californian hotels and has recently undergone a lovely update. It provides fabulous views of the sea from all rooms, extremely high-end amenities, stunning food, and a cultural history second to none of this type.
Need To Know: Remote location offers limited dining and entertainment options on-site or nearby.

The Sea Ranch Lodge, 60 Sea Walk Dr, Sea Ranch

The Inn At Newport Ranch (Fort Bragg)

What You’ll Love: A far northern escape, this hotel offers unique coastal ranch experiences with stunning views and outdoor activities. The Inn at Newport Ranch is an astonishing ode to the remarkable landscape of Northern California.

Wind your way up the Pacific Coast Highway and through woodland roads studded with vineyards and enchanted ocean views to come upon this redwood masterpiece of an inn and active ranch, perched on private bluffs with uninterrupted views of sea lions, dramatic sea stacks, and even whales (if you’re lucky). The thoughtful accommodations perfectly combine luxurious elegance and profound reverence for nature.
Need To Know: The exclusivity and unique location come with a premium price and limited nearby urban amenities.

The Inn At Newport Ranch, 31502 CA-1, Fort Bragg

Frequently Asked Questions

 California boasts a variety of luxury boutique hotels known for their exclusive amenities and personalized service. Notable mentions include The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, offering stunning cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean; The Hotel Bel Air, known for its chic design and exquisite dining options; and Meadowood in Napa Valley, renowned for its world-class spa and wine country views. Each hotel provides a unique experience, catering to those seeking luxury and intimacy.

Prices for luxury boutique hotels in California vary widely depending on the location, time of year, and level of luxury. Rates can range from $600 to $1,5000 per night or more.

It's best to check with the hotel or contact our travel planning team for specific pricing. Booking in advance and looking for special packages or off-season deals can also provide better rates.

Many luxury boutique hotels in California offer unique experiences tailored to their location and theme. For example, the Ojai Valley Inn incorporates food-focused programming into their guest activities; the Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito provides a luxury eco-friendly stay near the Golden Gate Bridge, including cooking classes and guided hikes; and The Inn At Newport Ranch has a unique mushroom foraging experience.

Iconic California Restaurants

California Restaurants To Add To Your Bucket List

Now that you’ve perused our list of luxury boutique hotels in California, you’re likely wondering where to eat. We list 19 iconic California restaurants where you can taste the Golden State, including Chez Panisse and Swan Oyster Depot, Guelaguetza, and I-Naba.

Have Us Plan Your California Trip

Did you know we’re also a boutique travel agency specializing in California vacation planning? If you’re planning a trip to California, our California trip planner services can help you create your perfect itinerary.

Photo Credit: Hotels photos from properties; Santa Monica Pier by Jeremy Bishop; Ojai Valley Inn by Salt & Wind Travel; Bixby Bridge by Spencer Davis; Carmel Valley Ranch by Carley Rudd; Northern California lighthouse by Ivan Cajina; Dawn Ranch by Michaela Joy

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