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Carmel Valley
Photograph: Courtesy Bernardus Lodge & Spa

The 6 best hotels in Carmel

Cozy up in a plush bed at one of the best hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea and its inland cousin, Carmel Valley

Written by
Garrick Ramirez
Clara Hogan
Alex Floyd-Douglass
Camila Karalyte

Enchanting Carmel-by-the-Sea exudes romance, from its cobblestone streets to its storybook architecture. Already a beneficiary of the Monterey Peninsula’s dramatic coastal scenery, the forest-set village doubles down with secret gardens and window boxes brimming with picture-perfect blooms. It is so exceedingly charming. Cozy inns are the lodging of choice, with warming fireplaces and filling breakfasts. Thankfully, innkeepers have recently begun modernizing interiors, upping thread counts, and assembling a quality spread worth getting out of bed for in the morning.

Head east, further inland, and you'll find Carmel-by-the-Sea's rural cousin, Carmel Valley: think large ranches, sweeping vineyards, a row of small, independent businesses — and not to mention some of the most luxurious hotels in the area. Oooh fancy. We've compiled the best places to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley. Enjoy!

Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in every hotel featured, we've based our list on top reviews, hosts and amenities to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines. 

Best Carmel hotels

Carmel Valley Ranch
Photograph: Courtesy Carmel Valley Ranch // Heather Durham Photography

1. Carmel Valley Ranch

Tucked away in the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountains in the heart of Carmel Valley, the sophisticated and sprawling Carmel Valley Ranch is set on 500 acres, comprised of 177 spacious guest suites, the treetop Spa Aiyana, Valley Kitchen restaurant and bar, three swimming pools, and an 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf course. One of the hotel's best features is its River Ranch activity center, which offers countless activities for adults and kids alike, from guided off-road excursions to bird watching, to beekeeping and beeswax candle making, to making lavender flower crows. 

Mood? Ranch livin'.
Location perks? A literal countryside resort. Dreamy.
Budget range? On the pricier side.

Hidden Valley Inn

2. Hidden Valley Inn

Situated among the Santa Lucia Mountains, the three-star Hidden Valley Inn is only a 5-minute walk to Carmel Valley Village, where you'll find boutique shops, fine restaurants with al fresco dining, and wine-tasting rooms. Delish. The serene location is ideal for a family trip full of relaxation, and the hotel has plenty to do, including a heated swimming pool and lawn games. The 21 rooms on offer are modern but with touches of rustic country decor, to bring the valley inside, and each room includes cable TV, free Wi-Fi, and a private bathroom with organic products. All rooms will also have either a pool, garden, ora mountain view and most offer private outdoor patio space with table and seating.

Mood? Secret retreat.
Location perks? Nestled in the heart of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
Budget range? Super cheap.

Bernardus Lodge
Photograph: Courtesy Bernardus Lodge & Spa

3. Bernardus Lodge

Bernardus Lodge has long been considered one of the finest hotels in the region, and after a multimillion-dollar facelift, it's even more luxurious than ever. The hotel merges earthy elements with sophisticated details to blend into Carmel Valley's natural chic vibes, from Italian linens to marble tubs to limestone fireplaces in every room. Situated among vineyards, guests can enjoy onsite restaurant Lucia, a stunning pool, and an indoor-outdoor spa offering treatments infused with wine grapes and herbs grown on the property. 

Mood? Wellness escape.
Location perks? The resort has so much to offer on-site, you won't want to leave.
Budget range? A little pricey but worth it. 

La Playa Carmel
Photograph: Courtesy

4. La Playa Carmel

It’s Gatsby-style vibes and luxury at this historic charmer situated a few blocks from the shore. The 1905 grande dame underwent a recent renovation that brought it back to its original grandeur with coastal cottage-like rooms and the type of garden that usually charges admission. Sip cocktails at the clubby, Clue-worthy bar, and wake to a complimentary, champagne-fueled breakfast buffet with pastries, cheeses, and made-to-order omelettes and waffles. The building was originally built as a private mansion for a family member of the Ghirardelli chocolatiers. Why should you care? Warm chocolate chip cookies and milk are served every evening, that’s why. 

Mood? Champagne canapes. 
Location perks? Stunning views of the Pacific from the library – grab a book and enjoy. 
Budget range? Spenny.


The Relais & Châteaux placard tells you everything you need to know about this upscale European-style inn. Newly renovated rooms feature custom fabrics, original antiques, and hand-carved canopied beds. Yep, we know you love your views, but we’ll take the ground floor’s custom-made hardwood floors over second-floor carpeting any day. The inn’s restaurant, Aubergine, is a destination dining room that’s racked up critical and diner-based awards for its innovative tasting menu that taps regional ingredients such as locally harvested seaweed. A 2,500-bottle strong wine cellar doesn’t hurt, either. No surprise, then, that the complimentary breakfast is a highlight with local coffee, housemade pastries, and eggs prepared to your fancy.

Mood? Old-world charm.
Location perks? Walking distance to Carmel Beach. 
Budget range? More expensive than most.

The Vagabond's House Boutique Inn
Photograph: Courtesy

6. The Vagabond's House Boutique Inn

This charming English Tudor-style inn has the best of both worlds: a quaint, Hansel-and-Gretel exterior and freshly renovated, modern interiors. Handmade leather furnishings, plush beds, and fireplaces outfit cozy, contemporary rooms. Giant barn doors slide open to reveal spa-like bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and heated tile floors. In the evenings, guests gather around a fire pit in the light-strung stone courtyard for complimentary wine and cheese. The inn is one of few to offer “breakfast in bed” with a tray of quality breakfast goods—soft-boiled eggs, pastries, and fruit from the local farmers’ market—delivered to your room each morning.

Mood? Bespoke English design. 
Location perks? An easy 100 metres from the beach. Bliss.
Budget range? Higher end.

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