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Weekend getaways: The best Catalina hotels

The top Catalina hotels for your weekend getaways, from highfalutin' hilltop digs to affordable beachside rooms.

Photograph: Kate Wertheimer
The Avalon Hotel

Looking for Catalina hotels for your weekend getaways? There's a plethora of options in town, with vibes ranging from modern luxury to historic charm. Do you prefer your lodging right on the beach or tucked into the hills? How about complimentary wine and cheese? Maybe you're on a budget but can't stand the average motel vibe. Whatever it is you're looking for, we've found the six Catalina hotels that best encompass the island's hospitality scene. 

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Splurge top pick: The Avalon Hotel

The Avalon Hotel is the kind of island style home-away-from-home that you'd expect in Southern California—elegant, comfortable and thoughtful with a B&B vibe, but close to the beach and far from pretentious. This beautiful Craftsman-style hotel is small (only 15 rooms), which makes the amenities that much more enjoyable. Take a bottle of wine up to the rooftop patio at sunset (coffee in the morning is just as delightful) or relax with a book in the garden courtyard (complete with koi pond, if you're into that sort of thing). There's a free continental breakfast, and the front desk loans out laptops, GPS units and binoculars too. The hotel staff is friendly and full of good local recommendations. Make sure to ask about the local artists whose pieces hang on each floor of the hotel.

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Budget top pick: Hotel Mac Rae

This beach hotel is on the main drag—if you can really call it a main drag—of Avalon, which means it's across the sidewalk from the beach and next to many of the island's best restaurants and bars. It's been owned by the Mac Rae family since the 1920s when Wrigley owned 99 percent of Catalina, and from your first steps in the hotel you'll be reminded of the island's history. A collage of historical photos line the walls of the street entrance. Your room will probably also have a painting by Margaret Mac Rae, one of the original owners (and great grandmother of the current owner). This is the kind of beach hotel where you won't get dirty looks for walking around with sandy bare feet. The rooms are comfortable enough, but you'll probably spend most of your visit out in Avalon. Perhaps best of all—if you want one more dip in the ocean post-check out but before your ferry leaves, there's a complimentary restroom and shower. That's thoughtful.

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Snug Harbor Inn

This charming, six-room Inn, in the heart of Avalon and only steps to the beach, blends old school charm with contemporary style and top-notch amenities. Case in point: Hot continental breakfast is brought to your room, comfy beach towels and chairs are on hand for trips to the sand, and the hotel's Nanucket lounge offers complimentary wine and hor d'oeuvres. Other highlights include complimnetary wi-fi, in-room fireplaces, complimentary DVD rentals and king-sized beds in every room. The feel is more New England summer than SoCal, which is actually rather refreshing.

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The Inn on Mt. Ada

If you want to look down your nose on Avalon and Catalina Harbor, The Inn on Mt. Ada is the only place you should stay. The gorgeous old mansion is the former residence of William Wrigley Jr. and his wife Ada, who once owned 99 percent of Santa Catalina Island. It was converted to an inn in 1985 and it's now the island's most exclusive inn (at 92 percent occupancy year-round, according to the front desk). If you stay there, count on magnificent views of Avalon and the mountains, plus your own private van-ride from the harbor up to the inn and a private golf cart in case you want to mix with common vacationers or island-folk in town. Maybe the treatment is different if you have money to burn, but don't expect a warm welcome if you hike up the hill just to see the grounds and enjoy the view—which is both awesome and free, for the record.

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The Pavilion Hotel

You can't miss the Pavilion hotel—it's one of the first things you see as you walk from the ferry into Avalon. The lovely outdoor patio is sandwiched between two small buildings, one housing the front desk and the other a cozy breakfast room that doubles as a complimentray wine and cheese station in the afternoons. There's no pool here, but lounge chairs and umbrellas surround an expansive patch of green grass that's almost as good (and the ocean is right across the street). The rooms are sizeable and comfy, with silky sheets, flat-screen TVs and free wifi. Don't be shy to talk to the concierges—they're some of the nicest on island, and can help you set up almost any tour, reservation or adventure during your stay.

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Hotel Metropole

Hotel Metropole has all the poshness of an island retreat without too much snobbery. The location, above a quaint shopping plaza, is discreet and the rooms are spacious and luxurious. And, like any good island hotel, you can count the steps from the front entrance to the beach. Whether you're looking for an affordable winter getaway (rates start at $159) or an all-out weekend of luxury (the beach house goes for $749/night in winter and $949/night in summer), Hotel Metropole offers a range of comfortable and centrally located options.

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Comments

2 comments
Sussan B
Sussan B

Catalina Islands were one of the most amazing and wonderful experiences in my life. I enjoyed every minute we have spent there and our stay at Hotel metropole was the best part of our trip along with excellence in service and accommodations. The room facilities are stunning. 

The service team was so helpful from the beginning itself and they have helped us throughout our stay. I am glad to recommend this hotel to anyone!! I booked the rooms through their online site-  http://www.hotel-metropole.com/  and this was very easy process to get the details of rooms and get the booking done. 

Susan