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Mt. Ada
Photograph: Michael Juliano

The best Catalina Island hotels

From rustic pads to island retreats, these Catalina Island hotels have it all

Written by
Kate Wertheimer
,
Sara Fay
,
Time Out editors
&
Paula Akpan
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If you're after that idyllic holiday destination, look no further than Catalina Island. There's a range of hotel options in Avalon, its main (and only) city, ranging from stunning luxury to hilltop charm. Perhaps the plan for your getaway is to escape the hubbub of a metropolis? Or maybe you simply want to explore Catalina's gorgeous terrain? Regardless of what's driving you, you'll find something here that will tick all your boxes.

Whether you prefer being nestled in the hills or you're after a sandy retreat on one of the best beaches in California, we've found the six Catalina hotels that best encompass this little island's vibrancy and warmth.

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Best Catalina Island hotels

The Avalon Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Catalina Island
  • price 3 of 4

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 a 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 are friendly and full of good local recommendations. Make sure to ask about the local artists whose pieces hang on each floor of the hotel.

Hotel Mac Rae
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Catalina Island
  • price 1 of 4

This beach hotel is on the main drag of Avalon, which basically 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 it was built in 1920 and, from your first steps in the hotel, you’ll be reminded of the island’s history. This is the kind of beach hotel where you won’t get dirty looks for walking around with sandy bare feet. If you're lucky, your room will have a painting by Margaret Mac Rae, one of the original owners (and great grandmother of the current owner). 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-checkout but before your ferry leaves, there’s a complimentary restroom and shower. Now, that’s thoughtful.

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  • Hotels
  • Catalina Island
  • price 2 of 4

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 late afternoon. 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 Wi-Fi. Don’t be shy to talk to the concierges—they’re some of the nicest on the island, and can help you set up almost any tour, reservation or adventure during your stay.

  • Hotels
  • B&Bs
  • Catalina Island
  • price 2 of 4

'Snug' truly is the right word when it comes to 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 lounge offers complimentary wine and hor d’oeuvres. Other highlights include free Wi-Fi, in-room fireplaces and king-sized beds in every room. The feel is more New England summer than SoCal, which is actually pretty refreshing.

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  • Hotels
  • B&Bs
  • Catalina Island
  • price 4 of 4

If you want to look down your nose on Avalon and Catalina Harbor quite literally, 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 it up with, you know, people not staying in a mansion. 

Hotel Metropole
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Catalina Island
  • price 3 of 4

Hotel Metropole has all the glamour 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, just like any good island hotel, you can count the steps from the front entrance to the beach. This gem of a hotel is certainly not to be sniffed at.

Plan your trip to Catalina Island

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