Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Katrina

Photo credit: InterContinental the Clement Monterey

Marine life takes center stage in Monterey, a town on California’s scenic Central Coast. On land, Monterey is home to the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium as well as Cannery Row—the former sardine processing plants made famous by the John Steinbeck novel. Just off the shore, meanwhile, is the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest undersea canyon in the United States. Staying in downtown Monterey offers easy access to the aquarium and Fisherman’s Wharf, but you can also enjoy seaside ambience in neighboring coastal towns such as Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here are the best hotels in Monterey.

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay (Two Portola Plaza; 831-649-4511) Downtown Monterey

Tucked between downtown and the Wharf, this LEED-certified hotel puts you “in the heart of the action,” writes Frommer’s. Rooms “are modern but have touches that recall the area’s storied past: the maroon‑and-white striped bed skirts look like something that would have been in a sea captain’s home during Robert Louis Stevenson’s era.” The hotel has a pool, spa and its own brewpub, but online users love the location. “Close to the aquarium, shops and restaurants.” says a Google reviewer. “You pretty much don’t need to leave a one- to two-mile radius of the hotel and can have a great vacation.”    >> Book this hotel for less

InterContinental the Clement Monterey, an IHG Hotel (750 Cannery Row; 831-375-4500) Cannery Row

“It would be tough to get any closer to Monterey Bay without getting wet,” writes The Telegraph of this 208-room outpost of the InterContinental brand. “The over-the-water pier offers the perfect place to watch the sunrise, spot sea otters or maybe even catch sight of a whale frolicking in the distance.” The hotel has a spa, an outdoor pool, and is a very short walk from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. At the hotel itself, the “bedding is luxurious,” says a Tripadvisor user. “We ate at the restaurant every morning and it was absolutely delicious. The location is ideal if you want to explore Cannery Row. You can walk everywhere.”    >> Book this hotel for less

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa (400 Cannery Row; 877-862-7552) Cannery Row

“Expect comfortable, quiet rooms with plush beds and a peaceful balcony from which to enjoy views of the ocean and harbor,” writes Afar. The 290-room hotel also has two restaurants, a coffee place, a spa, and rooftop deck with two hot tubs. A Tripadvisor user confirms that “rooms were very spacious and the sound of the waves underneath hotel was unbelievable! We saw countless otters from our room!”    >> Book this hotel for less

Spindrift Inn (652 Cannery Row; 831-646-8900) Cannery Row

One Yelp user loves the wine and cheese receptions at this 45-room boutique hotel, while another is entranced by the views: Looking out our bedroom windows and seeing Cannery Row on one side and the ocean on the other was incredible.” Guests get breakfast delivered each morning, and enjoy lots of B&B-style ambience. “This luxe, beachfront hotel manages the neat trick of being extremely romantic without feeling the slightest bit cloying,” writes Frommer’s. “This despite the fact that guestroom walls are pink—albeit a very dignified rosy hue.”    >> Book this hotel for less

Vagabond’s House Inn (Dolores Street @ 4th Ave.; 831- 624-7738) Carmel-By-The-Sea

Just outside Monterey in Carmel-by-the-Sea, this 1920s hotel in a Tudor-style building channels the quaint personality of the seaside community. Afar likes the “clean, bright rooms, in-room fireplaces, and a cozy courtyard with firepits and Adirondack chairs—ideal for winding down with a glass of wine.” A Google reviewer loves the mellow ambience. “The rooms were clean and updated with heated floors in the bathroom. They provide daily breakfast and happy hour snacks and drinks, which are both included in your nightly room fee. Location was great, too! Very walkable to all of the shops and restaurants downtown Carmel.”