The best hotels in Big Sur, California
- March 17, 2023
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Perched on high, redwood-covered cliffs overlooking the Pacific, Big Sur offers some of the most exciting scenery along the already spectacular California coast. It’s a perfect day trip from the nearby coastal towns of Carmel, Monterey, and San Simeon, but to fully immerse yourself in the breezy boho vibe and enjoy the tranquility that settles after hordes of day-trippers have departed, you have to I want make it an overnight stay. As with any temperate, natural destination, campsites are plentiful (if you’re interested, read our guide here). However, if all you can pack is a suitcase, you’ll find distinctive lodging options, from humble digs to world-class resorts, that capture the Big Sur sense of place through design, amenities and setting. Just note that you may not find televisions and cell service, which many properties forego in favor of the natural splendor outside your door. Here’s your guide to the what, why and when of hotels in Big Sur.
What time of year is the best time to visit Big Sur?
Summer is mild and busy. Winter is cozy but sometimes inaccessible due to storm-related road closures. Spring and autumn make you want to move here.
Why is Big Sur famous?
Ocean views, towering coastal redwoods – the tallest creatures on earth – and bohemian vibes. Located on high coastal bluffs, Big Sur offers even more dramatic panoramas than the dazzling sea-level vistas at your entrance. The secluded retreat is known to have attracted artists and writers – including the famous Henry Miller, who wrote his memoir Big Sur and the Oranges of Jerome Bosch here – in the early 20th century, and a touch of counterculture still lingers.
How long should you stay in Big Sur?
Its location on the Pacific Coast Highway makes it an ideal stopover during a cruise along the California coast, but city dwellers will need at least three days to sync up to its smooth, breathless rhythm. If you continue your journey elsewhere in California, check out the list of the state’s best hotels and resorts for a getaway.
All entries in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, if you book something through our retail links, we may receive an affiliate commission.
The view of the Pacific Ocean at the Post Ranch Inn is panoramic.
Post Ranch Inn
The Vibe: Luxurious eco-retreat in the sky
Top Amenities: Free minibar, outdoor hot tubs, daily breakfast, award-winning spa, daily activities like morning yoga and guided nature hikes
Best for: Turn off your phone
What’s Nearby: Good luck, pull away to find out
Perched on dramatic seaside cliffs, this one-of-a-kind resort feels like a lavish sanctuary amidst the clouds. The mantra here is to blend in with the natural surroundings — think sustainable materials, wildflower-covered rooftops — but after a soak in the cliff-side infinity hot tub, you’ll be forgiven for thinking they’ve actually improved it. The property is known for its architecture, from treehouses to oceanfront homes, with each of the 40 accommodations being unique. Signature Restaurant Sierra Mar offers destination dining with a prix fixe menu that highlights local producers and glass walls that offer views from the edge of the world.
Glen Oaks Big Sur
The Vibe: Renovated motel and roadside cabins
Top Amenities: Private courtyards, fire pits with nightly s’mores, free Wi-Fi, tons of board games
Best Suited For: Design savvy travelers in Cotopaxi jackets
What’s nearby: A trail through the property’s redwood grove and two swimming holes along the Big Sur River