It’s hard to believe that California, the US’s third most populous state, should have areas that are described as “wilderness” (apart from the desert of course), but the famed coastal area south of Monterey fits that description. The best places to stay in Big Sur, a region of spectacular scenery and sparse population are approached by the spectacularly engineered coastal road and ravine bridges, commanding stunning views over the wide Pacific.
Big Sur is the bit of California between a 90 mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Range. It’s rugged, wild and raw. Approximately 150miles south of San Francisco in space, but about a million miles away from any city in how it looks and feels.
Big Sur was special to the Native Americans, to the early Spanish settlers and then to generations of writers and artists as a place of retreat and experimentation. Counter-culture icons like Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S Thompson have taken literary inspiration from this remote, craggy coastal area, while Hollywood’s movie-makers have also loved the “big south” as a fabulous wild backdrop to its glamorous fantasies.
The best places to stay in Big Sur range from intimate hideaways in the hills to breathtaking coastal eyries. This place has inspired artists and poets and everyone with a romantic soul, and the best places to stay in Big Sur seem all to offer absolutely unforgettable views.
In the 60s Big Sur drew creative types, hippies and those trying to unplug from the demands of modern life, and there’s still a prevalence of retreats here. But Big Sur is also extremely popular with walkers, campers and driving holiday-makers - there are wonderful look outs every couple of miles along Highway 1 through Big Sur.
Big Sur village runs along beside the highway, and is a good place to top up on supplies, but that’s about all. Most of the best known sights are close to Highway 1, like the Point Sur Lighthouse, Bixby Bridge and the McWay Falls, but it’s better to get off the beaten track here and find some of your own highlights in the state parks and on the beaches.
Here’s our choice for the best places to stay in Big Sur, to savour this coolest of California’s scenic coastal retreats.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Big Sur, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively you can widen the net and check out all our pick of hotels in California.
California, Big Sur
Glen Oaks are a cluster of cabins tucked away in the Red Wood forests of the Big Sur. The decor perfectly marries modern features with rustic charm. You can self cater or enjoy the locally sourced delights of The Big Sur Roadhouse Restaurant. Perfect eco-chic!
Be one with nature while gorging on oceanic views, glamping in stylish yurts and feasting on organic locally sourced produce for all meals. Put up your own tent or call a yurt a home, a fantastic spot for all the Big Sur offers. Family run for the family. Environmentally conscious, a great treat.
Adult-only boutique hideaway and spa with spectacular sunset views and Japanese hot baths set amid 243 acres. Rustic chic rooms & suites vary from offering fireplaces to hot tubs, mountain views to poolside. Fresh, locally sourced, sustainable produce is found at the restaurant. A romantic getaway.
1200 feet above the Pacific Ocean stands, a romantic getaway with modern, spacious rooms. Mind blowing views and hot tubs come as standard with access to 3 infinity pools, 2 spas, a gym and an award-winning restaurant. Big Sur is a great base for trekking and photography. The perfect intimate spot!