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Carmel-by-the-Sea, or more often simply Carmel, is an especially beautiful seaside town, just five miles south down Highway 1 from Monterey City, California. Carmel is small but beautifully formed, you can stroll across it in five minutes, towards an idyllic, white sandy beach. Some of the best place to stay in Carmel share this relaxing/invigorating ocean view, while some have views of the Carmel River and lush Carmel Valley.
Carmel is an upmarket, adult-y destination, with nice galleries, cafes, boutiques and restaurants - some of which open out onto spectacularly colourful sunsets. Expect to see people dressed nicely for lunch, and folk driving convertibles slowly down the main street.
Carmel’s pretty views and sandy beach have been attracting visitors since the 1880s, and it’s been especially popular with artists and writers - many who’ve been inspired to feature the famous beach fog in their work.
Carmel Mission, founded in 1771, is probably the town’s main ’sight’. It is said to be one of the most beautiful of California’s Spanish missions.
This is a great spot for a weekend break, or overnight stop, but Carmel also works as a base for exploring the coastline along Highway 1. Nearby you’ll find Point Lobos, a state park with walking trails, more exceptionally lovely coastal views and sea lions.
This pretty town is a busy spot year round, so if you want to book one of the best places to stay in Carmel, get organised and plan well ahead.
- L'Auberge is a luxurious 20 room property close to the beach. As well as offering in-room spa treatments and plenty of charm there’s also an award winning restaurant, The Aubergine, which will do you a lovely picnic for the beach.
For a B&B
- The Sea View Inn is a charming property on the outskirts of town. Beautiful rooms have window seats, canopied beds and wonderful ocean views. And rooms start from less than $150 per night.
- Vagabond's House Inn has thirteen individually designed rooms, where modern elegance complements period features. There's a charming courtyard with firepit for exchanging tales with fellow guests and you're just a short walk to the centre of town.
For ocean views
- Mission Ranch is situated amid 22 acres and boasts views over not only the ocean, but also Point Lobos and Carmel River Beach. The property was saved by Carmel's famous mayor (Clint Eastwood) and now offers a wide range of accommodation with doubles from just $125 per night.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Carmel for you?
Best Hotels in Carmel
Mission Ranch 31 rooms from $125Carmel (California)
This working 22-acre ranch overlooks Point Lobos and the Pacific Ocean. The large, classic rooms have fireplaces, private balconies and bathrooms. American cuisine is on the menu and the Piano Bar is popular with guests and locals alike. Tennis courts and sheep on site, and beaches stones throw awayBirdwatching - Carmel River State Beach is home to scuba diving but more famous for the scenic bird sancutury.Sights nearby - 18th Century Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo.Great walks - Beautiful gardens and land to roam.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.
Sea View Inn 8 rooms from $144Carmel
A charming B&B just outside Carmel town. The quaint rooms feature a pick and mix of large bay windows commanding ocean views, cosy canopied beds, antique furnishings and wooden floors. The perfect spot for exploring this unspoiled corner of California.Great walks - Carmel Beach is perfect for a meditative walk and immersion in the natural beauty of the California coastline.Sights nearby - Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo and Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House.Secluded setting - For escaping.Views - Great views from hotel
Old Monterey Inn 10 rooms from $200Carmel (California)
Boutique B&B resting in manicured gardens offering spectacular breakfast, location and romantic setting. Large classic rooms are flooded with natural light and feature fireplace, spa baths and complimentary toiletries. History and restaurants are on the cards, or relax at the spa or with a book.Great walks - Walking tours aroud the historical Monterey State Historic Park, with three museums included, happen three times a day.Sights nearby - Watch the whales from Monterey’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf.Fishing - Monterey’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf for fishing trips.Kayaking - Sea kayaking for all the family.
Coachman's Inn 30 rooms from $245Carmel
A historic Coach-house located in Carmel-on-the-Sea. The town is charming and characterful and well worth exploring. The rooms are recently redecorated with new carpets, linens and simple brass beds. Spoil yourself with on-site sauna and spa facilities.Great walks - To get the real Carmel-on-th-Sea experience explore the town on foot.Spa - On site spa and sauna facilities.Outstanding locationLively - Hip and happening.
Vagabond's House Inn 13 rooms from $252Carmel (California)
Boutique B&B welcomes guests with a stone courtyard, spa and fireplaces. Modern, unique rooms with luxury bathrooms and breakfast in-room. Walking distance from the Carmel restaurants and bars. Relax at the spa, take a leisurely stroll along the coast or go out sailing and look out for whales.Great walks - Watch whales in January from spectacular vistas while the sea crashes against the cliffs below.Local markets - Friday Farmers Market at the Monterey Peninsula College parking lot.Spa - Offers a variety of massages & facials.Full of character
Lincoln Green Inn 4 rooms from $425Carmel (Carmel-By-The-Sea)
Four Cotswolds-style Robin Hood themed private cottages, in the scenic town of Carmel-on-the-Sea. The cottages feature floral prints, exposed beams, cosy beds, fireplaces and private gardens and patios. Homely, quaint and undeniably elegant.Great walks - Walk on the sidewalk or beach itself. Pets are welcome on the main beach without leads, but must be under command.Sights nearby - Within 15 minutes, visit Monterey with the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row.Hideaway - Each cottage has its own private entrance and garden- total seclusion!!Remote - Off the beaten track.
L'Auberge, Carmel 20 rooms from $485Carmel (California)
L'Auberge is a charming luxury hotel in close proximity to Carmel Beach, multiple dining options and walking opportunities. Rooms are luxurious with all mod-cons. The Aubergine restaurant is award-winning and the in-room spa treatments are a must-try. Great spot to relax, or see the local area.Fishing - Take a Gourmet Picnic Basket with you from the kitchen.Great walks - Get walking to Point Lobos for spectacular views.Cooking classes - Prepare your lunch with the executive chef.Sights nearby - Variety of art galleries and museums.