There are few spots that are as immediately awe-inspiring as Big Sur. The coastal California town is a world of its own; it’s a relatively untouched place, with unspoiled landscapes and jaw-dropping vistas, complete with towering redwood trees, lush state parks and the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean. It’s not hyperbole to say that Big Sur is a truly magical destination, with a general sense of soothing calm from the moment you arrive.
While Big Sur’s seclusion is part of its appeal, it’s also not the easiest locale to reach. There are a few ways to travel to Big Sur, but the most popular is typically making the drive down from San Francisco. It’s road trip that’s worth the trek—that is, as long as you make the approximately three-hour drive during daylight hours, so you can take in the gorgeous scenery as you make your way along the Big Sur coastline to Highway 1, driving through Santa Cruz, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey before you finally reach Big Sur. You can also make a multi-stop trip out if it, taking the time to spend a night or two in the Carmel Highlands or Monterey, or go further past Big Sur along the central coast of California, all the way down to San Simeon.
Big Sur is all about embracing the surrounding rugged landscape; think lots of hiking trails, hot springs and all things wellness—it is, after all, home to the famed Esalen Institute. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is like all the other overbuilt, boutique-filled wellness-focused coastal destinations; part of Big Sur’s appeal is that it’s rather unchanging, as there are no chain restaurants or stores and few new developments. If you’re planning a trip to Big Sur, then you should figure out your accommodations ASAP, as places tend to book up fast due to high demand as well as the limited inventory. There are just a couple high-end luxury hotels, as well as a few middle-group boutique options. Don’t fret if you’re not sure where to start, though—below, see all the best hotels to book for your next trip to Big Sur.
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Best Luxury Hotels in Big Sur, California
The best hotel travel guide for your next Big Sur getaway.
Alila Ventana Big Sur
48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
This property first opened as the Ventana Inn back in 1975, and while it has since been significantly revamped and upgraded into a luxury boutique hotel in the years since (it’s one of the most expensive hotels in the region), it still retains the laidback, unpretentious ethos of Big Sur. It reopened as part of Alila Resorts (which is now owned by Hyatt) in 2017, debuted a major refresh of its rooms and dining, and also became all-inclusive in 2020.
The five-star, adults-only Ventana Big Sur is composed of just 59 guest rooms, found all around the palatial 160-acre property. There are two outdoor pools; the Meadow Pool features an infinity-edge hot tub and is surrounded by a redwood forest, while the Mountain Pool is clothing-optional, because yes, this is still a hippie haven—in the best way! There’s one main restaurant, The Sur House, in addition to Smokehouse, a BBQ-focused spot.
While Big Sur is plenty relaxing on its own, you can treat yourself to some extra pampering at the Spa Alila, complete with massage treatment rooms, soaking tubs and energy therapies. There are also quite a few exclusive activities and experiences offered within the hotel, including drum circles, quartz bowl energy sound baths, meditation, candle making and more.
Post Ranch Inn
47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
The Post Ranch Inn is a Big Sur icon; the 100-acre property first opened in 1992, and in the years since, has cemented its spot as one of the top luxury hotels in the country. Part of its allure is surely the stunning seascape, as the Preferred Hotels member is built on Big Sur cliffs 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Post Ranch Inn is comprised of just 40 uniquely designed rooms and suites, all of which are outfitted in muted, neutral earth tones with natural, sustainable materials, with views of either the ocean or the mountains. Post Ranch Inn is also home to one of the best culinary spots in Big Sur, the award-winning Sierra Mar Restaurant, which has one of the largest wine collections in the U.S.
There are two therapeutically-heated infinity-edged pools, as well as a fitness center and spa. The spa is one of the main draws here; it’s exclusively available to hotel guests, with traditional massage treatments as well as more unique offerings, including reiki and gemstone therapy. There are also guided nature walks, shaman sessions, sound journey meditations, forest meditations, star gazing and more, though you can also head off on one of Big Sur’s famed hiking trails, perhaps in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Sustainability and eco-friendly principles are at the heart of what Big Sur is all about, and this property is truly sustainably focused; it’s part of Beyond Green, a collection of hotels and resorts that only accepts members that abide by specific sustainability fundamentals.
Glen Oaks Big Sur
47080 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 9
The truth is that there aren’t many luxury hotels in Big Sur aside from the ultra-pricey Ventana Big Sur and Post Ranch Inn; the majority of the other accommodations are on the budget side, though there are a few more high-end yet mid-range choices. Glen Oaks Big Sur is a good middle option; it initially opened in 1957 as a motor lodge, but after a lengthy refresh upon a change in ownership in 2005, is now an under-the-radar, boutique choice. There are 31 rooms and cabins, and for a more upscale stay, definitely opt for one of the little cottages or cabins, all of which have gas fireplaces and en-suite bathrooms with heated floors (it gets cold here at night, so that’s key), and many with outdoor fire pits. While the lodge rooms are pretty much right off the highway, the cabins and cottages are more secluded, surrounded by redwoods on the other side of the highway, adjacent to the property’s one restaurant, Big Sur Roadhouse.
71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
For a unique glamping experience, check out Treebones Resort, with an array of yurts. The property opened in 2004, and is definitely one of the more one-of-a-kind accommodations in Big Sur. It’s also quite popular, so if you’re interested, make sure to plan early, as it books up months in advance. The yurts are outfitted with actual beds and luxe linens, as well as a table, chairs and a sink, but the majority don’t have private bathrooms. The most upscale option is one of the two private tent units, which start at $895 a night and are powered by dedicated solar systems, with ocean views, bamboo flooring and private en-suite bathrooms, complete with walk-in showers and separate vanities and toilets. Guests also have access to a pool and hot tub and can book massages, because this is a luxury glamping moment, and the property leads hikes and yoga, too.