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10 Best Hotels In Big Sur, CA: Where To Stay In 2023

10 Best Hotels In Big Sur, CA: Where To Stay In 2023

Are you looking for the best hotels in Big Sur CA? Perfect! We’re going to show you the 10 top rated hotels available to you, including cheap, mid range and luxury hotel options close to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and California Highway 1.

Instead of trawling through randomly listed hotel search engine results, use our research and data driven guide to find the best hotels near Big Sur CA for your visit based on location, value, previous guest ratings and our own experiences.

Here’s how we will break down the best hotels in Big Sur California to help you find the perfect place to stay:

  • Why stay in Big Sur?
  • Things to do around the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park area
  • 10 best Big Sur hotels
  • Previous guest ratings and scores
  • Alternative options

Let’s find you the perfect Big Sur CA hotel for your trip to the coast!

*Please note this guide contains affiliate links. If you click on one, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the free content we provide! Read more in our disclosure policy.*

Why Stay In Big Sur CA?

Big Sur is among the most picturesque stretches of the legendary California Pacific Coast Highway.

But why would you choose to spend a night or two in Big Sur when you have so many other options available?

Well, there’s more to Big Sur than crossing the odd instagram famous bridge here or there on the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

You can hike, camp, relax, hit the beach, find waterfalls and much more along the roughly 70-80 mile Big Sur coastline between Carmel Highlands and San Simeon.

Big Sur is peaceful, isolated, beautiful and perfect for everyone. The problem is finding hotels and lodging with availability, especially in peak season.

When we refer to the best hotels in Big Sur, we are using Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Pfeiffer Beach as the focus areas. All hotels will be close to these major tourist attractions in the area.

Mark and Kristen Morgan from Best Hotels Anywhere standing in front of Bixby Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur with beach and ocean below
Mark and Kristen standing at the amazing Bixby Bridge / Pacific Ocean viewpoint

Pacific Coast Highway

Anyone driving the California stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway simply has to make time for a stop in Big Sur.

Chances are high you’ve heard about or seen Bixby Bridge. It is one of the most iconic photos of the classic California portion of the Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

But there are a number of other places you should plan to visit on the drive up or down Big Sur.

If you have enough days on your PCH itinerary and you can get organized with advanced hotel bookings, we highly recommend spending one or even two nights in Big Sur.

Locals to San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno and Santa Barbara can more easily plan weekend breaks or mid week vacations to the Big Sur area.

Are you driving the Pacific Coast Highway?

Don’t miss our guide to the 23 best stops between San Francisco and San Diego on our travel site Where Are Those Morgans.

Things To Do Around Big Sur

So what can you do if you spend a night or two along the Big Sur coastline?

Let’s take a look at what is in store for your visit:

  • Relax on Pfeiffer Beach
  • Photograph Bixby Bridge
  • Hike to waterfalls and peaks in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
  • Photograph McWay Falls
  • Hike down to Partington Cove
  • Take a tour of Point Sur Lighthouse
  • Look out for seals and otters on the beaches and rocks

Alternatively, you could use the secluded Big Sur hotels as a place to take refuge for a few days in between the hustle and bustle of SF or LA.

Even if you don’t stay a night along this stretch of coastline, you should allow for one full day driving the short distance between Carmel and San Simeon.

The Big Sur stretch was our personal favorite part of driving the PCH. It is incredibly attractive and your camera will get a serious workout!

McWay Falls stunning waterfall wispy thin flowing into Pacific Ocean on sandy beach
McWay Falls near Big Sur California

Are Big Sur California Hotels Expensive?

Hotel prices in Big Sur are expensive because there are very few options available along the 75 mile stretch of coastline.

There are no traditional hotels like you would typically stay at in the city. You will only find inns, campgrounds, wooden lodges in the forest and a couple of amazing Big Sur luxury hotels.

Several of the Big Sur lodging options in this guide are not available on any common hotel search engine such as Booking.com or Hotels.com.

You will have to book direct with certain properties. That means you won’t find any deals and there won’t be any competitive reductions.

There are two important things we want to make you aware of before booking your hotel in Big Sur, CA.

1. Bed Tax

The first thing you should bear in mind when booking hotels near Big Sur is “Bed Tax”, which is officially known as Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Big Sur is located in Monterey County, California which levies 12% bed tax on all stays, no matter how you book your hotel room.

So let’s say a room costs $200 for one night in Big Sur, your total cost is going to be $224.

  • When booking your hotel using Booking.com look under the price for “includes taxes and fees“. This means the price you see is final and will not be subject to further add ons.
  • Conversely, if you see text reading something like “+$30 for taxes and fees“, that means you will pay the hotel room cost + the additional 12% fee for bed tax and other fees.

This is something to be aware of so you avoid any nasty surprises when you come to pay!

2. Seasonality

Big Sur has a peak season, an off season and two shoulder seasons. You stand a better chance of picking up a cheap hotel in Big Sur if you plan your trip in the Winter months.

Even during the Spring and Fall months you will get cheaper hotel prices in Big Sur when compared to peak Summer months of June, July, August and September.

The other issue is availability.

As we mentioned, there are very few hotel or lodging options along the ~75 mile stretch of Big Sur coastline.

In peak months when locals are taking weekend breaks and tourists are driving the PCH by the thousand, you are going to struggle finding room availability.

If you are planning to stay in Big Sur between May and October, we strongly recommend you book as far in advance as possible.

Woman walking across wooden bridge into forest
Kristen crossing bridge on the way to Partington Cove in Big Sur CA

10 Best Hotels In Big Sur CA

OK, let’s take a look at each of the best hotels in Big Sur.

Usually we would pick out the 10 or 20 top rated hotels from a larger pool in each budget category.

However, there are only 10 places you can stay along the Big Sur coastline so we’re showing you every option available to you.

Each hotel or lodge begins with a previous guest ratings score from both Booking.com and Google reviewers when relevant.

We have also included estimated price category, room types available, amenities, distance from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and a brief blurb.

Important – Hotels and lodges are ordered by distance from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (which is also close to the turn for Pfeiffer Beach).

1. Big Sur Lodge

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 7.7 / 10
  • Google – 4.2 / 5
Welcoming wooden floor and walls lit up warmly by yellow light with tables and chairs in a communal space
Photo courtesy of Big Sur Lodge
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: Restaurant, bar, seasonal outdoor swimming pool, breakfast available, pet friendly
  • Distance: 0.3 miles

Big Sur Lodge is one of the very best places to stay in Big Sur. It is affordable and it has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay in the area, with the exception of having no WiFi.

Best of all, it is just a stones throw from both Pfeiffer Beach and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We think Big Sur Lodge is the best for your buck lodging near Big Sur, California.

>> Book Hotel: Big Sur Lodge

2. Fernwood Resort Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 7.8 / 10
  • Google – 4.4 / 5
Wooden building in the forest with trees and dirt path
Photo courtesy of Fernwood Resort
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: Restaurant, bar and grill, live music on weekends, general store
  • Distance: 1.1 miles

Fernwood Resort has a motel, cabins, campgrounds and RV camping. Certain motel rooms have private hot tubs but the motel and cabins also have a resort fee.

Reviews frequently say booking a long way in advance is important because of the lower overall price compared to other places in the area. Great budget option for Big Sur.

>> Book Hotel: Fernwood Resort

3. Glen Oaks Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – N/A
  • Google – 4.4 / 5
Plus bedroom with wooden floor huge bed fireplace in wall and lights on Glen Oaks Lodge hotels near Big Sur California
Photo courtesy of Glen Oaks
  • Price: Expensive $$$
  • Amenities: Top restaurant across the street, outdoor fire pit, free coffee,
  • Distance: 1.6 miles

Glen Oaks is a rustic but modern Big Sur CA hotel. It has stylishly designed rooms with nice touches, and reviews are overwhelmingly positive. The property is right among the Redwoods.

However, the affiliated restaurant across the street called Big Sur Roadhouse is only open for breakfast and lunch so you will have to figure out dinner alternatives.

>> Book Hotel: Glen Oaks

4. Ripplewood Resort Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – N/A
  • Google – 4.5 / 5
Wooden cabin in the forest surrounded by trees in shadow with courtyard out front
Photo courtesy of Ripplewood Resort
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: Cabins have kitchens, indoor fireplaces, decks and patios with fire pits; on site cafe and grocery store
  • Distance: 1.7 miles

Ripplewood Resort offers 17 rustic cabins nestled among the Redwoods next to the Big Sur River. The cafe serves up American and Mexican breakfast and brunch.

This is one of the best places to stay in Big Sur for peace and quiet, relaxing in a natural pool formed by the river and unplugging in the forest. Booking in advance is recommended.

>> Book Hotel: Ripplewood Resort

5. Riverside Campground + Cabins Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – N/A
  • Google – 4.6 / 5
Small wooden building in a forest with red paint and green slanted roof huge trees behind
Photo courtesy of Riverside Campground and Cabins
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: Pet friendly, camp store
  • Distance: 1.9 miles

Riverside Campground + Cabins offers 34 sites for tents and RV’s, plus 12 cabins surrounded by old growth coastal Redwoods. Some cabins have en suite bathrooms.

This is a cheaper place to stay along the coast, but it will still be more expensive than you might imagine in peak season. Basic food items available in the camp store.

>> Book Hotel: Riverside Campground + Cabins

6. Big Sur Campground + Cabins

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – N/A
  • Google – 4.4 / 5
Wooden cabin in the woods surrounded by trees and logs on the ground in Big Sur California
Photo courtesy of Big Sur Campground and Cabins
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: Playground, camp store, tubing hire, laundry
  • Distance: 2.2 miles

Big Sur Campground + Cabins is a family orientated camping and lodging area among the Redwoods. Some cabins have kitchens and indoor fireplaces. Pets are not allowed in cabins.

Prices are fairly hefty for what you get here, so you might want to shop around at the same price point for a more comfortable hotel option.

>> Book Hotel: Big Sur Campground + Cabins

7. Big Sur River Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 7.7 / 10
  • Google – 4.3 / 5
Two queen beds in a wooden building white duvet green throw and photos on wall
Photo courtesy of Big Sur River Inn
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: Free WiFi, on site restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool
  • Distance: 2.3 miles

Big Sur River Inn is one of the cheaper hotels near Big Sur offering seasonal outdoor swimming pool and on site restaurant. It was the first restaurant and hotel in Big Sur, a pinoeer!

Reviews are mostly positive and prices are the most affordable you will find around Big Sur for non-camping accommodation. Book up in advance to get the lowest rates.

>> Book Hotel: Big Sur River Inn

8. Alila Ventana Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.5 / 10
  • Google – 4.7 / 5
Alila Ventana is one of the most popular hotels in Big Sur CA with plush interior design wooden floor bed photos on wall and sofa leading to balcony
Photo courtesy of Ventana Big Sur
  • Price: Very Expensive $$$$
  • Amenities: Free WiFi, pet friendly, two heated outdoor swimming pools and garden, spa, happy hour, on site restaurant and bar, valet car service to other restaurants, fitness center, yoga classes, wine tasting, adults only
  • Distance: 3 miles

Alila Ventana is the top rated Big Sur CA hotel. This place is simply magical, just look at the list of amenities available to guests! This is where to stay in Big Sur for the celebrity treatment.

Select units offer a hot tub on the deck or an indoor fireplace, views over the Pacific Ocean are majestic and the whole place just exudes class. If you’re looking to relax and escape, you have found your hotel.

>> Book Hotel: Alila Ventana Big Sur

9. Post Ranch Inn Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – N/A
  • Google – 4.6 / 5
Two round flat buildings lit up at night overlooking the Pacific Ocean with mountains in the distance Post Ranch Inn one of the best hotels in Big Sur California
Photo courtesy of Post Ranch Inn
  • Price: Very Expensive $$$$
  • Amenities: Heated infinity pools, guided nature walks, falconry, yoga, spa, free use of car, ocean views
  • Distance: 3.1 miles

Post Ranch Inn is one of the very best hotels in Big Sur and arguably all of California. If you’re looking for pure luxury, expansive clifftop ocean views and stunning accommodations, look no further.

The only downside to this exceptionally attractive and plush inn is the sky high cost. However, if you can afford it or you’re looking for the ultimate splurge, Post Ranch Inn is about as good as it gets.

>> Book Hotel: Post Ranch Inn

10. Deetjen’s Inn Big Sur

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – N/A
  • Google – 4.7 / 5
Wooden building with sign and door on balcony surrounded by trees
Photo courtesy of Deetjen’s Inn
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: On site restaurant, free coffee for guests
  • Distance: 4 miles

Deetjen’s Inn is a highly rated upper mid range budget Big Sur lodging option for those in search of a cozy, cute and rustic place to stay on the coast.

The on site restaurant is excellent, no WiFi and cell service suits some travelers looking for that escapism, and the solitude just adds to that whole sense of closing off for a day or two.

>> Book Hotel: Deetjen’s Inn

What Are The Best Big Sur Luxury Hotels?

Are you planning a much needed break and want to splurge on luxury lodging in Big Sur?

You have two options available:

What Are The Best Big Sur Dog Friendly Hotels?

Are you planning a visit to Big Sur with the dogs?

Here are the top Big Sur pet friendly hotels:

What Are The Best Big Sur Hotels Ocean View?

Looking for that quintessential California sunset view overlooking the Pacific Ocean?

Here are the only Big Sur hotels with ocean views:

What Are The Best Big Sur Hotels On The Beach?

There are no hotels directly on the beach in Big Sur.

You will need to book a hotel in either Carmel and Monterey to the north, or San Simeon and Morro Bay to the south if you want to stay right on the beachfront.

However, all of the Big Sur hotels and lodges in this guide are close enough to generally be considered “beachfront” to an extent. A short drive will be required to access the sand.

Bixby Bridge close up on the California coast bending curving bridge with view over Pacific Ocean and coastline
Close up of Bixby Bridge curving along the coastline

Where To Stay Near Big Sur

There are many reasons you might be looking for alternative hotel options near Big Sur.

Here are just a few:

  • Big Sur hotels are too expensive for your budget
  • You can’t find any availability along the Big Sur coast
  • Big Sur doesn’t fit into your PCH highway itinerary
  • You want to stay somewhere with more amenities

Whatever your reasoning, there are plenty of hotel options either side of the Big Sur stretch of coastline.

Carmel and San Simeon are the towns you will find to the north and south ends of Big Sur. Carmel in particular is high end with loads of lovely places to eat and relax.

San Simeon Hotels

Carmel By The Sea Hotels

San Simeon to the south has quality and affordable hotel options. However, Carmel-by-the-Sea to the north is a luxurious getaway destination for the wealthy and as a result hotels are more expensive.

It might be worth considering Monterey as a slightly cheaper alternative to Carmel. Those driving the Pacific Coast Highway on a budget should be able to find cheaper lodging options in Monterey.

Best Hotels In Big Sur FAQ’s

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most frequently asked questions about where to stay in Big Sur, California.

Where do people stay when they go to Big Sur?

Most people stay as close to Pfeiffer Beach and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park as possible when they go to Big Sur. When there is no availability or prices are too high in Big Sur, people tend to stay in Carmel by the Sea to the north or San Simeon to the south.

How long should I stay in Big Sur?

You should stay in Big Sur for one night if driving the Pacific Coast Highway. But if you’re not driving the PCH, plan to spend two nights in Big Sur so you can hike more trails, relax on the beach and enjoy tranquility on the California coast.

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We hope this guide to the best hotels in Big Sur CA helps you book the perfect hotel for your visit to the stunning California coast!

Please let us know if you have any questions about any of the hotels in our list of best places to stay in Big Sur by commenting below.

Happy Booking,

Mark and Kristen
Best Hotels Anywhere