Big Sur is a stunning, redwood-shrouded mountain atop the Pacific. It offers breathtaking scenery and some of the most spectacular views along the California coast. It makes for a perfect day trip from the nearby central coast towns of Carmel, Monterey, and San Simeon, but to fully plug into its breezy, boho vibes—plus, enjoy the quiet that comes after hordes of day trippers have departed—you’ll want to make it an overnighter. There are many campsites in any destination with temperate natural beauty. Read our guide to find out more. Yet, if the most you’re willing to pack is a suitcase, you’ll find distinctive lodging options, from humble digs to world-class resorts, that capture Big Sur’s sense of place via design, amenities, and setting. It is possible that you won’t find televisions or cell service at your property. Many properties prefer to enjoy the natural splendor around their doors. Here’s your guide to the what, why, and when of Big Sur hotels.
Which time of the year is best for Big Sur?
Summer is busy and balmy. Winter can be cozy, but it is sometimes difficult to access due to road closures caused by storms. It is possible to move here from spring through fall.
Big Sur is famous because of its beauty.
The ocean vistas, towering coastal redwoods—the tallest living things on earth—and bohemian vibes. Big Sur is situated on high, coastal bluffs which gives it an even more stunning view than the spectacular, sea-level views from your drive in. The secluded refuge famously drew artists and writers—famously including Henry Miller who wrote his memoir Big Sur and The Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch here—throughout the early 20th century, and a whiff of counter-culture still pervades.
What length of time should you spend in Big Sur?
The location of the hotel along the Pacific Coast Highway makes the perfect stopover for those who are cruising the California coast. However, urbanites will need to spend at least three days getting into the rhythm of the tranquil, easy-going atmosphere. For a relaxing getaway, you can check out the list of California’s top hotels and resorts.
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Post Ranch Inn
The vibe: Luxurious eco retreat in the Sky
Top amenities Mini-bar, outdoor spa tubs and daily breakfast included in the complimentary mini-bar. Daily activities include morning yoga, guided nature walks, and award-winning spa treatments.
Ideal for: You can turn off your phone
What’s nearby: Good luck getting away to discover the truth
The resort, perched on the dramatic oceanfront cliffs of San Juan Island, feels like a luxury sanctuary among the clouds. The mantra here is blending into the natural environment—think sustainable materials, wildflower-covered living roofs—yet after a soak in the cliffside, infinity hot tub, you’ll be forgiven for thinking they actually improved upon it. Each of the 40 accommodations on the property are unique and feature unique architecture. Sierra Mar is the restaurant’s signature. It offers destination dining and a prix-fixe menu that highlights local producers. The glass walls showcase edge-of-the world views.
Glen Oaks Big Sur
The vibe: Refurbished motel and cabins on the roadside
Top amenities Private courtyards, fire pits with evening s’mores, free Wi-Fi, stacks of board games
Ideal 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