With summer nearly in full swing, you’re probably on the hunt for that perfect beachfront vacation spot to help cool you down. Today, then, we’re breaking down our five favorite American beachfront boutique hotels to help you on your hunt. So, bust out the sunscreen, pour yourself a Long Island Iced Tea and prepare to spend some serious time developing that perfect summer glow—from East Coast to West, we’ve got you covered:
1. Shutters in Santa Monica, CA
Number one on our list is a spot that everyone should add to their bucket list—Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, California. One visit to this unforgettable beachfront boutique hotel and you’ll want to come back every single summer (at the very least). Located just south of the famous Santa Monica Pier, Shutters describes itself as “low key, high style,” and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
With rooms as airy and bright as they are super chic, Shutters strikes that oh-so-hard-to-achieve balance of being both laid-back beachy and five-star luxurious all at once. Each room is unique and offers its own take on that coveted Santa Monica style that the hotel embodies, while still being an integral part of a cohesive whole.
Beds are dressed in crisp white linens (and are among the best we’ve ever slept in), warm wooden floors boast hand-woven Tibetan rugs, and bright white shutters sit pretty against walls blanketed in soft beach pastels (like pistachio green and sky blue). In short, you may never want to leave your room.
With over ten different room types to choose from, standard accommodations range from the Deluxe Room to the Ocean View Room to the Superior Room. But, if you’re really feeling the summer spirit, we recommend opting for one of Shutters unparalleled suites.
The Santa Monica Suite (above), designed by renowned interior designer Michael S. Smith, boasts saturated blues and stark whites amongst dreamy decor (like coastal-inspired artwork) and offers a private bedroom, a living room cloaked in natural light, and a white marble bathroom with a jacuzzi tub.
Among the hotel’s most iconic rooms, The Ocean Front Suite (above) is as close to the Pacific as you’ll get without actually dipping your toes in the sandy, salty water. With your own private balcony hovering right over the beach, you’re sure to catch many a sunset with a glass of California Cab in your hand during your stay.
With over 1,350 square feet of living space and panoramic views of the sprawling Pacific and lively Santa Monica Pier, among our favorite of Shutters’ high-end accommodation options is The Pacific View Suite (above). We especially love that the Pacific View Suite is available in a one- or two-bedroom option, depending on just how expansive you’d like your space to be.
Rounding out Shutters’ suite options is its unforgettable Beach House Suite, a secluded and spacious suite located on the highest floor of the hotel, offering over 1,350 square feet of space dripping in bright natural lighting, beautiful textiles and buttery-smooth wood floors. If you’re looking to treat yourself to the ultimate beach vacation, there’s no better place to do so than the Beach House Suite at Shutters.
Aside from its endless list of impeccable accommodations, though, the beach house beauty also offers countless activities. Whether you’re looking to spin your wheels on the Malibu-to-Manhattan-Beach bike path, try your hand at a volleyball match or find your inner-ohhhm with a yoga practice on the warm sand, booking a room at Shutters gives you access to a number of ways to play. (And, if play isn’t your thing, we certainly wouldn’t blame you for spending your entire vacation doing nothing but lounging on the beach.)
When you’ve worked up an appetite from all of that play (or hard-earned beach-front lounging), Shutters has three main eateries to choose from. Coast is the hotel’s laid-back beachfront cafe and bar. With an unbeatable view of the pacific, spicy guacamole to die for and an all-around casual-meets-beachfront-chic vibe, Coast is the perfect spot for those looking to dine while still sun-drenched and sandy.
1 Pico, named after Shutters famous street address, offers a more upscale dining option for those who’ve had time to shower off the sand after a day in the sun. With a range of fresh options like Heirloom Tomato Flatbread and a Maine Lobster “BLT,” 1 Pico offers dishes both delightfully simple and beautifully decadent.
Finally, for those looking for a quick morning coffee or the perfect after-dinner drink, we love The Living Room. With an unparalleled view of the Pacific and warm, welcoming couches, you’d be remiss not to spend your late afternoons enjoying tea and a light snack in the most quintessentially Shutters spot of them all.
Overall, from its airy aesthetic to its coveted location to its majestic views, it’s easy to see why Shutters earned the Number 1 spot on our list of our favorite Beachfront Boutique Hotels.
2. The Surf Lodge in Montauk, NY
Number 2 on our list takes us across the States all the way to Montauk, New York, an oceanside hamlet located on the very eastern tip of Long Island, commonly referred to as “The End” by locals and savvy travelers alike. Historically known for its fishing scene, Montauk has evolved into more a surf town in modern years and, with this evolution, has brought in some really unique boutique hotels, our absolute favorite of which happens to be The Surf Lodge.
As charming as it is quintessentially East Coast, The Surf Lodge was first built in 1967 but has since seen a number of improvements to keep accommodations as up-to-date as ever. The perfect spot for that laid-back brand of relaxation you can only find in sleepy oceanfront towns like Montauk, The Surf Lodge is open only in the summer and is one of those places you’ll visit and subsequently never stop thinking about.
Known the raw, unspoiled coastline it sits on and the perfect rolling waves it’s home to, avid surfers flock to Montauk in the summer for the pristine surfing conditions, but it makes for a perfect summertime getaway spot for honeymooners, families and solo travellers alike, as it offers a sense of community you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
We particularly love the boutique hotel’s beachy bohemian aesthetic. With every corner you turn, it’s remarkably clear that designers left no stones unturned and no details undone when putting together this colorful surf-inspired spot.
The hotel lobby—one of our favorite spots on the entire property—boasts dreamy driftwood, bright pops of turquoise and coastal-inspired textiles and artwork.
Rooms are bright and airy and range from the 215-square-foot charming Standard Room to the 600-square-foot master suite, which boasts a private deck that offers the most impeccable ocean views in the area.
We are also huge fans of the hotel’s focus on wellness. Each summer, The Surf Lodge works with top wellness instructors and lifestyle experts in the area to develop a comprehensive wellness schedule that includes weekend classes and events ranging from yoga on the beach to cardio-heavy bootcamps.
The hotel’s focus on wellness can also be seen in its cuisine. The Surf Lodge Restaurant is run by renowned Australian Executive Chef Chris Rendell and offers an organic, market-driven menu that boasts farm-fresh, seasonal options that make for the perfect fuel for a long day of surfing or strolling on the sand.
We recommend opting for a seat outside—you won’t regret it. It’s open-air deck is one of the hottest night-time dining and drinking spots in the entire area.
And, after you’ve burned some calories under the sun, you have to treat yourself to a refreshing cocktail from the hotel bar, a bright spot cloaked in driftwood that boasts—what else?—old surfboards balancing on rafters. It’s one of our favorite spots in the entire hotel and one you won’t want to ever leave.
3. Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, CA
Number 3 on our list brings us back to the West Coast to the coveted area of beautiful Big Sur, California. Boasting both the welcoming warmth of a charming inn and the high-end luxurious accommodations of a five-star hotel, the Post Ranch Inn is one of our all-time favorite venues for oceanfront vacationing.
Rather than sitting right on the sand, the Post Ranch Inn sits pretty on a cliffside, towering high above the bright blue waters of the Pacific. We especially love how its architect took care to blend the hotel’s aesthetic with its surroundings—it feels as though it’s an organic piece of the area’s whole, fitting seamlessly into the woodsy cliffside.
We especially love the fact that the Post Ranch Inn offers a wide array of accommodations—each as chic and comfortable as the next. The Inn is home to 39 guestrooms and two private residences—all of which either overlook the sprawling waters of the Pacific or the towering peaks of the central coast mountain range. Each room boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, warm, welcoming wood accents and luxurious accommodations.
Among our favorite accomodation options are the Inn’s Pacific Suites, both of which are located in a circular two-story building and each of which offers 960 square feet of space, heated wood floors and a wood-burning fireplace. Our favorite part of the Pacific Suites, though? Each boasts its own stainless steel outdoor hot tub on a private deck, offering some of the most romantic views of the dreamy Pacific you’ll find.
We also love the Cliff House, a freestanding structure that feels as though it’s floating in mid-air, boasting a beautiful deck suspended over the surrounding cliffs. With 960 square feet of indoor space, a glass-walled bedroom, custom built furniture, a wood-burning fireplace and heated floors, the Cliff House doesn’t skimp on any accommodations and offers the perfect amount of privacy for a romantic getaway.
If you’re looking to stay in a room like no other place on Earth, we recommend the Tree Houses. Freestanding houses built on stilts just nine feet off of the forest floor, each tree house offers a skylight above a King bed to watch the stars as you drift off to sleep at night...and we’re pretty sure it doesn’t get any dreamier than that.
4. The Pelican in Miami, FL
Number 4 on our list takes us to the one and only Miami Beach for the most lively beachfront boutique hotel of them all—Pelican Miami. Neon Nightlife meets Quirky Art Deco in this super-chic, color-clad hotel.
Self-described as “the coolest hotel in South Beach” (we couldn’t agree more), the $4 million Pelican first opened its doors in June of 1994 and is the first hotel-venture from the renowned Diesel Jeans (we told you it was cool).
Pelican Miami boasts 29 rooms, each of which is completely unique from the next and can be toured in full on its (super cool) interactive website. We particularly love Room 312 “Power Flower” for it’s 70’s-chic-meets-soft-psychedelic vibe.
Room 308 “Do the Vehicle” also caught our eye with its bright blue and saturated orange artwork and its classic nod to all-things, at once, nostalgic and industrial.
If you’re feeling extra spendy, opt for the super style-y Penthouse One at a justifiable $3,500.00 per night. The grand-as-ever space occupies the entire top floor of Pelican and acts as a residence for Diesel CEO Renzo Rosso when he’s in South Beach. Other notable guests include Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
With a canary yellow dining room, a super-chic copper wall framing a six-foot round tropical fish tank and nine-screen video wall in the spacious living room, Penthouse One is everything you never knew you needed (but will never be able to live without) in a hotel room.
As if it’s style and character weren’t enough to woo you, Pelican is also home to a number of useful amenities, like complimentary WiFi, pet-friendly rooms, organic bedding, a 24-hour multilingual concierge and complimentary breakfast. So, the only question becomes: Where do we sign up for the stay of a lifetime?
5. Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC
Finally, we travel to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina to round out our list. Few other boutique hotels offer an authentic coastal experience like the Blockade Runner Resort. A charming beach town right off the North Carolinian coast, the barrier island of Wrightsville Beach is known for its pristine beach, strikingly clear water and community-centered vibe—and the Blockade Runner Resort embodies all of those things to a T.
Built in 1964 and family-run, the Blockade Runner offers impeccable service and a laid-back atmosphere amongst some of the most beautifully green grounds we've seen to date. You feel as though you’re a member of the family while you’re there—staff are warm, welcoming, knowledgeable and always helpful.
The Blockade Runner offers four different types of guestrooms and one private cottage. The Harbor View Rooms overlook Wrightsville Sound and offer charming views of tidal creeks, salt marshes, sailboats, private docks and—most importantly—unforgettable sunsets. They boast bright colors, natural stone finishes and tall windows that open to refreshing, sea-salty breezes.
We also love the Deluxe Atlantic Ocean Terrace Rooms, which offer sweeping views of the expansive beach, a covered terrace balcony and a front-row seat to each morning’s pristine North Carolina sunrise.
If you’re traveling with a large group, we are huge fans of the Blockade Runner’s private cottage. With 13 bedrooms, 9 baths and the capacity to sleep up to 26 guests, it’s the ultimate option for large parties and retreats alike. Originally built as a boarding house and recently renovated and restored, the classic cottage boasts wrap-around porches, a second-floor sun deck and unforgettable views of both the Ocean and Sound.
The Blockade Runner also offers a number of quintessential beach-day activities, like paddle-boarding, surfing, kayaking, yoga and fishing. We especially love the idea of sailing the picturesque Banks Channel, where you’re likely to spot dolphins and coastal birds.
And, when you're ready for a day sans the salty Atlantic waters, opt for an afternoon at the colorful Sea Escape Pool Bar (and be sure to try a Drunken Mermaid or Jalepeño Harbor...or both).
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, we recommend dining at the Blockade Runner’s EAST Oceanfront, a restaurant that boasts vegetarian and seafood-centered dishes inspired by areas like California, Mexico, Asia and the Mediterranean. For lunch, we recommend the Crab Cake Sandwich and, for dinner, try the Day Boat Scallops or Drunken Noodles.
Overall, there's nothing better than a boutique beachfront hotel chock-full of character, color and salty seaside air. Have any beachfront boutiques we missed? Share them with us in the comments section below.