The West Coast is famous for glorious ocean sunsets, sandy beaches, dramatic coastlines, near-perfect weather year-round, and trendsetting celebrities. Since the start of the California Gold Rush in 1848, hordes of people have fled west to seek fortune, while the birth of the Hollywood movie industry in the 1900s attracted those seeking fame. All these visitors needed places to stay, so hoteliers began building amazing hotels to accommodate the growth. We found nine iconic hotels worth a visit on the U.S.’s West Coast.
Hotel Coronado, San Diego, California
Built in 1888, the Hotel Coronado is a local and National Historic Landmark with its russet red castle-like turrets. The hotel sits on Coronado Island just across the bridge from the bustling port city, San Diego. The “Del,” as it’s known, has hosted U.S. presidents, royalty, and celebrities. The 1958 film, Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon was filmed here. The ghost of Kate Morgan, a young woman found dead here in 1892, reportedly still haunts her guest room.
Today, you can enjoy family-friendly Coronado Beach, explore the island on bike, take a guided tour of the historic hotel, and indulge in a sumptuous Sunday brunch. The 28-acre resort offers ocean view rooms, cottages and villas, an onsite spa, shops, and several ocean view restaurants and bars.
Hotel Casa del Mar, Santa Monica, California
Since its opening in 1926, Hollywood A-listers flocked to this opulent beach hotel adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier. Listed on the National Register for Historic Places, the Hotel Casa del Mar was built with a commitment to ultimate privacy and unparalleled service. However, the hotel hasn’t always been a haven for the wealthy and famous. During World War II, the U.S. Navy took over the hotel and it later became a health and wellness facility until new owners invested more than $50 million and restored the Hotel Casa del Mar to its original Italian Renaissance revival style. The hotel reopened in 1999.
Many of Hotel Casa del Mar's 129 rooms have panoramic ocean views, four-poster beds, and fresh, white-and-blue linens. In addition to relaxing or frolicking on the beach, you can explore the nearby Third Street Promenade, an upscale dining and shopping area. Cliff-top Palisades Park will astound you with its stunning ocean views, gardens, and walking trails. Dine in luxury and admire the sunset from the hotel’s fantastic restaurants, Terrazza and Catch.
Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, California
The Beverly Hills Hotel was built in 1912 before the city existed to attract wealthy land buyers to the area. The original motto stated that guests were “entitled to the best of everything, regardless of cost.” By the 1930s, the hotel’s Polo Lounge and legendary Sand and Pool Club were favorites for Hollywood dealmakers and stars. Also known as the “Pink Palace” due to its exterior paint color, the Beverly Hills Hotel has been home to countless romances and infamous events. Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy secretly met here in the 1940s. Eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes occupied many of the hotel’s bungalows off and on for 30 years. John F. Kennedy rented a bungalow here to entertain young starlets in 1960 during his presidential campaign. Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand had an affair here while filming Let’s Make Love.
Today, you can revel in the hotel’s vintage glamour and modern luxury and live like Hollywood royalty. Situated on 12 acres of tropical gardens, the Beverly Hills Hotel offers privacy and stellar service. Choose from guest rooms and suites in the main house or one of the famed bungalows, including Marilyn Monroe’s. The Polo Lounge is still the place to be.
Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California
When it was built in 1923, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in L.A. was the largest and poshest hotel west of Chicago. On its opening night, more than 3,000 guests attended the glamorous party, which included singing canaries, seven symphony orchestras, a seven-course meal, and a parade of stars. The Beaux-Arts-inspired hotel has been the backdrop in dozens of movies, music videos, and TV shows including Ghostbusters, Wedding Crashers, Chinatown, The Dark Knight Rises, CSI, and Mad Men. Al Capone, the Prince of Wales, Rudolph Valentino, Howard Hughes, Herbert Hoover, and Eleanor Roosevelt are just a few of the celebrities who have stayed here. During prohibition, the hotel hid a nightclub and later hosted numerous Academy Awards and the 1960 Democratic National Convention, where JFK was nominated.
The Biltmore remains one of Hollywood’s swankiest hotels and you’ll relish its history and opulence if you stay in one of its 683 rooms. You can take part in British-style high afternoon tea service in the Rendezvous Court — a tradition stemming back to the 1920s. The Roman-style indoor swimming pool and hot tub are perfect for a dip and should be followed by a visit to the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room for classic cocktails.
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
The rugged coastline along Big Sur, California, is renowned for its jaw-dropping scenery and the Post Ranch Inn fits here perfectly. Perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean and bordered by the Santa Lucia Mountains, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to the remotest corner of the globe. Post Ranch Inn began welcoming guests in 1992 on a former homestead and cattle ranch. It has since become an award-winning serene oasis — recognized not only for its beauty, but also for its extensive eco-friendly practices.
The breathtaking panoramic ocean views are almost second to the sleek, sustainably built architecture on this 100-acre property. Accommodations range from mountain-view treehouses on nine-foot stilts to cliff-top suites suspended over the ocean. Its 39 guest rooms and suites are crafted from local stone and native wood and designed to blend seamlessly into the surroundings. Amenities on the property include a luxurious spa, heated infinity pool, two hot tubs overlooking the ocean, an award-winning restaurant, free use of Lexus vehicles to get around, yoga classes, guided hikes, and more. To maintain the peaceful environment, there are no televisions and pets and guests under 18 are not allowed.
Fairmont San Francisco Hotel, San Francisco, California
Steeped in history, the Fairmount San Francisco Hotel is nicknamed the “White House of the West Coast.” Every U.S. president since Harry Truman (except for President Donald Trump) has stayed here. Situated on Nob Hill with panoramic views of the city and bay, the Beaux-Arts-style Fairmont was scheduled to open in 1906. The devastating fires after the earthquake on April 18, 1906 destroyed most of the property. One year later, the Fairmont opened its doors and hasn’t looked back since. Singer Tony Bennett reportedly first sang, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” in the hotel’s ornate Venetian Room. Secret passageways in the hotel supposedly allow politicians and celebrities (and their mistresses) to enter and leave the hotel undetected.
If your AMEX has an unlimited credit line, you can book the three-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite. You can also choose the Tony Bennett Suite or one of the other 606 guest rooms. The Fairmont’s location is unbeatable since it's the only spot where all of San Francisco’s historic cable cars meet — giving you easy access to downtown, the Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Union Square.
Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa, Sausalito, California
Originally a private mansion built in 1885 on a hillside overlooking Sausalito, the Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa was converted to a hotel in 1906. Its original restaurant Le Vivoir attracted celebrities such as Carol Burnett, Warren Beatty, and Dick Van Dyke. Its most notable rise to fame occurred when English rock band Pink Floyd stayed here in 1967. Photographer William Baron snapped photos of the group on the hotel’s fire escape and relaxing around the hotel, which were later used to promote their first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.”
Today you can stay in the Piper Room, the suite named after the album and where Pink Floyd stayed during their 1967 visit. Famed photographs of the band adorn the walls and a copy of the book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, sits on the coffee table. Other accommodations include the 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite Suite, numerous guest rooms and cottages with private decks, fireplaces, and views of the San Francisco Bay. The Victorian-inspired hotel received a multimillion-dollar renovation in early 2019. The hotel is also close to the redwood forest, the wineries of Sonoma and Napa Valley, and downtown San Francisco.
The Edgewater, Seattle, Washington
Built for the 1962 World Fair, The Edgewater sits atop a pier in Seattle’s sparkling Elliott Bay as Seattle’s original waterfront hotel. The Edgewater was the city’s only hotel willing to let the Beatles stay during their 1964 tour — not because they were destructive, but because of Beatlemania. Fans went to extremes to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four, so the hotel had to erect special fencing and enlist decoy vehicles. The band was famously photographed fishing out of one of the hotel’s windows. The Beatles weren’t the only legendary band to stay at The Edgewater — just about every rock band you’ve ever heard of has stayed here including Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, REM, Blondie, and The Village People.
If you need to satiate your own Beatlemania desires, you can stay in the 750-square-foot Beatles Suite, a modern rendition that features memorabilia, furnishings, and notorious photographs. Or if you’re into a more recent band, choose the Pearl Jam Suite, for which the hotel partnered with the band to design and decorate. Other options include waterside and cityside guest rooms and luxury suites. The hotel’s location couldn’t be more convenient since you’re walking distance to downtown Seattle and its many attractions.
Salish Lodge & Spa, Snoqualmie, Washington
Just 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, the Salish Lodge & Spa is a quintessential stay. Originally built in 1906 as a stop for travelers before they journeyed over the mountain pass, the hotel overlooks the 268-foot breathtaking Snoqualmie Falls. You might recognize the hotel if you're a fan of the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks since it was the setting for many of the show’s scenes.
The hotel recently enjoyed a facelift with a $12 million renovation. Locally-crafted furnishings incorporate natural woods and textures, while the 86 guest rooms reflect the Salish Lodge & Spa’s legacy and natural surroundings. The Lodge is a true romantic or relaxing getaway with all rooms featuring gas fireplaces, oversized soaking tubs, or spa-like showers with dual showerheads. Indulge and rejuvenate in the Club 268 Spa (named after the waterfall), which specializes in Northwest-inspired treatments using herbs from the onsite garden and honey from the apiary.