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The Ultimate Guide to Beachfront Hotels (What to Look for and What to Expect)

This is an aerial view of the La Pinta Beachfront Family Hotel with a look at the facilities and the sea.

Beachfront hotels should have nothing less than picture-perfect beaches in cities where you can expect to bask in exotic temperatures for most of the year. Whether you are choosing an adult-only resort, a luxurious hotel, or a swim-up hideaway, you need to pick a hotel that will make your dream breakaway on the beach worthwhile.

Picking a dream destination is a bit easier than choosing a hotel with all the right features. Should you ask for recommendations from friends and family? Their idea of the perfect vacation spot might not exactly suit yours. Heck, you may not even share the same passions.

Perhaps customer reviews could do the trick? You never know if you are reading an honest review from a customer or an affiliate of the hotel. Well, expert recommendations from travel agencies might help, but here’s the thing; who is the travel agent trying to satisfy, you or their accommodation suppliers? How are you sure they are not trying to send you to a specific hotel just to reach their sales target?

Phew! This whole hotel selection thing seems like a gamble, right? Not really. Thankfully, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important things to expect and look for when making plans to stay in beachfront hotels. That way, you can focus on relaxing during your vacation, instead of stressing so much about picking the right hotel.

What to Look For and Expect from the Right Beachfront Hotels

Not all beachfront hotels are created equal, but you already knew that. However, what many first-time travelers aren’t familiar with is what to look for exactly when choosing the right beachfront hotel. The idea of an oceanfront getaway can be exciting, but your dream vacation can be far less than a fulfilling experience if you don’t know what to look for.

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Here’s a checklist to guide you when planning your next beachfront getaway.

1. A Beautiful Beach: Wait, what? Beachfront hotels are already on the beach! Indeed, they are, but not all beaches are gorgeous, and certainly, not all of them have that quality to take your breath away, literally! You need to look for warm blue waters you can swim in, golden or white sands to dig your feet in, and towering palm trees that that sway in the gentle breeze.

2. World-class Restaurant: The food, especially the seafood, has to be extraordinary when you are at a beachfront hotel. There’s just no compromise about this.

3. Spa and Saloon: What’s a vacation if you can’t pamper yourself? Your skin needs it, and your body needs to relax, too!

4. Poolside Bar: You should have the option to take a break from the saltwater and sip some cocktail like tequila or margarita without having to go far away from the pool.

5. Fishing: You may want to take a break from the usual onsite activities and just sit at a private beach while you throw a line into the water to catch mackerels, snappers, pompanos, and more.

6. Nightlife: Going away for a couple of weeks shouldn’t mean confining yourself to the hotel throughout your stay or listening to the surf all through the night. A great vacation spot will also offer the option of escaping to the city where things are happening, just in case you want to have a feel of the nightlife.

Top Beachfront Hotels

Feeling overwhelmed? We’re here to help out. Check out these top beachfront hotels spread across major coastline cities in the United States, where you can spend your next vacation in style.

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Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, California

Where in Los Angeles can you find a hotel that sits directly on a beach, if not in Santa Monica? The Shutters on the Beach is about the only luxury beachfront hotel with a stylish ocean cottage vibe right on the beach in LA.

A look at the beachfront hotel in Santa Monica Beach with multiple verandas and balconies.

There’s a reason celebrities tend to flock this vacation spot: it is the only hotel in Santa Monica that lets you put chairs on the beach sand! So, if you’ll like to spot some famous faces while basking on the beach in California, your best bet would be to stay at Shutters on the Beach.

Beyond celeb-spotting, Shutters on the Beach is the perfect beachfront spot to enjoy your honeymoon. As a true A-list getaway, there’s an elegant and sumptuous spa to pamper guests with special treatments such as hot stone rubdowns and private yoga sessions.

All 198 rooms and suites feature huge bathtubs and balconies. Guests can also enjoy excellent cuisines at any of the three onsite restaurants, a vintage-inspired and fully equipped gym, surf lessons, volleyball, paddle tennis, and beach butlers.

There’re a few downsides, though. Not all the rooms here have ocean views, and if you’re lodging during busy times, there’s a two-night minimum stay requirement. Expect a daily resort fee and another extra charge for valet parking.

Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, California

Looking to spend time in a beachfront resort in California with lots of stimulation? Here’s our recommendation: add the Monarch Beach Resort to your bucket list.

The 400-room resort is located on a hilltop overlooking the brilliant blue waves of the Pacific Ocean. All the rooms and suites are elegantly spacious and come with modern amenities, private balconies, and deluxe bathrooms (with separate soaking tubs and rainfall showers). The higher-category suites come with butler service.

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The 18-hole golf course is a constant attraction for many. Guest can also enjoy other top-notch facilities and activities, including eight tennis courts where you can practice swings, a large fitness center, and several fitness classes.

For extra fun and activity, guests can navigate the trails on a battery-powered bike, learn how to surf, and even try playing the ukulele. You can head to the spa if you feel fatigued (after all the activities!) for a restorative massage session.

However, getting to the beach on foot will take quite a bit of a hike. The fastest way to get there is by catching the free shuttle available throughout the day. You may want to check out the other if you want a hotel that’s really close to the sand recommendations.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, California

Ritz-Carlton Bacara is one of Southern California’s most beautiful five-star oceanfront resorts. It offers some of the best views of the Pacific Ocean and the cliffside landscape.

The resort is about 20 minutes drive from Santa Barbara and features 358 rooms and suites with detailed décor and balconies or terraces (some with views of the ocean). There’s a bar with extensive upscale wines (12,000 bottles of wine list!), beers, cocktails, and pub foods. The resort also has an excellent restaurant on the property which serves tasty steaks and seafood.

Guests can enjoy a wide variety of onsite activities, including stand-up paddleboarding, surfboarding, kayaking, and even mountain biking. The Monarch kids’ club will keep children between the ages of three to twelve engaged with lots of fun activities.

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There’s the usual property-wide free Wi-Fi, a tennis center, and extensive conference facilities for large events. And because the property is quite vast, there are courtesy gulf carts for shuttling guests around.

However, guests are charged a daily resort fee. The beach here is a bit too rocky, so don’t expect a lot of sand. Also, the kids’ club is only opened during the weekends.

Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, Florida

One of Palm Beach’s newest and choicest beachfront hotels, the Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, fits the bill for an upscale oceanfront resort. It comes complete with a private stretch of white-sand beach, two world-class restaurants, a sushi bar, a stunning outdoor pool, and a zen-inspired full-service spa and saloon (one of the best places to pamper yourself in Florida!).

Located on a beautiful barrier island, Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa boasts of 134 modern rooms with Asian-inspired decors. The rooms come with luxury bath amenities, premium minibars, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies.

There’s also a modern fitness center with state-of-the-art cardio equipment. In addition to all of these, there’s the usual free and fast Wi-Fi access throughout the property.

However, there are a few downsides to note about this resort. Valet parking fees are mandatory, and the restaurant foods are a bit pricey. Also, not all the rooms offer a view of the ocean, and some of the garden view rooms only provide lackluster views.

Sunset Key Cottages, Key West, Florida

This is the Sunset Key Cottages in Key West, Florida.

The Sunset Key Cottages resort is comprised of only 40 rooms and located along a beautiful beach on a residential Island in Sunset Key. It features homey cottages elegantly fitted with high-end amenities. Some of these include a pleasant spa and saloon (with treatment rooms for couples), a beautiful beach with clear, calm waters and palm trees, and a zero-degree entry pool with a bar, two whirlpools, and shaded areas.

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This hotel is best for upscale travelers looking for a beachfront hotel in an idyllic and exclusive location. If you’re lodging in one of the four-bedroom cottages, you will have access to a private plunge pool with a washer. Upscale cottages all have free Wi-Fi, porches, kitchens, and beachy décor.

Other amenities include a half-court basketball court, a tennis court, and a 24-hour fitness center. You get to taste rums for free and also get a free breakfast basket delivery, plus ice cream to cool off during warm afternoons.

Pets are not allowed here, though. While that’s a good thing for some, the hotel may not be suitable for you if you wish to travel with Fido. Also, there is no kid’s club, meaning one less way to keep children engaged if you’re vacationing with them.

There’s a daily resort fee besides the normal room rate, but that’s why the Sunset Key Cottages is for upscale travelers, right? So, if you’re looking for something a tad cheaper, you may want to check out the other hotels on this list.

Four Seasons Resort, Palm Beach, Florida

A look at the front entrance garden of the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

A roughly 10-minute drive south of Palm Beach will bring you to the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort located right on the beach.

All its 210 sophisticated beach-style rooms are tastefully furnished with large flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and all have private balconies. Each bathroom has a separate walk-in shower with a smallish tub. This resort is an excellent pick if you are vacationing with your whole family. Besides having a kid’s club with computers and games, there are also free check-in toys and free bike rentals.

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One of the most enjoyable experiences here is the chic spa that comes with a steam room and whirlpool. There are also some extra touches like the provision of sunscreens at the ocean-view pool, towels, water, spritzes, and fruits.

Here are a few things to keep in mind. If you opt to use the Wi-Fi here, you will be charged a daily fee. If you want the main Palm Beach action, you will have to drive south for about 10 minutes. Also, the resort may not have the “wow” factor that some may expect from a standard Four Seasons resort.

Huntley Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica, California

Huntley Santa Monica Beach is a great place to stay if you want a spectacular view of Santa Monica Beach from just about any spot on the property.

The contemporary and artistic interiors are a result of the major retouch of the hotel in 2017. The lobbies are chic with reflecting mirrors, votive candles, and various art installations. Every one of its 204 rooms is fitted with a cabinet, a Nespresso machine, and a 60-inch flat-screen TV. There’s also Wi-Fi in all rooms as well as all over the property.

The hotel is located at an easy walking distance from the beach, restaurants, and shops. You can also get local items from the cute gift shop on site.

A ride in the exterior glass elevator offers you incredible views of the ocean. The beautiful Penthouse bar and restaurant on the eighteenth floor offers extraordinary 360-degree views, plus, if you’re looking to party, there are weekend DJ sets available.

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Guests can access the fully-equipped fitness center to stay fit throughout their stay in the hotel.

The biggest downside at Huntley Santa Monica Beach is the apparent lack of a pool. Guests are also charged an additional daily hotel amenity fee to cover Wi-Fi and bikes. And the valet parking fee is a bit on the high side.

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is only two blocks away from Santa Monica Pier and a mere 5-minute walk across the street from the beach. The hotel boasts of 347 rooms, all stylishly furnished with sleek bathrooms. It includes great amenities such as large flat-screen TVs, premium minibars, coffee makers, and terry towels, Bluetooth radios, and furnished balconies.

Many of the rooms offer beautiful beach views, while some have private fire pits on the patio. There’s a pleasant lap pool for relaxation with plenty of loungers and a whirlpool. Guests can also keep fit in the onsite spacious and well-equipped fitness center with modern cardio and strength-training equipment.

Eating healthy foods is easy while staying here because both restaurants on this beach hotel offer excellent farm-to-table cuisines. The hotel also has an onsite rental shop where guests can access boogie boards, skates, and bikes. There’s free Wi-Fi, too, and plenty of family-friendly perks.

One major downside of this gorgeous beachfront hotel is that it has no spa. Guests are charged an extra resort fee in addition to the room rates. You will also have to pay a valet parking fee.