Our Favorite Design Hotels in Coastal California
We travel for design, whether it be the landscape, the architecture, or the way our food is presented in a restaurant. Design is everywhere in the world. For us, one of our favorite elements of travel is checking into a beautiful hotel room where interior design reigns supreme and we’re transported to a world other than our own. Sometimes that world is extreme luxury, other times it’s the bohemian lifestyle close to surf, but it’s the sense of place that we love. We’re preparing for one last beach day before the summer comes to a close by rounding up some of our favorite interior design hotels in Coastal California.
No. 01 | Farmhouse Inn
The design inspiration behind Farmhouse Inn for the designers of Myra Hoefer Design was to create a retreat that reflected the timeworn elegance of classic old farm estates. Its Sonoma County surroundings, sprawling vineyards and elegant tasting rooms, are the perfect backdrop for a getaway that leans hard into the bucolic. The 25 guest rooms are situated across six acres and are joined by quaint garden paths lined with rose bushes and fruit trees, and are outfitted with furnishings best described as casual luxury. We love the soothing, return-to-nature vibe of this wine country retreat.
Photos courtesy of Farmhouse Inn
No. 02 | Villa Mara Carmel
This stunning 16-room boutique hotel is perched on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Pacific on California’s Monterey Peninsula. As if the town of Carmel and its cypress tree- and cliff-lined beach aren’t idyllic enough, the views from Villa Mara Carmel are otherwordly. The interiors, according to designer Lisa Koch Design, are inspired by “memories of perfect weekends spent at rambling family compounds on the coast.” We love the mix of tones used throughout, dusty pinks, creams, sage green, and blues, that reflect the beauty that is the natural environment of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Photos courtesy of Villa Mara Carmel
No. 03 | Palihouse Santa Barbara
The whimsical world of Palihouse Santa Barbara was imagined by Palisociety’s in-house design team. The 24-room boutique hotel occupies a Spanish Colonial building in the city’s historic Presidio neighborhood that was the Santa Barbara School of the Arts in its former life. Palisociety chose to honor that history, renovating the existing structure with respect for the history inside its walls. They outfitted the interiors (and pool and courtyard) with the brand’s signature playful aesthetic—decorative bowls of fresh tennis balls for styling, loads of rattan, checkerboard accents, pink stripes and bright florals.
Photos courtesy of Palihouse Santa Barbara
No. 04 | MacArthur Place
SFA Design took on the revitalization of the storied MacArthur Place hotel in 2019, bringing the dated Sonoma interiors into a new, modern status. The result is laidback luxury, with a soothing color palette of whites and creams, pristinely manicured yards, and mind-blowing views of rolling hills and line after line of grape vines.
No. 05 | Surfrider
The Surfrider is, in fact, trendy, but the laidback hotel on the Pacific Coast Highway has been in business since the 50s. Overlooking Surfrider Beach in Malibu, the hotel was and still is a favorite of visiting surfers, but a refresh in 2018 by architect and hotelier Matthew Goodwin and his wife, Emma Crowther, introduced the iconic hotel to a higher-end clientele while retaining the laidback charm it is famous for. We love how natural everything feels inside, from raw wood and linen to teak, stone, and ceramic.
No. 06 | Ojai Valley Inn
The Ojai Valley Inn has been attracting design lovers with its Spanish Colonial architecture since the 20s. The most recent refresh of its interiors were done by Amber Interiors and introduced a brand-new spa to the property. We love the laidback California aesthetic it’s known for and the chic bohemian town of Ojai in which it’s situated.