When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
CLEAR offers fast, touchless entry at over 50 airports, stadiums, and arenas in the US.
It takes minutes to enroll and seconds to use, scanning eyes or fingerprints to safely gain entry.
We tried it out during recent air travel to see how it works and compares to TSA Precheck.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyBiometric Security Screening (Per Year) (small)
Stressful at its worst and mind-numbing at its best, waiting in an airport security line is an experience no one enjoys. No amount of mental willpower or foot-tapping will let you out of the process, but there is a biometric security service called CLEAR that can make it a lot faster.
CLEAR is a friction-free security process at airports, stadiums, and arenas that scans your eyes or fingerprints so you can reach the place you really want to be – the flight gate, concert, or game – quickly and conveniently.
Just like safety and security are valued at airports and large venues, CLEAR values customer security and ensures member data is kept private and secure through double encryption. This way, you have the peace of mind that your data is safe, all while you enjoy the benefits of an effortless security process.
Learn more about how CLEAR works below, plus our review of the service, and deals on signing up.
How CLEAR saves you time
When you travel and go through airport security, the first checkpoint involves standing in a long line for a TSA agent to scan your boarding pass and ID.
With CLEAR, you skip the line and enter security through your own designated lane where you check-in and are escorted directly to the physical screening.
Instead of using traditional ID documents, CLEAR uses your eyes and face to confirm it’s really you. This is done by transforming your biometrics into an encrypted code of ones and zeros that are unique to you.
The platform is Department of Homeland Security- and SAFETY Act-certified.
Then, you’ll visit a participating airport to get your eyes and fingerprints scanned. Bring one of the following forms of photo identification with you:
US Driver’s License
US Passport Card
US-issued Permanent Resident Card
State Issued ID
US Military ID
All forms of identification must be valid, unexpired, not amended, and have a photo. This process takes about five minutes in total.
You don’t have to go out of your way to do this. Most people enroll in person at the same time they are flying out. That’s because once in-person registration is complete, you can use the CLEAR lane right away.
How to use CLEAR
Once you’re enrolled and in the designated lane, all you have to do is scan your fingers or eyes at the kiosk to get your identity verified. It takes just seconds.
This means no fumbling for documents or IDs and waiting in a line that seems to loop and turn with no end in sight.
Once you’re done, a CLEAR attendant will escort you to the front of the regular security line where you’ll wait your turn to put your belongings through the X-ray scanner and finish the screening process.
How much does CLEAR cost?
A CLEAR Plus membership costs $179 per year with access at all locations where CLEAR is available.
CLEAR Plus members can add up to three adult family members to their account at a discounted rate of $50 per person. Children under 18 are free when traveling with a CLEAR family member with no enrollment required.
Delta SkyMiles members also enjoy discounted rates:
Diamond Medallion members: Free
Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members: $109 a year
General SkyMiles members: $119 a year
We also secured two deals for readers to try CLEAR. Choose from a free trial or a discount off the annual price:
Though the two might sound like they’re interchangeable, CLEAR isn’t a substitute for TSA PreCheck. Here are some key differences:
TSA PreCheck expedites the security process by putting you in a shorter line to get your documents checked and allows you to keep your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, and jackets on you. Meanwhile, CLEAR expedites the general security process by letting you bypass the first line for document verification altogether with the biometric screening. If you have TSA PreCheck, you’ll move on to the physical screening and still enjoy the benefits of PreCheck. If not, you will be physically screened per the standard rules. In other words, CLEAR members don’t have a separate second screening like PreCheck members do, unless they have a membership with both.
TSA PreCheck members can get randomly excluded and sent to the regular line. CLEAR does not have random exclusions.
TSA PreCheck only works with certain airlines, though it’s available in many more airports nationwide. CLEAR works with any airline, but its rollout in airports is still limited. CLEAR is also available at some sports stadiums.
To enroll in TSA PreCheck, you submit an online application and schedule an in-person appointment at an enrollment center. The appointment includes a background check and fingerprinting. To enroll in CLEAR, you submit an online application and visit an airport location where you undergo a background check and fingerprinting. No appointment is necessary and it’s much quicker overall.
Using CLEAR’s Health Pass for travel during COVID
CLEAR itself is an attractive option for travel during COVID-19 as it removes waiting in a lengthy general airport security line with no social distancing.
It also facilitates travel during the pandemic with the option to use Health Pass, a free feature on the CLEAR app for members who are 18 and over that connects your verified identity with your health history to create a digital vaccine card. This then syncs with Health Pass to show proof of vaccination for venues and countries that require it.
It may be used in some places to avoid mandatory quarantine, such as Hawaii.
Our review of CLEAR
I tried CLEAR this summer when I flew cross country on more than one occasion. The cost was comped by the company for review purposes.
I signed up online in minutes, per the directions, and added my husband to my family account. Because my infant daughter was well under 18, I did not need to make an account for her.
When I arrived at San Francisco Airport for a 7 a.m. return flight to New York City, despite the early arrival, the security line was already incredibly long. I was thankful to zip past it to a separate area designated for CLEAR with a handful kiosks for checking-in.
Because this was my first time using CLEAR, I needed to finish my enrollment. The company says this should only take five minutes, though mine took at least 10 to 15. Part of this was because we were juggling a baby, but a CLEAR attendant was also required to shepherd us through the process and ours was quite busy helping multiple travelers at once.
All I needed to do, though, was look up my personal information, scan my fingertips and retina, and that was about it.
Once checked in, the attendant printed my boarding pass and I had to wait for a few other guests to finish the process so he could bring us all to the next step in the security screening process.
My husband, however, who had TSA PreCheck, was guided to a separate line for travelers with the distinction. I went to the security line for general travelers, and while I was able to skip to the front to have my ID checked, I had to wait in a long line to go through the X-ray scanner. CLEAR did not grant privileges to cut it and I had to remove my iPad.
When I flew again a month later, departing from Hartford, Connecticut, I was excited to see if CLEAR would be faster in a smaller airport. Unfortunately, it was not offered there and I waited in the general line from start to finish.
As a former TSA PreCheck holder, I couldn’t help but compare the two. When looking at TSA PreCheck vs CLEAR, the differences are, well, quite clear.
TSA PreCheck is cheaper at $85 for five years, whereas CLEAR costs $179 for one year. It’s worth noting though that CLEAR is offered at additional venues beyond airports, and if you frequent many sports games or concerts where it is offered, you’ll certainly appreciate the shorter line.
TSA PreCheck also often sees fewer lines overall. It’s more widely available whereas CLEAR is limited to a handful of airports. If CLEAR is not offered in your home airport, it’s probably not worth it.
However, enrolling in CLEAR is so much easier. Part of the reason why my TSA PreCheck lapsed is that it feels like such a hassle to make an appointment to sign up, which usually takes place in out-of-the-way locations and requires fingerprinting.
Signing up for CLEAR on the other hand takes just a few moments and you can do it on the way to your flight from your mobile device. You can still cut to the front of the first security line, and if the X-ray scanner isn’t backed up, it’s a great way to speed up travel through an airport terminal.
Choosing which one is best really depends on the types of venues you visit most often and whether CLEAR is offered in the airport from where you’re most likely to depart.
The bottom line
If you travel frequently out of CLEAR’s participating airports and want to save yourself time and anxiety, CLEAR is a worthwhile investment to consider. And with the following two deals, it’s well worth trying out to see if it’s a good fit for your needs.
Most recently, that was the Polycarbonate Flex, Away’s first line of expandable hard-sided luggage that launched this summer in both carry-on and checked sizes. Until now, Away’s only expandable option was soft-sided, which we tried and liked, but wished was available with a their hard shell.
I recently tried the Medium Flex to see how the new features worked, and whether the expandable option meant this habitual over-packer could fit everything needed without opting for the largest suitcase possible.
Here’s what you should know about the Flex line and how mine held up over the course of a cross-country trip, multiple hotel stays, and moving homes.
The Carry-On Flex (small)The Bigger Carry-On Flex (small)The Medium Flex (small)The Large Flex (small)
The Flex offers the durability of Away’s original hard shell combined with a built-in exterior zipper that provides an additional 2.25″ for carry-on sizes and 1.75″ for checked baggage.
That’s pretty cool, but it’s important to note that when fully expanded, the carry-on will be too large to fit overhead and must be checked, according to airline baggage guidelines.
These Flex suitcases have all of the same smart features you’ve come to expect from Away, like a TSA-approved combination lock, 360° spinner wheels, an interior compression system, an underside grab handle, a hidden laundry bag, an eraser for tackling any scuffs, and a removable, washable lining.
In fact, all the basic measurements for every Flex bag are the same as its original counterpart, aside from the expandable feature, which adds a bit of weight.
For example, with the Medium Flex, the exterior and interior measurements are exactly the same as Away’s original Medium bag, at 26″ x 18.5″ x 11″ for the exterior and 24″ x 17.5″ on the inside.
Both have a capacity of 68.8 liters, too. That is, until the Flex expandable zipper is utilized, which brings the limit to 75.5 liters. As such, the Flex weighs about a pound more, 10.8 pounds compared to 9.9 pounds for the original Medium.
I used the Medium Flex as one of my checked suitcases when I recently moved cross country with my family. So, as you can imagine, I had a lot to pack.
I used the Flex to pack most of my daughter’s belongings, which included clothes, baby towels and burp cloths, toys, books, diapers, and more. It made its way through two airports and multiple hotels where it was packed and unpacked with different items, such as mine and my husband’s clothes and toiletries.
As such, it went through a lot of use and was packed to the brim on more than one occasion.
I found the interior to be roomy and able to fit a lot, even when I forgot to use my trusty packing cubes. The compression panel helped secure my items, but when I over packed the side with a zipper panel, I struggled to close it.
Had I purchased the original Medium with no expandable option, I’m confident I would not have been able to fit everything I needed or more likely, close the bag at all. The expandable, heavy-duty zipper was what made it possible.
Once we were on our way, the suitcase was easy to push, pull, and spin the bag as I navigated my airline check-in with multiple bags and a baby stroller in tow.
I really appreciated the soft touch of the handle as well, which had a subtle button feature that felt more sophisticated than a traditional one.
Fully packed to the brim, my suitcase came in around 40ish pounds at check-in. I’m confident that if I used the Large Flex, I would have packed too much with the expansion function leading to an overweight bag and that embarrassing struggle at the airline counter to pull things out and rearrange to avoid a surcharge.
But since the Medium weighs less and is smaller than the Large, I appreciated the inadvertent safeguard from truly overpacking.
The TSA-approved lock was easy to set and secure and I had no problem locking my bags and dropping them off at security. I did notice that once I reached my destination the locks had been opened by security and not locked again. However, that is likely more a result of the TSA agents’ actions as opposed to an issue with the bag itself.
My navy blue shell came out with a few scuffs along the way, including some white marks. I used the provided Magic Eraser-style sponge to buff them out, and while it did lighten them, it did not remove them altogether. But in all, the bag held up extremely well.
What makes the Away Flex stand out
All of the Away Flex bags are functional, thoughtfully designed, and in this case, provide more space than a standard-size suitcase thanks to the expandable zipper. It’s the only line of Away hard luggage with this feature.
Signature Away features are also included, such as a TSA-approved combination lock, 360° spinner wheels, an interior compression system, a hidden laundry bag, and a removable, washable lining.
Starting at $245 and $255 for carry-on sizes and $325 and $355 for the Medium and Large Flex sizes respectively, it’s similarly priced to other mid-tier premium competitors and designed to last for life.
All Away bags come with a 100-day trial and free shipping and returns, so long as it’s not personalized (which incurs an extra $10-$50 fee), in which case it may not be returned unless there is a defect covered under the lifetime warranty.
The expandable feature comes in handy when you have a lot to pack. However, it may also be a risk if you’re flying on a major commercial airline and exceed the weight limit for checked bags. So, keep that in mind when you’re throwing everything possible into your Flex. I know that if I had the Large Flex, I absolutely would have gone overweight. This is, of course, less of a problem with smaller bags that weigh less.
Additionally, when fully expanded, carry-on sizes cannot be placed in overhead bins and must be checked. That seems to defeat the purpose of choosing a carry-on unless you don’t plan to use it primarily for air travel.
Oh, and the biggest con? The Medium and Large Flex are both currently out of stock until early 2022, which is when Away told us they expect it to be available again.
The bottom line
Away’s polycarbonate Flex bag is the suitcase we’ve been waiting for since day one. Now you can enjoy all the features of their signature hardshell suitcase with the option to expand for more space.
Just be careful with overpacking the Large, lest you pay overweight airline baggage fees, and know that both carry-ons can’t be placed overhead on an airplane when fully expanded.
The Flex has all the same features as original suitcases and even the same dimensions, so there’s really no reason not to pay $30 more for the very helpful expandable option.
Though, because that’s such a no-brainer, both the Medium and Large Flex bags are currently sold out until early 2022, so if you want a checked size, you’ll have to wait.
Pros: Sleek design, expandable feature, adjustable handle, 360 spinner wheels, included laundry bag, option for personalization
Cons: Carry-on Flex must be checked when fully expanded, scuffs easily, Flex suitcases weigh more than original options, Medium and large sizes are currently sold out
The Carry-On Flex (small)The Bigger Carry-On Flex (small)The Medium Flex (small)The Large Flex (small)
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
I wanted the outdoor fun of summer camp but am too old for a dining hall or forced group activities.
I found just that at Ojo Santa Fe in New Mexico with swimming, hiking, archery, and more included.
The whole stay was fun but also relaxing with a spa, mineral baths, and my casita with a fireplace.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
After a year and a half of feeling locked inside amid the pandemic, I was itching to get outdoors. I craved wide open spaces, crisp air, and invigorating activities.
What I wanted it felt like, were the summer camps I experienced as a kid. While summer camps for adults do exist, it seemed like each one was meant for day drinking 20-somethings whose idea of fun was a three-legged race followed by a boisterous meal in the dining hall.
Being well north of that age, I knew I needed more privacy, high thread count sheets, and the ability to choose my activities.
I decided to design my own adult summer camp at Ojo Santa Fe in New Mexico where camp-inspired activities like swimming, archery, hikes, and animal interactions were all-inclusive alongside a spa, mineral baths, and a restaurant.
Designing my own summer camp was a great experience and one I’d gladly replicate throughout the year.
Keep reading to see how I designed my own adult summer camp.
Choosing the location
I’ve been to New Mexico many times and knew the confluence of Native American and Mexican American cultures and the mountains would make an ideal setting.
I landed on Ojo Santa Fe, with a spa, restaurant, and all-inclusive camp-inspired activities with no extra resort fee. As children under 16 were not permitted it also had an adults-only feel.
The 77-acre resort is a 20-minute drive southwest of Santa Fe, with 52 rooms ranging from $290 for a garden room with a balcony or patio to $395 for a stand-alone casita.
I booked a casita for four nights with my boyfriend, who planned to work and needed the extra room.
My boyfriend and I flew from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Albuquerque International Sunport, from where we rented a car to reach Ojo Santa Fe.
Ojo Santa Fe offers complimentary shuttle service to and from the Santa Fe Regional Airport. Direct commercial flights to Santa Fe are only available from Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix.
Driving to Ojo Santa Fe, GPS was essential on the winding country roads. I was grateful we arrived in the daytime. The security guard at the entrance to the hotel confirmed our reservation before letting us in.
Walking to the small building that houses the front desk, we passed a bubbling fountain surrounded by native plants. Just beyond was the patio of the on-site restaurant, Blue Heron, perched above a mineral spring-fed pond.
The idyllic scene felt plucked out of Monet’s garden at Giverny. Mineral baths shimmered, hammocks swayed, and it was clear that the pictures on the website do not do this place justice.
Check-in was easy and the staff was courteous. We were given our keys and driving directions to our casita.
Our casita was located at the far end of the resort with a private entrance lined with native lavender and sage. The decor was classic Southwest with adobe walls, earth-tone furnishings, and artful driftwood.
The casita counted 600 square feet, but the layout made it feel bigger. There was a sitting area, a desk, a gas fireplace (AC, too), and a bedroom with a Queen bed. The bathroom had a separate dressing area with a mirror, good lighting, and a mini-fridge. Coffee, tea, bath, and body products were provided and we also had a private patio.
A central ice machine and shared microwave were available for casitas but there are no TVs. Wi-Fi, however, was provided and fast enough for video streaming.
Sadly, there were no views to be enjoyed from our casita. From what I could see of the garden rooms, all overlooked the well-kept grounds, and from some, you could catch a glimpse of the mountains. Except for a few minutes of stargazing every night, our patio became a depository for wet bathing suits and pool towels.
The space was pin-drop quiet and plenty big for a couple but could also easily work for a family.
Adjusting to the elevation
After settling in, we headed out to explore but quickly felt exhausted as Santa Fe is 7,000 feet above sea level.
The dramatic change in altitude required adaptation. If you are coming from a place with lower elevation, be prepared to spend a couple of days adjusting. Altitude sickness is not uncommon.
Mineral baths and spa
As such, we started with low-exertion activities such as the three mineral spring-fed bathing areas that are the star of Ojo Santa Fe.
I strolled the grounds in the provided white bathrobes, starting the day by the spa and moving between the hot baths that ranged in temperature from 98 to 104 degrees.
These tubs overlook the pond, a gas fire pit, and hammocks. Private soaking tubs are available. Swimwear is optional in the private tubs but required everywhere else.
When I was ready to move on, I headed to the comparatively cool 85-degree, Olympic-sized saltwater pool. It was the only area with music playing, though the mood was still refined. Private poolside cabanas were available for an additional fee.
Here, I noticed my fellow guests, which included couples, women for friends’ getaways, solo travelers, and large groups.
At the spa, I perused treatments like the Cactus Flower Massage and Scrub and the CBD Massage, but settled on the Bamboo Massage, which used heated bamboo rolling pins of different sizes to access deep tissue. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.
Checking out the Puppy Patch
Ojo Santa Fe had one major advantage over the summer camp of my youth: it came with puppies. The Puppy Patch was open daily each morning, where guests could play with puppies in a fenced-in yard to socialize the animals while providing a calming, restorative effect for us humans.
Ojo Santa Fe has fostered over 250 puppies for adoption through the Puppy Patch. At any given time, there are one to six puppies in residence. In the days I was there, three dogs found homes, and several new puppies arrived.
Feeding hens in the Chicken Chat
There was also a daily Chicken Chat, where guests and I — many in our bathrobes — sat among the flock on stools in an outdoor coop with 25 Silky chickens with names like Bok Choy. I fed a few grains out of my hand, though most were a bit skittish.
Going for hikes
Once we were acclimated to the altitude, we signed up for a guided morning group hike, which started with a drive to a trailhead about 25 minutes away, just outside of downtown Santa Fe.
We enjoyed a moderate, shaded hike, and we were so impressed, we signed up to do another trail the next day. Having a guide to take us on hikes was something we would have paid for; the fact that the guide and transportation were included was a big bonus.
Trying out archery
This same guide led target arts in the afternoon. It turns out archery is a lot harder than I remembered from kids’ camp. The guide did his best to help us hit the target once or twice.
Other things to do and winter activities
We did better with the air rifles. I have never shot anything and was squeamish at the thought of holding the thing, but soon took great satisfaction in making mincemeat of the paper targets.
Alas, ax throwing was not available due to construction.
Yoga and Pilates classes were also offered and required reservation, and there was a small gym with basic cardio and weight equipment. When I peeked inside, there was only one guest using it and he wasn’t wearing a mask. Since I can do all these things at home in Chicago, I opted to spend time doing outside activities instead.
It’s also worth noting that Ojo Santa Fe is a worthy place to design a winter camp, too. When snow makes hiking untenable, activities shift to feature snowboarding, cross country and downhill skiing, and interactive art experience at museums and galleries in the city.
Dining at Blue Heron restaurant
The resort had only one on-site dining option, the Blue Heron restaurant.
The menu featured a range of food skewing healthy-ish, but with plenty of variety. They did not serve hard alcohol, only wine, even in their cocktails, which I decided were not worth the calories or money.
The view overlooking the pond from the outdoor patio was stunning. Waiting for our food to arrive, I watched enormous carp lazily skim the water’s surface while an actual Blue Heron looked on from the branches of a nearby tree.
Ojo Santa Fe follows the CDC recommendations for COVID precautions. I saw all staff wearing masks indoors, 100% of the time. Hand sanitizer was readily available in public areas as well.
At the restaurant and spa, the staff wore masks outside, too. Prior to my massage, I had to answer health screening questions and keep my mask on throughout the treatment.
None of the guests wore masks at the bathing areas, and some outdoor activities, such as the Puppy Patch, required masks. Others, like target arts and the chicken chat, did not.
When indoors, guests were expected to wear masks in the spa and restaurant. Most followed the rules; some did not.
The bottom line
We loved the upscale, adult summer camp atmosphere and well-maintained grounds of Ojo Santa Fe.
Ojo Santa Fe is for people whose idea of a party is going for a hike, followed by a dip in a mineral bath, puppy playtime, and capping the day sitting by a fire. This is not for those seeking a rollicking stay.
If I were to go back with girlfriends, I would skip the casita and get a garden room since the extra space was nice, but not necessary, and lacked any views.
For those seeking to replicate the feeling of summer camp as an adult, Ojo Santa Fe offered a variety of all-inclusive outdoor activities with the amenities of an upscale spa for a stay that felt like I received a lot of value for the cost. I loved designing my own summer camp here and I’d gladly do it again in fall, winter, or spring, too.
COVID-19 tests are still given so everyone may cruise without social distancing or wearing a mask.
I traveled on Norwegian and felt so safe with the guidelines, I can’t wait to sail mask-free again.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
I’m an avid cruiser with dozens of sailings to my credit across multiple cruise lines. So, I was thrilled to be among a small group of media guests invited to join the first comeback cruise from a U.S. port with Norwegian Cruise Line on the Norwegian Encore, sailing from Seattle to Alaska.
I’ve sailed with NCL many times, but this one felt extra special as the cruise line made its long-awaited return to my home port of Seattle. This was also my first time cruising since COVID and I was curious to see whether I would feel safe enough to enjoy it.
NCL’s health and safety protocols are operating with reduced capacity and require all guests and crew to be fully vaccinated, with no exceptions. Still, guests must undergo rapid COVID testing on the day of embarkation, which not only reassured me but meant we could go mask-free while on the ship.
I loved sailing with these new protocols and can’t wait to sail mask-free with NCL again. Here’s what my experience was like.
Here’s what it was like to sail on Norwegian Cruise Line ship for vaccinated guests.
I arrived at the cruise port early because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to board with the new pre-cruise testing requirements. During the embarkation process, rapid antigen tests were administered and paid for by the cruise line. All I had to do was complete the online registration and show up a little earlier to allow time for test results to come through.
Pre-boarding COVID testing
A lengthy line led into the testing center, located within a conference room at a neighboring port hotel. But considering a few thousand people were getting tested on the same day, the experience was quite efficient and the test itself only took a minute.
I waited for my results in a crowded room of eager cruisers, but everyone wore masks so I wasn’t too worried about the large group.
Test results take anywhere between 15 minutes to two hours, depending on how many were being conducted at a given time. My own negative results came through about an hour after arrival.
Checking in to my stateroom
At check-in, I was surprised to find that there was no line. I walked right up to the desk, received my stateroom key, and immediately boarded. It was one of the fastest processes I’ve ever experienced on a cruise.
I was booked in a standard balcony stateroom on Deck 11, Forward, with approximately 300 square feet and one Queen bed. I dropped off my luggage and briefly met my cabin steward who noted rooms would be cleaned once per day. As expected, mine was already sparkling clean with a towel animal on the bed to greet me.
The pool deck
Next, I headed to where I always go first after boarding a cruise — the pool deck.
With a reduced capacity sailing, I was overjoyed to see there would be no rush to secure a lounge chair by the pool. Likewise, there were no waits to zip down the waterslide.
There were several pool options on the Norwegian Encore, including a splash pad dedicated to the children. However, due to the vaccine requirements, there were no small kids on my cruise.
Dining on board
With reduced capacity, there was never a wait to be seated at dining venues.
There were several free dining venues on Encore, in addition to a la carte specialty restaurants including Italian fare, traditional Mexican, a steakhouse, and fine French dining. There were also two options for outdoor seating and taco and pizza spots for quick bites.
And since everyone on board was vaccinated, guests were able to partake in the classic cruise buffet experience. The Garden Café buffet was easy to navigate with several food stations and the crew was always on hand to tidy spills and routinely replace utensils.
Celebrating missed milestones
On the first full day of sailing, the buffet served a special lunch to help guests celebrate all the milestones and celebrations missed during the pandemic.
There were stations dedicated to anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s, graduation, and more.
While guests don’t need to wear masks, even at indoor venues, the crew consistently wore them. The crew must also be vaccinated, but this extra layer of safety seemed to put some guests at ease.
It was wonderful to see how happy the crew were to be back to work. They put a smile on my face every day, whether it was hearing them sing their “washy washy” song by the sanitizer stations or creating cute towel animals in my stateroom every day.
Also included within the cruise fare was an endless list of entertainment options, like The Choir of Man musical on the main stage, in addition to variety and comic performances, interactive game shows such as “Deal or No Deal,” and social mixers like trivia, karaoke, and dance lessons.
Activities at sea
Add-on activities were available for an additional fee, including virtual reality in the Galaxy Pavilion, Norwegian Encore Speedway — the largest racetrack at sea — and wellness offerings at Mandara Spa.
While massages are always a nice treat, I opted for a weekly spa pass to use the therapy pool circuit and dipped into a rejuvenating body temperature pool every day after returning from port.
In port: Ketchikan, Alaska
During my sailing, NCL unveiled a new port just outside of Ketchikan, Alaska. During the ribbon-cutting at The Mill at Ward Cove, local tribal members joined the celebration and guests seemed to really love the new facility, which offered quick access to area attractions like Tongass National Forest.
While masks weren’t required on the ship, they were required while visiting Alaskan ports
However, for those who wanted to go into downtown Ketchikan, the shuttle bus system was quite time-consuming.
Guests were required to first receive a ticket for the shuttle, then wait to board, and then take the drive into town, and then endure a lengthy wait to return, all of which ate up valuable port time. This was really the only time I saw people clustered together.
In port: Icy Strait Point
In Icy Strait Point, passengers were able to spread out a bit more thanks to a new free gondola ride that transports guests across the destination, from port shops to the zipline and museum attractions.
The local staff made sure to limit how many people boarded each gondola, so there were never more than four people on each ride during my visit.
In Icy Strait Point, I actually spotted Harry Sommer, the president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. He was there with his family, enjoying the sights and celebrating the latest developments of this cruise port like any other guest.
The return of cruising
I wasn’t at all surprised to see Harry Sommer enjoying the cruise with his family, as I knew he was aboard the Encore to celebrate the comeback cruise. I even had a chance to sit down with him for a few minutes where he shared his excitement about returning to cruising. Sommer had already sailed with the Greek cruise comeback, but his wife insisted they enjoy the Alaska cruise, too.
How much it costs to cruise
A weeklong cruise to Alaska with NCL starts as low as $399 per person and includes meals in three different dining rooms, the buffet, and 24-hour pub fare, and daily entertainment.
On this reduced capacity sailing, there was never a wait for anything, whether in the spa, on the pool deck, or even in the casino.
And, with staggered entry and exit at ports of call, there wasn’t the usual mad rush to get off the ship. There was some crowding in ports, but mostly due to a shuttle system that could use improvements.
Mostly, though, I loved sailing on a 100% vaccinated cruise. I felt confident in NCL’s health protocols, and safe knowing that everyone around me was vaccinated and tested negative prior to boarding. Most of all, I appreciated that I could enjoy going mask-free without lines or venue restrictions.
I’ve heard of no COVID cases on my sailing, either. That doesn’t guarantee that no cases happened, but to my knowledge, none were discovered. In fact, the only NCL cruise that has reported a positive case was one where a vaccinated guest tested positive prior to the cruise and therefore couldn’t board.
Finally, right now is a great time to sail with fewer crowds and many deals, including discounts on purchases made on the ship.
I simply can’t wait to book my next mask-free cruise.
Now! Norwegian Cruise Line first returned to sailing in the Greek Isles this summer, while their first cruise from a U.S. port in over 500 days started in Seattle in August 2021 to relaunch the Alaska cruise season. The first sailings to relaunch from Los Angeles will take place in October 2021 aboard the Norwegian Bliss.
Will Norwegian Cruise Lines require a COVID vaccine?
Yes, Norwegian Cruise Line is sailing with a 100% vaccination requirement for crew and guests, no exceptions. While that means younger kids who don’t yet qualify for vaccination aren’t able to sail quite yet, it does mean guests are assured that all fellow passengers are completely vaccinated.
Ships have also been fitted with medical-grade air filtration systems and are constantly cleaned and sanitized. A dedicated Public Health Officer oversees each sailing to ensure no suspicious sniffle goes undiagnosed.
I’m vaccinated. Do I still have to take a COVID test before sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line?
Yes, in addition to the 100% vaccination policy, all NCL guests must currently take a pre-cruise COVID test on the day of embarkation. This test is administered and paid for by the cruise line, so passengers won’t have to make their own arrangements or spend extra money. Rapid tests are conducted at the port, prior to boarding.
My kids aren’t vaccinated. Can they cruise with me?
Since the policy prohibits minors who aren’t yet eligible for vaccines to sail, only vaccinated children can cruise right now. The youngest cruisers I noticed during my cruise were tweens and teens.
Are masks required on board Norwegian Cruise Line?
At no point aboard the ship are passengers required to wear masks. The vaccination and testing requirement combined means guests can enjoy all parts of the ship without social distancing or wearing a mask.
However, when visiting ports of call, passengers will need to follow local health guidelines, including mask mandates where applicable.
How else is NCL ensuring guest safety aboard their cruises?
Norwegian Cruise Line has a new, staggered embarkation process to streamline check-in and get passengers on their way to vacation fun faster than ever. Boarding documentation is handled electronically to speed up the process and reduce touch points.
On board, guests will enjoy a reduced capacity sailing, which means there’s never a wait for the water slides or finding loungers by the pool. Reservations for specialty restaurants are all done electronically, too, with the Cruise Norwegian App, which is free for everyone to use, no internet required.
Is Encore the newest ship from Norwegian Cruise Line?
Norwegian Bliss debuted in April 2018 and then Norwegian Encore first set sail in November 2019 as the newest ship, right before the pandemic hit.
The next ship to debut from NCL is Norwegian Prima, which will start its inaugural celebrations in late 2022 before home porting in Galveston, Texas for the 2023 and 2024 season. Tony Award-nominated musical “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” will be the headlining show for Norwegian Prima, and ports of call will include Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan Island, Honduras; and Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s private island destination in Belize.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Carmel and Monterey are two charming towns on California’s coast amid the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur.
Both towns have many hotels, from a romantic B&B to a family-friendly stay next to the aquarium.
These are the best hotels you can book in both Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
There are just four miles between Monterey and Carmel-by-the Sea, but each of these charming California towns has its own distinct allure drawing families, couples, golfers, and travelers of all stripes.
Monterey is home to a famous aquarium and Cannery Row, the once rugged avenue made famous by John Steinbeck that is now populated with quirky stores and seafood restaurants serving up plates of local calamari and crab.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a former artist colony where luminaries like photographer Ansel Adams, author Beverly Cleary, and actors Doris Day and Clint Eastwood all once lived. In fact, Clint was once the mayor. Now, the village is filled with charming boutiques, wine shops, intimate restaurants, and world-famous golf in adjacent Pebble Beach.
Each has its own appeal and so do the choices for local accommodations. The best hotels in Monterey and Carmel range from bed-and-breakfasts poised for romance to family-friendly hotels next to the Aquarium, and a 500-acre ranch in the valley.
Browse all of the best Carmel and Monterey hotels below, or jump to a specific area:
The relaxed romantic style of the Spindrift is ideal for couples with 45 rooms and suites, most of which boast ocean views. See if you can spot local sea life like seals and otters with the help of in-room binoculars.
Standard rooms are the Cannery Row Kings, which overlook the legendary street made famous by John Steinbeck. The Ocean View Kings are my pick for their cozy window seats or private balconies that offer a prime perch over the water. Whichever you choose, you’ll enjoy tastefully decorated accommodations with a subtle European vibe of rich brocades, dark wood furniture, and hues of sage green and dusty rose. All rooms include a wood-burning fireplace as well.
Breakfast is included in every stay and is the only real amenity offered. Start each day with fruits, cereal, bread, juice, and coffee, which are delivered to your room on a silver platter. In the afternoon, the hotel hosts a wine and cheese reception.
Hotel Abrego is an affordable, clean, comfortable option in downtown Monterey. Since it is located away from the waterfront, it is less busy and far cheaper than its closer counterparts. Of course, you won’t have those beautiful bay views, and Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row are about a 40-minute walk, so keep that in mind when booking.
If you don’t mind the distance, the entry-level Deluxe Rooms are spacious, though relatively basic. For about $10 more, upgrade to a Deluxe Room with a fireplace for a bit more ambiance, or go up to the next tier, the Premier Room, which has a balcony or patio.
The hotel’s public spaces have a Craftsman-style aesthetic and there’s a large heated swimming pool and hot tub. The restaurant, Bistro Abrego, serves California cuisine for dinner and will soon be offering breakfast.
There are several dining options nearby as well as a Pete’s Coffee and a Trader Joe’s.
Right in the heart of Cannery Row, Monterey’s iconic tourist area, and along with the InterContinental, the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is one of the most popular hotels in the area. The hotel is built over the water, which offers incredible views of the ocean and Monterey Bay.
The hotel rooms have a simple, clean, contemporary style in soothing hues of beige, tan, and cream. Standard rooms have street views, so upgrade for a higher tier to enjoy ocean, bay, or harbor views, as well as private balconies or fireplaces. The best splurge is a suite, which ranges from 700 to 2,100 square feet and comes with a hot tub, a sun deck, and ocean views.
The rooftop spa is not to be missed, with two hot tubs framed by water views. The fitness center is well equipped with Peloton bikes and staff members are on hand to create personalized itineraries for your visit.
If you plan on spending the majority of your visit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this is the best hotel to choose as it’s right next door.
And when you go back at the end of the day, you’ll have plenty to do with a pool, fitness center, and restaurant all on-site, which are far more amenities than most in the area. The hotel also has its own pier and boardwalk, which gives guests an unobstructed view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
There are 120 rooms and suites, done up in the chic, contemporary style that you’d expect from the higher-end Intercontinental brand with comfortable beds and nice bathrooms. For ocean views, balconies, and fireplaces, you’ll need to pay extra, in some cases twice as much as the entry-level rooms, though they are a good bit larger.
The outdoor pool and spa are popular with families and are a big perk for those with water-loving kids. The courtyard also has fire pits and is a nice place to relax on chilly evenings.
The Old Monterey Inn is a traditional bed and breakfast housed within an old 1920s English Tudor mansion in the heart of Monterey. This romantic inn, which has been welcoming guests since 1978, even secured a place in Patricia Schulz’s “1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List.” Intimate and quiet, it isn’t a place for families, but rather, is a destination for couples looking for a special getaway.
Charming guest rooms are homey and elegant with oversized worn leather chairs, European-inspired linens, and an eclectic array of antiques. Rooms range from the Brighstone Suite that overlooks the garden with a stately fireplace and soaking tub in the living room to the Library Suite that includes floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a rustic stone fireplace, and a quaint patio.
Each morning, guests can enjoy homemade breakfast in the dining room or in the privacy of their own room. Follow with a stroll through the lush English garden dotted with places to sit and relax.
In the evening, nightly cheese and hors d’oeuvres are served by candlelight next to a roaring fireplace, paired with house wines from local vintners. There is also a spa for facials and massages.
The Cypress Inn is famous for two things, Doris Day and dogs. The Hollywood star was once the co-owner of this charming Mediterranean-inspired hotel built in 1929 that’s been a long-time friend of furry family members.
Old-school charm oozes throughout the property with vaulted ceilings, wood beams, and colorful Spanish tiles. An airy garden courtyard serves as a welcome oasis from the busy sidewalks of town.
Standard rooms are handsomely decorated with dark wood furniture but are admittedly small and boxy. Deluxe rooms and suites offer far more character with wood-beamed ceilings, fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, and ocean views.
The hotel is dog-friendly so you’ll see canines of all shapes and sizes walking around the grounds, halls, and even in the restaurant. A continental breakfast buffet is included in the stay, and in the evenings, a locally sourced menu is served along with live music. Finish with complimentary cream sherry, fresh fruit, and snacks.
La Playa Carmel, conveniently located two blocks from the beach and the village’s main street, has 75 remodeled rooms that are attractively designed with a beach cottage vibe in mind through wood shutters and wicker furniture. Upgraded rooms include ocean views, private patios, and fireplaces for a more comfortable stay.
The guest rooms surround the hotel’s well-kept grounds that include gardens, patio areas, and a large swimming pool, which is a rarity in town.
A daily champagne breakfast buffet is served with fruit, pastries, cheeses, and hot entrees in the library overlooking the Pacific, and for an evening cocktail and snacks, head to the bar for drinks in a cozy bohemian-inspired atmosphere.
The Tradewinds is an ideal spot for a tranquil, quiet stay that’s still close to the restaurants and shops of Carmel-by-the-Sea but feels like you’re off the beaten path.
There are just 28 rooms, each with Asian-inspired decor sourced from Bali, Japan, and China, including Kimona Balinese robes made specifically for Tradewinds. The rooms are plush with goose-down feather beds, jetted bathtubs, and gas fireplaces. While big on comfort, they’re small in stature and only suited for two people.
A private courtyard invites guests to relax in a lushly landscaped mediation Zen garden filled with tall bamboo, tropical plants, a fountain, and a fire pit. Breakfast of coffee, juice, fruit, and baked goods are included each morning in any stay.
The L’Auberge Carmel, a Relais & Châteaux luxury property, is located in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, four blocks from the beach and near all the shopping and dining that Carmel is known for.
Originally built in 1929, the intimate hotel has a distinct European elegance, and feels like the kind of inn you’d find it in a small town in the South of France.
Each of the hotel’s 20 guest rooms are individually designed with antiques, lush fabrics, and unique touches. Standard rooms are small but well-appointed with French windows and many rooms have four-poster beds, draperies, and connect to a beautiful courtyard.
Thoughtful perks include fresh baked cookies in the afternoon, free valet parking, and breakfast served in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Aubergine. For dinner, a splurge on a meal in the lauded restaurant is well worth it, for the signature tasting menu that includes eight courses of seasonally inspired dishes (at $205 per person).
The Carmel Valley Ranch is part of the Unbound Collection By Hyatt, a roster of upscale properties offering sumptuous stays in one-of-a-kind destinations. Sprawling over 500 acres, The Carmel Valley Ranch is so much more than just a place to sleep with a wide array of activities ranging from animal meet-and-greets to archery, falconry, and beekeeping.
There are also three salt-water pools with hot tubs, a generous selection of fitness classes, and a Pete Dye-designed golf course.
Every room is a suite, starting with studios up to one to four-bedroom suites. Each has a fireplace, a private deck, and starts at 650 square feet. Larger options include kitchens and have dreamy outdoor bathtubs with vineyard views.
The ranch welcomes dogs, pampering them with their own beds and room service menu, and there are plenty of hiking opportunities at the Ranch.
When is the best time to visit Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea?
Due to the moderate weather in Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, it is comfortable to visit any time of the year. Some of the hotels don’t have air conditioning, so the summer can be a bit hot. The summer is also the hardest time to secure a hotel room reservation since that is when families are most likely to be visiting and the area is at its busiest.
Which hotels allow dogs?
The area’s hotels are generally dog-friendly. La Playa Carmen, the Cypress Inn, The Tradewinds, L’Auberge Carmel, Carmel Valley Ranch, and the InterContinental the Clement Monterey all allow pets. Standouts include the Cypress Inn, which was a pioneer in pet-friendly lodgings, and Carmel Valley Ranch which offers dog beds and a special room service menu just for dogs.
Which Carmel or Monterey hotel is best for couples?
The central California coast is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway and many of these properties cater to couples. For honeymoons, anniversaries, or just any given weekend, the L’Auberge Carmel, Spindrift Inn, and the Old Monterey Inn are particularly alluring for adults.
Is it safe to stay in hotels?
At this time, the CDC states that domestic travel is safe if you are fully vaccinated. While the vaccination rates vary by location, the unvaccinated should continue to take extra precautions, including those 12 and under who aren’t yet able to be vaccinated.
It is advisable that all travelers should continue to follow the CDC and local guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing, and using hand sanitizing.
All of the hotels that we’ve included in this list have cleaning protocols for the guest room and the public spaces to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
How we selected the best hotels in Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea
As a San Francisco native, the Carmel and Monterey areas have been a destination for my family since I was a child. As an adult, I try to visit as often as I can and am very familiar with the following hotels for their location, charm, comfortable rooms, and access to unique experiences and amenities.
Each hotel or resort is located in an area of interest either by the main tourist areas or, in the case of the Carmel Valley Ranch, on a 500-acre property.
Many of the hotels boast comfortable, spacious rooms and can accommodate families while a few have cozy and intimate rooms that are perfect for a couple’s getaway.
Hotels are considered three-stars and up and hold a Trip Advisor rating of four or above with significant, honest recent reviews.
The hotels have good on-site amenities such as pools, free breakfasts, and perks that guests will enjoy.
The hotels promote stringent COVID-19 policies to prioritize the health and safety of all guests, which we’ve noted for each hotel where available below.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Tulum is a design and gastronomy mecca on a turquoise beach overseen by ancient Mayan ruins.
Tulum hotels push the limits of beauty and design but some come with astonishingly high prices.
We compiled highly-rated Tulum hotels that are also affordable, ranging from $128 to $669 per night.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Two hours south of Cancun, Tulum is one of Mexico’s hottest destinations. Nestled in the stunning Riviera Maya, this jungle-embedded city offers gentle Caribbean waters, lush jungles, ancient ruins, standout design, and plentiful hotels to showcase it all.
I spent three months living in Tulum and the best hotels range from spiritual centers and hostels to luxury and boutique hideaways. All proudly boast the Tulum aesthetic of natural wood and leafy palms and make it easy to soak up the sun, admire the ruins of Coba, or go cenote-hopping in swimming holes scattered within the jungle.
While most Tulum hotel prices can reach astronomical levels, we found beautiful and accessible Tulum hotels that don’t skimp on comfort, beauty, or amenities.
Browse all the best Tulum hotels below or jump to a specific area here:
The Aloft Tulum is one of the largest hotels in Tulum that offers the signature style of a Marriott hotel from their hip, colorful Aloft brand. It also offers many comforts that are hard to come by in Tulum, like industrial-strength air-conditioning and contemporary hotel rooms (that won’t cost a fortune). The hotel is located halfway between the city center and the beach zone, which means it’s a slightly shorter ride to the beach than from other hotels in town, but you can get there by bicycle or cab.
The Aloft has a bar space designed for live music, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a restaurant, and two pools. There’s a family-friendly pool on the ground level, but the adults-only rooftop infinity pool is the highlight with stunning views over the jungle canopy.
Rooms are modern and spacious with bright colors, natural textures, and amenities like smart TVs and Marshall speakers. The polished style may not suit all types of Tulum-bound travelers, but for anyone dreading bugs and humidity, it’s a comfortable, affordable place to stay.
In a quiet section of Aldea Zama, tucked between the beach and city center, Copal has apartment-style accommodations that are great for families and large groups.
The hotel has a polished jungle-inspired design with bamboo and natural wood finishes. Rooms feel new and modern with stainless steel appliances and smart TVs, and the most basic offering is similar to a standard hotel room but with a kitchenette. Larger rooms like the Studio Jungle Terrace have living spaces and kitchens, and there are also multi-bedroom suites with a private rooftop and ground-floor pool.
Behind the hotel and through the restaurant, you’ll find a pathway to a small public cenote. It’s not as large as others in the area, and can sometimes get crowded, but it’s nice to visit for a quick and easy dip.
In Tulum’s super-polished Aldea Zama neighborhood, Orchid House is a quiet hotel with a serene nature-inspired design. As you enter the lobby, you’ll first notice the interior garden with tropical plants and a small footbridge for a photo opportunity. Upstairs, the pool bar is the hotel’s main attraction, with a classy take on in-pool seating so you can sip on a juice or cocktail without ever getting out of the pool.
Throughout the hotel, a light and airy color scheme reflect the natural environment, while intricate details and antique furniture add a touch of luxury to this bohemian chic 10-room hotel.
Each room features a wood-carved door, a plush King-sized bed, and a private terrace with a small plunge pool. For more space, Jungle Suites have terraces large enough for a hammock, and the Master Suites, which also have two additional twin-sized beds, have plunge pools that overlook the jungle.
Make sure to have at least one meal in the signature nest, a dining booth on top of the hotel with an interrupted view across the treetops all the way out into the horizon.
There are a lot of glamping options in Tulum, but Nativus offers premium accommodations with access to a natural crystalline cenote.
From the main area of the hotel, you’ll find tents, a small restaurant, and a winding jungle path that will take you to the huge El Cenote Encantada, an open cenote where you can swim, kayak, and paddleboard. The cenote is not private, but it’s hard to reach and find if you’re not accessing it through a local business, so it doesn’t get very crowded.
Every tent has a plush bed and its own outdoor bathroom, which is beautifully decorated with natural materials and has a private outdoor rainfall shower.
This hotel is located at the end of the beach road, right before the entrance to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve National Reserve, so you can indulge in more adventurous jungle experiences without compromising on proximity to the beach.
Located on the north end of Tulum’s beach road, which is closest to the entrance of the ruins, Ikal is a lively, hip spot that offers community events like Brazilian capoeira lessons, yoga, spiritual lectures, and eclectic live music. It is also an extremely kid-friendly hotel with weekly events designed especially for children relating to yoga, music, and art.
Although restaurant visitors are welcome to use the day beds on the beach, the pool is for guests only. There are a large variety of accommodation types from spacious and air-conditioned glamping tents with shared bathrooms to beautiful jungle suites with private plunge pools, outdoor showers, thatched walls, and eye-catching furniture that look like they were magically summoned from the depths of the jungle.
All rooms are unique but Cabaña 8 stands out with its huge macrame entryway that really tells you everything you need to know about Ikal’s dedication to a bohemian aesthetic.
La Zebra has a top-rated reputation for a fun ambiance, great service, chic rooms, and great beach access.
The hotel has six different categories of rooms from basic Garden Rooms to beachfront suites with balconies and plunge pools. Rooms offer a harmony of natural beach tones and traditional textures that skips the flashy or industrial touches of other Tulum hotels. However, all rooms are still sophisticated and families will appreciate the suites, which come with one King-sized bed and two single beds.
The beach area offers plenty of space to spread out on shaded daybeds. There is also a small spa and a restaurant with unique tabletops that pay homage to famous works of Mexican art.
For epicurean guests, the restaurant also serves an eight-course Chef’s Table experience that pairs artisanal cocktails, beers, and wine with Mexican gastronomy in a special dining room decorated with Mexican antiques.
Hidden in the less busy part of the Tulum city center, this adults-only hotel has loft-style villas with living rooms and private plunge pools. The lofts are beautiful, filled with natural textures and a dark color scheme, all in what feels like your own private corner of the jungle.
The shared hotel space is also sophisticated and calming with Mexican culture woven into every element of the hotel’s design. Special features include an agave garden and an ofrenda, or altar, decorated with black and white photographs and skulls.
The location is far from the beach, but parking is free if you rent a car. The common areas are lively, thanks to the inviting restaurant and bar with billiards and a stone fire pit. The main pool has a fantastic design, fringed with lounge areas that have been sectioned off so you can enjoy a bit of privacy with your toes just inches from the water.
Hotel Bardo also offers many immersive experiences, like sunset intention-setting rituals, temezcal ceremonies, sound healing, and yoga. It may be a long journey to the ocean, but you’ll enjoy a rejuvenating and aesthetically pleasing stay that encompasses all the reasons why people come to Tulum.
Located on the south end of the beach, Nômade is a dreamy resort where meandering pathways lead you through a jungle with thatched roof villas, treehouses, a yoga shala, a gathering nest, and a meditation tent. Each week the hotel offers a variety of programming from spiritual seminars, live music, tea and cacao ceremonies, and yoga. On the beach, there is a restaurant with seating areas, daybeds, and scattered hammocks shaded by swaying palm trees.
Accommodations range from boho-chic suites to deluxe glamping tents and whimsical treehouses. Perched up in the jungle canopy, those treehouses are artistic and intimate with bathrooms and air conditioning. As you walk up the winding staircase, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into your own private oasis, far away from any disturbances.
Though from the city center, there are plenty of posh places to eat and shop nearby while avoiding the more boisterous bars and party hotspots, and the beachfront location can’t be beaten.
At Be Tulum, a lush entry includes tall leafy palms and meandering paths that lead to a stunning oceanfront, for what feels like a remote island oasis.
Rooms are modern but embrace natural elements and colors with a variety of jungle suites and oceanfront villas with multiple bedrooms, rooftop terraces, and private pools. Rooms at Be Tulum feature so many stand-out design pieces, you’ll want to take them home with you, like the cubical tree log nightstand or embroidered pillows.
The hotel’s spa, the Yaän Healing Sanctuary, is one of the main reasons to stay here. It offers a variety of indigenous-inspired treatments from healing rituals to more traditional body treatments like massages, facials, and herbal baths. You can also arrange to join a temezcal ceremony and there is daily yoga in the treetop studio.
Not every room has a private pool, but all guests can enjoy the beach club with two great restaurants, one which is dedicated to seafood and the other that serves elevated Mexican cuisine using ingredients from a sustainable garden.
On what’s normally considered a busy strip, this small luxury boutique hotel offers a calm peaceful atmosphere with just eight rooms and one restaurant dedicated to its guests.
Although it does not offer the wide range of amenities or “scene” you’ll find on other beachside hotels, it has plenty of space on the beach with inviting chairs and umbrellas, and great service from the front desk and restaurant staff. Ordering a drink or plate of guacamole to your beach chair is as easy as sending a text.
Each room has air conditioning, luscious beds, and a spacious bathroom with an open shower. When you’re not lounging on the beach, relax on the front porch with a hammock and two chairs, and rinse off sandy feet in the seashell water basin. Not all rooms have ocean views, but they’re just steps from the beach no matter which room you get.
Encantada’s design scheme is nowhere near as flashy as other Tulum hotels but is still rich in beautiful details like the large macrame wall-hanging in the entrance or the blue stained glass windows in the hallway between the bedroom and bathroom.
Tulum is about 80 miles from the Cancun airport and it takes about two hours to drive there along the main highway. If you don’t rent your own car, you can either take a cab or car service to Tulum, or you can take the ADO bus for a more affordable option.
What is the best way to get around Tulum?
There are many taxis in Tulum, but prices can be quite high especially on a busy night. Alternatively, bicycles are very popular and there is a safe bike path that connects the city center to the hotel zone.
How far is the city center from the beach?
Because much of Tulum is still protected land, there is a lot of jungle between the hotel zone on the beach and the city center. The road from the center to the beach is 2.5 miles long. Without traffic, it takes about eight minutes to drive and 15 to 20 minutes to bike. If you’re considering walking, that will take you at least 45 minutes.
Which is the best side of the beach to visit?
When you reach the beach, you’ll notice that you can go left or right. It is easy to visit both sides in one trip, but you’ll find that it will be difficult to access the beach on the south side without paying an entry fee to one of the pricey beach clubs or having a meal at one of the hotel restaurants. Meanwhile, the north side of the beach has public access and is also closer to the Mayan ruins.
Where should I stay when visiting Tulum?
If you want to make the most of your time in the water, you should select a hotel on the main beach road but be aware that this will also come with a hefty price tag unless you choose glamping accommodations. There are many places to stay in the main town, but you will need to take a cab or rent a bike to get to the beach.
What are the best hotels in Tulum?
Our list is a 50/50 split between the best Tulum hotels near the beach and non-beach options since the beach hotels can be very expensive and there are other attractions that lure visitors beyond just the sand.
We picked the best hotels that represent a variety of lodging styles, budgets, and experiences. Additionally, we looked for strict COVID policies to protect the health and safety of guests, and not every well-regarded hotel in Tulum takes these measures seriously. We also considered amenities such as yoga shalas, beach clubs, spas, and special access to well-hidden cenotes, which are natural swimming holes that are a defining characteristic of the Yucatan region of Mexico.
Tulum also has many hotels that are famous around the world that we did not include, such as Casa Malca, which was also the former home of Pablo Escobar, and Azulik, which is known for its beautiful rooms that are more like works of art, and is the most expensive hotel in Tulum. However, we opted to not include these hotels in our list of the best hotels in Tulum because they are prohibitively expensive for most people.
To see the famous “Come to the Light” sculpture that depicts a towering female figure ripping open her chest, which is filled with lush green plants, you can visit Ahau Tulum. The Papaya Playa Project is another popular hotel that is well-known for its restaurant and community events, and one we considered.
Tulum is one of the most expensive destinations in Mexico and travelers will pay premium prices for hotels right on the beach since that is the best location to be in Tulum. In the city center, there are more budget-friendly options, as well as Airbnb vacation rentals, and hostels, but you will be far from the beach.
During the low season, between late spring and fall, you can expect to pay at least $130 per night on a hotel in the city center or at least $200 for a hotel on the beach (unless you’re glamping). During the high season, which starts in November and lasts until March, hotels in town will likely raise their rates above $200 per night, and hotels on the beach can charge as much as $1,000 per night. The most expensive time of year is around Christmas and New Year’s.
What is a temezcal ceremony?
Many hotels may offer a temezcal ceremony on-site. This traditional Mexican ceremony is a cleansing ritual purported to have many health benefits. It requires sitting in a small domelike structure in which rocks are heated to raise the temperature and cause you to sweat. It is usually combined with some kind of meditation and is followed by a cold shower. Because it takes some time to prepare, the ceremony is usually only offered a few times per week.
Is Tulum beach swimmable?
The water in Tulum beach is very clear and the waves are extremely gentle. It’s very swimmable, however, the beach occasionally suffers from sargasso seaweed invasions. Most hotels employ teams to clean up the seaweed in the morning, but you still might encounter it as you swim. It can be very unpleasant, but the problem is an issue all along the Riviera Maya and throughout the Caribbean.
What are the different neighborhoods in Tulum?
Aside from the beach zone, which is split into the north and south side, there are many neighborhoods in Tulum.
The city center is where most locals live and where you’ll find lively restaurants and a shopping scene. Aldea Zama is a highly-polished gated community, which is more like a small suburb within Tulum. La Veleta is another community slightly further from the beach than Aldea Zama, where there are luxury apartments but there is still a lot of construction. Villas is a very small local neighborhood that is quiet and although there are no hotels here, you might be able to find a vacation rental.
Is it better to stay in Tulum Town or the beach?
It depends on your budget and what you plan to do. The beach is beautiful, but on top of the high nightly hotel rates, you will spend a lot of money at pricey bars and restaurants. However, if you want to spend every day at the beach, you’re better off staying in the beach zone since high taxi prices from the center of town will end up being just as expensive.
If you’re more set on visiting ruins, exploring cenotes, and taking day trips, you’ll save money on lodging and dining by staying in town, away from the beach.
How we selected the best Tulum hotels
I’m personally familiar with many of the hotels on this list and researched all extensively.
All hotels are highly rated by past guests on trusted travel sites such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com
To keep things reasonable but also call out some stand-out properties, I looked for a variety of price points under $700 per night to start. During the high season, between December and February, nightly rates are likely to rise way above this number.
I looked for hotels with standout amenities and impressive design, from quiet beaches and cenotes to wellness offerings and community events.
Hotels were chosen in a variety of neighborhoods including and beyond the main beach road.
All hotels have new COVID-19 policies in place to prioritize the health and safety of guests.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Camping isn’t your only option when visiting Yosemite National Park, there are many hotels, too.
From a luxury resort to a retro Airstream or a cozy cabin, there are lots of hotels near Yosemite.
We found the best Yosemite hotels with tons of activities, beautiful scenery, and easy park access.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
A trip to a national park might conjure images of tents, sleeping bags, and bugs, but that doesn’t have to be the case, especially when planning a visit to Yosemite National Park.
Sure, you could rough it with a camping trip, but for those who yearn for a more elevated experience, there are plenty of hotels in or near Yosemite ranging from a quirky refurbished Airstream to full-on luxury.
As a native San Franciscan who lives about a four-hour drive away from Yosemite, I try to visit the park as often as I can. Since I am not much of a camper, I always choose from the following hotels, which come with comfortable rooms, stunning views, loads of activities, and perhaps most importantly, easy park access.
Keep reading for my picks of the best hotels in or near Yosemite’s five park entrances.
Browse all of the best hotels near Yosemite National Park below, or jump to a specific area:
Located just two miles from Yosemite National Park’s South Gate and amid the Sierra National Forest, the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is ideally situated near the park with much to offer families, especially.
Beyond the large Lodge, which has over 300 rooms, there are three outdoor swimming pools, including a kid’s pool and an adults-only relaxation pool. There’s also an indoor swimming pool for colder months, and tons of activities, ranging from a kid’s adventure course and a rock-climbing wall to a variety of games, play areas, and ice skating and sledding in winter. There is also a tour service, at an additional charge, that guarantees entry into the national park.
The AAA Four-Diamond hotel has a variety of different lodging types including Lodge rooms, suites, cottage rooms, and stand-alone cabins. Standard rooms in the Lodge are about 350 square feet and feature rustic wood furniture and pine barn doors.
Cottage rooms have outdoor sitting areas and fireplaces, while the 560-square-foot, two-bedroom cabin Explorer Cabins come with a separate living room, a private deck, and the most privacy and space.
For a stay immersed in the wilderness but with more luxury than you’ll find in a sleeping bag, Autocamp Yosemite offers a fun take on glamping with sleek accommodations that include luxury tents, Airstreams, and tiny homes.
Luxury canvas tents feature a King-size memory foam bed, a futon, electric blankets, a heater, mini-refrigerator, sofa, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor fire pit, though restrooms and showers are shared.
For a bit more privacy, opt for their Classic Airstream Suites, housed within polished, retro aluminum trailers that have a bedroom with a Queen bed in luxury linens, a futon for extra sleeping space, rain showers, a kitchenette, and a private patio with a fire pit and dining area.
If you’re coming with a large crew, you can choose the Premium BaseCamp Mini Suite, which features a 31-foot custom-designed Airstream Suite as well as a custom TeePee with two extra child-sized Twin beds.
There’s a cafe on-site, though offerings are limited, likely because all accommodations come with cookware, plates, and utensils for guests to prepare their own meals (just remember to arrive with all the ingredients you’ll need). A general store is also available to purchase charcuterie fixings, BBQ-ready meats, as well as beer and wine.
For socializing, Autocamp has a midcentury-inspired clubhouse with a fireplace, board games, and happy hour. They also offer yoga classes, live music, and wine tastings.
The Wawona is a quaint, historic hotel on the southern end of Yosemite National Park. It originally opened in 1856 and now consists of six whitewashed Victorian-style buildings with antique furnishings that make it feel as if you stepped back in time. Musical performances in the lounge add to the atmospheric ambiance.
Room decor keeps with the Victorian aesthetic through faux antique white and wood furniture and floral draperies. Most open onto a large veranda with Adirondack chairs, and about half of the Wawona’s guest rooms include a private bathroom Those without utilize nearby shared facilities that include showers, sinks, and toilets. Additionally, all rooms don’t have TVs, telephones, or Wi-Fi, so this is a place for those looking to disconnect.
This hotel is also seasonal; this year it closes on November 29 and opens again on March 25, 2022.
The Rush Creek Lodge is the newest addition to the Yosemite lodging scene joining its sister property, The Evergreen. Located just half a mile from Yosemite’s Highway 120 West entrance, the Rush Creek Lodge consists of 143 hillside villas, lodge rooms, and suites spread throughout the 20-acre property.
All rooms include private balconies overlooking the surrounding forest and have clean, modern, and simple layouts and furnishings, accented by large format photography of area nature and wildlife. Rooms do not have televisions but are supplied with a radio and a variety of games. If you don’t want to miss the big game, there is a big screen TV in the resort’s tavern.
The Rush Creek Lodge is particularly fitting for families since they offer an eclectic array of activities for kids of all ages. There is a one-of-a-kind nature-oriented playground with a zip line, a 60-foot hillside slide, and a rope swing in addition to crafts and programming.
Adults will appreciate the spa area that has a mineral hot tub, warm river rock loungers, and plenty of lounge chairs.
The Lodge also offers a variety of tours and events for an extra fee, from guided hikes, yoga, an introduction to glass blowing to whitewater rafting.
Located near Yosemite Falls, The Yosemite Valley Lodge is a popular choice for those looking for a centrally located place to stay within the national park.
Yosemite Valley Lodge feels more like a motel than a lodge but is a top pick for its unbeatable location and the fact that it costs about half the price of the Ahwahnee, which is one of the other popular hotels inside of Yosemite National Park.
Traditional Rooms are basic but possess a rustic flair with sturdy wood furniture and nature photography on the walls. These entry-level rooms are suitable for up to three people. If you need more room, Family Rooms and Bunk Rooms have extra space to spread out. Some rooms have balconies and patios, which are a nice perk. However, there is no air conditioning in any accommodation, which may be uncomfortable in hotter summer months.
On-site dining is offered with a casual cafeteria-type vibe.
Staying at the Evergreen Lodge is akin to being away at a summer camp with rustic cabins and activities galore. There are 88 cabins sprinkled across the 20-acre property located nine miles away from Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat entrance.
All come with private balconies, and cabins range from cozy offerings for two to family cabins that can sleep six. The standard Deluxe Cabin is 400 square feet with a King-size bed, a Queen-size pull out sofa, and a gas fireplace.
The hotel can also set up tents for those who want more of a camping experience ($120 to $155 a night).
During the day, sign up for nature crafts, family hikes, forest disc golf, and a variety of games, while and in the evenings, join s’mores by the fire, stargazing, and campfire sing-alongs. Live entertainment and a variety of lectures are also offered.
The Ahwahnee is a stunning example of the National Park Service’s historic hotels and lodging. This grand hotel, located within Yosemite National Park, opened in 1927 and has been a sought-after destination ever since. Presidents, royalty, and movie stars have all stayed here while visiting the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite.
The striking hotel offers a luxurious oasis in the middle of the wilderness, with a unique and rustic architectural mix of steel, stone, and concrete, which protects it from the risk of fires. Due to its architectural importance and history, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
The public spaces with roaring fireplaces, murals, and tapestries are stunning, with a casual elegance evoking the 1920s Arts and Crafts Movement. The hotel has remained timeless and classic after almost 100 years. The Great Lodge is particularly lovely with high-beamed ceilings accented with stencil work inspired by Native American artwork.
The hotel’s location on the floor of the Yosemite Valley is also a major benefit of staying here. It’s one that far outshines any other hotel in the area as you’ll be well-placed to explore Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point, which are all a short stroll from the hotel.
Rooms are tastefully appointed with natural hues and vintage art, though they are rather small. For more space, book one of the cottages or splurge on the Library Suite with a wood-paneled sitting room, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and a cozy fireplace. For the best views, Featured Hotel Rooms boast stunning vistas of Yosemite’s waterfalls and iconic cliffs.
The Ahwahnee Dining Room is a landmark with 34-foot high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, fine dining, and special events such as their Bracebridge Dinner, Vintners’ Holidays, and Chefs’ Holidays.
Château du Sureau, a Relais & Chateaux property, is a 5-star luxury hotel possessing a European fairy tale feel with a majestic stone turret, manicured gardens, and cozy interiors. Located in the foothills of the Sierras near Yosemite, the Château du Sureau is about a 20-minute drive to the South Gate.
The nine-acre property is abundant with old-world charm from the grand piano nestled with a mural-covered alcove to French furnishings that feature throughout the property. No two rooms are alike; each is named for a fragrant herb from the South of France and features unique antiques and art, canopied beds, and private balconies overlooking the gardens. Some have fireplaces.
Beyond the carefully curated rooms, the hotel is home to the award-winning Elderberry House Restaurant and the Spa du Sureau, both of which are destinations themselves.
Contact the hotel for more information on COVID-19 procedures at (559) 683-6860 of firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAQ: Yosemite National Park hotels
Are there hotels in Yosemite National Park?
Yes, there are a variety of hotels within Yosemite National Park, all of which are owned by the national park system. On our list, The Ahwahnee, The Wawona, and the Yosemite Valley Lodge are all located within the park.
Do these hotels guarantee entrance to Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite National Park utilizes a reservation system for the spring and summer when there are the most visitors. If you stay at the Ahwahnee, the Wawona, or the Yosemite Valley Inn you don’t need a reservation. Many of the other hotels on the list do offer park tours, for an extra fee, that includes park admission.
Are all of these hotels open in the winter?
It does snow in Yosemite National Park so although visiting in the winter is beautiful, you’ll need to have chains for your car and plenty of warm clothing. Most of the hotels on the list above are open all year, except for The Wawona.
Which Yosemite hotel is best for couples?
Many of these hotels cater to families. For those looking for a more romantic experience, the Ahwahnee and the Château du Sureau are the best hotels for couples. Both are beautiful, relaxing, romantic, and offer fine dining.
What hotels in Yosemite National Park allow dogs?
Autocamp Yosemite, Château du Sureau, and the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite are the only hotels that allow dogs. In fact, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite offers pet concierge, pet beds, and an on-property kennel.
Is it safe to stay in hotels?
At this time, the CDC states that domestic travel is safe if you are fully vaccinated. While the vaccination rates vary by location, the unvaccinated should continue to take extra precautions.
It is advisable that all travelers continue to follow CDC and local guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing, and using hand sanitizer.
All of the hotels we included have cleaning and safety protocols in place for guest rooms and public spaces to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
How we selected the best hotels near Yosemite National Park
Each hotel or resort is located a short distance, at most a 40-minute drive, from one of the Yosemite National park entrances. There are also a couple of options within the park itself.
The hotels boast comfortable, spacious rooms and can accommodate families as well as be a good fit for a couples getaway.
Hotels are considered three-stars and up and hold a Trip Advisor rating of four or above with significant, honest recent reviews.
The hotels have good on-site amenities such as pools and perks that guests will enjoy.
The hotels promote stringent COVID-19 policies to prioritize the health and safety of all guests, which we’ve noted for each hotel below.
More of the best places to stay near national parks
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Las Vegas hotels offer opulent luxury at surprisingly cheap prices.
Many five-star stays on or near the Las Vegas Strip often start under $250 per night.
The best luxury hotels in Las Vegas boast spacious suites, private pools, excellent views, and more.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
There’s plenty to gamble on in Las Vegas, but you don’t have to risk the odds when it comes to choosing a hotel.
Las Vegas is one of the few US cities where a luxury hotel can regularly start under $250 per night, sometimes as low as $75 to $100. Of course, weekends and high seasons will bring increased prices, but with a little sleuthing you might just snag a great deal so you can save those extra dollars for Sin City’s casino floors, top-notch restaurants, and world-class entertainment.
Browse all the best luxury Las Vegas hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area:
The Signature is an all-suite hotel set back from the MGM Grand’s main resort and casino but is still easily accessible to it by indoor walkways. There’s no casino on-site, which means the crowd is less rowdy, and the hotel feels peaceful. There are fewer amenities too, though all of the restaurants, entertainment, and wellness found at MGM Grand are just steps away.
We once used the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book here and scored extra perks such as free upgrade, late checkout, and complimentary food and beverage credit. Spacious suites are quiet and include spa baths, flat-screen TVs, separate sitting areas, balconies, and kitchenettes for an apartment-like experience. It’s a great fit for a family or someone in town for business on an extended stay.
Located on the upper four floors of the Park MGM Las Vegas, the NoMad Las Vegas is the third location from the luxury NoMad hotel group with properties in New York and Los Angeles.
It’s one of many hotel-within-a-hotel concepts that are popular in Las Vegas (and within this list) for a more intimate, boutique-quality that feels rare in this town of mega-resorts. Rooms are decadent and design-forward featuring hardwood floors, velvet furnishings, and standalone soaking bathtubs in the bedroom.
Located on the Las Vegas Strip within the CityCenter complex, Aria is a glittering curvilinear property with a 150,000-square-foot casino, 16 restaurants, and more than 4,000 rooms. Opened just a decade ago, rooms feature fully tricked-out tech, including a one-touch room control system to adjust lighting, curtains, and more from the touch of a tablet.
Hakkasan Group’s Jewel nightclub is located here, as is a huge spa with 62 treatment rooms, and three pools, including the Liquid pool club for grown folks.
Plus, the location is central, close to the City Center, conference events, and all the Strip action.
This five-star Las Vegas Strip resort is one of the most instantly recognizable resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Drawing inspiration from Italy, it’s best known for its indoor canals and gondola rides, modeled off its namesake city. However, vast interiors show off an array of architectural styles and swathes of Renaissance-era aesthetics, and the hotel is one of the most visually impressive in a city of decadent hotels.
There are 80 restaurants — including Thomas Keller’s Bouchon — a glittering casino, the Grand Canal Shoppes, and a pool deck that covers 1.2 acres, and every room is a suite, and huge, starting at 650 square feet.
The Venetian also connects to the Sands Expo & Convention Center, and guests are granted access to the Canyon Ranch Spa Club gym.
Not to be confused with the Wynn itself, the Encore is the Wynn’s take on a boutique offering. It also comes with all the benefits of being housed within a parent property.
While guests of the Wynn can’t use Encore facilities, such as the pool, all those booked at Encore are allowed privileges at both. I’ve scored cheaper deals at Encore, though historically it’s sometimes more expensive than Wynn. If you like the glitz of the Wynn but think it feels too overwhelming, or prefer a more intimate approach, the Encore offers a solid alternative.
Inside the blockbuster 85-acre, 3,960 room resort Caesars Palace, the intimate Nobu Hotel is tucked away as a boutique hotel-within-a-hotel concept, created by the famed sushi chef of the same name. If Caesars is frenetic and bustling, Nobu Hotel is uber-Zen and quiet, with 182 stylish, Japanese-inspired rooms and suites. Staying here feels a bit like being a celebrity, with added VIP perks.
Rooms channel Japanese traditions with deep soaking tubs and come with free Wi-Fi, a 55-inch flat-screen TV, an iPod docking station, and Natura Bisse toiletries, as well as priority seating at Nobu Restaurant and Lounge.
Nobu Hotel guests also have access to a private front desk and lounge, the Venus Pool at Caesars Palace, expedited line privilege at OMNIA nightclub, a complimentary Friday social hour, and a dedicated hotel concierge.
The Bellagio draws a consistent crowd for its central Strip location, popular casino, designer fashion, and curated art, including the signature Dale Chihuly glass installation hanging from the lobby ceiling.
It’s also a huge draw to those craning for a front-row view of the dancing fountains, and there’s no better spot than a room overlooking the action. We’ve reviewed the balcony room facing the fountains and can confirm it’s one of the best rooms on the Strip. Plus, in what’s clearly a competitive field, they might have one of the best buffets in Las Vegas, though that’s subject to change in a post-pandemic world.
I once stayed at this luxury resort and casino and was blown away by the level of detail and thoughtfulness in each generously appointed guest room. The design is immaculate with a clean, modern palette and smart-enabled features that only add to an air of sophistication.
Since then, the hotel’s reputation has only continued to grow as one of the best on the Strip with world-class resort amenities, dining, gambling, and entertainment. There’s a reason it’s consistently rated as one of the best places to stay in Vegas and if you can secure a good deal, this might be one of the best places to book.
While The Venetian is perhaps more well-known, and cheaper, consider a stay at its sister property, The Palazzo.
Newer and more low-key but equally refined, even The Palazzo’s standard rooms are dubbed Luxury Suites and are not only more up-to-date than entry-level Venetian offerings but significantly larger. Spread out with ample living spaces, plush bedding, sleek bathrooms, and relish in the fact that your room is just steps from tons of the Strip’s best attractions, plus all that the Venetian has to offer.
The Cosmopolitan is trendy, hip, and sophisticated, and generally feels like you’re hanging out inside a chandelier (likely why they have a bar named after one). It’s a favorite among those visiting Las Vegas who want to join in on nightlife action over betting at tables, though the latter is readily available too. Plus, it’s one of the few hotels with balconies — request one facing Bellagio for a great view of the fountain show.
A member of the Autograph Collection of hotels, it’s also a great way for Marriott Bonvoy members to earn and redeem points. Book here if you’re looking to blur the lines between a glam getaway and a healthy dose of revelry.
The Four Seasons is a symbol of luxury and one that often comes with an accompanying high price tag. However, I’ve seen deals around $200 per night at this location hidden within Mandalay Bay, and it’s widely regarded as one of the nicest hotels in Vegas.
Rooms feel like a scintillating oasis of luxury, cocooned away from the frenetic pace of the Strip, though, it’s right there when you choose to seek it out. There’s a private, tranquil pool area for Four Seasons guests only, plus all the perks and indulgent attention to detail you’d expect from a Four Seasons.
Las Vegas is located in the southern tip of the state of Nevada, near the borders of both California and Arizona.
When will I find the best deals on Las Vegas luxury hotels?
You’ll often find the cheapest hotel prices in Las Vegas midweek in summer, when scorching hot temperatures keep most travelers away, or in the winter, after New Year’s Day, when it’s still too cool to hit the pool. Once the temperatures turn milder, expect prices to rise.
Much of Las Vegas tourism also revolves around an annual convention calendar, which often drives up hotel prices. Holidays also see an influx of crowds.
Why are Las Vegas hotels cheap?
Because Vegas resorts make most of their profits on the casino floor, cheap room rates are intended to attract guests who will then spend their extra money on slots and tables.
As Las Vegas is located in a desert climate, you can expect hot, hot summers and cool winters. No matter when you visit, it’s likely to be chilly at night. Early winter and spring, however, offer the nicest, mildest weather when it will be the most comfortable to stroll the Las Vegas Strip or lounge at the pool.
Though, if you’re planning to spend most of your time indoors on the casino or convention floor, the weather likely won’t be a big factor when considering the time of year to visit.
Is Las Vegas open?
Las Vegas is open, without restrictions involving capacity limits and large gatherings.
However, the State of Nevada has mandated that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a mask in public indoor settings, including resorts and casinos, restaurants, bars, showrooms, and meeting spaces. Masks are also required on public transportation.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
South Florida’s warm, tropical climate makes it a top vacation destination.
From West Palm Beach to Miami, South Florida hotels have incredible rooftops to soak up the sun.
Some hotel rooftop bars, restaurants, and pools are open to the public in addition to guests.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
South Florida is known for its dazzling beaches but also its lively nightlife. And because the region stays warm when the sun goes down, many hotels have in-demand rooftops with outdoor restaurants, bars, and pools that draw visitors day and night.
Few things top an afternoon laying out by a pool perched in the sky, enjoying happy hour with views of the Atlantic Ocean in the background, or watching a sunset while savoring a delicious meal.
Living in South Florida has given me the opportunity to frequent some of the best hotels, and the following list of hotels all have incredible rooftops that make it easy to savor all the best parts of visiting the Sunshine State.
Browse all the best hotels with rooftop pools and restaurants below, or jump directly to a specific area here:
The Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Downtown recently opened in March 2021, nestled in the hip Fort Lauderdale Arts District, just a few miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach and Las Olas Boulevard, the main dining and entertainment strip.
Rooms start under $200, which is well priced for a new hotel in such a great location. Most of the 137 guest rooms and suites have views of the Fort Lauderdale city skyline and are outfitted with modern wallpaper, soft carpeting, orange leather armchairs, and sofa beds in some rooms.
The hotel is also home to The Easton, a ninth-story rooftop with a restaurant, bar, pool, and plush outdoor seating. The Easton fills up quickly, especially during weekday Golden Happy Hour, and on the weekends, the rooftop transforms into a nightclub from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. with visitors lining up for live music and bottle service.
Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach opened in 2020 and is the only Hilton Canopy in Florida, a new boutique lifestyle concept from the brand. Canopy hotels pride themselves on creating a locally-driven by connecting guests to events, music, and restaurants in the surrounding area.
The 150 room hotel is less than three miles from Palm Beach International Airport and about a mile from the beach. Rooms are brand new and have been outfitted with gray bedding, oversized artwork, and a dedicated workspace. Standard rooms are spacious at almost 400 square feet, and Deluxe Rooms have city and ocean views.
Ban.ter, the lobby restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Ban.ter Treehouse, the 13th-floor rooftop bar and restaurant serves small plates and cocktails. The indoor/outdoor flow of the latter rooftop restaurant is lush with lots of plants and palm trees and seating is a mix of bartop and four-person tables spread around a sparkling infinity pool. On weekends, a poolside DJ plays high-energy music.
Kimpton hotels are known for their well-designed boutique properties, the Kimpton Angler’s South Beach is no exception. Located on the south end of Miami Beach, it’s also minutes from the nightlife on Ocean Drive
There’s a cohesive nautical theme carried throughout, with sand-colored loveseats, wicker lamps, and navy patterned lounge chairs and curtains in the 132 guest rooms and suites. Standard rooms are 400 square feet with King or Queen sized beds, ample closet space, and oversized walk-in showers with separate tubs. Most rooms also have balconies that overlook either Washington Ave or the hotel’s courtyard Mermaid Pool.
The sixth-floor rooftop pool and sun deck is a standout feature, with chic black and white lounge chairs framed by panoramic views of the Miami skyline. Large potted plants add privacy to lounge areas, and the pool deck is quiet enough for those who want to catch up on reading. After a dip, order drinks like the photogenic watermelon margarita from the Minnow Bar.
Conrad Miami is in the heart of Brickell, Miami’s business district near upscale, art, and dining.
This hotel has multiple great outdoor spaces, but chief among them is Nativo Kitchen and Bar on the 25th floor with views of Virginia Key Beach, Key Biscayne, and Biscayne Bay.
There is also the 13th-floor rooftop pool with sleek cabanas and the adjacent Sky Pool Bar, serving a casual menu of burgers and chicken wings, local and imported beers, and frozen cocktails.
When not sunning yourself on one of these terraces, retreat to guest rooms with a clean, minimalist style and light wood furniture, gold fixtures, and baby blue accent chairs. Standard rooms have a separate bathtub and shower, complimentary bathrobes, and 50-inch televisions, and all rooms come with wide windows that offer city or ocean views.
The Dalmar is located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, only two miles from Fort Lauderdale beach. From framed art by the Lobby Bar restaurant to the living plant wall adorning Rose’s Coffee shop near the hotel’s entrance, fun design features prominently.
There are two great rooftop venues on the 6th floor of the hotel. Sparrow is an indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar, and after 9 p.m., the venue turns into a 21+ lounge. There’s a strict dress code (no athletic gear or beachwear) and a DJ that spins late into the night.
The other rooftop venue is the saltwater pool reserved for hotel guests, but the poolside bar and grill, Sip and Dip, is open to everyone from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Inside, guest rooms have midcentury flair with pastel furniture, pleated curtains, and brass lamps. The rooms also have premium Sferra sheets, spacious bathrooms with rainfall showers, and tablets for ordering in-room services. Most rooms have floor-to-ceiling views of either Fort Lauderdale or the Intracoastal and select rooms have balconies.
One of the newest additions to downtown West Palm Beach is the waterfront hotel, The Ben. The Marriott-owned luxury boutique hotel commands a great location within walking distance of Clematis Street, West Palm Beach’s lively district filled with restaurants and bars, and Rosemary Square, an upscale shopping and dining destination.
Guest rooms are polished, with sleek wood floors, leather pleated headboards, and luxe Turkish linens. A standard Interior Double Queen is a comfortable 343 square feet, and many guest rooms have views of Palm Harbor Marina or Palm Beach Island.
The hotel’s 7th-floor rooftop restaurant and bar, Spruzzo, is quite popular, especially on weekends, serving coastal Italian cuisine. It’s quickly become a local hangout for young professionals.
During the day, hotel guests may reserve one of the cabanas next to the heated saltwater pool, and at night, enjoy watching the sunset over the Palm Beach Intracoastal from the fire pit with a cocktail in hand.
Only two blocks from the bustling nightlife of South Beach, the hotel gets lively, especially on the weekends and caters to a young crowd. The purposeful design features lots of Instagrammable details like neon wall signs and fun pool floats.
Standard guestrooms are a cozy 224 square feet but maximize the space with retro details like rotary phones and custom artwork by local Miami artists. Walk-in rain showers and Egyptian cotton linens add a sumptuous touch.
There are six different hotel restaurants including a lobby bar, Bar Moxy, and Serena, an elevated Mexican restaurant in a lush garden setting adjacent to the hotel’s main 72-foot pool. The hotel’s 8th story rooftop, The Upside is reserved for hotel guests and has a shallow pool, lounge chairs, and plenty of daybeds. The Upside has great views of South Beach, and a DJ spins house and hip-hop tunes throughout the afternoon and evening.
The hotel also offers complimentary bikes (helmets included) to explore the neighborhood.
The Betsy Hotel is a landmark hotel on South Beach located on Miami’s main strip, Ocean Drive, but is tucked away from the noise of the nightclubs and late-night revelry.
Arts programming features heavily here, drawing a sophisticated crowd of well-heeled creative types who book posh, albeit sometimes small, rooms with walnut floors, velvet armchairs, and cream-colored curtains that frame floor-to-ceiling windows. The 250-square-foot standard Classic King is cozy but comes with a marble bathroom, a large walk-in shower, luxe Sferra linens, and is pet-friendly, welcoming dogs under 40 pounds.
There are two pools: a courtyard pool and a fourth-floor rooftop infinity pool with chaise lounges and 360-degree views of Miami. The bar serves poolside drinks, and food may be brought up from the hotel’s restaurant, LT Steak & Seafood. After a swim, catch a sunset from the rooftop’s Skyline Deck, a patio overlooking the ocean with unobstructed water views.
East Miami is centrally located in downtown Brickell and Sugar, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar on the 40th floor has arguably the best view of the entire Miami skyline.
The restaurant is 21+ after 6 p.m. and there’s a strict dress code (nightlife attire is enforced after sunset). Equally impressive are the four pools (a lap pool, spa pool, plunge pool, and hot tub) on the hotel’s fifth-floor deck. So many offerings mean you won’t have to worry about waiting for a sun lounger.
Standard guest rooms start at 300 square feet, though there are also has large one, two, and three-bedroom residences. All 352 rooms come with a private balcony, floor-to-ceiling windows, and contemporary decor that includes cream-colored furniture, teal wallpaper, and orange throw pillows.
Considered one of the best hotels on South Beach, 1 Hotel South Beach takes up an entire block and sits on 600 feet of Miami’s prime beachfront. The hotel is pricey but worth the splurge for its sophisticated boho beach vibes, impeccable service, outstanding food, and airy rooms.
The lobby makes a remarkable first impression with soaring ceilings and crisp seating around glass-topped wooden coffee tables, but it’s the multiple pool decks that really dazzle.
There are four different pools: the beachfront South pool, the third floor Cabana Pool, the enormous 30,000 square foot Center Pool, and the gorgeous 18th-story rooftop pool, Watr at the 1 Hotel Rooftop, which is Miami’s largest rooftop pool and lounge.
Inside, the 426 guest rooms are a celebration of nature and sustainability, sourcing most items from reclaimed materials. A coastal-inspired color palette and large windows make them feel airy and light alongside beachy accents featuring driftwood, tree stumps, and custom wood plank headboards.
While South Florida experiences nearly year-round sunshine, the best time to visit is from February to May. During those months, temperatures are cooler, and crowds tend to taper off, although there is a spike of visitors during spring break.
During the summer months, the temperature and humidity soar, and daily afternoon thunderstorms are common. Florida’s hurricane season starts June 1 and lasts until the end of November with August and September being the most active hurricane months.
Weather-wise, November through January is also a good time to visit. The temperatures hover around 75 degrees, although it’s not uncommon to experience a few sub 50 degree days when a cold front comes through. But keep in mind that hotel prices tend to peak during the November to January holiday months.
Do I have to book a room to visit a hotel rooftop?
Many of the hotels included in this list have rooftop bars and restaurants open to the public that do not require an overnight hotel reservation, but most of the rooftop pools are reserved for hotel guests. Some hotels offer daytime cabana rentals or a day pass through Resort Pass that includes access to the hotel’s pool, spa, or other amenities. Availability changes often, so always call ahead and ask.
How do I get around South Florida?
South Florida is a large area that encompasses three counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe, though most locals consider southern cities in Palm Beach County like West Palm Beach as part of South Florida.
Touring South Florida requires a car and some planning as traffic can get congested, especially during morning and evening rush hours. While the public transportation system is mostly reliable in downtown areas, renting a car is the best way to explore all of South Florida. If you’re flying into Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach and staying close to your hotel, you can use taxis or rideshare apps to get around.
How do I find a hotel with a rooftop?
Most hotels with a rooftop will list it on their hotel website, and third-party booking sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com will usually include a rooftop in the hotel description or on the list of hotel amenities. Also, the third-party booking site Kayak has a search filter to only pull up properties with rooftops.
Do hotel guests receive priority on rooftops?
It depends on the property. Most of the hotels restrict the pool areas to hotel guests or guests with day passes. Rooftops with a combined pool and restaurant area do take outside reservations, so it’s advised to make restaurant reservations when checking in.
How we selected the best South Florida hotels with rooftops
I’m a South Florida-based travel writer and have personally visited almost every hotel on this list. All of the hotel rooftops have an excellent bar or restaurant, a picturesque pool, and sensational city or ocean views.
Every hotel is located in a popular neighborhood in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, or Miami. Some of the hotels have downtown locations close to shopping, museums, and restaurants. Others are beachfront or within walking distance to the beach.
Besides the great rooftops, many of the properties include perks like a nightly hosted wine hour, complimentary bicycles, and pet-friendly guest rooms.
All of the properties have excellent recent reviews on third-party travel sites like Tripadvisor or Booking.com.
Because of the location and amenities of the properties, most of the hotels are in the luxury category, but booking during low season can lock in reasonable rates.
We’ve indicated which hotels are ideal for couples, friends, families, or solo travelers, and have included a mix of all kinds of properties.
Each hotel promotes COVID safe practices and has updated its COVID practices to include enhanced cleaning procedures.
After all, who doesn’t want to wake up to the sound of waves crashing right outside their back porch, or take a moonlit stroll along the sand after the sun goes down? Though, if you’d prefer to cool off in an Airbnb with a private pool instead, we have plenty of options for that, too. And if hotels are more your thing, here are the best beach hotels in the US.
If a beach vacation is on your mind, from sea to shining blue sea there’s no shortage of beautiful Airbnb beach houses across the US.
Browse all Airbnb beach houses below, or jump to a specific area here:
Set along one of the Jersey Shore’s most charming seaside towns, Cape May, this cozy bayfront cottage with one bedroom is best suited for couples and solo travelers, though it is also pet-friendly.
It’s important to note, this is a two-family home and while this space is completely private and uses a separate entrance, the other side of the house is occupied, which might not work for some guests. You are also required to bring your own linens to fit the Queen-sized bed.
The location, however, is unparalleled and you’ll love spending time on the private back deck, which includes a hammock and leads directly out to the beach. The front porch with chairs and an umbrella adds additional space for enjoying the sea breeze.
Inside, the decor is simple but includes a red leather couch, an all-white kitchen with a dining table for two, and ocean photos in the bedroom.
The charming seaside town of Gloucester, pronounced Glah-Sta, in coastal New England comes alive in the summertime. From long walks on a private beach to romantic dinners on the deck, this one-bedroom beachside retreat will make a great getaway for couples.
Not only does the property come with a beachfront location, but beach passes are included, which would otherwise run between $25 to $30 per day. You may also book add-ons like in-house massages and whale watching expeditions directly with the host.
While this is a separate guest suite with its own private entrance, the entire cottage consists of three units that are each rented separately. Though, you can combine listings to book the entire property.
Just one hour north of Boston and one hour south of Portland, Maine, the Little Sea Star Castle is tucked away along Nubble Point in York Beach, Maine. One of 12 oceanside cottages within the LightHouse Village Colony, the house is set on nearly two acres with over 175 feet of oceanfront splendor with sunny, southern exposure and rugged rocky coastlines.
The cottage offers plenty of space to lounge. A roof deck has panoramic views over the ocean, and the lawn has Adirondack chairs and a picnic table for outdoor dining. The kitchen has everything needed to make yourself at home, and beachy accents like starfish pillows and mini sailboats on the dressers keep the home on theme.
The location is stellar, among scenic walking trails along the water.
Offering uninterrupted bayfront views, this cozy townhome in Ocean City, Maryland is the ideal locale for your beach vacation. Sip morning coffee on the private balcony, enjoy steamed crabs on the large bayfront deck, or kick back with a cocktail and watch the sunset from the living room.
The layout is an open-living concept with a master bedroom upstairs with a private balcony and a King-size bed. The second bedroom has a Queen bed and there’s also a beige striped sectional couch that converts to a bed in the living room. Wicker furniture and deep blue quilts give this home a subtle beach vibe.
Located on a corner lot of the bay, the owner is explicit that this is not meant for partiers or large group gatherings. If you’re looking for a chill and relaxing beach getaway, this is the place for you.
Featuring both beachfront and bay views, this spacious four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the quiet community of Broadkill Beach in Milton, Delaware offers unobstructed water views from almost every room.
The home features a coastal design with plenty of natural light and soft tones. The well-equipped kitchen has unique tiling, a large island, and turquoise bar stools for grabbing a quick bite or enjoying a cup of coffee.
One room includes bunk beds decked out in comforters with a cute whale pattern for kids. The location is peacefully quiet and primed to enjoy beautiful sunrises over the bay.
If luxury finishes and panoramic views of the ocean sounds like your kind of vibe, then consider this oceanfront haunt in Saco, Maine. Enjoy coffee or wine from the upstairs balcony before taking a walk along Ferry Beach or Camp Ellis Pier.
Ideal for bigger groups, the listing has two bedrooms and common spaces that sleep up to eight people. Though, the standout draw is no doubt the beachfront location and gorgeous water views, along with the surrounding quiet community. The home offers the chance to catch particularly stunning sunrises and sunsets.
Other perks include a Smart TV with Netflix, beach chairs, and free parking included in the stay, as well as a digital guidebook handy for helping guests explore the area.
Chic beachfront cottage in New York’s North Fork of Long Island
Set on a secluded stretch of Long Island’s illustrious North Fork, this two-bedroom beachfront cottage is a great place to hang by the beach or go wine tasting at one of the area’s many charming vineyards.
Wander along the private beach path or open up the floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that lead to a picturesque deck to dine at the picnic-style outdoor table, or relax on the plush lounger. An Airbnb Plus listing, the cottage’s chic palette features crisp, minimalist whites and neutrals, creating a sense of serene seaside solitude for a quiet getaway. After a walk on the sand, rinse off in the outdoor shower while savoring water views.
A cute condo directly on North Topsail Beach in North Carolina, this is a great option for couples or small families looking for a low-key beach getaway. The bedroom has a Queen bed and there are also Twin bunk beds built directly into the hallway.
Completely renovated in 2020, the apartment has a nautical-beach theme with soft blue and yellow hues, and big living room windows frame beach views. You can also head out to the balcony for a closer look.
Bright colors and floral decor give this home a warm, welcoming vibe, and a seashell bed quilt and striped bar stools at the eating nook add additional beach flair.
Serenity awaits at this casual oceanfront condo in Florida’s Cape Canaveral. Set on a beautiful private beach, this Airbnb Plus stands out for its whimsical decor and thoughtful amenities, which include blues of every hue from the turquoise velvet armchair to the robin’s egg backsplash in the kitchen. A mirror made out of oars, a mermaid statue, and an octopus painting over the couch are all fun touches for a beach home.
This is also a great place to spend your time kayaking, paddle boarding, or enjoying some much-needed downtime just lounging on the beach or pool, which are both just a few steps away. Within minutes of downtown Port Canaveral and the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, there’s plenty to do right nearby.
Located on the bayside of the Bolivar Peninsula on Texas’ Gulf Coast, this home offers one bedroom and a lofted room, plus plenty of views of both the Gulf of Mexico and East Bay. It’s also just a few miles away from popular bird-watching areas including Bolivar Flats, Anahuac national wildlife refuge, and the Smith Oak sanctuary.
Bright and airy, this house is perched on stilts, and underneath, you’ll have a grill and a private sitting area. However, the wraparound porch is likely where you’ll spend the bulk of your time, soaking in the view from the wooden Adirondack chairs.
Inside isn’t bad either, with soaring pitched ceilings, a big blue sectional sofa, and marble countertops and bar stools in the kitchen.
Relax on your own private beach or hop in a kayak and explore miles of pristine, undeveloped beaches and cypress tree-filled coves from this bungalow in Jarvisburg, North Carolina set at the confluence of the North River and the Albemarle Sound.
The home is pet-friendly, and the bedroom offers a Queen sized bed as well as a futon for extra guests if you don’t mind the squeeze.
While not exactly modern, the bungalow has a homey vibe with string lights along the ceiling, a bright desk and bookcase, and purple cushions on the futon. The location is tranquil and fun amenities include a charcoal grill and outdoor fire pit. The house is only 15-minutes away from unspoiled shorelines and the beaches of the Outer Banks.
Step into the backyard of this spacious home on the Albemarle Sound and you’ll find nothing but peace and tranquility. Located in a quiet neighborhood in Hertford, North Carolina, the house is nice for bigger families or groups of friends.
Start and end your day on the dock, which comes with a bench to sit and watch the sunrise. Apart from the views directly overlooking the sound, highlights include the coffee bar in the kitchen, a gas log fireplace in the living room, and a fully covered and screened-in porch for enjoying home-cooked barbecue from the grill.
The house also comes with a washer/dryer and high-speed Wi-Fi.
A brand new beach cabin on the Chesapeake Bay, this spacious home is steps from the beach.
During the warm months, watch the sailing regattas from the balcony on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, or walk to nearby Ocean View Beach Park to listen to live music.
The decor is simple but useful, with wicker furniture accents, ocean-themed artwork, wood floors, and a big kitchen. A plaid couch and floral armchair are comfy spots to relax, though they may feel a bit dated. A patio out back adds additional hangout space.
The pinewood interior and absence of electronic appliances bring an old-fashioned feel to this cottage. The cottage was originally built in 1946, but each room has been remodeled since except for the corner kitchen. The master bedroom has a plush Queen-size bed where you can fall asleep to the sounds of nearby waves crashing.
Although you won’t find a TV or phone, there are various ways to indulge in this home’s rustic charm. A large outdoor deck overlooks an uncrowded beach and has a fire pit for chilly nights. Visit in summer and you may catch a glimpse of the sea turtles that dwell by the deck.
Watch dolphins from the private balcony, walk to the beach, or laze the day away by the pool — this oceanfront condo in South Carolina offers it all.
Located in a private community just a stone’s throw from one of the state’s most beguiling beaches at Hunting Island State Park, the area offers miles of unspoiled beaches and is frequented by birders and nature lovers for some of the best animal sightings in the area.
This second-floor condo offers one Queen bedroom and a second bedroom with a Twin bed. Guests have access to the community pool, beach, and two bikes. The unit also comes with a washer and dryer and is great for families with pets looking for a low-country getaway.
Watch the waves roll in as you enjoy your morning coffee on the private terrace from this modern Isle of Palms condo in South Carolina.
Newly renovated, this third-floor condo is especially nice for families with young children since it offers a King-size bed in the master and a bunk bed in the hallway. The decor is tasteful but beachy with coral pillows, a gray sofa, velvet armchairs, and a modern kitchen has a funky blue stone backsplash.
The building has easy access to the beach and a private fishing pier, as well as a community pool and coin laundry facility.
Located on half an acre along Port Royal Sound, this three-bed, four-bath manse is capable of sleeping up to 10 people. Adjacent to a 40-acre nature preserve, staying here comes with direct views over the sound, plus private access to the beach.
With an expansive, well-groomed yard for playing or relaxing under large oak trees covered in Spanish Moss, the house is also open to those looking to host a small, picture-perfect wedding or retreat with the beach and ocean as the backdrop.
Instead of renting a regular old cottage on the beach, opt to claim your own private island here on Old House Cay. Accessible only by boat, this is as secluded and off-the-grid as it gets.
Just a 10-minute ride away from neighboring Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, the home is part of a series of private islands that you’ll have all to yourself over your stay. Experience everything from boating, fishing, and kayaking to simply lounging around the island and going for long beach walks. As far as getting around, the owners will take you and your guests back and forth from Hilton Head on their private boat as needed.
Accommodations include a large, multi-story home with gorgeous wood floors, high ceilings, a modern kitchen, and a big blue dining table with room for the whole crew. All wood walls give it a hint of a cabin feel, while bright pillows and quilts add pops of color. A wooden deck with a fire pit out front is a lovely place to relax or make s’mores into the evening.
Open your door and step directly onto the sand at this charming beachfront condo in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego.
Within walking distance to Carlsbad Village, this home is close to restaurants and boutiques, with a cozy set-up that is best suited to solo travelers and couples. The two-story condo unit is on the ground floor and features a brick fireplace, a small dining table and kitchen, a blue sofa with colorful pillows, and a private balcony with a table and chairs that overlook the ocean, which is just a few feet away.
Set on a cul-de-sac in the quiet neighborhood of Port Orford along the Oregon coast, this three-bedroom beach house is protected by old-growth forest and faces a cove where orcas are known to stay and take shelter.
With gorgeous bay windows and total privacy within the neighborhood, along with private beach access and unobstructed views of the Lighthouse at Cape Blanco, it’s tough to beat the spectacular setting. A private trail off the backyard takes you directly to Shelter Cove.
The house itself offers big windows for a light and airy feel, with neutral colors of grays and creams, huge bedrooms, and a porch with a dining table, as well as a small fire pit in the yard.
Tucked away in verdant Patrick Point State Park in northern California, this rustic two-bedroom cabin has incredible ocean views amid a lush forest.
Top-rated features include the oversized hot tub, a picnic area overlooking the ocean, and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows after a long day. The yard offers ample space and lucky guests might even spot whales from the Adirondack chairs perched atop the lawn.
The house is set on steep cliffs, which means you’ll have phenomenal views, but won’t be able to walk right out onto the beach. Instead, you will have to wind your way down to the shores below.
Overlooking the Pacific and Black Sands Beach, this one-bedroom cliffside home is lovely for a romantic trip.
Inside, you’ll find a private entrance and a wrap-around deck. The bedroom has a California King bed, plus a modern kitchen, bathroom, and a living room with a fireplace. There is even a private hot tub that directly faces the ocean.
Take the trail from the home leading to the beach or walk or bike to any of the nearby beaches, restaurants, cafes, bars, and golf courses. The owner notes that you will need a car to get around and this home has a strict no pets policy and isn’t suitable for young children.
This sweet one-bedroom Airbnb Plus listing is well-placed on the iconic shores of Malibu for sweeping, dramatic views that feel plucked from a Nicholas Sparks novel.
Light and airy, this seaside haven is impeccably decorated with pristine white fixtures that stand out against natural wood floors and beams. Unique details like a small, wire Eiffel Tower perched on an antique desk and old framed letters and clippings add whimsical charm.
Fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves after enjoying drinks on the deck as you catch a sunset. Just know that this home is incredibly popular and tends to book almost a year in advance.
Pacific Ocean beachfront home in Encinitas, California
This beach home wows right away with its stunning panoramic ocean views, available throughout the house. However, they’re especially impressive from the open plan living room thanks to its arched beam ceilings that make the space feel airy and breezy.
The unobstructed views are also sure to dazzle from the multiple patios, which come with a grill, lounge chairs, an outdoor shower, and a private stairway leading to the sand.
The amenities are also nicely appointed, with a fireplace, full kitchen with a wine fridge, and multiple bedrooms, some of which lead directly to the terrace.
Pet-friendly beach cottage with amazing views in Oregon
This modern beachfront home in beautiful, iconic Cannon Beach, Oregon has easy beach access just 100 feet from the front door.
Inside, large picture windows offer unobstructed ocean views and a gas fireplace makes for a cozy spot. The outdoor shower is a nice way to rinse away sand after a beach day and the outdoor balcony is a great place to savor the sweeping views. At night, have a bonfire with s’mores in the yard.
The pet-friendly home is located on a quiet residential street with free street parking and is within easy access of plenty of shops, grocery stores, and restaurants.
FAQ: Airbnb beach houses
Where is the best place to rent a beach house?
The best place to rent a beach house depends on the type of beach and vacation you prefer. For year-round warm weather, look to places like Florida or Southern California.
For the classic New England look of windswept beach grass, large dunes, and shingled cottages, you’ll find great homes in places like Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Jersey Shore. For something posh, try the Hamptons.
Bluer waters and warmer temps of course will be found within the South or West Coast, and the West Coast offers stunning scenery from California up to Oregon and Washington.
How do I search for a beach house on Airbnb?
You can specifically search for a beach house on Airbnb. First, input your preferred location and dates, then select More Filters, and refine results to only show beachfront homes by selecting the box that says Beachfront under Amenities.
What should I look for in an Airbnb?
Sorting through the vast array of homes available on Airbnb can be tough. Consider using criteria similar to what we use, which includes looking at the average rating, as well as reading up on recent reviews to ensure the home is still in top shape. Look for Superhosts and consider sorting by Airbnb Plus or Airbnb Luxe if you want a higher-end stay that’s been vetted for exceptional amenities, decor, and hosting.
Of course, for a beach getaway, location will be key. Be sure to look on the map and ensure before booking that the home is actually close to the beach. You don’t want to arrive only to find out you actually need to take a 30-minute car ride before your toes can hit the sand.
Is Airbnb safe?
We strongly encourage following guidelines and advice from leading health organizations including the CDC and following local and state laws before planning a vacation of any kind. You should also be proactive when it comes to wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining social distancing no matter where you go.
However, the CDC now recommends domestic travel as safe for fully vaccinated individuals.