U.S. Beachfront Hotels Under $200
When Cristina Behrens travels to Santa Barbara, CA, to see clients, she likes to stay somewhere that’s convenient for meetings and—almost more important—convenient to a morning jog on the beach.
After trying just about every top-notch hotel in the city, the L.A.-based investment manager was surprised that her favorite—the Hotel Milo—cost as little as $139 a night. “My assistant booked me there for the first time about five years ago,” Behrens says. “I have not stayed anywhere else since.” And why would she? Her home away from home is located downtown, sits directly across from the beach, and has two outdoor pools and complimentary bikes for guests’ use.
In most beach destinations, hotel rates rise exponentially the closer you get to the shore. But it’s a mistake to assume that any place on the water will carry four-star prices—or high-end accommodations. With that in mind, we collected 25 hotel gems scattered along both coasts that met two criteria: value and thoughtful charm.
Related: America’s Best Little Beach Towns
Some, like the Georgianne Inn in Georgia, are smaller, seaside properties that have inspired legions of loyal fans. Others, such as the Postcard Inn in Florida, had past lives as motels but have found new energy as renovated boutique hotels, with retro décor and amenities that walk the line between high-end and quirky (think beach cruisers, kites, or a self-serve wine machine). Yet they all share starting rates below $200 a night.
To be fair, sometimes getting that lower rate means booking during the shoulder or low season—like fall in Florida or winter in California—or during select nights of the week. But when we looked at the high season price tags for these hotels, some still maintained impressively low rates and others went up modestly.
Best of all, these sense-of-place properties tend to attract a loyal following. Mike Rosano, a stay-at-home dad from Connecticut, says his family has been vacationing for years at Maine’s Dunes on the Waterfront (starting at $175), after stumbling across an ad. He keeps coming back, he says, because he loves “falling asleep to the sounds of the surf and how ‘away from it all’ we feel. Simply put, it’s priceless.”
Read on for a list of our top 12 beachfront hotels across the U.S. with rates that start under $200.
SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel, Pismo Beach, CA
When the SeaCrest Motel first opened in the early 1960s, it was the only beachfront hotel in this dune-buggy-loving town. After various additions and ownership changes over the years, the 158-room SeaCrest reemerged in 2007 with a bright, retro-mod décor as well as a free breakfast, pool, fire pits, patio couches, and a staircase down to a quiet stretch of sand. Located on the Pacific 101, it also makes an easy launching pad for exploring the wine country or visiting Hearst Castle, 50 miles away. Even in the high-season summer, rates start as low as $219. Doubles from $119; seacrestpismo.com.
Hotel Milo, Santa Barbara, CA
You don’t really find hotels right on the sand in Santa Barbara, but this bougainvillea-covered boutique property is about as close as it gets: the beach is right across the street. Spread over six small buildings, the Spanish-style Hotel Milo (formerly named the Hotel Oceana) has a shabby-chic vibe with rooms decorated in garden-like pinks, oranges, and greens and easy-open windows that let in the steady breeze. There are also lush courtyards, two outdoor pools, and complimentary beach-cruiser bicycles, and it’s an easy walk or ride to the heart of downtown and the train station. Even though the lobby has a free breakfast, dinner fans may be tempted by the original (and last remaining) Sambo’s—an old coffee-shop chain from the 1960s—right next door. Season does matter here: at the height of summer, rates start at $289. Doubles from $139; hotelmilosantabarbara.com.
La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach, CA
In a neighborhood with resorts that have starting rates of $600-plus a night, this little hotel is unique in more ways than one. The 36-room, Mediterranean-style property opened in 1929 as a Hollywood star magnet and today has sumptuous, Spanish-style rooms as well as a collection of 10 eye-popping, surf-inspired suites, such as the Billabong and the Roxy. Low-season rates for the Surf Suites inch a little over $200, and you can still get standard rooms at right around $200 even during peak summer months. Doubles from $139.
The Palms Hotel & Spa, Miami
Low season in South Beach means easier access to this sleek, 251-room hotel with a sand-and-surf-inspired décor: a dark brown, cream, and orange palette, along with mosaic tiles and, in the bathrooms, rain-shower heads. The chic ambience extends to the cabanas by the pool and beach service that includes lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, and fabulous cocktails (from raspberry mojitos to the popular Pain Killer, a mix of rum, pineapple juice, OJ, cream of coconut, and nutmeg). During peak season, starting rates run as low as $198. Doubles from $153.
Azul del Mar, Key Largo, FL
This six-suite, Art Deco villa exudes enough timeless elegance for Bogie-and-Bacall types, but it also has an earthy splendor. Lawns are covered with key lime bushes and frangipani, rooms come with their own granite-counter-topped kitchenettes, and you’re just a few steps from the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Look to the innkeepers to hook you up with scuba, fishing, and kayaking trips; if you happen to catch a nice mahimahi, they’ll let you cook it up on the house grill. During high season, rates still start at a reasonable $229. Doubles from $139.
B Ocean, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Ocean views are par for the course at this spare but pretty 240-room hotel—proving that hotels with hip one-letter names need not cost multiple dollar signs. Rooms have crisp, white-on-white furnishings with aqua-hued accents, and the hotel has an on-site gym, sushi bar, and free Wi-Fi. It also offers a fun twist on wine tasting: the B’stro on the Beach has an Enomatic wine machine, where a prepaid card (typically ranging from $5 to $20) entitles you to up to three self-serve pours, ranging from tastes to full glasses. Snowbirds, beware of seasonal sticker shock: winter-spring rates start at $299 a night. Doubles from $149; bhotelsandresorts.com.
Postcard Inn, St. Pete Beach, FL
This motel from the 1950s sits on a six-mile island off the Gulf Coast about a half hour southwest of Tampa International Airport. When the 196-room property was renovated into a boutique hotel in 2009, it took on a distinct hipster sensibility: rooms are decorated with vintage longboards, locally snapped surf photos, and groovy lamps. You can book packages that include kite-flying or stand-up paddleboarding; the hotel also has a pool, shuffleboard, and the PCI Bar and Grill, a gourmet comfort-food restaurant. Order the signature Sticky Ribs or the bacon flavor of the day, such as garlic herb or cherry whiskey. In spring, rates start at $229. Doubles from $129.
The Georgianne Inn, Tybee Island, GA
This barrier island, a half hour from Savannah, has plenty of old-school activities, from bicycling along the sand dunes or the causeway, with osprey or herons overhead, to watching for dolphins from a sailboat or kayak. The charming seven-room inn dates back to 1910 as a home—a father built the beach house for his daughter—and started life as an inn in 1921. It’s just three houses away from the beach, and stays include beach chairs, boogie boards, and bikes for guests’ use. Five of the rooms are actually suites with full kitchens—perfect for extended-stay folks who like B&B charm but want breakfast-table autonomy. Even in the high season, rates start at a reasonable $125 a night. Doubles from $75; georgianneinn.com.
The Ocean Lodge, Cannon Beach, OR
Even though this hotel on Oregon’s rocky northern coast was built in 2002, its 1940s style—a stone-and-timber exterior and big verandas—evokes an old-school resort feeling. Its beach location is within steps of a 235-foot basalt monolith, Haystack Rock, and it’s an easy walk into town. Rooms have fireplaces, balconies, and two distinctive bits of Portlandia-esque charm: you can bring your dog (designated pet rooms have direct beach access), and rooms are stocked with locally roasted Sleepy Monk coffee. Summer rates start at $249. Doubles from $199.
Dunes on the Waterfront, Ogunquit, ME
Thanks to a slew of homey white cottages, wide green lawns, and huge blue-sky views, this low-key escape has loads of repeat guests. Located in southern Maine on the Ogunquit River, the 12-acre Dunes has 17 rooms, each with a pair of Adirondack chairs, as well as 19 cottages that up the ante with their own screened-in porches. The beach is just across the river, which, depending on the tide, is either a short walk or rowboat ride away. The inn also has direct access to trails, fishing from the docks, and a trolley that will take you into town. Doubles from $175; dunesonthewaterfront.com.
Tilghman Island Inn, Tilghman Island, MD
Located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, this 20-room island inn offers plenty of bliss—its sunny rooms have big windows and fireplaces—but it also boasts some big-resort perks such as its own spa and tennis courts. The on-site restaurant, too, is a destination unto itself, known for its good local oysters and Wine Spectator–applauded vino list. During low season, rates start at just $125 ($175 on weekends) and $250 in peak season (April through October). Year round, weekend packages offer bonus value: $620 gets you lodging for two nights as well as a dinner, one breakfast, and one brunch for two. Doubles from $175.
Sanderling Resort, Duck, NC
This 96-room hotel has a shingle-sided elegance, all the perks of a full-service resort (an 18-hole golf course as well as a spa, where the signature treatments include a tangerine-and-brown-sugar scrub), and a AAA Four Diamond restaurant specializing in local, grass-fed steaks. Thanks to its bicoastal Outer Banks setting, it also offers the unique perk of letting you watch both the sunrise and the sunset over the water. Rooms, decorated in a crisp, New England–esque aesthetic, have big bathrooms and decks. During high season, rates start at $259 but can top $400 on the weekends. Doubles from $119.
The Blacksmith Inn, Baileys Harbor, WI
This inn on the Lake Michigan beachfront started life in 1912 as a blacksmith’s house. Today, the 15 rooms still channel the old days thanks to timber and stone walls, classic quilts, and plenty of wrought-iron accents. But the adults-only property has plenty of 21st-century perks, too, such as complimentary Wi-Fi, Jacuzzi tubs, and a movie library. You also get use of stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and bikes in the summer, or sleds and snowshoes in the winter. No matter the season, you’ll find a jar of homemade cherry oatmeal cookies every day in the lobby as well as popcorn in the afternoon. For the best deals, come during shoulder season (May though mid-June); from mid-June through mid-October, rates start at $245. Doubles from $145.
Hotel Galvez, Galveston, TX
This grande dame on a Texas beach dates back to 1911 and shares the island town’s namesake, the 18th-century Spanish colonial governor Bernardo de Gálvez. Now part of the Wyndham brand, the 224-room hotel, with a day spa and swim-up bar, is also pet-friendly and offers an electric car–charging station. Come summer, rates don’t skyrocket, either, starting at just $249. Doubles from $139. wyndham.com
Santa Cruz Dream Inn, Santa Cruz, CA
Overlooking Monterey Bay, this Joie de Vivre hotel started as a motel in the 1960s and today, with retro pops of color, is still the only hotel on the beach in Santa Cruz. You’re steps away from surfing lessons on Cowell’s Beach, or you can nurse a Pleasure Point Martini (vodka, coconut rum, and pineapple) at Jack O’Neill’s, the hotel lounge that pays tribute to the local who invented the surfing wetsuit. Just shoot for weeknights or low season: summer weekends can start at a steeper $349 a night. Doubles from $189.
Costa d’Este Beach Resort, Vero Beach, FL
This 94-room boutique hotel with 1960s aesthetics has a throwback, Miami vibe—but is a quiet three hours away from the big city. It also has celebrity pedigree: Gloria Estefan and her husband own the hotel, which includes a Cuban-influenced restaurant and a DJ who spins both poolside and in the nightclub (and who, we’re guessing, just might play an occasional Miami Sound Machine song). Even in the February high season, you can find rates for $199. Doubles from $159.
Montauk Yacht Club, Montauk, NY
When this hotel on a private beach started as a yacht club in the late 1920s, it counted as members names such as Astor, Vanderbilt, and Morgan (one building was even a speakeasy). Like any good Hamptons denizen, the 103-room hotel has kept a classic sense of style, redone in crisp blue-and-white décor and housing three heated pools. And while high season rates can swell to $500, fall offers both deals and a sleepy bliss in one of America’s most romantic towns. Doubles from $129.
King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA
This 198-room hotel, now on the National Register of Historic Places, began as a seaside dance club in 1935 then expanded into a hotel in 1941, taking a break during World War II to act as a naval coast-watching facility. Today, it has five pools (including two kids’ pools), tennis courts, and golf, and it’s just a mile away from the Golden Isle’s main village, with its shops, live oaks, and lighthouse—perfect for a romantic beach getaway in America’s No. 3 favorite town. Doubles from $119. kingandprince.com
The Shores Resort and Spa, Daytona Beach, FL
This AAA Four Diamond hotel sits on the five-mile Daytona Beach Shores, a barrier island that’s just a few hundred yards wide, and is quietly removed from the heady action of the boardwalk (America’s fifth most crowded beach). Each of the 212 rooms has a view of Daytona Beach, the Atlantic, or the Intracoastal Waterway, and the property has the plush perks of a bigger luxury beach hotel, such as a saltwater pool, spa, kids’ club, and family-friendly s’mores pits. Doubles from $99.
La Jolla Shores Hotel, La Jolla, CA
La Jolla has plenty of bigger (and more high-end) hotels—but most sit on bluffs above the sand. First opened in 1970, this 128-room hotel in the mellow La Jolla Shores neighborhood has a mid-century-meets-hacienda vibe and beach access right out the front entrance. The rooms are airy and decorated in Zen earth tones, and there’s a heated pool and free use of beach chairs and umbrellas. Next door, the seven-acre Kellogg Park offers picnic-friendly grass and a playground. Doubles from $195. ljshoreshotel.com
Beach House Hotel, Hilton Head, SC
This 202-room hotel on Coligny Beach is owned by Holiday Inn but has a more sophisticated boutique-hotel style, along with a pool, beach-cruiser bike rentals, and a new Lowcountry restaurant dishing out such menu staples as fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits. Even in the heart of summer, you can find rates starting at $175. Doubles from $86. thebeachhousehhi.com
South Beach Biloxi Hotel, Biloxi, MS
This Art Deco–style, all-suites hotel boasts of being the only place in rehabbed Biloxi that sits on the sand. All of the rooms—done in pale greens with mod accents—come with living areas and small kitchens, and a trolley stops out front of the hotel to take you to Casino Row. If sand isn’t your thing, spend a simple day lounging by a small pool set right on the dunes. Doubles from $119. sbbiloxihotel.com
Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth, MA
This Cape Cod beach hotel (on the site of a former playhouse and speakeasy) was bought by a group of investors in 1963, one of whom was legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach. Since a change in ownership and a huge makeover in 2011, the 263-room hotel now has a fresh look—in muted blues, greens, and white—as well as two saline-water pools and a gastropub named Red’s. While rates on some summer weekends top $300 a night, even in June, you can find rates under $200. Doubles from $99. seacrestbeachhotel.com
Bungalow Hotel, Long Branch, NJ
Who says the Jersey Shore can’t be chic? This 24-room boutique hotel channels the French Riviera with a sense of fun, as created by the HGTV decorating couple the Novogratzes. The hotel features funky original art, acclaimed surf photography, a nightclub, and a lobby lounge with billiards, backgammon, and chess. And even the smallest room, the Aloha, has a fireplace. Just be ready to indulge during shoulder season or low season—by summer, rates can start at $350 a night. Doubles from $169. bungalowhotel.net
Inn at Manzanita, Manzanita, OR
About two hours west of Portland, the little town of Manzanita embodies Oregon’s earthy beach vibe with art galleries, cafés, and Neahkahnie Mountain views right on the shore. This shingle-siding inn, surrounded by spruces, is just 150 feet from the beach: each of its 13 rooms has exposed wood, fireplaces, hot tubs, and private decks. In-room perks also include coffee from local roaster Thundermuck. Even during the summer, rates start at a modest $179 a night. Doubles from $129.