Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
Built on pylons over Monterey Bay, the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is the closest hotel to the ocean on the northern California peninsula. Dolphins swim by the property almost daily, and travelers on their private balconies can often spot sea otter searching for oysters. What’s more, all of the property’s 290 rooms come with binoculars—a handy tool for watching blue whales spouting on the horizon. Though the location is decidedly California, rooms have a Mediterranean spin; interior archways complement Biedermeier-style furniture and plush beds dressed in European duvets. But why turn inward when all of the hotel’s public spaces spotlight the view? The Lower Terrace is mere feet above the crashing surf, while the casual Schooner’s Bistro on the Bay, the more formal Duck Club Grill, as well as an expansive sundeck (complete with two Jacuzzis and fire pit) overlook the coastline from above.