Courtesy of Sanderling Resort
A hotel on the sand is bliss—and even more so when it’s a steal.
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.
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 9 beachfront hotels across the U.S. with rates that start under $200.
1. SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel, Pismo Beach, CA
Courtesy of SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel
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
2. Hotel Oceana, Santa Barbara, CA
Courtesy of Hotel Oceana
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 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;hoteloceanasantabarbara.com.
3. La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach, CA
Courtesy of La Casa del Camino
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 propertyopened 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.
4. The Palms Hotel & Spa, Miami
Courtesy of The Palms
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.
5. Azul del Mar, Key Largo, FL
Courtesy of Azul del Mar
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.
6. The Georgianne Inn, Tybee Island, GA
Matt Basta / The Georgianne Inn
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.
7. 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.
8. Tilghman Island Inn, Tilghman Island, MD
Courtesy of Tilghman Island Inn
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.
9.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
For more hotels under $200, click here.