America's Best Coastal Hotels
While hotels and resorts have long leaned on Mother Nature to enhance their guest experiences, few wild assets rival that of prime waterfront real estate—be it on a sugary sand beach or a dramatic rocky bluff. Fortunately for travelers, there’s a lot of choice for those seeking a great coastal getaway.
Culled from Travel + Leisure’s 15th Annual World’s Best Survey Awards, the following hotels were determined by readers to be among the top hotels in the country—and all come with ocean breezes, water views, and ultra-scenic shores. Asked to rate properties on rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food, and value, 2010 poll takers once again made it clear that a coastal location can also be one of a hotel’s greatest features.
No matter your definition of what makes a great coastal hotel, there’s one clear characteristic—whether you’re in Big Sur or on a Hawaiian island—that all of the properties flaunt: location, location, location.
#1 Inn at Palmetto Bluff
With Spanish moss dripping from low-lying oak branches and egrets soaring overhead, life at this plantation-style luxury resort seems to move at the pace of a deep-southern drawl. But the many diversions—a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, fly-fishing, spa treatments, naturalist-led alligator “hunts”—sequestered on 20,000 acres of South Carolina coastal marshland leave little time for ennui. Twenty-nine cottages house 50 enormous rooms and suites (1,150 and 1,350 square feet, respectively), with pine floors, gas fireplaces, and private screened porches.
Room to Book: Cottages Suites have antique pine floors, fireplaces, plasma TVs, and screened verandas.
Insider Tip: Though river views are pricier due to impromptu bottlenose dolphin shows, the lagoon is equally lovely and attracts an abundance of birdlife.
#2 Post Ranch Inn
The hotel opened in 1992 and is made up entirely of small buildings set on a ridge high above the Pacific. In 2008 Post Ranch added 10 new sculptural structures, spiraling Pacific Suites, cantilevered Peak Houses, and Richard Serra-esque Cliff houses clad in torques of rusted steel. Staying in a Pacific Suite, wherever you stand you are exposed to the ocean and the sky but unseen by other guests. Even the tiled bath, big enough for two, has a commanding vista, and a floor-to-ceiling window that opens to let in Pacific breezes. The walls are paneled in redwood salvaged from old wine barrels and sheet metal art adorns the bathroom. Sierra Mar, the hotel restaurant will pack you a lunch to take down the Pacific Coast Highway in a Lexus convertible that guests can borrow for free. The mini-bar is complimentary, so take advantage on your balcony overlooking the ocean.