Whether you find yourself by the desert or the ocean, exploring wine country or the metropolis of L.A., California is sprinkled with boutique hotels that rock the trends. Finding rooms at one of them for less than $200, however, can sometimes seem like the next Gold Rush — a little hopeless. But the good news for West Coast-bound travelers is that we’ve found three stylish properties for $165 or under. Each has a storied past, be it a former hunting retreat or a steamship company’s office. Bonus: The intimate hotels have fewer than 20 rooms each, so you won’t be bumping elbows with many other guests.
Captain’s Inn, Moss Landing (from $155 year-round)
In Moss Landing, a quaint historic fishing village, seafarers will find the perfect retreat in the 11-year-old Captain’s Inn, built by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company in 1906. Of the two buildings, the pretty blue one sits in front of wetlands perfect, for lounging among maritime relics. Seafarers In some of the 10 rooms themselves, the marine theme continues with retired wooden boats that have been made into beds. Mornings begin with a complimentary full breakfast, and day excursions include hopping into a pontoon boat with inn owner Yohn Gideon (a.k.a. “Captain”) for an Elkhorn Slough Safari tour, to view sea otters and harbor seals who call the area home. Bicycles can also be rented for a half-day at $25, and there’s a cozy Thai restaurant and two colorful Mexican cantinas just down the street for other nearby meals.
Sparrows Hotel, Palm Springs (from $119 this summer)
Opened just last fall, the 19-room Sparrows Hotel breathes new life into what was once a bland roadside motel, in the quieter section of South Palm Springs. Fitting right into the scene along with the other properties in the celebrated mid-century style city, the property boasts plenty of communal offerings like fire pits, Adirondack chairs, chaises, a pool, and a renovated barn where breakfast and cocktails are served. Laid-back travelers will find redwood walls, tubs made from horses’ troughs, and minimalist decor in the guest rooms. But don’t worry — when you’re ready for a little excitement, downtown Palm Springs is just a quick bicycle ride away.
Old Crocker Inn, Cloverdale (from $165 this summer)
Getting to this five-acre Sonoma County hideaway is only half the fun — a quick detour to Geyserville for trendy restaurants and tasting rooms, anyone? But once you check into Old Crocker Inn, a former hunting retreat at the end of a narrow, winding road, you might just want to stay forever. Each of the 10 rooms flaunt a fireplace, and some also offer a clawfoot or whirlpool tub. Regardless, summertime is a great season to take advantage of the outdoor pool, where you’ll find fantastic forest and vineyard views. Fresh flowers are tucked into vases in the dining room, where owners Tony and Marcia serve a full breakfast (included in the rate) with indulgences like fair trade coffee and Belgian waffles topped with fruit. If you do venture off the property, use the inn’s free Passport to score complimentary tastings at 100 local wineries.