The best hotels in California

The Surfrider, Malibu

Set just off the Pacific Coast Highway, this former roadside motel has been transformed into one of Malibu’s most sought-after spots. The vibe here is laidback surfing-chic. The hotel’s young, globetrotting owners turned it into a sleek, stylish beach lodge packed with personal touches, including finds from their travels around the world and covetable trinkets from local makers. There are also custom surfboards to rent, as well as a vintage Land Rover for driving guests to local surf spots such as Leo Carrillo beach. The 20 light-filled rooms come with crisp linen, reclaimed wood and neutral colour palettes and all of them have balconies with stellar ocean views – though the best vistas can be found on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, which despite only being open to guests, is always buzzing come sunset. 

Parker, Palm Springs 

If it’s swinging Sixties-inspired kitsch you’re after, the Parker has it in spades. This Palm Springs hotel takes the Pop Art theme and runs with it, with mismatching colours, clashing patterns and kooky sculptures galore as soon as you walk through the much-Instagrammed bright orange double doors. Designed by American potter and interior designer Jonathan Adler, there’s an irreverent, rock ‘n roll vibe here, with glamorous bedrooms filled with colourful scatter cushions, arty coffee table books and fabric wall hangings, as well as an indoor fire pit in the lobby that makes for great people-watching come nightfall. Have brunch at the diner-style Norma’s, famed for its tangerine-coloured banquettes, before taking a stroll around the bougainvillea-filled gardens and cooling off from the desert heat with a dip in one of the hotel’s two outdoor pools, which are always flanked by beautiful people basking in the sun.

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