California’s hundreds of historic motels, lodges, hotels and resorts have gotten a serious glow-up since the pandemic.
Everything from Gold Rush saloons to Old Hollywood hideaways to mid-century monuments have been redesigned from the ground up to host a generation of revenge travelers.
Just in time for Presidents Day weekend, The Standard compiled a list of a dozen extraordinary hotels around the state that recently reopened following multi-million-dollar renovations.
Dillon Beach Resort, Marin County
Tiny homes, seafood and stargazing | From $299 per night for Presidents Day weekend
In far West Marin, a small fleet of high-style “tiny homes” has replaced a former trailer park on a bluff overlooking a lone cypress, the mouth of Tomales Bay and miles of dunes. Rechristened the Dillon Beach Resort, the oceanfront lodging is the most recent incarnation of a fishing and weekend destination that dates to 1888.
Murrieta Hot Springs Resort, Riverside County
Soaking in mineral pools sound a bit too tame? Murrieta is only an hour’s drive south of the Ontario Airport and is dangerously close to Temecula Valley wineries, as well as Southern California’s destination for skydiving and hot air balloon rides.
Sea Ranch Lodge, Sonoma Coast
Strolls, style and tranquility | From $699 per night for Presidents Day weekend
A 2023 refurbishment of the 17 guest rooms stripped out the remains of less-faithful remodels for a return to the pioneering 1964 eco-focused design, which aimed to provide seamless integration into the surrounding meadows, cypress groves and bluffs above Sonoma’s wild Pacific Coast. A long weekend of strolling the windswept cliffs and beaches and soaking in mid-century design delivers unparalleled peace of mind.
The LINE Hotel Los Angeles, Koreatown
Cuisine, karaoke and baths | From $193 per night for Presidents Day weekend
Set in a refurbished 1964 mid-century tower between Downtown and Hollywood, the LINE puts guests in the center of K-town, with a “Deco-disco” cocktail lounge, karaoke and rooftop pool on the property. Plus, you’re near authentic Korean food, bars and spas.
The Incline Lodge, Lake Tahoe
Skiing, trails and gambling | From $265 per night for Presidents Day weekend
The north shore of Lake Tahoe has become something of an accommodation ghost town. Despite the lake’s dramatic increase in popularity, many of the old motels and casinos near the California-Nevada state line have shuttered.
The Incline Lodge steps into this void with a bottom-up rebuild of a former roadside inn. Modern design and furnishings are warmed by High Sierra touches—and the indoor pool is heated year-round. Best of all, the property makes a convenient base from which to ski Diamond Peak or Mt. Rose, snowshoe near the lake, traverse the East Shore Trail past Sand Harbor, bowl at the all-new Bowl Incline or try your luck at the casinos.
Lafayette Hotel, San Diego
Sunshine, chaises and shops | From $274 per night for Presidents Day weekend
Between the time Bob Hope checked in as its first guest in 1946 and its $31 million renovation in 2023, the Lafayette Hotel has witnessed San Diego’s maturation as a tourist mecca. The new eye-popping decor means the Lafayette will never be mistaken for a chain motel—and its classic poolside chaises are dreamy.
La Playa Hotel, Carmel
Village life, 17-Mile Drive and galleries | From $599 per night for Presidents Day weekend
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, Sonoma
The five-acre property is located just blocks from the Sonoma Plaza and a short drive to landmark wineries like Buena Vista and Gundlach Bundschu. A body polish using oils made from plants grown on site sounds like an ideal mid-winter refresh.
Holbrooke Hotel, Grass Valley
Saloons, Gold Country and cross-country skiing | From $205 per night for Presidents Day weekend
Life House, Palm Springs
Desert vibes, palm trees and cabanas | From $411 per night for Presidents Day weekend
Opened in November 2023, the new Life House Palm Springs preserves the soul of the 1960s Royal Sun motel it replaced.
Inn at the Presidio, San Francisco
Urban forest, SF history and pizza | From $410 per night for Presidents Day weekend
A former army officers’ residence dating from the turn of the last century, the Inn is now one of the city’s most popular boutique hotels, boasting a 2024 cozy redesign of its common areas. The Presidio provides access to a full weekend of adventure, including countless trails, the indoor Field Station science center and a new pizza spot, Il Parco.
The Queen Mary Hotel, Long Beach
Art Deco design, maritime history and ghosts | From $280 per night for Presidents Day weekend
Almost sunk by skyrocketing renovation costs, the Queen Mary was saved by the city of Long Beach in 2021 and reopened its hotel in 2023, giving back the port its one-of-a-kind lodging experience. Guests can spend the night in 1930s Art Deco staterooms once slept in by movie stars and royalty—from Winston Churchill and Jackie O. to Clark Gable and Elizabeth Taylor—and still reportedly inhabited by numerous ghosts.