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Top 10: best beach hotels in the continental USA

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 31, 2017): Top 10 best beach hotels in the USA.

I previously published top 10 lists of the most stunning (and my preferred) beach retreats in Asia, Europe and Africa. Today, I take you to the USA, where there’s plenty of breathtaking seashore to explore in all seasons. But some beaches are better than others, and so are the USA’s coastal resorts. Here are my top 10 picks of the country’s best beach hotels, with facilities and design that match their spectacular coastal surroundings. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of these resorts are located where you’d expect, with the sun-kissed states of California and Florida being home to more than half the hotels in the list. I have left Hawaii out of the list, since the fabulous Aloha State deserves its own top 10 list (which I published here).

There is more info (with reviews) below the slide show.  Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!

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10. HOTEL DEL CORONADO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Steeped in history and romance, the Hotel del Coronado, located on Coronado Island, is San Diego’s premier oceanfront resort, boasting miles of white sand beaches and elegant Victorian charm. Built in 1888, this National Historic Landmark has become a living legend with visits by celebrities, U.S. presidents and dignitaries from around the world. Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum is said to have derived his inspiration for the Emerald City from The Del’s spiraling turrets and the classic comedy “Some Like it Hot”, starring Marilyn Monroe was filmed at The Del in 1958. Whether you prefer the historic charm of the Victorian building, the spacious contemporary rooms of Ocean Towers and poolside California Cabana buildings, or the pinnacle of luxury at Beach Village, the sprawling resort has a variety of accommodations to suit your individual taste.

  • Hotel websiteHotel Del Coronado
  • Other accolades: Hotel Del Coronado also features in my top 10 list of haunted luxury hotels that will spook you.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast for 2, early check-in, late check-out, commemorative book celebrating over 125 years at The Del, and $100 USD spa credit).

HOTEL DEL CORONADO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA


9. WATERCOLOR INN, SANTA ROSA BEACH, FLORIDA

Overlooking the sugar sands of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, you will find WaterColor Inn, a warm family-friendly destination steeped in southern hospitality, history and charm. The hotel is situated on a stunning 500-acre community, tucked between the Gulf of Mexico and a coastal dune lake framed by a longleaf pine forest. Thoughtfully designed by architect David Rockwell and featuring a gorgeously renovated lobby, the Inn seamlessly marries the laid-back comfort of a classic beach house with the modern perks and indulgences of a luxury boutique hotel. Experiences at the hotel are inspired by the natural surroundings, from the coastal elegance of the 60 guest rooms and suites to the locally sourced menus and captivating Gulf views at the restaurants. Throughout the beautifully landscaped grounds, pebbled footpaths wind through picturesque parks and gardens, leading the way to a boathouse, tennis courts, spa, shops, restaurants, a fitness center and a private beach.

  • Hotel websiteWaterColor Inn
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast for 2, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).

WATERCOLOR INN, SANTA ROSA BEACH, FLORIDA


8. THE CLOISTERS AT SEA ISLAND, GEORGIA

Sea Island is a private, five-mile-long coastal Georgia resort island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and separated from St. Simons Island by wide salt marshes on the west.  It lies halfway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida and is a one-hour drive from both cities’ airports. A graceful and naturally beautiful retreat, The Cloister features 195 guest rooms and suites, in a variety of styles offering tremendous choice and flexibility for couples, families, business groups, extended families and circles of friends who may be visiting simultaneously.  Sea Island features award-winning golf, spa, tennis, a private beach, gourmet dining, children’s programs, a shooting school, yachting, fishing and more. Dining experiences range from a romantic evening of elegant, full-course dining to a casual outdoor lunch overlooking the ocean.

  • Hotel websiteThe Cloisters at Sea Island
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).

THE CLOISTERS AT SEA ISLAND, GEORGIA


7. INN BY THE SEA, PORTLAND, MAINE

Inn by the Sea is located on a mile of sandy beach and just fifteen minutes from the vibrant city of Portland, making the Inn the perfect luxury Maine beach hotel for couples or family travel. Its 61 guestrooms, suites and cottages have been appointed with maple furnishings and locally commissioned artwork. Sea Glass, the main restaurant, offers fresh and delicious fare, as well as stunning ocean views. Things to do here are relaxing on the mile long sandy beach, canoeing with L.L. Bean instructors on Casco Bay, roasting marshmallows over an open fire pit, enjoying beachfront sunsets, performing early morning yoga, or heading to nearby Portland to shop. The elegantly appointed, eco-conscious spa offers an array of maritime-inspired massages, facials and body treatments. Inn by the Sea is also well-known as a pet-friendly destination in the Portland area, so you can take your four-legged companions with you.

  • Hotel website: Inn By The Sea
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).

INN BY THE SEA, PORTLAND, MAINE


6. THE RITZ-CARLTON, LAGUNA NIGUEL, CALIFORNIA

Perched atop a seaside bluff, surrounded by panoramic views of the Pacific and the sandy shores of Salt Creek Beach below, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is a coastal haven of new experiences. Located halfway between LA and San Diego, along the coast of Dana Point, the resort awakens the senses with its vibrant beachfront locale and celebrated Five Diamond service. Sprawling shoreline vistas create awe-inspiring memories from the moment of arrival. The 396-room resort indulges guests with stylish comfort. Accommodations include 30 suites and 32 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms, all featuring a secluded patio or balcony with delightful views of the ocean or poolside gardens. The resort embraces its Southern California roots at every opportunity, from sea-inspired treatments at the spa and locally sourced restaurant menus to family-friendly eco-adventures.

  • Hotel website: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).

THE RITZ-CARLTON, LAGUNA NIGUEL, CALIFORNIA


5. THE BREAKERS, PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

The 116 year old Breakers Hotel is in a world of its own.  For starters it’s a family hotel owned by the descendants of founder Henry Flagler.  The family has spent well over 250 million dollars in the last decade to meet the needs of the 21st century traveler and maintain what is a fabulous palace on 140 acres of prime ocean front property.  It may not suit everyone’s taste but there is no doubt that this yesteryear hotel is an exquisite Florida landmark, magnificent in nearly every way. It still maintains an Italian Renaissance feeling with twin towers and arches fronted by Florentine fountains and formal gardens. The vast, opulent lobby reinforces the lavish Renaissance atmosphere, with marble and oak floors, frescoes and 15th-century Flemish tapestries and Venetian chandeliers hanging from hand-painted ceilings. There is so much to do at the Breakers that a week is almost not enough.  There are nine restaurants, five bars, five pools, two 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts (lit for night playing), 11 shops and a mile of pristine beach.

  • Hotel website: The Breakers
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).

THE BREAKERS, PALM BEACH, FLORIDA


4. OCEAN HOUSE, WATCH HILL, RHODE ISLAND

The Ocean House is a small boutique, luxury hotel with resort-like amenities, offering the highest level of service and providing a nearby coastal New England escape. Meticulously reconstructed to recreate the original Victorian structure, built in 1868, the Ocean House evokes a timeless elegance that captures the residential ambiance of the area’s turn-of-the-century summer estates, while providing today’s discerning travelers with the most modern amenities available. The beachfront, world-class property features 49 guestrooms and 23 private residences, each room richly appointed to reflect the feel of a sprawling seaside estate, offering an unrivaled residential experience. There’s also farm-to-table casual and fine dining, an impeccable 12,000-square-foot spa, and more than 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. The Ocean House is located on a private, white-sand beach which provides an oceanfront playground replete with private cabanas and an array of water sports and activities.

  • Hotel website: Ocean House
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).

OCEAN HOUSE, WATCH HILL, RHODE ISLAND


3. FAENA HOTEL MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA

Typifying South American hospitality, Faena Hotel Miami Beach offers 169 ultraluxe rooms and suites, with most accommodations featuring private balconies with views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, or city skyline. The elegant Art Deco design recalls the glamour of 1950s Miami Beach in modern style with details including Ann Sacks tile bathrooms with separate walk-in shower and bespoke bedding with Italian linens. The hotel has restaurants from Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann and James Beard Foundation Award winner Paul Qui. Mallmann’s Los Fuegos offers a contemporary take on the traditional Argentine asado experience, featuring grilled and roasted meats prepared in a South American-style open-fire kitchen, fresh seafood and locally grown vegetables. Qui has opened Pao, the chef’s first restaurant outside of Texas, which offers his renowned brand of modern Asian cuisine based on his diverse culinary background. Occupying an entire floor, the Tierra Santa Healing House is the first South American-inspired spa in the U.S. The property also includes a 150-seat theater featuring live shows and performances.

  • Hotel websiteFaena Hotel Miami Beach
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD hotel credit, welcome signature cocktail, early check-in, and late check-out).

FAENA HOTEL MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA


2. LITTLE PALM ISLAND, FLORIDA KEYS, FLORIDA

Little Palm Island is a close as you can get to an exclusive private island experience in the continental USA. This Florida Keys resort & spa is a piece of paradise discreetly located off the fabled Florida Keys coastline so remote it’s only accessible by seaplane or boat. A best-kept secret for US presidents and celebrities, an escape to Little Palm Island is simply waiting to drink you in. Romance abounds in the 30 air-conditioned thatched roof Bahamas-style bungalow suites, with custom-made beds draped under plush mosquito netting. White paths of crushed seashells meander through nearly six acres of tropical flowers, palm trees and sandy beaches. With no phones or television, the soundtrack at this resort is the lapping of ocean waves, the rustle of the leaves in the breeze, and the melody of neighboring birds and tree frogs. Days are spent in hammocks fixed to the palm trees, lounge chairs on the small beach, and the world-class restaurant and spa.

LITTLE PALM ISLAND, FLORIDA KEYS, FLORIDA


1. THE SETAI, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA

Serene and intimate, The Setai is an oasis of tranquility amidst the energy of South Beach. Bearing the unmistakable imprint of legendary hotelier Adrian Zecha, its design and vision artfully combine the rich architectural history of South Beach’s Art Deco District with the multi-faceted cultural history of the International Art Deco movement, particularly its influence in Asia. Built in the 1930s, the hotel’s landmark Art Deco building on Collins Avenue began as the famed Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel. Adjacent to the Art Deco building is a 40-story glass residential tower featuring ocean suites, surpassing all around it in elevation, views and design. The hotel features 75 impeccably detailed guestrooms and 50 suites, an intimate, private spa, three pools and remarkable restaurants and bars. It is located near Miami Beach’s thriving cultural district, as well as the nightlife, fine dining, shopping and other South Beach attractions.

  • Hotel websiteThe Setai
  • Other accolades: The Setai features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in the continental USA.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast for 2, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).

THE SETAI, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA


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