Our Pick of the Best Places to Stay in California
Coast, desert or city, California has something for everyone.
California has a bit of everything, from the bright lights and glitzy glamour of Los Angeles and San Francisco to the arid plains of the Joshua Tree National Park and the shopping towns spread across the desert. We at the Plum Guide have sent our experts to individually inspect every home we list in California, so you know you're in for a special stay when you book with us.
When it comes to finding the best places to stay in California, you've come to the right place. We've found the swankiest restaurants, glitziest bars and best museums. We’ll see what there is to do for families, which neighbourhoods are the safest, and where to go when you're just looking to have some fun.
The City of Angels seems like a great place to start. Stay in the downtown district for some of the coolest museums in the city, such as the The Broad, the Japanese American National Museum and the Wells Fargo Museum. We have plenty of homes on the northern side of the city, including I Saw The Sign (which has views of the Hollywood sign from its patio).
While in this part of town, you’re not far from some of the top Hollywood landmarks. If you're staying in LA with kids, take them for a day at the Universal Studios (or just go without kids, who needs ‘em). Delve into the sets and rides of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. You’ve also got Warner Bros. Studios just round the corner – go give them your latest ideas for films, they love when people do that. Chat with Mickey (Mouse) at Disney World and spend the day at the Los Angeles Zoo, threatening to leave your little ones there if they misbehave.
Of course, it’s not all kids’ stuff and family affairs (in the good sense, not like adultery). The city is graced with some of the most prestigious restaurants in the state, from the Japanese n/naka that’s so good it doesn’t need a capital letter, to the seafood Providence establishment. Other top fine-dining hubs include the Redbird, the Craft Los Angeles and the Animal restaurant. Finish off your very upscale day at the exclusive John Woolf, a Plum Guide home in the Hollywood Hills.
The Joshua Tree National Park
The dry desert terrain stretching across the southern part of California makes for a bit of a culture shock after the celeb lifestyle of Los Angeles. And it might be just what the doctor ordered, a bit of a respite, with absolute serenity amid the cacti. You’ll stay in one of our homes with pools and stunning views stretching across the wide valley. Enjoy the nature trails and spectacular sunsets, and recharge your batteries away from all the chaos of city life. For a home that harmonises just right with the terrain, check out the secluded Modernist Cabin.
That said (we’re continuing the thread from the above section; stay with us here), it's not all vast emptiness in these parts. You’ll also find plenty of cities around here that seem to be custom-made for your holiday. Palm Springs is a modern city in the desert that is dwarfed by mountains on the horizon, and is one of our favourite places to stay in California for a relaxing, sunny getaway. Practice your swing at the golf courses and relax in the spas that the city is famed for. It’s also a shopping haven, with plenty of stores and boutiques lining the Palm Canyon Drive. It’s known as the Playground of the Stars, so even this far from Los Angeles, you still might spot a few famous faces – particularly if you happen to own a mirror (ha).
Get your fashionwear (wait, is that a trendy word?) from the Uptown Design District, which is basically what it says on the tin. Buy a suit from the Desert Hills Premium Outlets and browse the chic attire on show at the Shops on El Paseo.
Of course, a list of places to stay in California is not complete without mentioning San Francisco. Wander down Haight Street and enjoy the hippy atmosphere that’ll take you back a few decades. Those were the days. Enjoy the fun atmosphere at the Fisherman’s Wharf, and make sure to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Union Square.
This Southern California city is much more than just a zoo. Saying that, everyone seems to love the San Diego Zoo, so it’s worth checking out. It has more than 3,700 animals, with lions, pandas and elephants among the big ones stealing the show. Truluck's Ocean's Finest Seafood & Crab is among the fine-dining highlights, as well as Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, the AVANT Restaurant and the NINE-TEN Restaurant. Once you're suitably stuffed, head home to your cosy seafront abode.