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Where to Stay in Monterey
There are four areas of Monterey where hotel accommodations are plentiful, but Downtown Monterey is the most atmospheric and in-demand neighborhood. Alvarado Street, Downtown’s main drag, is the epicenter of the city’s dining and nightlife scenes, and the area’s central location makes it the ideal starting point for exploring the rest of Monterey and the peninsula.
If you prefer a water view, you’ll want to explore the range of hotels in the Cannery Row neighborhood, just northwest of Downtown. These accommodations cover the short stretch between the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman’s Wharf, two of the biggest local attractions.
The area with the greatest number of rooms is the stretch of Munras Avenue between Cabrillo Highway and Fremont Street. The hotels at the northern end of this strip are even within walking distance of Downtown. About a mile to the east, there’s another major strip of hotels on Fremont Street. If you’re seeking truly cheap hotel deals in Monterey, these two lodging districts are the best places to look.
Monterey Hotel Tips
Monterey has its fair share of glitzy luxury hotels and charming upscale bed and breakfast inns, most of which are located in Downtown Monterey and near the wharfs. Nightly rates at the finer properties can be very expensive, but it pays to closely examine these hotels’ rate schedules if you’re looking for a deal. Prices stay high throughout the summer, around major holidays and during events like golf tournaments at Pebble Beach, races at Mazda Raceway and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival. If you plan around these peak periods, you can experience luxury at a big discount.
There are plenty of mid-range hotels and reasonably priced motels as well, though these are almost exclusively confined to Munras Avenue and Fremont Street. Even at these more affordable properties, hotel quality is consistently high throughout the well-to-do Monterey Peninsula.
Monterey Hotel Recommendations
One of the most luxurious lodging options in town, the Old Monterey Inn, is also one of the smallest, making it somewhat difficult to get a room. Operated from within a historic Tudor mansion, the Old Monterey Inn offers six standard-size rooms, three expanded suites and one detached cottage with a bit more privacy. Every room has a different theme, with painstaking attention paid to comfort and design details. The daily breakfast served by the inn’s gracious hosts may be the most memorable meal you enjoy in Monterey, and professional in-house spa services for individuals or couples can make your stay especially relaxing or romantic.
This B&B should not be confused with the similarly named Monterey Bay Inn, another of the city’s most exclusive establishments. Located in the Cannery Row area, this small hotel affords its guests some of the finest balcony views of the bay. The nightly rate includes a full, hot breakfast served to you in your room.
Another excellent B&B option is the Jabberwock Bed & Breakfast. The odd name is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There,” a theme that carries over into some of the home’s décor. A few of its seven units are very competitively priced for a Monterey B&B.
If you’re traveling on a smaller budget, the El Adobe Inn on Munras Avenue is a great discount option. Despite its low rates, the rooms are large and handsomely appointed.
Downtown Monterey is a small area that is easily explored on foot, so if you have a centrally located hotel and don’t intend to tour the rest of the Monterey Peninsula, you can get by without your own vehicle. However, there’s quite a bit to see in the nearby towns of Carmel, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Del Monte Forest, and the famous peninsula thoroughfares of 17 Mile Drive and Sunset Drive are among the most scenic on the California Coast. If you have the budget to rent a car and the time to enjoy it, it’s well worthwhile to rent one from the many rental agencies at the airport after your flight to Monterey.
Taxis are a viable alternative to driving yourself, but trips that extend beyond Monterey can be pricy. If you expect to need a taxi, keep the phone numbers of a few local cab companies with you; in most neighborhoods, it’s rare to be able to hail a ride on the street.
As for public transportation, Monterey-Salinas Transit operates a system of clean and efficient buses that cover most of the peninsula. If you don’t want to rent a car but still want to see the surrounding area, a winding bus trip is a smart and affordable alternative.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Monterey-Salinas Transit runs a free trolley called the WAVE. It runs daily from late morning through early evening, covering Downtown Monterey, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.