This week, many will be reminded of their loved ones with tokens of affection — from a child’s handmade valentine to a dozen long-stemmed roses or a heart-shaped box of chocolate truffles. For me, however, there is nothing more romantic than just being at the beach. A wise romantic once said, “If you want to know how much I love you, count the waves.” If counting the waves fits your romantic itinerary this week, below are 10 very romantic hotels along the California coast that provide perfect, ocean-front views.
1. Little River Inn, Mendocino
Miles from San Francisco: 125
What’s to like: Located north of San Francisco on Mendocino County’s rugged coast, the Little River Inn offers many different types of rooms — from seaside luxury suites ($369 per night) with fireplaces, ocean-view decks and hot tubs — to Victorian gables ($130) located in the Inn’s main building. The inn also runs a popular pub — Ole’s Whale’s Watch Bar — and an excellent restaurant run by chef Marc Dyn. For fun, play golf on its nine-hole course ($25 for a round on weekends), play tennis on two lighted championship tennis courts, or take a hike at adjacent Van Damme State Park, home to some of the last remaining protected stands of pygmy forest. For Feb. 14, the inn is offering a “Secret Valentine” package that includes a 30 percent discount on lodging and 10 percent discount on dinner.
2. Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
Miles from San Francisco: 25
What’s to like: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is an award-winning (AAA five-diamond) luxury resort with a beautiful, ocean-facing lounge, award-winning restaurant, wine bar — as well as two 18-hole golf courses, a recreation facility with an indoor pool, two fitness centers and a full-service spa. To celebrate romance, the restaurant, Navio, will be holding an over-the-top chocolate lover’s Sunday brunch today ($118 per person, at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.), a five-course Valentine’s Day dinner ($125 per guest, at 6 and 9 p.m.); and on Feb. 14, it will offer a five-course Valentine’s Day dinner ($125 per guest, at 5:30 and 9 p.m.). If you spend the night, a coastview room starts at $435 per night.
3. Dream Inn, Santa Cruz
Miles from San Francisco: 78 miles
What’s to like: Located on Cowell’s beach, adjacent to the wharf and Santa Cruz’s historic Beach Boardwalk, the Dream Inn offers views of Monterey Bay from every room. The recently renovated, stylish hotel — run by JDV Hotels — also features an ocean-facing restaurant, Aquarius, which specializes in local, sustainable seafood. For Valentine’s Day, the hotel is offering a romance package (starting at $209) that includes overnight accommodations, a rose petal turndown, a sweet-treat amenity, sparkling cider or Champagne and a 1 p.m. late check-out.
4. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
Miles from San Francisco: 150 miles
What’s to like: With only 39 guest rooms and two private houses, the Post Ranch Inn — located on the cliffs of Big Sur — is renowned for its natural luxury, fine dining and earthy spa treatments. The inn — which in January was awarded “Best Hotel for Location in the U.S” by Condé Nast Traveler — offers rooms between $550 and $1,900 per night.
5. Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa, Shell Beach
Miles from San Francisco: 241
What’s to like: Located on the Central Coast, Dolphin Bay Resort — a 62-suite resort that sits on 5.1 acres of beachfront property — is perfect for those who love to stroll along the beach. Located near both Avila Beach and Pismo Beach, the resort also has access to its own beach and tide pool area, as well as a large infinity pool. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the resort is offering a two-night package ($600 for both nights) that includes breakfast for two, a bottle of Champagne, a dozen roses, chocolate-dipped strawberries and dinner for two.
6. Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Miles from San Francisco: 347
What’s to like: Located on Butterfly Beach in Montecito near Santa Barbara, the Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a luxurious 207-room resort that includes everything from spa, pool, tennis, golf and an award-winning restaurant. For beach lovers, there is one added perk: access to Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, one of Santa Barbara’s most private of playgrounds. With just a few hundred members, the beach is now open to hotel guests. For romantics, the hotel is offering a “Celebration” package (starting at $545 per night), a special Valentine’s Day dinner menu at its restaurant Bella Vista and a selection of couple’s spa treatments.
7. Shutter on the Beach, Los Angeles
Miles from San Francisco: 387
What’s to like: Located on the beach in Santa Monica, Shutter on the Beach — a member of the Leading Hotels of the World — is laid-back beach house meets luxury hotel. A bit of a splurge, ocean view rooms start at $735 per night.
8. Hotel Erwin, Venice
Miles from San Francisco: 389
What’s to like: Located a short walk to the beach, Hotel Erwin — a boutique property run by JDV Hotels — exudes SoCal hipness. In addition, the hotel has one of the best roof-top lounges in L.A., where the nightly sunset over the beach is its main event. Room rates here start at $219 per night.
9. Surf and Sand, Laguna Beach
Miles from San Francisco: 437
What’s to like: Located in the heart of Laguna Beach, the Surf and Sand offers spectacular ocean-front views form all its rooms and suites. While you’re there, enjoy dinner at Splashes — located on the beach level of the hotel — and enjoy the sound of waves breaking just 25 feet below your table. Rooms start at $465 per night, and the hotel is offering romance upgrades throughout February.
10. Hotel Del Coronado, Coronado Island, San Diego
What’s to like: Most famous for its role in the Billy Wilder comedy “Some Like It Hot,” the Hotel Del Coronado — or “Hotel Del” — will be almost unrecognizable to those who have visited the 124-year-old Victorian property. On the heels of an $8 million renovation of all 368 guest rooms and suites, visitors to this stunning oceanfront resort will be surprised by new contemporary furnishings and crisp white linens with cream and gray accents. For Valentine’s Day, a “Night of Romance” package ($460) that includes overnight accommodations, a dozen roses, Champagne and strawberries, breakfast for two overlooking the Pacific and valet parking. — Kathleen Jay