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Unique Hotels in Southern California

Are you looking for cool hotels in Southern California? You’re in luck because this side of the golden state is home to tons of unique places to stay.

Having lived in San Diego for several years I love exploring Southern California and staying in a memorable hotel just makes your trip extra interesting.

In this article, I’ll share a list of 12 unique hotels in Southern California that aren’t easy to forget. They fit different budgets and different types of trips. So, let’s dive in!

Unique Hotels in Southern California Worth Staying At

1. Petit Ermitage (Los Angeles)

rooftop pool at one of the coolest hotels in Southern California

a hotel room at Petit Ermitage

This is definitely one of the hidden gem hotels in Southern California!

Petit Ermitage is a chic bohemian oasis, tucked away on a residential street in West Hollywood.

You will feel like you’re in a different world, surrounded by antiques, dark corridors, Morrocan-inspired designs, and neon lights.

Do you want to relax while overlooking the hills? Go up to their unique, private rooftop bar and have a swim in their saltwater pool, enjoy the panoramic view, walk through their little garden and feast your eyes on all the beauty.

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2. Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo)

Madonna Inn, a unique hotel in Southern California

the caveman room
The ”caveman room” – Unique hotels in Southern California

Ever heard of kitsch? This remarkable hotel in San Luis Obispo is probably the definition of it.

No two rooms are the same, they all have different themes and names such as Floral Fantasy, Jungle Rock, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Whispering Hills.

First started in 1958, Madonna Inn now has 110 completely unique guestrooms and suites, set on over 1,000 acres of land.

The hotel grounds include a range of amenities including a heated pool, several shops, and tennis, basketball & pickleball courts in bright pink.

You can dine in their truly unique Gold Rush Steak House with pink booths and tablecloths. Yes, you will quickly learn that pink is the signature color here!

Dance the night away on the dance floor or enjoy a cocktail at the, again predominantly pink, cocktail lounge.

If you were looking for unique hotels in Southern California you’ve definitely found one here!

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3. Mama Shelter (Los Angeles)

Mama Shelter hotel

the rooftop at Mama Shelter

Do you consider yourself young at heart, trendy, and fun? Then you’re going to match with Mama Shelter, located only a block away from the Hall of Fame in Los Angeles.

Also Read: 2 Days in LA: Must-Sees on a Short Trip to Los Angeles

With its stylish interior design, cool attitude, and award-winning rooftop bar with an incredible view, Mama Shelter is probably one of the coolest hotels in Southern California.

They offer 70 rooms of different sizes, designed by Thierry Gaugain, with style and comfort in mind.

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4. The Line Hotel (Los Angeles)

The Line Hotel in Los Angeles, SoCal

a room at The Line Hotel

In the heart of Koreatown, you’ll find a cool but cozy haven for minimalists and plant lovers. The Line Hotel is an influencers’ favorite, and for good reasons!

Their interior design is anything but boring: concrete with subtle colors, large floor-to-ceiling windows, modern artwork, and a greenhouse.

Yes, you read that right, a greenhouse. They turned this into a bar/restaurant filled with beautiful plants and it looks amazing! Grab a drink or a bite and connect back with nature.

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5. Ace Hotel & Swim Club (Palm Springs)

Ace hotel, a cool place to stay in Southern California

Ace Hotel interior

Another great treasure in Southern California is Ace Hotel in Palm Springs.

This modernized mid-century hotel is known for its eclectic crowd and pool parties.

However, if you don’t like parties, you can totally ignore that and visit their Feel Good Spa. They offer massages and treatments and there’s a steam room as well.

Their stylish rooms filled with calm colors and vintage furniture invite you to relax and have a good night’s sleep.

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6. Hotel Joaquin (Laguna Beach)

Hotel Joaquin, one of the hidden getaways in Southern California

the pool area at Hotel Joaquin

Are you looking for a unique hotel for a seaside escape? Hotel Joaquin is your go-to place.

This romantic spot in Laguna Beach has one of the most photographed lobbies in Southern California. After your visit, you will understand why.

The tastefully designed interior gives you a sense of serenity and makes you feel at home.

The mini resort, as they call themselves, has a gorgeous restaurant, a bar, a nice pool area and plenty of options to keep you entertained. Think morning yoga, surfboards, kayaks, bikes, snorkeling gear, and more.

With only 22 rooms, this is a very private stay, which makes for an intimate beach getaway.

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7. Venice Beach House (Los Angeles)

Venice Beach House in Southern California

a room at Venice Beach House

Fun fact: Venice Beach House is on the National Register of Historic Places.

But, that’s not the only reason why this place made the list of coolest hotels in Southern California.

This boutique hotel is completely covered with plants!

Built in 1911 by Warren Wilson, the Venice Beach House has a long history of welcoming visitors, including many celebrities.

The hotel offers 9 unique rooms, all beautifully decorated, in line with the hotel’s rich history.

Another thing that makes this hotel stand out is its beautiful garden – people call it “the oasis of Venice Beach”.

It’s safe to say that this is one of the most unique hotels in Southern California!

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8. Santa Monica Proper Hotel (Los Angeles)

one of the more special hotels in SoCal

a room at Santa Monica Proper Hotel

One of the things that Southern California is known for, is its laid-back people. Santa Monica Proper Hotel reflects that energy, as it offers a looser kind of luxury.

This unique, stylish hotel is a down-to-earth gem – the interior design is inspired by the natural world as it shows neutral colors, organic textures, natural wood, and handwoven textiles.

Their rooftop pool deck is the only one on the west side of the city, so, go for a swim and enjoy the view as the sun sets over the Pacific.

Are you interested in a fun or relaxing activity? You can join yoga classes, book a treatment in their Ayurvedic Spa or rent paddleboards, surfboards, and bikes. Yes, this cool Southern California hotel has a lot to offer!

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9. Korakia Pensione (Palm Springs)

Korakia Pensione

a hotel room at Korakia Pensione

This romantic resort is like an oasis in the desert.

The resort is housed in two beautifully restored historic villas, on 1.5 lush acres of land.

With gorgeous Moorish wooden doors at the entrance and handmade furniture in every room, they have created an intimate space with Moroccan and Mediterranean designs.

Get away from the everyday hustle and bustle and walk through their beautiful gardens filled with citrus blossoms, olive trees, date palms, and Moroccan fountains.

Go for a swim in one of their two heated salt water pools or book a wellness treatment.

Every evening the staff lights hundreds of candles and lanterns around the property, creating a truly unique experience!

The New York Times called Korakia Pensione one of the sexiest hotels in America. Now, that says something, doesn’t it?

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10. Moxy San Diego Gaslamp Quarter (San Diego)

one of the coolest hotels in San Diego

a hotel room at Moxy San Diego

If you’re into trendy hotels, you’re going to love this one.

Moxy San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is a super instagrammable boutique hotel in the heart of San Diego. It’s definitely one of the coolest hotels in the area.

Also Read: Fun Things to Do in San Diego

The lobby is unique and invites you to grab a drink at their 24-hour bar, enjoy the hang-out spots and play some board games.

Moxy’s design reflects the hotel’s young spirit, which makes it a perfect stay for both solo travelers and couples wanting to explore San Diego.

The hotel is located in the Gaslamp Quarter, which is one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Diego, known for its good restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. It’s a great central location from where you can explore San Diego.

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11. Palihouse Santa Monica (Los Angeles)

The Palihouse in Santa Monica, California

a hotel room at the Palihouse Hotel

This cute boutique hotel is perfect for anyone who’s looking for a hotel with a classic, historic vibe.

The hotel dates back to 1927 and is a perfect example of Moorish-influenced Mediterranean Revival Architecture – this makes it stand out from the crowd.

Palihouse Santa Monica offers studios and one and two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens, plus a beautiful garden and a gorgeous lobby.

There are a few more unique hotels in Southern California that are part of the Palisociety family business, so do check those out as well!

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12. Hotel del Coronado (San Diego)

Hotel del Coronado, one of the unique places to stay in Southern California

a hotel room at Hotel del Coronado

If you love cool hotels with a rich history and you are coming to San Diego, you have to check out Hotel del Coronado!

The hotel was built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

The hotel was a resort before the term even existed, attracting the rich & famous from both the US and Europe. These guests, who arrived with their own servants in tow, generally stayed for months at a time.

Nowadays the hotel is a beautiful, luxury beachfront hotel offering spacious rooms, many with a sea view.

The hotel is also open to the public, so even if you decide not to stay here I’d recommend walking through the hotel to admire its beauty, and stopping for a drink on their terrace with a view of the beach.

Fun detail: The hotel is rumored to be haunted by ghosts! You can read all about that when you visit.

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Cool Hotels in Southern California – Conclusions

Southern California has a lot to offer and the hotels are no exception.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of cool hotels and have found the one that’s perfect for your next trip.

I do recommend booking as early as possible, as many of these hotels fill up quickly.

And if you have other recommendations for cool, unique Southern Californian hotels, feel free to share them in a comment below!

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Unique hotels in Southern California worth staying at

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Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

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