An Insider Guide to the Best Places to Stay on Catalina Island

You’ve made a great decision by considering a trip to Catalina, where adventures seamlessly blend with relaxation. This hidden gem off the California coast is a traveler’s paradise, boasting pristine beaches, rugged hiking trails, and charming towns. But before you set off, let’s delve into your options for a perfect night’s rest. Catalina offers a diverse range of accommodations, from luxurious hotels, cozy Airbnbs, to hidden, top-quality Bed and Breakfasts, ensuring you’ll find the ideal place to call home during your stay.

So, Which Hotels Are Best?

Here are our top 3:

Photo courtesy of Vista Del Mar Management

First on the list of the island’s finest hotels are the ocean-front rooms at the Vista Del Mar. Their balcony rooms were recently redone and boast a Jacuzzi tub and fireplace. The view is unbeatable from the 3rd-floor overlooking the sand and Avalon Harbor. Here you are able to quietly watch people while maintaining your privacy. Another bonus is the property is located at the base of the Green pleasure pier, where all things originate, from shops, excursions, to restaurants, so you are close to the action. This is our top pick for a luxury hotel choice in Avalon.

Photo courtesy of Pavilion Hotel Management

Coming in at second place would be the Pavilion Hotel, also located on the beach in downtown Avalon. While the rooms were recently upgraded as well, we find the outdoor fire pit with comfy Adirondack chairs and the wine and cheese hour on-site to be a major selling point. Located just a few steps from the beach, it’s the perfect place to catch up with friends on the pristinely landscaped grounds.

Photo courtesy of Atwater Hotel Management

Coming in at #3 is the Hotel Atwater. This vintage property was redone down to the studs in 2019, and no expense was spared. As one of the oldest hotels on the island, they kept a lot of the historic charm by infusing nostalgic and modern decor throughout the lobby and guest rooms. While it’s not located right on the beach, it is just as luxurious as the others, and that’s why it ranks #3.

Honorable mention goes to 2 boutique hotels on the island. The Bellanca hotel, with its ultra-modern decor, and the Avalon Hotel, with its intricate and detailed wood craftsmanship seen throughout the grounds and inside guest rooms. Both have their own flair and are located in town.

Flexibility with Airbnb Stays
If you relish the feeling of a home-away-from-home type of lodging, then Airbnb stays in Catalina is your ticket. Whether you opt for a cozy cottage, a beachfront villa, or a charming bungalow, you’ll enjoy the freedom to explore the island at your own pace and live like a local. With 60% of homes as vacation rentals on the island, the first thing you have to decide is where you want to be. If you prefer a beachside location, set your filters to Downtown Avalon, ideally in the “Flats” for convenient, hassle-free walking, even with groceries in hand. Simply GPS the address or ask at the time of booking to make sure your rental is within a 3-block radius of the beach. For the super savvy, try to find a rental that comes with a golf cart. There aren’t too many, but you can find them with a little digging.

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Hands down, if you are looking for the best vacation rental getaway experience, rent a unit in Hamilton Cove. Not only are the views from every single unit absolutely stunning, but you will also have your own beach, gated entrance, golf cart, dock for boating, pier for fishing and swimming, sand volleyball court, pool, fitness center, Jacuzzi, tennis court, and putting green. Be mindful when booking in Hamilton Cove to check the number of stairs to get to your unit, as some have 3 or 4 flights to the unit. Unless you are looking for a workout after a day at the beach, this one can bite.

Bed and Breakfasts

Two properties come to mind on the island. The first is The Wrigley Mansion on Catalina Island, also known as the Inn on Mt. Ada, built in the 1920s by William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. The mansion was constructed as a vacation home for the Wrigley family and is now a luxurious bed and breakfast. Wonderful breakfast and lunches are served out on the veranda overlooking the Avalon Bay. Each room comes with a golf cart. Christmas is a magical time to visit when the Inn is decorated for the holidays. These rooms are the most expensive on the island but worth it if your budget allows.

Coming in at #2 is the Snug Harbor Inn (sister property to the Vista Del Mar listed above). Every room is darling and is located steps from the beach. The service is impeccable, and they have spared no expense. This tiny property with 7 rooms has meticulously attended to every detail, exuding an unparalleled level of refinement and luxury.

After securing your ideal accommodations on the island, don’t forget to enhance your Catalina experience with a visit to the Catalina Sea Spa for a couples massage. Catalina Sea Spa offers the perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation, and a soothing spa treatment for you and your partner is the ultimate way to indulge in the island’s romantic charm.

Catalina Island is a haven for both adventure enthusiasts and relaxation seekers. From the renowned Inn on Mt. Ada to the unique experiences at Bellanca and the Pavilion, as well as the flexibility of Airbnb stays, you’ll find a wide array of accommodation options tailored to your preferences and budget.

And don’t forget, whether you choose a hotel or an Airbnb, you really can’t go wrong with a trip to the island, so go ahead and book your Catalina Island vacation with confidence and be sure to treat yourself to a well-deserved spa experience. Your unforgettable island getaway is calling!