More Beach, Fewer Clams on the California Coast

Over at Condé Nast Traveler, the results of the 2012 Best in the World poll are in. This is one of the more reliable reader polls you’ll find in the industry. For example, their top resort in Southern California? The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach—pretty much spot on. It’s ridiculously beautiful. Sure, it might not be on the beach, but it’s got incredible ocean views, one of the most stunning pools on the West Coast, and rooms that feel like they belong in the home you wish you lived in. Of course, not everyone has $495 and up (a typical starting rate in November) to spend on living the good life. Here are two lower-priced options that don’t require you to spend a fortune to stay comfortably on the beach.

  • The Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort is just north of Malibu in the decidedly less famous city of Oxnard. It may have its drawbacks—TripAdvisor users give it just 3.5-out-of-5 circles—but everyone agrees (and so do we) that the location is absolutely stunning. The mission-style building sits on a beautifully landscaped property, located directly (and we do mean directly—no streets to cross) on a wide and pleasant beach, and it's adjacent to some very nice open space, complete with actual dunes. The recently renovated guest suites are built to have you stick around awhile—an entirely practical idea, with their pretty good rates. We found rooms for $170 in early November. The hotel also participates in the Tingo Money Back option. Your friends may look at you funny when you tell them you’re going on vacation to Oxnard, but really, what do they know!
  • Personally, we can't get enough of the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa. Sitting just above the water on a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, it's set away from the hubbub of Carlsbad village proper, yet close enough to the action when you want it. The hotel itself is a real surprise visually—we're betting that once they build up an audience, rates are going to go far higher than they are at the moment. For example, we found a nonrefundable rate of $176 in mid-November on Tingo. Maybe grab it before we do?

About the Author: To learn more about George Hobica, visit him on Google+.

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