Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
It’s the year for booking long overdue vacations, and why not make well-being a focus of your trip? Fancy a pampering in an exquisite setting, disconnected from every day? Consider staying at a spa or wellness resort. Luckily, you don’t need to travel halfway across the globe to find some of the best spa resorts in the world.
You have many options in the U.S. to find once-in-a-lifetime spa experiences that you’ll want to make a repeat “thing.” California alone has so many spa hotels that it’s worth researching the best.
And we did! We found the 20 best spa resorts in California by analyzing real Google reviews and ratings. We individually reviewed 197 destinations to ensure the best possible recommendations. See our methodology for a full explanation.
What is a Spa Resort? Also called spa hotels or wellness resorts, these are all about location more than activity, according to Vacayou. Spa resorts are “located within a resort or hotel property, providing spa services on an à la carte basis,” according to the Global Wellness Institute. Spa treatments/services are only one of many offerings during your stay. Guests can stay without running into any of the spa or wellness activities, while others can choose to consume their entire time with spa and wellness engagements. Again, everything is usually à la carte with no all-inclusive options, and there are no expectations for guests to follow specific programs.
These are also typically family-friendly locations, with many spa resorts offering programs for kids, according to TripSavvy. But watch out; the “spa” offerings in these locations can vary significantly due to hotels increasingly over-promoting meager spa-related services to catch onto the wellness craze.
If you want to truly make this summer vacation an unforgettable experience AND feel refreshed after, look no further than our list of the best spa resorts in California!
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Our research team operates independently to recommend the best destinations using data analysis. Our top recommendations are based solely on data extraction, a ranking algorithm, and a strict definition of “spa resort.” Our research is editorially independent, but we may earn a commission for any purchases made through links on this page.
The analysis is based on extensive primary data research and secondary expert sources from April to May 2022, including literature reviews and database formulation through visual web data extraction software. Sources include global research institutes, industry-specific businesses, travel promotion publications, booking websites, encyclopedias, travel magazines, health information websites, and industry associations.
The rankings are based on an analysis of 197 spa resorts in California. We used Octoparse, a data extraction tool, to find these destinations on Google Maps. All data were extracted between 4/23/22-4/27/22. Our algorithm gives each location a score by weighing its number of Google reviews against its average Google Review Score. Our scores are on a 5-point scale.
We used our spa resort definition, built off the GWI’s wellness economy definitions, to individually examine every resort that our data extraction tool found and eliminated destinations that did not adhere to the description.
Our algorithm is proprietary, but if you are looking to build a similar project, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected], and we can walk you through the process. You can download a spreadsheet of the top 20 destinations based on our analysis here. Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find this helpful — we ask that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so its contributors can receive proper credit for their work.
Disney may not be what comes immediately to mind when you think of a spa hotel or wellness resort. Still, reviews on Google constantly mention their fantastic experiences at the Tenaya Stone Spa. And no wonder; they offer eight different massages, three types of body treatments, seven facial treatments, foot and salon services, plus a steam room and relaxation lounge. Combined with the plethora of activities you would expect from a Disney resort, the addition of a full-service spa makes the grand hotel the best spa resort in California.
What Guests Are Saying: “The best of the hotels on and off [the] property,” according to a recent Google review. “Upscale resort with anything you need, spa too! Great access to both parks and the restaurants in Downtown Disney. The rooms are spacious and cater to families (sectioned off bunk beds, etc.) — a great place to come back for an afternoon nap with the kids and hang by the pool. Be prepared to pay for the experience as it is one of, if not the most expensive of all, stays. Worth the experience, though.”
The Montage Laguna Beach is a full-service spa hotel right on the water in Orange County. The best part is that their expansive on-site spa is open to the public, with no overnight reservations required. Fair warning, they are certainly on the expensive side, with some treatments costing well over $500. But the data speaks for itself, and the salon spa at Montage Laguna Beach is the second-highest rated in California.
What Guests Are Saying: “The Montage Resort is without a doubt one of my favorite destinations in Laguna Beach,” according to a recent Google review. “I recommend that you start your visit at the Spa Montage for an hour-long massage followed by an hour in the sauna and the spa’s indoor jacuzzi pool, then finish unwinding with an hour outside at the private pool with a grand ocean view for spa patrons only.”
A legendary, iconic, and historic resort that’s operated for nearly 140 years, The Hotel del Coronado by Hilton knows a thing or two about running resorts. This classic resort, right in the San Diego Bay, offers a variety of lodging options, including beach-front suites, opulent cabanas, private cottages, and last but not least, the original, iconic Victorian hotel. The spa is open daily 9-6 and offers massages, facials, body treatments, and access to the spa terrace and oceanfront pool.
What Guests Are Saying: “Great hotel and resort experience which would recommend to anyone looking for a great place in San Diego area to stay,” according to a recent Google review. “Also, the world-class spa and the private fire pit beach roast at sunset were definitely highlights for me at this amazing and historic hotel.”
This expansive, sprawling 102-acre resort features spacious bungalows, casitas, and villas dotting the oceanfront atop the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There is so much to do at the Terranea Resort that you might have to come back to fit it all in. There are golf courses and experiences to sign up for, including painting, the art of falconry, archery, guided nature hikes, tide pooling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and more. Then we get to the spa — a 50,000 square foot complex with 25 treatment rooms, including luxurious VIP suites, separate indoor and outdoor spa lounges complete with saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, cold plunges, and fire pits!
What Guests Are Saying: “We went for a spa weekend getaway,” according to a recent Google review. “The service was amazing; everyone was patient, attentive, and extra kind. The ground is so stunning and well maintained. The spa is one of the best — that view! The resort is dog friendly. They do charge extra for the dogs, $225 per stay to be exact… not cheap but worth it for both of my ‘puppers’ to be with us.”
Looking for a resort as unique and rich in history as you are? Then look no further than the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California. Every room in this Spanish Mission-Revival adobe hotel is uniquely designed, so no two rooms look the same! Every time you come back will be a new experience. Although it is a historical landmark, it offers all the same amenities you will find at a modern spa resort. Consistently ranked one of the top 50 spa hotels in the U.S., the blend of ancient wellness practices and Old World atmosphere makes this resort a must-see in Southern California.
What Guests Are Saying: “So historical, so beautiful, don’t even think twice — stay here,” according to a recent Google review. “This will be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list-style hotel stay. I can’t get over the incredible service and architecture.”
The Madonna Inn, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is another architectural wonder on our list. The resort boasts a pseudo-Swiss-Alps exterior and kitschy, themed interior; every room has wacky titles like Bridal Falls, Barrel of Fun, the Love Nest or the Sweepstakes. We must mention one thing; you must love pink to stay here. The dining room is especially a rouse of rouge roses that would make any coral or salmon blush. Their zany offerings don’t stop there! Although their spa menu has cheeky options like the Caveman or Sticks and Stones massage, they know what they are doing — most guests rave about their treatments.
What Guests Are Saying: “What a neat tourist attraction,” according to a recent Google review. “Pink pink PINK! Everywhere! The copper cafe is great! The main dining room is elegant! Omg, the steak and lobster! Baked potatoes! Yummers! Gawdy! Pink! In a fun way! Great service! Never rushed. The bakery!! YUM! You must try the cake! The pool is beautiful. Waterfalls, flowers, and greenery. Enjoy a burger from the pool snack bar and soak up the sun poolside. Book a massage at the luxurious spa and then spend the rest of the day at the pool.”
This JW Marriott, one hour from San Bernardino, California, is as classic as spa hotels get. Tucked between the Santa Rosa Mountains and Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll find a sprawling landscape of pools next to what is essentially a moat surrounding the resort. Beyond the water lies two championship golf courses and 20 tennis courts. Inside the resort, you’ll find modern accommodations and 10 signature restaurants. The full-service day spa offers various treatments, ranging from Ayurvedic to pedicures.
What Guests Are Saying: “I had an amazing experience, and it was so peaceful in the Spa jacuzzi,” according to a recent Google review. “It was relaxing — the two different steam baths were incredible, and the view outside in the Communal pool was beautiful. This experience was great — the coconut water was amazing! It was clean; the ladies were very helpful and pleasant. The showers are clean; it was an overall great experience. The relaxing room was very peaceful. I will be back — I had a great time and would recommend it to anyone. Thank you, till next time.”
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort And Spa is a family and pet-friendly destination that the Hyatt calls “perfect for multi-generation family gatherings.” It’s just a five-minute walk from your chic guest room or spacious suite, and you’re at 10-Mile Beach with its famous Huntington Beach Pier and excellent surfing spots. Book your appointment for an afternoon therapeutic massage or CBD scrub at the Pacific Waters Spa, or spend your whole day at the spa by booking one of their spa packages!
What Guests Are Saying: “Excellent staff and venue,” according to a recent Google review. “They really go above and beyond to make you feel welcome and happy. Great food options, and the saltwater pool offers a great place to cool off. The spa services are also amazing! The couples massage was well worth it, and the facility is supremely relaxing.”
A premium vacation resort, Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas sits on a Pacific bluff just one hour from Los Angeles. Balboa Island, Fashion Island, and Knott’s Berry Farm are within easy reach and on-site, you’ll find a putting green, three outdoor pools, a fitness center, bike rentals, barbecue and picnic areas, and fire pits. Enjoy dinner outside at the La Vista Pool Bar & Grill, or just make dinner in your villa! Each comes with a fully equipped kitchen.
What Guests Are Saying: “Great view, friendly staff, many fun activities, multiple pools including one with slides and fun water structures for kids, free rides to and from local beaches,” according to a recent Google review.
With a casino, cabanas, spa, and steakhouse, there’s a little something for everyone at the Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage. Nestled in Coachella Valley in the Rancho Mirage community, you’ll find plenty to do both on and off the resort. Guests frequently mention the Vegas-level experience without the crowds. After all your adventures, book a session at their award-winning Sunstone Spa, open till 7 PM. Any room you book is fully equipped with luxurious amenities, and many have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall views overlooking the mountains.
What Guests Are Saying: “This casino is right off the Bob Hope Dr. — easy parking, beautiful pool and resort,” according to a recent Google review. “Service check-in is fast and efficient rooms are comfortable and clean at check-in. After you settle in, head down to the casino where you find any kind of slot machine you can think of just waiting to start paying you. Also, they have a very nice high-limit room and a good assortment of things to play. There is fine dining and a great food court for food on the go. I don’t think I have ever had a bad visit to this casino, and I have come here for many years.”