Best Value Hotels in California

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These California boutiques, motor lodges, and mid-range properties might not be as amenities-laden as some hotels, but they all have several elements that make them a great value, such as clean rooms, comfy beds, and loads of freebies. See Oyster's wallet-friendly hotel picks, all with rates that are tough to beat.

  1. La Bellasera is an upscale hotel with lower rates than area inns. Set up for romantic getaways in wine country, the boutique hotel has some rooms featuring whirlpool tubs and rustic stone fireplaces. It has a convenient location off Highway 101 and is a short drive to Central Coat wineries. The on-site Enoteca restaurant serves fresh seafood and has an extensive wine list with bottles from local vineyards. There are also an outdoor pool with yellow sun loungers; a clean, carpeted gym; and a spa with massages and other treatments available. 

  2. Hotel Angeleno is a unique, round hotel, built in the 1970s and featuring 360-degree city views from the 17th-floor restaurant and bar. Geared toward business travelers, this hotel has five meeting rooms, a business center, a lobby coffee shop, a modern gym, and an outdoor pool with a bar and fireplace terrace, which is available for events. Modernly designed rooms offer city views from balconies, flat-screen TVs, and some have mini-fridges. Unfortunately, traffic noises can be bothersome in rooms. A quieter option may be the W Los Angeles Westwood.

  3. This upper-middle-range hacienda-style hotel in Old Town Monterey looks like a traditional chain hotel, but offers large rooms with comfy beds and earthy decor. The ivy and flower-covered exterior is pretty, as is the modern lobby with a stone fireplace and leather chairs. The rooms flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi, and some have fireplaces. But the real pleasure of this hotel lies in its social outdoor spaces. Candles, fire pits and cozy seating invite guests to gather outside -- and most do in the evenings (there are free movie nights in the summer with blankets and popcorn). For a mid-range hotel, the spa here is fantastic -- that, along with the tapas restaurant, outdoor pool, and convenient location -- make this hotel a great pick, especially at its affordable price.

  4. This mid-range hotel strives to offer an upscale experience at a budget price, and does a fairly good job at it. Its location near the Disney Parks and the Anaheim Garden Walk and large rooms make it convenient for families and leisure travelers, and extra touches such as free Wi-Fi, comfort-food restaurantoutdoor bar, stylish business center, and a variety of meeting spaces and ballrooms add value for business travelers. Some of the rooms and public areas feel a bit worn, and some past guests have complained that the in-room Wi-Fi signal is weak.

  5. Catering to families looking for a spa experience as well as business travelers in town for local conventions, the Anabella is right next to the Anaheim Convention Center and a short drive to Disneyland and the California Adventure Park. The 358 contemporary rooms here range from standards to suites, and all have free Wi-Fi and muted decor. There are two pools on the property, one of which is a designated quiet space, as well as a whirlpool and a restaurant serving everything from children's snacks to cocktails, plus a twice-daily happy hour. 

  6. The 168-room Avatar Hotel is a 1960s-style motel that has undergone a fun update: think funky furniture, shag carpets, and glass cases of toy robots. But despite the modern furnishings with lively colors, many old problems remain, including rooms and windows opening into outdoor hallways and cramped bathrooms. Perks here include an outdoor heated pool, bright fitness center, and the up-to-date technology expected in a Silicon Valley hotel. Wi-Fi is free, and rooms feature flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and laptop tables. While the Avatar Hotel attracts mostly business travelers for its central Santa Clara location, the close proximity to the Great America Theme Park is nice for families too.

  7. Here's a solid mid-range option in Santa Rosa. The property's 124 clean, attractive rooms have pleasant (if generic) decor, with red, green, and gold color accents -- but small flat-screen TVs and bland bathrooms. Its appealing lap pool with sun deck has comfy lounge chairs and bar service, and hip Equus Restaurant & Lounge serves California fusion dishes with Mediterranean influences.

  8. The Domain Hotel is a 136-room converted motel in Sunnyvale that has been significantly spruced up -- colorful rooms have funky decor and high-tech gadgets (iPod docksflat-screen TVs, sleep number beds with adjustable firmness); the pool is secluded, heated, and equipped with a Jacuzzi; and freebies include Wi-Fi, breakfast, and parking. Unfortunately this hotel can't escape its structure, with some rooms that only have windows overlooking the lobby and others that are subject to street noise. The hotel is convenient for business travelers and offers perks like work desks and ergonomic chairs. 

  9. With its retro-chic, motel-style grounds and bright tangerine color scheme, this 30-room, family-owned hotel has an upbeat and fun atmosphere. Each of the clean, cool, eclectic-modern rooms has Lavazza coffee, a light tangerine scent, and is decorated with a one-of-a-kind, Los Angeles-meets-Tibet mural created by a Hollywood set artist. The uniquely curved, heated outdoor pool offers pretty mountain views -- but no hot tub. Free pastries from Porto’s Bakery are available for breakfast each morning in the lobby, and there is free Wi-Fi throughout. 

  10. Miracle Springs Hotel and Spa is a 110-room property about 20 minutes drive from downtown Palm Springs. By far the biggest highlight of this hotel, aside from the affordable pricing, is the mineral water pools kept at various temperatures to suit different preferences and hot tubs filled from the venue’s on-site well. Other hotels offer natural spring water pools, but not many offer eight of them with 24/7 access at an affordable rate. The spa also gets high marks, the restaurant food is tasty, and the staff is accommodating. However, this hotel needs significant updating and more cleaning.

  11. The mid-range Tuscany Hills Retreat is an inn in flux. New owners took over the remote property in April 2015, and they are slowly turning the place around. It has been renamed to more accurately reflect its nature, which is more of a woodsy retreat than a resort, a place for nature lovers and golfers. The four outdoor soaking pools -- heated to 90 to 104 degrees fahrenheit -- are a big draw, as is the outdoor pool with lounge chairs and cabana. Most of the 30 rooms are dated, but some have been renovated as of mid-2015. 

  12. Although it has limited curb appeal, the mid-range, 95-room Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa has attractively landscaped grounds, featuring desert flora, a pool and spa filled with mineral water, and fire pit seating areasThe rooms are clean and have colorful decor accents; some are even a bit stylish. The Desert Hot Springs location has nice views of the San Bernadino foothills, but the town itself doesn't have much to offer beyond a few chain restaurants; travelers come here primarily for the mineral waters. Overall, the property has a slight edge over the competing Miracle Springs Hotel and Spa.

  13. Shoreline Cottages resembles a quaint roadside motel, but is more like a friendly campground with the comfort of guest rooms. The 11 charming cottages are clean and homey, with modern bathrooms, comfortable beds, lovely flower beds, and, in some, kitchenettes or full kitchens. The wooded grounds are park-like, with a fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs, hot tub, picnic tables, and barbecue grills (both gas and charcoal). There is no fitness center, pool, nor on-site restaurant, but the beach is five minutes away, and there are restaurants within walking distance. 

  14. This mid-range converted motel is a 5-minute walk from downtown Calistoga, and offers 13 big rooms, with microwaves, mini-fridges, wet bars, and gas fireplaces. It's hardly luxurious, but it does have a quaint, B&B feel, solid freebies (free breakfast, free Wi-Fi), a spa, and a small but lovely pool.

  15. Located in a tranquil setting along wooded banks of Sonoma Creek, the Jack London Lodge is a nice spot for people who are willing to stay outside Sonoma and Napa to save some cash -- and want a friendly, neighborhood environment. The rooms are basic, comfortable, and basic (mediocre but clean floral beddingtube TVs, simple bathrooms). The best parts of the property can be found outdoors: the pleasant, well-maintained grounds and small but inviting pool area. In addition to the on-site al fresco Wolf House Restaurant and saloon, there are plenty of restaurants and local bars nearby.

  16. This is one of L.A.'s hidden gems. Located steps from Hollywood Boulevard, the Magic Castle is a quirky, unpretentious 40-room hotel with a heated pool, simple but spacious rooms, access to the exclusive Magic Castle club next door, and friendly service. It also offers an an exhaustive list of free perks (Wi-Fi, breakfast, minibar treats, laundry, access to L.A. Fitness center), making it a terrific value.

  17. Two blocks from the beach, the Bella Note - The Inn at East Cliff is a small, mid-range hotel on the east side of Santa Cruz. The 10 pretty, spacious rooms come with mini-fridges -- some with fireplaces -- plus bathrobes and heated bathroom floors. There aren’t a lot of amenities at the hotel, but there is a free breakfast, complete with homemade almond cake that guests rave about. 

  18. Low rates and a European attention to minimalist style mark this small, 35-room boutique. It's located within easy walking distance to trendy Pine Avenue and directly in front of a metro stop. Continental breakfast, Wi-Fi, and daily wine tastings are included in the room rate, though parking isn't. The 35 spotlessly clean rooms are small and tricked out with iPod docks and flat-screen TVs. Overall, The Vardent is a good pick with lots of personality and charm

  19. Situated in one of the few remaining original motels along the Embarcadero, the Bayfront Inn maintains its original charm with a classic motel-style, two-story building with open-air hallways. The budget property has no particular lobby and few indoor common spaces, but lots of outdoor seating areas dot the grounds. Its 16 dorm-like guest rooms are tiny and without air-conditioning, but are extremely clean and include Keurig coffeemakers, a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, and en-suite bathroom. Guests receive thoughtful gift bags with snacks, drinks, and coupons for free food and a trolley ride.

  20. This quirky budget hotel has old-time movie seats in a small theater, a casual buffet breakfast room, and two meeting rooms. Classic, no-frills rooms have flat-screen TVs and writing desks (and lack safes, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers). For moderately priced rooms with more perks, check rates at Hotel Abri.

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