Where to Stay in Malibu (on Every Budget)
by the Rockwell Kitchen Team
Malibu might have a reputation for exclusivity, but at Rockwell Kitchen, we believe that all those beaches, hiking trails, mountain landscapes, ocean views, wineries, shopping, cultural activities and good eats belong to everyone. No matter who you are, how you like to vacay or what’s in your bank account, we’ve got a heaping serving of recs for you.
Need to Knows: The Update
Before you make an itinerary, there’s a Covid-shaped elephant in the room, and it’s likely to hang around well into 2021, changing the availability of Malibu hotels and lodging as it goes. As of December 6, 2020, and effective till further notice, no lodgings in Los Angeles County may host out-of-state travelers for non-essential travel – unless the traveler books at least the minimum time required for quarantine – per the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
Any time that regional Stay at Home orders are in effect, LA hotels and short-term lodgings can only offer accommodations for Covid-19 mitigation and containment measures or essential workers. Campgrounds, RV parks and cabins can’t offer overnight stays. So keep an eye on the County of Los Angeles Public Health’s Reopening LA County site for the latest – and remember, a Stay At Home order won’t keep you from making a wishlist.
Camping (and Glamping)
Here along the PCH, you can’t get much more iconic than Leo Carrillo State Park, a catch-all campground for wholesome family adventures, roughing it getaways for partners and solo relaxation alike. Surf, fish, check out the adorable alien-looking creatures in the tidepools or hike and bike up the Santa Monica Mountains, all convenient to your old-school campsite for about $45 a night. Malibu Creek Campground also offers basic camping for trailheads that are super convenient to LA proper for the same cost.
Sites like Hipcamp can help you suss out some low-key, local options if you want to save even more money and camp off the beaten path. Malibu locals offer up their acreage to campers for as little as $10 per night – check out Bunny Hill Farm ($35/night) to take in flower meadows, orange groves and quirky fields of antique cars right by Point Mugu State Park. Of course, in Malibu, glamping is something we excel at, and Hipcamp can hook you up with everything from luxury tents to tiny homes to vintage RVs ranging from about $100 to $550 per night. For instance, Malibu Fig Ranch offers yurts on a working farm next to Zuma Beach, while Topanga’s Black Wagon romantic gypsy caravan on wheels goes for $200 to $250 per night.
Even in an age of home shares and Instagram-ready short-term rentals, Malibu hotels haven’t gone out of style. There are no mid-priced chain hotels and motels like Hiltons, Residence Inns and Holiday Inns within the Malibu city limits (though there are plenty of options if you’re willing to drive through the canyons to Calabasas and Westlake), but you can stay at The M Malibu for about $150 a night. It’s a boutique option that elevates the style factor a bit while focusing on the PCH experience, combining the bustle of shops and restaurants with a 5-minute walk to the beach.
In the $400 per night category, The Surfrider captures classic Malibu iconography like no other, with beachy vibes through and through, the shoreline right outside the door and a world-famous rooftop bar.
The Airbnb Malibu scene might just be your ticket to the most authentic local experience, and the pairing of vibey local style with majestic landscapes couldn’t be more ideal. Homeshare options like Airbnb and Vrbo offer everything from celebrity pool houses (a surprisingly affordable option) to glistening Airstreams in Topanga Canyon enclaves or even entire beach houses for the ultimate luxury splurge. It is important to note that Malibu is expected to adopt a new city-wide ordinance in 2021 prohibiting short-term rentals in multifamily buildings (such as apartments or condominium complexes) and requiring an owner to live on-site for the duration of the short-term rental, which may change the availability of some of the vacation rentals currently on the market.
Typically, you’re looking at guesthouses starting around $150, cottages starting at about $300, and whole houses beginning at roughly $450 up to over $2,000 per night for beachfront estates that could fill an entire season of MTV Cribs. We like the pure Malibu style, and earth-friendly commitment of Cyril’s Airstream Eco Retreat nestled on a 12-acre Santa Monica Mountain spread if you’re feeling spendy at around $850 per night, or you can net Sara’s Cabin in Topanga State Park for immaculately rustic mid-century vibes for only about $150 nightly.
Bonus: that makes for an especially easy visit to swing by Rockwell Kitchen for your morning Grilled French Toast Sandwich and Bona Fide nitro black tea.
Looking for things to do in Malibu once you settle in? Check out our blog for a curated guide to the Golden Coast.
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health: Order of the Health Officer: Reopening Protocol for Campgrounds, RV Parks and Cabin Rental Units: Appendix O
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health: Order of the Health Officer: Reopening Protocol for Hotels, Lodging and Short-Term Rentals: Appendix P
Discover Los Angeles: Eight Great Camping Sites Near Los Angeles
California Department of Parks and Recreation: Leo Carrillo State Park
California Department of Parks and Recreation: Malibu Creek State Park
Hipcamp: The 30 Best Campgrounds Near Malibu, California
TimeOut: The Best Hotels in Malibu
Airbnb: Vacation Rentals in Malibu
Airbnb: Crystal Cabin, Restored Vintage Lodge in Topanga State Park
Airbnb: Malibu Airstream Eco Retreat Above the Clouds