29 of California’s Soulful Boutique & Lifestyle Hotels Advancing Sustainability


California is home to incredible boutique hotels taking efforts to sustainability and doing their part to conserve resources and preserve the state’s one-of-a-kind environment. These inspiring hotels employ visible sustainability policies working towards eco-friendly initiatives, from implementing hotel-wide recycling programs and growing produce on-site to providing bicycles for local transportation. Many of the hotels are members of the CA Green Lodging Program, a program designed by CalRecycle to provide eco-friendly lodging opportunities for travelers, with the goals of diverting waste from landfills and saving limited resources. While some resorts do not have third-party sustainability certifications, they have created various innovative green initiatives, going above and beyond to optimize their sustainable practices. Travel kindly on your next California trip by staying at these boutique and lifestyle hotels who have taken thoughtful and meaningful action to create a kinder future. 

1. Acqua Hotel, Marin

Green Certifications: California Green Lodging Program (Participation Level), Certified Green Hotel & Business by the County of Marin

With a prime location in the heart of the Bay Area, Acqua Hotel is a 49-room boutique hotel with a peaceful and convenient setting. Beyond its proximity to San Francisco’s iconic landmarks, Acqua Hotel gains its Green Business Certification by using paraben and synthetic-free personal care bath products, offering guest room recycling, using LED lighting, and applying water conservation cleaning and landscaping tactics. With various ecosystem management strategies in place, Acqua Hotel provides an excellent option for travelers hoping to support a sustainable business while relaxing in comfort.

2. The Ambrose Hotel, Santa Monica 

Green Certifications: LEED Certification, City of Santa Monica Green Business Certification, TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program (Gold Level), California’s Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level) 

Near the Santa Monica pier, in a serene, beachy location, you will find the Ambrose Hotel. The resort offers a fleet of bicycles for guests, a house Tesla car service, and complimentary Los Angeles Metro transit passes for team members to promote eco-friendly transportation around Los Angeles. The Ambrose Hotel uses Energy Star Certified electronics, LED lighting, an occupancy-activated thermostat system, low-flow toilets, water-saving faucets, and drought-tolerant native species. In addition, the hotel recycles or composts 75% of hotel-wide waste with the help of the guestroom recycling program, and the housekeeping team cleans with non-toxic, biodegradable products to ensure clean air quality.

3. Argonaut Hotel, San Francisco

Green Certifications: California’s Green Lodging Program (Participation Level), Green Business Certification by the Department of the Environment, EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification, TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program (Gold Level)

Within Fisherman Wharf, Argonaut Hotel includes 252 luxurious guest rooms with eco-friendly amenities. The environmentally-friendly systems include incorporating LED light bulbs, motion-sensor control panels, low-flow water valves, and ongoing recycling projects. Other tactics Argonaut Hotel enforces are circulating outdoor air into guest rooms to combat air pollution and providing complimentary bicycles to explore San Francisco using carbon-free transportation. Moreover, their Blue Mermaid Restaurant & Bar follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sustainable fishery guidelines, perfect for delicious and responsible dining.

4. Auberge de Soleil, Napa Valley

Green Certifications: TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Program (Gold Level), Bay Area Green Business Certification, California’s Green Lodging Program (Participation Level)

Auberge de Soleil seeks to preserve Napa’s natural landscape by purchasing power from renewable sources and financing the cost of new, local, renewable power projects. Their status as a Deep Green customer means they receive zero-emission power. In addition, Auberge de Soleil is a Napa Valley Vine Trail member, a grassroots organization constructing a 44-mile multi-use recreational trail, and the hotel matches a recommended $4 donation to support the organization. Finally, the Auberge Spa is a member of the Green Spa Network, a foundation dedicated to promoting connections between wellbeing and nature.

5. Bardessono, Napa Valley

Green Certifications: LEED Platinum Certification 

Set in the serene Napa Valley, Bardessono is an impeccable resort for reconnecting to nature. Bardessono has environmental practices that align with a robust set of ecological values, including an underground geothermal system for heating and cooling guestrooms, the spa, and the domestic hot water supply. Moreover, 940 solar panels line the rooftop, supplying the hotel’s energy. Energy sensors decrease energy consumption when guests leave the room. The hotel’s spa and Lucy’s restaurant source products from local organic or sustainable producers, and the onsite garden creates fresh ingredients for drink garnishes. The hotel staff uses hybrid and electric vehicles to navigate the grounds.

6. Farmhouse Inn, Forestville *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: n/a 

Sonoma’s Farmhouse Inn is complete with a Michelin-starred restaurant, Sommelier-led wine tours, and a luxurious farm-to-table spa experience. The Farmhouse Inn’s owners, 5th generation winemakers, display their respect and stewardship for the local Russian River Valley by including filtered water systems, recycling programs, low-flow restroom features, and reusable bath products. On their property, Farmhouse Inn raises animals, produces crops, and feeds their kitchen waste to the flock of hens. Their farm initiatives highlight the hotel’s desire to provide only the best, locally sourced ingredients with a low environmental impact.  

Give and Get with Kind Traveler: When booking with Kind Traveler, guests can donate to the Redwood Empire Food Bank to help their mission of ending hunger in the Sonoma County community.

7. Golden Door, San Marcos

Green Certifications:  n/a 

Golden Door in San Marcos is situated amongst the tranquil Escondido environment, housing one of the most renowned spas in the world. With bio-intensive farming practices designed to create wholesome, clean, and flavorful ingredients, Golden Door produces fruits, vegetables, and honey from the site’s hives for guests to enjoy. Over the 600 acres of nature, guests can explore the culinary and pollinator gardens. Furthermore, Golden Door donates 100% of net profits to philanthropic causes, including funding films promoting nutrition and health education.  

8. h2Hotel, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: LEED Gold Certification

Whether you are looking to go hiking, wine-tasting, or gallery hopping, h2hotel is the perfect place to stay in Sonoma. h2Hotel is a LEED Gold Certified hotel in Healdsburg that exemplifies sustainability efforts using a wine list including only sustainable producers, recycling 85% of debris during construction, and using salvaged lumber to make the hotel’s custom furnishings, wood decking, and main staircase. Roof solar panels heat the swimming pool and guest room’s hot water, and in turn, the hotel uses 27.8% less energy than the standard hotel in California. More than half of the site has been left as open space to prevent loss of biodiversity. The purposeful light paving reduces the hotel’s “heat island effect” to lower its impact on the microclimate. Guests and staff have access to bicycles for adventuring around the local community, and each floor has reusable water carafes to decrease plastic use. 

Give and Get with Kind Traveler: Using the Kind Traveler platform to book your trip to h2Hotel, travelers can support the Russian Riverkeeper, a community-based organization working to preserve, protect, and celebrate the beauty and health of the Russian River. The organization works to restore the wetlands lost due to agriculture, mining, and urban development through its research, preservation, and stewardship initiatives.

9. Harmon Guest House, Healdsburg *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: LEED Gold Certification

With Fitch Mountain and the Sonoma Hills views, Harmon Guest House invites guests to reconnect with the outdoors from their cozy hotel. Forty-three percent of Harmon Guest House’s site is outdoor space, allowing for the community to help restore Foss Creek, a rain-fed tributary to the Russian River. With a reflective roof and underground parking garage, the hotel reduces its heat emission. Their stormwater management system reduces water runoff and removes particulate matter to protect Foss Creek. Low-flow fixtures, a rainwater harvesting system, and smart irrigation help reduce water consumption across the property. The building includes formaldehyde-free composite wood products and low volatile organic compound paints, sealants, adhesives, coatings, and flooring to minimize visitors’ exposure to harmful chemicals. 

Give and Get with Kind Traveler: Booking your stay on the Kind Traveler program provides an opportunity to support Russian Riverkeeper. On your trip, you can volunteer with Russiasn Riverkeeper to help restore habitats, care for plants or maintain parks.

10. Hotel Indigo San DiegoGaslamp Quarter 

Green Certifications: LEED Certification

While not considered a boutique hotel, Hotel Indigo San Diego is the first LEED-certified IHG hotel. Its sustainable practices include using operable windows for natural light, ventilation, and temperature control. Moreover, the Hotel Indigo’s roofs planted with native species support water drainage and reduce energy consumption by lowering air conditioning costs and the urban heat island effect. In addition, the Phi Terrace Bar and meditation deck come from MoistureShield decking consisting of recycled plastic and wood fibers. More practices implemented include recycling programs and prioritized parking for fuel-efficient vehicles.

11. L’Auberge Del Mar, San Diego 

Green Certifications: Designated Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Resort 

L’Auberge Del Mar, a luxury resort in San Diego, is situated right on the coast with ocean views straight from your room. This Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Resort works to preserve its impeccable landscape by using a strawless policy, offering complimentary bikes, using energy-efficient light-bulbs in guest rooms, and serving local produce and sustainable seafood. Their kitchen has 100% recycled vinyl/ PVC flooring and provides guests with biodegradable to-go boxes. For a non-toxic spa experience with quality organic products, guests can visit Spa L’Auberge within the hotel. 

12. The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla 

Green Certifications: California Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level)

The Lodge at Torrey Pines shows off the best of La Jolla and works to protect its environment’s innate natural beauty. Through their corporate social responsibility initiatives, they follow Kind Traveler’s philosophy of giving back to the community while minimizing waste and preventing pollution. The Lodge at Torrey Pines works to ensure the San Diego community continues to thrive by participating in local cleanup efforts, waste diversion, water conservation, and energy efficiency. The grill and A.R. Valentien are certified Ocean Friendly Restaurants by the Surfrider Foundation. In guestrooms, the Lodge at Torrey Pines uses recycled paper products and energy-efficient light bulbs.

13. MacArthur Place, Sonoma *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: California Green Lodging Program (Participation Level) 

MacArthur Place lies in the heart of Sonoma, converted from a family estate, vineyard, and ranch into a luxury resort and spa. The lush grounds provide a dreamy sanctuary for relaxation, breathing in the fresh air, and stargazing to the vast sky. While visiting, guests can use the offered electric bikes to explore the town or experience a day at The Spa at MacArthur Place. Here, the estheticians use plants and flowers from the garden to provide relaxation and a connection to local nature. 

Give and Get with Kind Traveler: Support the Sonoma Land Trust when booking your stay at MacArthur Place and unlock exclusive rates. The Sonoma Land Trust protects the health of Sonoma’s land and community by developing conservation strategies and inspiring future generations.

14. Mill Valley Inn, Mill Valley 

Green Certifications: Certified Green Hotel by the County of Marin, California Green Lodging Program (Participation Level)

Surrounded by redwoods and a classic Northern California village, Mill Valley Inn includes cottages and guest rooms with a tranquil ambiance. Mill Valley Inn shows its commitment to conservation by using dispensers or biodegradable bottles for shower amenities, paraben and synthetic-free personal care products made with essential oils, LED lighting, recycled personal care paper, plant-based laundry detergents, and water-conserving landscaping. To lessen their water use, Mill Valley Inn implements an optional daily sheet change and guestroom recycling.

15. Ojai Valley Inn, Ojai

Green Certifications: n/a

Ojai Valley Inn’s 220 acres of Southern California land include a golf course with a waste-limiting irrigation system, a pool with solar water heaters, and a spa replacing traditional spa items with eco-friendly, plastic-free versions. Visitors can explore Ojai Valley Inn’s serene nearby environment of the Los Padres National Forest through the resort’s outdoor education program designed to bring guests into the ecosystem in a hands-on way. Ojai Valley Inn is a proud partner of the Clean the World Program, recycling and redistributing amenities to those in need.

16. The Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco 

Green Certifications: California’s Green Lodging Program (Participation Level), LEED Certification, TripAdvisor’s Green Leader Program (Gold Level)

Guests can enjoy the iconic San Francisco city skyline from the Orchard Garden Hotel without sacrificing the environment. Their building itself displays the resort’s commitment to environmental principles, with well-insulated walls to require less energy and energy-efficient roofing to keep the building cool, explaining their Energy Star-certified rating. With their innovative energy control key system, guests remove their keys to turn off the entire room. Moreover, the hotel uses organic, citrus-based cleaners and specially designed carpets with low carbon emissions to reduce toxic chemicals. 

17. Paradise Point, San Diego 

Green Certifications: California Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level)

Paradise Point’s island environment makes it ideal for admiring the renowned local wildlife, including herons, egrets, ducks, and hummingbirds. In an attempt to preserve one of Southern California’s only islands, Paradise Point acts as a steward of its environment by planting carbon monoxide-converting plants and flowers, using low-flow sprinklers, linenless meeting rooms, and hydration stations. In addition, the hotel only uses energy-star rated dishwashers and hosts beach cleanups with employees throughout the year to get their community involved in environmental conservation. 

18. Portola Hotel and Spa at Monterey Bay

Green Certifications: LEED Certification (Silver Level), TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program (Gold Level), Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program’s Green Certification, California’s Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level)

The waterfront Portola Hotel and Spa serves as a family and pet-friendly accommodation right on Monterey Bay. The hotel’s green initiatives include allowing guests to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits. Moreover, 20% of employees use alternative forms of transportation, and the onsite craft brewery, Peter B’s, donates “brew mash” to local cattle ranchers. Portola Hotel’s reduced waste conference center sets sustainable standards for large group meetings by composting organic products, providing organic and sustainable menu options, and offering team-building activities focusing on environmental awareness. 

19. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur 

Green Certifications: n/a

Post Ranch Inn’s organic design invites guests to experience a deep connection with the environment in their 90-acres of Big Sur protected Big Sur space. The enchanting region includes over 150 redwoods and oaks, perfect for decompressing in the natural world. The spa uses elements of this beautiful nature within its services. The hotel sources its water from the property’s seven wells and created the first commercial greywater system. Their energy conservation efforts are displayed by their 990-panel solar array and their use of protective film on windows to lower energy use.

20. The Ranch in Laguna Beach 

Green Certifications: Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants, National Geographic Hotel of the World

Situated in a canyon near the sea, The Ranch in Laguna Beach is a laid-back hotel that prides itself in its charitable efforts towards the community and the environment. Their Harvest Garden, which visitors can tour on Saturday mornings, supplies seasonal specials for the Harvest Restaurant. Through the Adopt-a-Channel program, The Ranch volunteers maintain a stretch of the Aliso Creek Channel by removing trash and debris. In addition, their multi-year Water Reclamation Project transformed their irrigation system to reclaimed water for the grounds and golf course. This project is estimated to save over 21.2 million gallons of water every year. 


 21. The Sandman, Santa Rosa *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: n/a 

The Sandman in Santa Rosa embodies a unique California aesthetic, showcasing local art and wooden and terracotta accents. Santa Rosa is an ideal area for hiking and biking, allowing guests to explore the Wine Country. The Sandman’s sustainable practices include using native landscaping, toiletry dispensers, energy-efficient HVAC sensors that turn off when people leave the room, and growing herbs for the Pool House Bar’s drinks, 

Give and Get with Kind Traveler: When using Kind Traveler to book your stay at The Sandman, you can support the local charity, Sonoma Land Trust, with a $10 donation. This organization benefits the scenic landscape and community, creating land conservation strategies and inspiring future generations to preserve the environment with their bilingual summer camp, Bay Camp.

22. Shore Hotel, Santa Monica 

Green Certifications: LEED Gold Certification, California Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level), Santa Monica’s Green Business Certification 

Santa Monica’s first LEED-certified hotel, Shore Hotel, includes bright and airy rooms paired with sleek sustainability. Shore Hotel consists of a solar-powered swimming pool, drought-resistant plants, in-room climate control, low-flow showerheads, and natural lighting and sliding glass doors in each hotel room. Their elevator pulley system saves 75% more energy than conventional elevators, and 50% of their construction materials were recycled or salvaged. 

More than 75% of the roof is covered in solar-reflecting material to reduce the heat island effect.

23. The Stanford Inn By The Sea, Mendocino 

Green Certifications: California Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level)

Nestled among Mendocino Bay’s pines and redwoods lies The Stanford Inn By The Sea. Stanford Inn’s Environmental Leadership Field School highlights its commitment to sustainability by providing future generations with tools for tackling environmental issues. Their 6-week program helps participants develop creative problem-solving skills and a sustainability-oriented mindset. In addition to the field school, Stanford Inn enforces a composting and recycling program, uses biodiesel fueled trucks, and serves gourmet plant-based cuisine. Cutting back on animal product consumption is a crucial way to lower carbon emission, so diners can indulge in delicious, organic cuisine while doing their part to reduce pollution. 

24. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Green Certifications: The Green Key Eco-Rating: 5-Key Rating, California Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level), Double Silver LEED Certification, TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program (Gold Level) 

Tenaya Lodge offers year-round lodging just two miles outside Yosemite National Park. Their GreenPath management program works to involve environmentally-friendly practices into the business framework. This program involves a Zero Waste Plan, converting to energy-efficient fixtures and equipment, green meeting conference services, and water bottle filling stations. Their “Housekeeping at Request” program reduces hundreds of gallons of water and one million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. If that is not incentive enough, if guests choose to opt-out of cleaning services, they receive a fun S’mores kit in return!

25. Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: n/a

On the edge of Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea Resort highlights Southern California’s natural beauty with its scenic ocean views and indigenous coastal species such as the El Segundo Blue Butterfly. Occupying only a quarter of the 102-acre site, the resort allows guests to thrive in the natural environment and minimize their environmental footprint. The resort dedicates itself to enhancing local water quality, improving wildlife habitats, and collaborating with Chefs to End Hunger to redistribute food waste to food agencies serving meals to those in need. In addition to these actions, the hotel has various docent-led hiking, walking, and bird watching tours for visitors to get a taste of local ecology.  

Give and Get With Kind Traveler: With Kind Traveler, you can donate to the local charity, the Marine Mammal Care Center. This Los Angeles-based organization rehabilitates and provides medical care to sick and injured marine mammals stranded on the coast.

26. Treebones Resort, Big Sur 

Green Certifications: n/a 

Treebones Resort in Big Sur is a relaxing and eco-friendly glamping experience with yurts, autonomous tents, and a campsite. Completely off-the-grid, Treebones Resort follows the “leave no trace” pledge to protect Big Sur’s natural resources. To supply energy for guests, the resort uses a mix of clean-burning microturbines and solar power. The produce is grown on-site, and waste is composted or fed to chickens who live on the grounds. Pasta noodles even replace plastic straws and coffee-stirrers!

27. Two Bunch Palms, Desert Hot Springs 

Green Certifications: n/a

The otherwise barren land of Desert Hot Springs is home to the oasis, Two Bunch Palms. This resort was regarded as the first carbon-neutral resort in North America when it turned on its four-acre solar grid in 2015. The carbon-neutral resort sources its electricity from its solar grid, which exceeds the amount of electricity used. Moreover, Two Bunch Palms utilizes eco-friendly materials for refurbishments, plants drought-resistant flora, and gets its produce from the adjacent Coachella Valley.     

28. Ventana Big Sur 

Green Certifications: GreenCheck Coordinator Certified General Manager  

Ventana Big Sur’s secluded suites along the coast offer a glimpse into redwood forests and views of crashing waves below. Guests can choose from tranquil villas, suites, or glamping tent cabins with private outdoor spaces for their visit. The resort works to preserve this incomparable landscape using property-wide recycling programs, fair-trade coffees and teas, 100% recycled water for irrigation, and native species for landscaping. Ventana provides on-property housing for employees to reduce vehicle emissions and provides electric-vehicle charging stations for guest’s hybrid and electric vehicles.

29. Vintner’s Resort, Santa Rosa *Kind Traveler Partner*

Green Certifications: California Green Lodging Program (Environmentalist Level) 

Vintner’s Resort encompasses a 92-acre vineyard, a European-style estate, and a memorable piece of California’s wine country. Their Green Philosophy complies with the California Green Lodging Program’s standards such as waste minimization, freshwater resource management, and environmentally and socially sensitive purchasing policies. Take a walk through their orchards and vegetable gardens to get a glimpse at the restaurant’s produce supply. 

 Give and Get With Kind Traveler: As a Kind Hotel, you can support the Redwood Empire Food Bank when booking your trip to Vintner’s Resort. This organization works to end hunger by implementing a robust and innovative emergency food system for those in need. Your $10 donation will provide 20 nutritious meals to individuals in need.

About the Writer: Hannah Morrison is a travel writer and UC Santa Barbara graduate passionate about sustainability, wellness, and adventure. She aspires to use her work to inspire meaningful connections with people and the environment.