San Diego is a place of tan, tousled hair surfers. Welcome to the land where everyone looks like they’re on vacation (all the time), well-wishing is common and sincere. Before you go explore the land of chill, we’ve gotta find you a place to stay. Lucky for you, we’ve drawn up a list of the best hotels in San Diego.
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
Kimpton Alma Hotel
4.5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel
4.5 out of 5
What We Love About Staying In San Diego
The best hotels in San Diego, balmy skies and breezy weather await you. While outsiders might expect a mini LA or NYC full of skyscrapers, San Diego is more like a collection of villages, each with their own unique style and one condensed downtown hub. Somehow, it became the eighth-largest city in the U.S. but despite the population, we can’t think of a more laid back place.
The best hotels in San Diego range from ritzy in style to obscure and a little off the map. But unlike Los Angeles or Orange County, everywhere you go is wonderfully down to earth.
What’s not to love? This city bursts with attractions for adventurers, lovebirds, and offers sites the whole family will enjoy. Major sites include the San Diego Zoo (minus Will Ferrell falling into the Kodiak Bear exhibit), Legoland, Balboa Park, beautiful beaches, the Gaslamp District, gorgeous hikes, and more.
Common Features of the Most Luxurious Hotels in San Diego
- Upscale rooms
- Rooftop pool
- Restaurants and bars on-site
- Luxurious amenities
- World-class spas
- Fitness centers
- Continental breakfast
- Laundry Service
- Flat-screen TVs
- Fully-stocked minibars
- Close proximity to downtown San Diego
- Meeting and event spaces
How to Choose from the Best Hotels In San Diego
When looking to pick from the best hotels in San Diego, there are several questions you should ask yourself. Our list below helps you comb through the most important details regarding accommodations.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Beginning your Search
What are you looking for in a vacation? Do you want a couple's getaway, friend's weekend or family-friendly vacation stay? Do you want adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both? Our list of the best hotels in San Diego has all of the above and more.
1. Is There A Beach Nearby?
If you’re staying at one of the best hotels in San Diego (which you are), then the answer is yes. The beaches, sun, and scenery are the main draws for tourists across the globe. Here, there are so many hotels competing for business that beachfront stays aren’t too pricey. Before you book, ask your hotel if they do a price match for certain types of accommodations and room sizes. It’s worth a shot.
It's also important to check out the proximity of your hotel to the beaches and places you want to go see.
2. How's the Hotel’s Service?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Before you book your stay, read a lot of reviews on the place you want to stay at. Good service is prompt, informative, and friendly. Keep in mind that generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Look them up online.
3. What Is the Hotel Atmosphere Like?
Atmosphere says a lot about how your stay is going to be? Does the atmosphere seem mellow, laid back, or like a loud, fancy party scene? This is especially important to consider if you’re a family traveling with kids or a couple seeking some serious rest and relaxation.
With this said, make sure to choose a location that gives you the peace and quiet you're seeking. If the resort lies in a touristy area or big city, try to ask for a quieter room.
4. Take the Accommodations and the View Into Consideration
The room size and accommodations are important when choosing a hotel. Some hotels will charge you a higher price tag for a room with a great view, so make sure to look into this (and ask for that price match). With this said, make sure the rooms are spacious enough too. Most hotel rooms start at least 250 square feet and go up from there.
If you're staying at a resort with your partner, a swim-up bar, fitness center, and romantic dinner never hurt. Ask around and find out if there are any couples' specials or water sports you could do together. See if there are any special events coming up and make the most of them. Salsa dancing night? Yes, please. If you're specifically looking out for a resort with such activities, call and see what they have to offer.
5. Where Is It Located?
Location… We can't overemphasize its importance enough. Make sure it's not too far from the airport – unless you're really seeking a remote getaway. Do you want to hit up museums and rooftop bars in the big cities? Or would you rather be surfing somewhere on the coast? Choose wisely. If you can be flexible when booking, that could save you some cash. Booking your stay during the shoulder and offseason will help you save big. But if you want to go during the heat of summer, we understand. The weather is warm and absolutely flawless.
6. What About the Meals?
One of our favorite things in this world is a continental breakfast. We’re talking hands down. Seriously, what’s better than a piping hot cup of coffee, mini muffins, and fresh-squeezed orange juice to start the day? A good meal sets the mood. If you can, make sure the resort you choose includes complimentary meals. Ask questions about the food services. Read more reviews. Ask if the items in the mini-bar are free. Find out if there's a dress code such as no flip flops, short pants, or swimming suits on the patio.
7. Find Out If There Are Any Extra or Hidden Costs
If you’re the kind of person who hates extra costs, call ahead and ask the hotel about their resort fee policy. See if it is an extra cost to bring your pet or use the fitness center or spa.
8. What Does Your Budget Look Like?
How much money do you have saved for your San Diego stay? How much are you willing to spend? These questions are important when you're planning out your vacation.
The Official List of The Best Hotels In San Diego
First-timers' heads are always spinning when they get to San Diego. Even if you’ve been before, the time-old question seems to be ‘where do I stay?’ Factoring in things like proximity to the places you want to see, accommodation size, and amenities offered are all important in your hotel choice. Here are our top eight picks for the best hotels in San Diego.
1. Pendry San Diego
Located downtown in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, you’ll find the Pendry San Diego. This hotel strikes a perfect balance between classic and modern. Laid back Southern California influence meets high-class amenities. Here, seasoned travelers come and take refuge in what can only be described as a home away from home.
- 317 guestrooms including 36 suites
- 4 miles from San Diego International Airport
- 2 blocks to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres
- 3 blocks to the San Diego Convention Center
- Luxury linens
- Fully-stocked minibar
- 6 restaurants and bars
- Rooftop pool
- 24-hour fitness center
- Spa Pendry
- 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space
- Moderately expensive
2. Kimpton Alma Hotel
A sense of discovery awaits you in downtown. The Kimpton Alma is definitely one of the best hotels in San Diego. Don’t just take our word for it. U.S. News & World Report rated it as one of the “Best Hotels In San Diego 2016” and Jetsetter called it one of the “8 Best Hotels in San Diego” in their 2017 issue.
This is the place to explore, indulge, and recharge. The folks over at the Kimpton Alma work to provide a unique space their guests can truly connect to. Located in San Diego’s emerging East Village Gaslamp Quarter, the hotel offers an all-inclusive atmosphere complete with stunning, rich decor.
In a charming venue, vibrant quirks and treasures meet modern comfort. A rooftop pool, fantastic dining destinations, genuinely attentive service, and an ideal central location come together to provide a truly unforgettable experience.
- Rooftop pool
- Sophisticated SoCal guest rooms and specialty suites
- Six Restaurant
- Upper East Bar
- Close proximity to Petco Park the San Diego Convention Center, and more
- Spacious meeting and event venues
- Stunning wedding venues and wedding planning
- In-room spa
- Fitness Center
- Pet-friendly hotel
- Terrace and pool
- Valet and laundry services
- Great accessible accommodations and accessible features
- Valet parking costs $45 per night for regular vehicles and $30 for hybrid vehicles
- $13/day for Wi-Fi (free for Kimpton members)
3. Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
There's a reason why we listed Estancia La Jolla as one of the best hotels in San Diego. Come and stay at a Hacienda-style haven in La Jolla. This lovely hotel is drenched in sunny San Diego charm, offering the best of California comfort and warm hospitality. This boutique hotel features an outdoor pool, three restaurants, and a spa and wellness center. Free Wi-Fi is available in each guest room. Perhaps best of all, the property is only a ten-minute walk away from the enchanting local beach.
Every guest room features a natural stone bathroom. During their, guests can enjoy complimentary plush bathrobes, and in-room safe, a cable TV, and a work desk with a high-back reading chair.
Estancia La Jolla Hotel provides guests with a variety of dining options. On-site are The Adobe El Restaurante, Mustangs & Burros and the Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar & Private Dining Room. Each restaurant features innovative cuisine and indoor or outdoor dining.
Amenities and Value
Guests of Estancia La Jolla can relax and enjoy spa and wellness services at The Spa at Estancia. The full-service spa offers massage therapies, facials and manicures, and pedicures. Guests can also work out in the on-site fitness center. Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course is 2 miles from this hotel. Del Mar Racetrack is a 15- minute drive from the property. San Diego International Airport is a 20-minutes drive from the hotel.
Couples in particular like the location – they rated it 9.0 for a two-person trip.
This property is also rated for the best value in San Diego! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.
- Stunning grounds and Spanish-Colonial-style architecture
- Spacious, modern rooms
- On-site restaurants include Mustangs & Burros for outdoor dining
- 10-minute drive to Torrey Pines State Beach
- Day spa with eucalyptus steam room
- Free Wi-Fi
- Les Clefs D’Or concierge
- Meeting spaces and conference facilities
- Outdoor saltwater pool and adults-only Jacuzzi
- Daily resort fee and mandatory valet parking is an extra charge
- The resort is a popular spot for weddings so it gets crowded
4. Hotel Del Coronado
Write your story in the sand. Come and discover a world of indelible experiences at the Hotel Del Coronado. This iconic Curio Collection by Hilton is perfectly located along the Pacific, just minutes from downtown San Diego. The Coronado island setting perfectly captures the relaxed beauty and seaside charm of the quintessential Southern California lifestyle.
Here, California dreams of sun and surf have been fulfilled for over a century. This world-famous hotel has an adventurous world all of its own. Beach-lovers from near and far gather to make their memories on sparkling sands and waiting shores. The Hotel del Coronado is hands down one of the best hotels in San Diego.
- The hotel is located right on Coronado Beach
- A short drive from San Diego
- Plenty of dining options
- Grand ballroom
- The hotel is set in a National Historic Landmark building
- Upscale shopping is onsite
- 2 swimming pools
- Charming rooms with chic furnishings
- Fee for valet parking
- Resort fee (covers Wi-Fi)
- There are crowds all year round
- Some rooms are small
5. The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Escape to San Diego’s most storied hotel. Come and explore all that the newly-restored US Grant has to offer. This luxury collection hotel has enthralled its guests with historic grandeur and an unmatched excellence for over 100 years. You’ll find it in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter just steps away from shopping, dining, and entertainment.
- Great location in the Gaslamp District
- Listed on National Register of Historic Places
- Luxurious and comfortable rooms with great amenities
- In-room spa treatments available
- Acclaimed elegant restaurant and lounge bar on-site
- 24-hour concierge and room service
- 24-hour fitness center
- Fees for Wi-Fi and parking
- Some rooms can be noisy
If you are in search of fun things to do and see in California, we've got you covered. Check out our recommendations for the top places to see and things to do below:
- 15 Fun Things to Do In Orange County California
- Where to Go for an Epic West Coast Road Trip
- Spend A Day In Long Beach, California
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Be Sure to Book Your Stay At One of the Best Hotels In San Diego
For an unforgettable vacation with impressive accommodations, San Diego is the place to be… Private suites with breathtaking skyline views, great beaches, impeccable customer service, gourmet food, fun, and adventure are just a few reasons to add San Diego to your bucket list.
We'd love to hear about your experiences at any of these hotels in San Diego! Leave us a comment with your favorite luxury hotel. Don't forget to read our reviews of hotels in other top travel destinations for all of the pertinent details to make your trips a success!