Even though San Diego is home for me, I love planning staycations in “American’s finest city.” I relish the opportunity to show people around my stomping grounds.
From the best restaurants in San Diego to the best brunch places in San Diego and everything in between, I encourage you to plan a trip to this coastal city. Find your new favorite brewery, discover the beaches, and dive into the local culture.
To make your trip a breeze, I’m dishing up the best hotels to stay at in San Diego.
Where to Stay in San Diego
It’s essential to understand just how geographically big San Diego County is. As you are planning out your must-see spots around town, look at a map.
There are 70 miles of coastline within the county so things can be much farther apart than you might think.
There are too many neighborhoods to even list so I’m just going to scratch the surface by listing the best bases for exploration.
If you’re looking for top-notch nightlife, add downtown and the Gaslamp (just beside Little Italy) to your list.
While Little Italy is close to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, it’s not a great area for kids. You’ll also find that parking is pricey and can be hard to come by.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a night on the town and plan to Uber it around, you’re going to love it.
For a gorgeous view of the Pacific and a laid-back vibe, you’ll be spoiled for choice throughout the Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and Mission Beach area
This drop-dead gorgeous area comes at a premium but is well worth it when you are looking to treat yourself.
While you’ll be a bit farther from the typical tourist spots like Balboa Park and the Zoo, you’ll find chill places to escape in Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Encinitas, and Carlsbad.
If you’re only planning to pop down to the Balboa Park area and are more interested in looking for a spot to disconnect, look for options up here. It’s a relaxing beach area with bargains to be had.
I adore the Carlsbad Flower Fields up here! Visit in the spring to admire the colorful blooms. Be aware though that you’re 45 minutes from Point Loma and this isn’t a practical base if you’re planning to explore San Diego daily.
Luxury Hotels in San Diego
Looking to have a luxurious and beachy getaway? Here are some of the best luxury hotels in San Diego!
Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado is an absolute icon. The Victorian-style hotel is a dream with its beachfront access and it’s a true retail complex, complete with restaurants, shops, walking paths, and even an ice skating rink during the holidays.
If you’re looking for old-school vibes but still want luxury, this grand hotel is for you! P.S. It was featured in the Marilyn Monroe movie, Some Like it Hot.
InterContinental San Diego
Little Italy is just about 15-minutes away by foot from the InterContinental San Diego — making it a prime place to explore all the offerings in the area.
While it doesn’t have beach access, the harbor is right outside the hotel doors (hello, sunset strolls!).
The InterContinental took advantage of the stunning harbor views with floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s even a fourth-floor pool that overlooks the water!
Rancho Bernardo Inn
Rancho Bernardo Inn is a bit outside of the heart of San Diego — about 30 miles north of the downtown area. This is more of a place to book if you just want a serene staycation.
Enjoy their spa (which has outdoor treatment rooms in the garden, yes please!), championship golf course, and other next-level amenities.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
This 400-acre resort is majestic, to say the least! Operated by those behind The Plaza in New York City, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is indeed grand.
Featuring luxurious Mediterranean stylings, it almost feels like a palace in France or Spain…but in Southern California!
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
This sprawling resort is peak Southern California vibes with its fuschia-hued bougainvillea, orange groves, and beautiful Spanish-inspired architecture.
This place is sprawling (it’s spread out across 45 acres) and is also a place that you book for a perfect staycation…where you won’t ever want to leave.
Here’s my review of staying at Rancho Valencia!
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Located in La Jolla, this Spanish Colonial-style hotel is quintessential California with all its succulents, gardens, and Mission-style architecture.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines
This cliffside Craftsman-style resort feels a bit like stepping back in time…in a very ritzy way. Though the decor is heavy and dark, it’s cozy and comforting in that beautiful Craftsman-style way.
Located on the 18th green of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course, this place is perfect for those who…you guessed it—love to golf!
The US Grant
The US Grant is a historic hotel located in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego.
Upon opening her doors in 1910, the US Grant Hotel once hosted California’s high society as one of the most luxurious hotels of the time.
Ready my review of staying at the US Grant Hotel here!
Mid-Range Hotels in San Diego
Packed cities usually mean quite a number of choices when it comes to accommodations, and San Diego definitely has some fantastic hotel options.
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel in San Diego that’s lovely (and maybe has a boutique charm), but isn’t going to completely break the bank — check out these places!
The Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club
Located in North Park and a 5-minute drive from the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, The Lafayette Hotel is an eco-friendly 1940s hotel that features an Olympic-size pool and poolside dining. The whole ambiance here is just FUN!
P.S. A scene in Top Gun was filmed here!
The Westgate Hotel
Want to embrace a bit of Versailles…from San Diego?
Located in the Gaslamp, this elegant hotel features a decadent brunch buffet and opulent lobby; think Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Persian rugs, and French tapestries.
The Pearl Hotel
Love the feeling of Palm Springs and that sort of vintage motel vibe…just minus the motel? The Pearl plays up all the fun aspects but does it with tons of comfort and charm!
Slightly hidden away in Point Loma, The Pearl is a small boutique hotel with a lovely outdoor pool (where they often host movie nights) and a killer cocktail menu. A super cute place to stay for a romantic getaway!
Park Hyatt Aviara
Looking to hang out in Carlsbad?
The Park Hyatt Aviara is an ideal spot for families with their pool area with waterslides…plus their squad of babysitters for when mom and dad want to escape for a date night. While it’s family-friendly, it’s also quite ritzy (Hyatt pumped a cool $50 million into its updates!).
The Guild Hotel
A newer hotel to the San Diego scene, opening in 2019, The Guild is incredibly hip. Setting up inside a 1920s-era YMCA, the hotel retained some of the historic details (like the grand stone staircase — so cool!).
I’m a big fan of their herringbone floors, sleek lobby bar, and blush-hued velvet couches.
Pendry San Diego
This 12-story hotel in the Gaslamp is cool, trendy, and big on design! Created by the Montage team, the rooms feature lots of white-hues, gold touches, and wood…similar to a West Elm catalog (but in real life!).
This hotel is great for those who love good food and nightlife.
Budget Hotels in San Diego
As a note, even the “budget” hotels in San Diego usually start at $100-$200 per night, depending on the season.
Kings Inn San Diego
Not far from the 8 freeway, this 1960s-style hotel is surrounded by palms. Featuring a lovely pool and an even lovelier (read: wallet-friendly) price, this is a great option for the budget traveler.
SureStay Hotel by Best Western
It’s got all the comforts you know and love about Best Western. This location is within walking distance of Mission Bay Park, three miles from Seaworld, Pacific Beach Boardwalk and Mission Beach.
Do you have a favorite hotel in San Diego? Let me know in the comments below!