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Trip Advisor; Dana Rebmann/Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
- San Diego is a sun-soaked Southern California city home to beaches, parks, a military base, a world-famous zoo, and easy access to activities like whale watching, kayaking, surfing, and biking.
- From urban towers showcasing full-length water views to beachfront resorts and spa retreats, hotels are plentiful and varied and range from budget-friendly chains to luxury enclaves.
- To help narrow the field and highlight the best, we researched and vetted the city’s top-rated hotels in great neighborhoods, and selected four and five-star hotels based on our own reviews and experience, as well as ratings and feedback from guests on trusted traveler sites. Prices range from a cheap $161 per night, to a $381 luxury splurge.
- Read all Business Insider hotel reviews here.
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Whenever that happens for you, and we know it will, we hope our travel content helps you make informed, useful, and inspiring choices on the best places and hotels to book. So whether you use our reviews now, bookmark them for the future, or simply need an escape from the news, we’ll continue to share the world with you. In the meantime, we encourage all travelers to stay safe, follow guidelines from the CDC website, and take precautions.
If you’ve never been to San Diego, you’re in for a treat, and if you’re a repeat visitor, you’re likely already brimming with glee. That’s because San Diego is one of those rare places that manages to be both buzzing and hip while still feeling approachable, laid back, and surrounded by coastal scenery with a temperate climate year-round.
From picturesque beach resorts to contemporary downtown hotels and intimate Spanish-inspired bungalows, the hotels are as varied and exciting as the city itself, whether your visit is for business, golf, world-class spas, the beach, or, of course, Comic Con.
Whenever your travels next take you to San Diego, consult our list of the top hotels in the area, ranging from Coronado Bay, to downtown, and lovely Rancho Santa Fe. We made selections based on our own expert reviews and experiences on-property, as well as consulting past guest reviews and ratings on trusted traveler sites such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com.
We also kept price points under $400 in low season to include a range of accommodations from budget-minded hotels to lavish retreats. We kept an eye out for coveted SoCal amenities such as beach access, great pools, divine spas, championship golf courses, downtown access to business and hip hangs, and more. All hotels are rated three-stars and up, with a heavy emphasis on the four to five-star range for an accessible sense of modern luxury that won’t cost a fortune, either.
Traveling elsewhere? Read our list of the best hotels in other popular cities:
- The best hotels in New York City
- The best hotels in San Francisco
- The best hotels in Las Vegas
- The best hotels in Los Angeles
- The best hotels in Chicago
- The best hotels in Palm Springs
- The best hotels in Miami
- The best hotels in Washington, DC
- The best hotels in Barcelona
- The best hotels in Key West
- The best hotels in Maui
Keep reading to discover the best hotels in San Diego, sorted by price from low to high.
InterContinental San Diego
Located on the historic grounds of Lane Field (the former baseball stadium for the San Diego Padres) and part of IHG hotels, the InterContinental’s downtown waterfront location offers a prime vantage point of the San Diego Bay and is a close walk from the Embarcadero, where the USS Midway Museum, Broadway Pier, and cruise ship terminals are located.
Housing 400 guest rooms over 19 stories, InterContinental San Diego is a mass of oversized windows overlooking the water with rooms that are above average in size and generally very affordable in price. Since the real draw here is the bay, splurging on a room that overlooks industrial buildings wouldn’t sit right — spring for a water view. There are also spacious two-room suites starting at $324, ideal for families.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 32 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 8.9 out of 10
Pros: InterContinental is in the center of the city and highly walkable to many points of interest. You really can’t beat the bay views and watching the sunset from your room, Vistal restaurant, or Layover rooftop lounge is a must.
Cons: There is an additional $25 amenity fee tacked on for each night, which takes care of Wi-Fi, two bottles of water per day, and a one-time $25 food credit at Vistal restaurant. Also, nearby construction along the waterfront is expected to last until 2021 and may bring noise so request a higher floor, if possible.
The Guild Hotel San Diego, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel
In downtown San Diego, there are many corporate big-box hotels, and it can be hard to find a middle ground between modern and intimate and a reasonable price point. Enter the Guild San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel from Marriott Bonvoy. The hotel is a newer addition to the downtown scene, housed in a century-old Armed Services YMCA. Yet rather than erasing the building’s past, the owners lovingly embraced its former life in an effort to honor San Diego’s rich maritime heritage.
Ornate, Italian Renaissance Revival exteriors were preserved, while run-down dormitory-style interiors were transformed into a sleek lobby. Well-appointed rooms feel cozy but upscale with modern velvet furnishings. But the standout is a tranquil but glam pale pink courtyard and urban garden that feels like you’ve been transported to the south of France.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 37 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 8.8 out of 10
Pros: The stories of local artisans featured in each room, and the warm, retro design make a great foil to all the beachy decor you typically find in San Diego. The preserved history and architecture are fascinating, and the courtyard is a transportive delight.
Cons: Downtown gets noisy, and if you love a high ceiling, you might be opting for a higher decibel level in certain rooms.
Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego
This bang-on-trend property in the heart of San Diego’s buzzing Gaslamp district is popular with younger travelers who appreciate the look and feel that’s equal parts trendy, modern, and stylish, and comes with perks like complimentary wine at check-in.
There are 211 rooms set over 20 stories, with the top four floors reserved for Skyline Collection rooms which have expansive views of San Diego and touches like surfboard headboards, upcycled light fixtures, and shibori curtains. Every room is design-forward with crisp white linens and Atelier Bloem bath products and is stocked with useful extras like yoga mats and umbrellas. There’s also a posh rooftop pool, an on-site Mexican eatery that specializes in elevated street fare, and a pet-friendly attitude that treats your dogs like VIPs.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 57 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 8.6 out of 10
Pros: The friendly service is the hotel’s standout feature, and modern room design feels fresh and inviting. The hotel strikes the right balance between feeling luxe while catering to a younger crowd. Also, the late-night taco window is worth staying up for.
Cons: Upgraded Skyline rooms have the best views, but are actually smaller than cheaper standard rooms. Also, watch those fees. Wi-Fi isn’t free, parking costs $49 nightly, and as expected, there’s a sizeable resort fee.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Coronado might be synonymous with the famous Hotel Del Coronado, but for a cheaper beach resort getaway, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort is a solid option without compromising on comfort or style.
Situated at the end of a private 15-acre peninsula, Loews Coronado offers a hip but relaxed vibe with a luxury lean, as well as excellent hotel grounds, amenities, and scenic 360-degree bay views.
Though beach access is located across a highway and requires a free hotel shuttle, there’s plenty to enjoy on-site including the large pool deck with reserved space for both adults and kids, a spa, and a terrace bar with ample views. It’s also a bit quieter than Hotel Del, surrounded by natural elements and removed from city bustle. Rooms are chic and in line with the high-end Loews brand.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 6 of 17 hotels in Coronado
Booking.com Rating: 8.8 out of 10
Pros: The bay views afforded from all corners of the property are fantastic and peaceful, especially in the Bay Terrace bar area. The fantastic staff helps keep kids entertained at the pool, and daily activities such as beach yoga, marina spin classes, and nature walks, are all included in the resort fee.
Cons: The resort and parking fees add up on a long family vacation, and the hotel’s distance from Coronado’s town center can feel inconvenient when you want to explore. Similarly, the lack of direct beachfront access is something to consider, and shuttle access can be challenging in off season.
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
While there are cheaper downtown options in San Diego, the Manchester Grand Hyatt consistently delivers on a high level of sophistication alongside friendly staff, plenty of on-site dining, and a central waterfront location that makes it easy to explore the city and savor the sunset.
With 1,628 guestrooms, including 76 suites, the hotel is huge but not impossible to manage. Rates are accessible in price too, if you’re not specific about which incredible view you receive. And there isn’t a bad one; all rooms overlook either the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Bay, or downtown city area.
The hotel earns added appeal as the West Coast’s tallest waterfront hotel and is just steps from attractions like the Gaslamp Quarter, the USS Midway, and San Diego’s scenic Embarcadero.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 37 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 8.8 out of 10
Pros: The room views are stellar and don’t miss the sunset from the Top of the Hyatt. Located 40 stories up, floor-to-ceiling windows make it a fantastic spot to watch the sky put on a show with a cocktail or bite to eat. Also, the hotel shows movies on its rooftop sports deck multiple nights a week, April through October, and for a month during the holidays. Think blankets, deck chairs, and starry skies, along with popcorn, candy, and cocktails.
Cons: Like most hotels in the city, there is a $35 daily destination fee. It includes a lot of helpful perks and amenities, but it does add up.
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
Set on 21 landscaped acres just a short drive outside of downtown San Diego, The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, A Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa is an enticing option when you want to stay near San Diego, but not in the thick of it.
This calming boutique escape is a member of Marriott Bonvoy, and feels like a Mediterranean-inspired bungalow with red-tiled roofs, mosaic details, Spanish-Californian architecture, and bubbling fountains. Swaying palms, leafy green trees, and tall cacti add color to the well-kept grounds.
Even starter Queen rooms are large with 325 square feet, sleek bathrooms, and peaceful terraces overlooking the hotel’s polished spaces. The design is rustic but contemporary, which creates a cozy, welcoming feel, especially if you upgrade to a room with a fireplace. On-site amenities include farm-to-table dining, a 24-hour fitness center, an inviting outdoor pool, and a spa that’s a draw in its own right.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 2 of 3 hotels in Rancho Santa Fe
Booking.com Rating: 9.0 out of 10
Pros: The vibe is laid-back, while still catering to a luxury crowd. Everything about staying here feels relaxing and refined.
Cons: Rancho Santa Fe is a charming suburb of San Diego, but you’ll still have to deal with traffic every time you want to go downtown.
The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Once a presidential palace dating back to 1910, The historic US Grant is a posh hotel that’s also earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The 11-story building was built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant, who named it after his father.
But it’s far from old and stuffy. Now operating as a luxury hotel, the interiors are magnificent, with large chandeliers, impressive columns, and artifacts on display that speak to the city’s history.
There are 270 high-end rooms and suites for an upscale experience not commonly replicated in the city. The hotel is also well-located downtown near Balboa Park, the waterfront area, San Diego Zoo, and Petco Park. Luxury Collection hotels are also members of Marriott Bonvoy, offering a good opportunity to earn and redeem points.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 50 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 8.7 out of 10
Pros: Common spaces and guest rooms all feature luxe interiors that feel beautifully curated, and the walkable location to major downtown San Diego sights offers a major advantage to those looking to explore the city.
Cons: Some past guests have experienced poor interactions with staff and noise from outside. Some rooms overlook other guest rooms offering little privacy unless you upgrade to an ocean view.
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa
For something more sedate than the crowded beach, or quieter than the noisy downtown area, head inland to the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort’s 200-acre estate in Carlsbad. The hotel overlooks golf greens, a wildlife sanctuary, and provides ample views of the distant ocean. The sense is overwhelmingly tranquil, with well-kept common places to kick back after a few laps in the lavish pools.
As of the time of publication, the hotel was undergoing a major makeover until fall 2020 and we noticed daytime hammering in the guest room area, pools closed for renovation, and more extensive work about to start on a sweeping lobby stairway from the lobby, which will cause further disruptions.
But don’t dismiss it just yet. While the hotel is only going to become more grandiose, in the meantime, rooms are still comfortable, well-appointed, and priced far less than they usually are, offering a great deal. Even newly renovated rooms are currently discounted.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 5 of 41 hotels in Carlsbad
Booking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Pros: Tranquil setting surrounded by lush green lawns, swaying palms, ocean views, and high-end resort amenities with newly remodeled rooms.
Cons: The construction taking place through Fall 2020 means major disruptions and closures of public areas, though, most will be complete by May of 2020.
Pacific Terrace Hotel
Directly facing the ocean at the end of the Pacific Beach boardwalk, this beachy hotel’s waterfront location is completely idyllic. There are 73 well-appointed rooms and suites outfitted with rich wood furnishings, plantation shutters, and bright pops of turquoise for a tropical island feel. Book a room with an ocean view and watch as San Diego strolls, runs, bikes, and rollerblade by, and surfers catch early morning waves.
If you can’t choose between pool or ocean, know that the former directly faces the sand for a best-of-both-worlds lounging option. Beach buckets and shovels, toys, boogie boards, and bikes are all available for guests’ use, and the hotel is well-located close to local attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Torrey Pines State Beach, Belmont Park, Crystal Pier, and is just eight miles north of San Diego’s International Airport.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 4 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 9.0 out of 10
Pros: The beachfront location is standout, as are all the amenities provided by the hotel such as beach necessities like towels and toys, complimentary glasses of wine, bike rentals, discounted breakfast and massages, fitness center access, Wi-Fi, DVD rentals, and board games
Cons: All of those above perks are part of a daily resort fee of $18 plus tax, though that’s much cheaper than what you’ll find downtown.
Hotel Del Coronado
Located just five miles from downtown San Diego, the Hotel del Coronado is a historic hotel and landmark that has hosted US presidents, royalty, and movie stars for decades. If the Victorian-style resort looks especially familiar, that’s because it’s the direct inspiration for Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort.
Affectionately dubbed The Del or Hotel Del, the sprawling beachfront resort counts 28-acres and 757 rooms and suites spread throughout the massive original Victorian building, as well as a contemporary oceanfront tower, poolside cabanas, and luxury beach cottages and villas.
The main building showcases a variety of antique details such as a vintage iron elevator that requires an operator, while the oceanfront towers, cabanas, cottages, and villas each have their own vibe, and tends to be more modern and beachy. The beach is also a draw (and attracts crowds too as it is public) with on-site water sports rentals and wellness classes.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 14 of 17 hotels in Coronado
Booking.com Rating: 7.3 out of 10
Pros: The hotel is stunning, the history is fascinating, and the beach is beautiful. While costly, rooms facing the ocean take any stay to the next level, and brunch in the Crown Room is well worth a splurge if budget, and appetite, allow.
Cons: Rooms can be pricey for pretty standard accommodations. Additionally, the Hotel Del is completing a major remodel which may impact noise and closures of facilities. Since the beach is public, expect a lot of tourists and crowds.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
You might feel like you slipped away to the Spanish countryside when you first enter this sprawling five-star luxury golf and spa hideaway.
Housed on a lush 400-acre setting with Mediterranean tile work, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar feels pristine with arched windows, curved staircases, and a rose-tinted facade that resembles a European palace. And the level of sophistication is sincere; the hotel is operated by the same team behind the ultra-high-end Plaza Hotel in New York City.
There are 249 large, well-appointed rooms and suites, though you’ll likely spend most of your time wandering the well-kept gardens or taking a dip in one (or all) of the four pools. For a bit more activity, the resort is just a few miles from the beach, and there is also an 18-hole private golf club designed by Tom Fazio, and activities such as art classes, tennis lessons, yoga, cooking classes, and more. Fairmont Grand Del Mar earned the distinction as a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond luxury resort, and also boasts a spa, kids club, nightlife, and dining.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 7 of 292 hotels in San Diego
Booking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Pros: This hotel perfects the art of five-star luxury without feeling pretentious, and rooms and grounds are beautiful and serene. This is a place to be pampered.
Cons: In peak season, expect room rates to soar, and they’re not the only pricey part of staying here. Everything from meals to drinks and spa services add up quickly. There’s also a resort fee of $45 per day and the location is not beachfront.
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