SD › San Diego Best Hotels
Updated: November 18, 2022
San Diego is a great city. I love it. The big decision for visitors is where to stay in San Diego – at one of the great beaches or in downtown San Diego. The pros and cons are pretty obvious. Stay close to the beach and commute to the attractions in and around downtown. Or stay close to the attractions and do the opposite route to get to the beach. The plus side to both is that the drive (or ferry) is fairly short and hassle-free. I’ve created a map of downtown San Diego hotels that should give you a good lay of the land.
The 15 Best Hotels in San Diego
1. The US Grant
Historic luxury hotel known for its iconic Grant Grill restaurant and convenient Gaslamp Quarter location. The US Grand offers several dining options, a wellness center, and posh guest rooms, some with deep, soaking tubs. Originally opened in 1910, this stately classical revival property has hosted 15 U.S. presidents, including JFK and Eisenhower, and its Penthouse Presidential Suite was the site of FDR’s first fireside chat outside of the capital. The hotel sits a 2-minute walk to the San Diego Civic Theatre and a 15-minute walk due east of Broadway Pier.
Grand hotel offering a plethora of entertainment, including a heated rooftop pool, indulgent spa, and an exclusive array of bespoke excursions, from cycling tours to full-day surfing and fishing trips and more. Pendry is home to 6 restaurants and bars offering a choice of fine and casual dining, a beer hall, upscale social club, among others. Crisp rooms and suites feature city and ocean views. Well-situated in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter about a 5-minute walk to Petco Park, the Gaslamp Quarter light rail station, and the New Children’s Museum.
Mediterranean-style 5-star resort famed for its marvelous 18-hole golf course and lavish wellness center with a luxury spa, meditation and mindfulness programs, guided nature hikes, and more. In addition to 4 outdoor, heated pools (1 for adults-only), amenities include a kids club, and European-style soaking tubs in every room. The Fairmont is home to San Diego’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Addison, as well as a coastal Californian bistro, Italian cafe, and an easygoing clubhouse overlooking the golf course. Located in Carmel Valley, 20 miles north of San Diego and about a 15-minute drive to Torrey Pines State Reserve and the restaurants of Del Mar.
Modern luxury hotel with a heated, rooftop lap pool, a rooftop bar with fire pits and a DJ on weekends, and a swanky steakhouse. The hotel’s restrained architecture belies its creative interior spaces featuring vibrant artwork and lively common spaces. Spacious rooms feature a separate seating area and workspace, while suites sleep up to 6 guests and add fun amenities, such as king-sized bunk beds or a poolside cabana accessible by a private, spiral staircase. Located a 5-minute walk from Westfield Horton Plaza and a 9-minute walk from Petco Park.
A landmark boutique hotel since 1926, La Valencia perches above La Jolla Cove with a tiered layout for spectacular sunset ocean views from most rooms and The Med restaurant. Rooms, suites, and villas feature subtle, retro-inspired decor; many offer balconies, while larger suites and villas may add sofabeds. Facilities include an outdoor heated pool, outdoor saltwater jacuzzi, a fitness center, and several dining options. Surrounded by restaurants, cafes, and upscale shopping.
High-rise hotel featuring 2 rooftop pools – a family pool with two jacuzzis and a quiet, adults-only pool – both heated seasonally. Culinary offerings include a 40th-floor cocktail lounge, waterfront dining, and an upscale beer hall. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city or bay, plus a sitting area and at least 32 square meters of space; connecting rooms and spacious suites sleep up to 6 guests. Located across the street from the Seaport Village light rail station, a 3-minute walk to Seaport Village, and a 10-minute walk to the USS Midway Museum.
Iconic resort since 1888, the Del is comprised of 4 distinct “neighborhoods,” each like its own small hotel, all with an effortlessly luxurious style. The original rooms are part of the Victorian (historic rooms in Queen Anne architecture), the Cabanas (lively, contemporary beachside and poolside rooms), Beach Village (ultra-luxe beach villas with up to 3 bedrooms and exclusive access to several private pools), and the brand new Views (modern romance with breezy beach charm). The property offers many on-site restaurants, shops, and recreational activities including beach chairs and umbrellas, rental bicycles, a full-service spa, an outdoor pool, and a kids club. Located on Coronado Island, the property is within walking distance of numerous restaurants and accessible via car (15-minute drive) or ferry from Downtown San Diego.
High-end boutique resort overlooking Del Mar Beach with phenomenal dining, an ocean-inspired day spa, and a heated outdoor pool with food and beverage service all day. All rooms and suites feature marble bathrooms, most with a balcony or patio, and some with fireplaces. L’Auberge’s perks include complimentary use of bicycles (electric or beach cruisers), tennis courts, firepits lit at sunset, and neighborhood shuttle service. Beautifully located just a 6-minute walk to the shore via their private path and mere steps to the restaurants and shops of Camino Del Mar.
Contemporary boutique hotel on Pacific Beach with a stylish restaurant and lively sun terrace overlooking the historic, picturesque Crystal Pier. Rooms and suites have 1 king or 2 queen beds and private patios; most have full or partial ocean views, and some add jacuzzi baths. Seasonal events include holiday brunches and Wednesday wine nights with guest sommeliers and vintners. Located steps to restaurants and shopping on Garnet Avenue, a 9-minute drive to Belmont Park, and an 11-minute drive to SeaWorld.
The best family-friendly resort in San Diego, sprawling Paradise Point sits on a small island in Mission Bay, wrapped in white sand beaches. The property features 5 heated, outdoor swimming pools (1 for adults only), a private marina with watersports (paddleboards, kayaks, jet skis, sailboats, and more), and plenty of kid-friendly amenities, including firepits for s’mores, complimentary lawn games, a kids’ club, and much more. Spacious rooms, suites, and bungalows sleep families of up to 5, all with private patios or balconies, most with views of the garden, lagoon, or bay. Casual waterfront dining and a tropically inspired spa round out the experience.
Upscale hotel with a New American restaurant and a heated, rooftop pool, sun terrace, and cocktail bar. Rooms and suites feature bespoke furnishing in rich colors and patterns and city or skyline views, some with deep soaking tubs or sitting areas. Studio and 1 to 3-bedroom suites add sofabeds; some have jetted baths, dining rooms, separate living rooms, and more. Complimentary amenities include bicycles, morning coffee and tea in the lobby, and a nightly manager’s reception with local beverages. Conveniently located in the Gaslamp Quarter, with the city’s best restaurants and nightlife at its doorstep and Petco Park just a short walk away.
Parisian style meets California friendliness in this luxe hotel designed as an homage to the Palace of Versailles and filled with French tapestries, chandeliers, and antiques. All rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with city views. The 3700-square-meter AquaVie Fitness + Wellness Club spreads over 4 floors and features a heated, rooftop pool and jacuzzi, indoor gym, outdoor running track, and decadent spa. The fine-dining restaurant, Veranda, incorporates local ingredients into a modern French menu, while handcrafted cocktails, afternoon tea, and in-room dining complete the gourmet experience here. Ideally situated across the street from the Civic Center light rail station, steps from Westfield Horton Plaza and the Balboa Theatre, and a short walk from the San Diego Civic Theatre.
High-end, family-friendly hotel with an outdoor, heated pool and jacuzzi, a handful of restaurants, and a wellness center. Rooms and suites offer city, ballpark, or ocean views; Corner Rooms, Studio Suites, and Executive Suites add private balconies. Excellent location connected via skybridge to Petco Park, home of the Padres (the hotel’s baseball memorabilia spreads out over 4 floors), and within a 10-minute walk of the restaurants and bars of the Gaslamp Quarter.
Elegant resort in a lush, garden setting with a dazzling saltwater pool and jacuzzi, a holistic spa. The hotel’s outstanding culinary program includes a farm-to-table brunch spot, an award-winning Baja Mexican restaurant, a casual all-day cafe, and an upscale garden lounge with butler service. Located about a 10-minute hike to Black’s Beach (clothing optional) and Torrey Pines Gliderport (paragliding and hang gliding; ride with an instructor or take lessons), a 20-minute walk to the Tony-award-winning La Jolla Playhouse, and a 10-minute drive to La Jolla Cove. Free shuttle service is available upon request.
Harborfront hotel just steps to the Embarcadero with a private marina, wellness center, 2 jacuzzis, and 2 freeform, rooftop pools (a shallow kids’ pool and a larger pool for all – both heated seasonally). On-site restaurants offer plenty of variety, including Asian fusion fine dining, American comfort favorites, a poolside Baja grill, and more. Rooms feature city or bay views, some with balconies; all room types sleep up to 4 guests with connecting options available for larger groups. The property sits within walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center (5-minute walk), Seaport Village (7-minute walk), and Petco Park (10-minute walk).
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