Beautiful aerial view of the San Diego downtown by the Pacific ocean

San Diego: our favorite places to stay

Updated by Pat Dorri on February 16 2024

With its year-round sunny weather and stunning beaches, San Diego is a perfect destination for those looking for outdoor adventure, from surfing to relaxing by the sea, and great attractions for all the family to enjoy.

Along with beautiful beaches, there are plenty of great San Diego attractions like San Diego Zoo, San Diego Aerospace Museum and Maritime Museum to visit, and eclectic neighbourhoods such as Gaslamp Quarter and East Village to explore. Far too much for a day, so luckily there are some top places to stay a night or more.

Read on for our favorite places to stay from each category below, or click the links to skip to the hotel type you're looking for:

Where should I stay in San Diego?

Our favorite hotels in San Diego are all shown on the map below.

Click the icons to see each hotel's name, its category, and a quick link that takes you straight to more information further down the page.

Our favorite luxury hotel in San Diego

Why not add a bit of extra luxury to your visit to San Diego? Choosing one of the more exclusive hotels in the area will really add some excitement to your stay and there are some great options around. Take a look at our favorite.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

'The World-Class One'

📍5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Carmel Valley, San Diego, CA 92130, United States

You can expect a world-class experience when you stay at Fairmount Grand Del Mar. This incredible hotel has a choice of swimming pools, fine dining options, and exclusive spa treatments. It'll be hard to leave!

Stunning relaxation pool with loungers, and red and white patterned parasols along terrace, at Fairmount Grand Del Mar, San Diego
Relax in the stunning grounds of Fairmount Grand Del Mar. An incredible, show-stopping hotel, inside and out.
© Fairmount Grand Del Mar

READ MORE - Click here for booking options and prices

Why we love staying at Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Prepare to be wowed with a visit to Fairmont Garden Del Mar, where you have plenty of choice at this exclusive hotel. Here are some of the perks you can expect.

  • Mediterranean-inspired resort, with opulent rooms and suites and stunning terraces.
  • Choice of swimming pools, including adult-only or family-friendly.
  • Tennis courts, full-service spa and Tom Fazio-designed golf course on-site.
  • Multiple dining options, including the acclaimed Addison restaurant.
  • Complimentary transport to visit coastal towns of Del Mar, La Jolla and Solana Beach.

What is there to do close to Fairmont Grand Del Mar?

If you manage to prise yourself away from the first-class stay at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, then there is plenty to explore just a short drive away. Here are some places we recommend.

  1. San Dieguito River Park - Scenic trails, diverse wildlife, and outdoor activities to enjoy in this stunning park.
  2. Carmel Knolls Park - Playgrounds and picnic areas dotted across pretty parkland.
  3. Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve - Expansive preserve with stunning landscape, historic sites, and scenic hiking trails.
  4. Torrey Pines State Reserve - Expect jaw-dropping cliffs, rare pine trees, and stunning ocean views.

Click here for more information about Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Our favorite boutique hotel in San Diego

If you are looking to experience something different in San Diego, then why not consider a more unique hotel during your stay, with plenty of character to make your trip extra memorable. Here is a great find in the vibrant neighborhood Gaslamp Quarter.

Moxy Gaslamp Quarter

'The Central One'

📍 831 6th Avenue, Downtown San Diego, San Diego, 92101, United States

Moxy Gaslamp Quarter has great accessibility to many of the top attractions in San Diego, as well as a comfortable and cool place to head back to after a busy day sight-seeing.

San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter with a vintage streetcar, on a sunny day
Head to the vibrant and lively Gaslamp Quarter for a touch of authentic San Diego.

READ MORE - Click here for booking options and prices

Why we love staying at Moxy Gaslamp Quarter

The four-star Moxy Gaslamp Quarter is in the heart of all the action, with so much just a short stroll away. As well as a great location this hotel has plenty of reasons you won't want to stay out too long. Here is why.

  • Vibrant and funky interior design, with stylish bar and lounges.
  • The bar also serves as the check-in desk, so start your stay off in style!
  • State-of-art fitness center if you fancy keeping on the move.

What is there to do close to Moxy Gaslamp Quarter?

A wander round Gaslamp Quarter and soaking up the atmosphere is plenty to enjoy, however if you are looking for some other sites there are plenty on the doorstep. Here are some favorites.

  1. San Diego Gaslamp Quarter - Vibrant historic district known for nightlife, dining, and entertainment.
  2. Horton Plaza Park - A lively park offering community events and a unique interactive fountain.
  3. East Village Square - A trendy neighborhood with eclectic eateries, boutiques, and art galleries.
  4. San Diego Aerospace Museum - Exhibiting historic aircraft and space vehicles, and celebrating aviation history.

Click here for more information about Moxy Gaslamp Quarter

Our favorite budget hotel in San Diego

Looking for a great place to stay that won't break the bank? Then San Diego has lots of great options for visiting on a budget. Here is one we thinks a great choice to consider - and pretty funky too!

Staypineapple, Hotel Z

'The Eclectic One'

📍521 6th Ave, Downtown San Diego, San Diego, 92101, United States

Funky Staypineapple, Hotel Z, is close to some of the best downtown attractions San Diego has to offer, providing free bikes to explore, interesting style, and still on-budget. What's not to like?

Bright yellow bicycles for hire at the bright blue and yellow entrance to Staypineapple, Hotel Z, San Diego
Head out on the famous wheels from Staypineapple and enjoy exploring downtown San Diego.
© Staypineapple, Hotel Z

READ MORE - Click here for booking options and prices

Why we love staying at Staypineapple, Hotel Z

Choose to stay at Staypineapple, Hotel Z, and you are in heart of the action but without the high price tag. This hotel still offers some great amenities, and here are some top reasons to stay.

  • Fun and unique pineapple-themed decor throughout the hotel.
  • Super close to attractions, bars and restaurants.
  • Free use of bicycles is available to enjoy exploring the local area.
  • Very pet-friendly if you are planning to bring your furry friends.

What is there to do close to Staypineapple, Hotel Z?

Staypineapple, Hotel Z, is close to some of San Diego's best downtown attractions. Here are some to check out during your visit.

  1. Downtown San Diego - Bustling city center with range of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
  2. East Village Square - Trendy area known for its artsy vibe and unique urban experiences.
  3. Park at the Park - A relaxing, green space adjacent to Petco Park, perfect for casual outings.
  4. USS Midway Museum - Historic aircraft carrier turned museum, packed with naval and aviation history.
  5. Coronado Beach - Picturesque beach with soft sands and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Click here for more information about Staypineapple, Hotel Z

Our favorite family-friendly hotel in San Diego

Planning to bring your family along to your San Diego visit? There is plenty to enjoy for those of all ages, and finding a place to stay isn't difficult at all. Why not check out our favorite below.

Cherokee Lodge

'The Charming One'

📍964 D Avenue, Coronado, San Diego, CA 92118, United States

Book a stay at this quaint and charming lodge and you are in for a treat. With many attractions and beaches on the doorstep too you won't need to journey far for an exciting day out.

Quaint and traditional Queen Suite at Cherokee Lodge, decorated in pastel colours and wooden furniture
Charming bedrooms and lounges greet you at the welcoming and homely Cherokee Lodge.
© Cherokee Lodge

READ MORE - Click here for booking options and prices

Why we love staying at Cherokee Lodge

Book a room at Cherokee Lodge and this charming lodge is the perfect base for exploring San Diego. Keep reading for our highlights.

  • Quaint and quiet, this is a lovely base for exploring San Diego.
  • Enjoy fresh pastries, fruit, and yogurt for breakfast each morning.
  • Close to public transport and bicycle rental to get out and about.
  • Relax on the outdoor porch after a busy day exploring.

What is there to do close to Cherokee Lodge?

If you are bringing your family along to San Diego then there are lots of family-friendly attractions and beaches to visit. Here are some of the best close to Cherokee Lodge.

  1. Coronado Beach - Wide, clean sands and gentle waves, ideal for family beach outings.
  2. Rotary Park - A peaceful park with playgrounds and picnic areas.
  3. Coronado Bridge - Scenic views from the beautiful bridge, this is great for a family drive.
  4. Maritime Museum of San Diego - Interactive exhibits on maritime history, engaging for all ages.

Click here for more information about Cherokee Lodge

Our favorite beachside hotel in San Diego

San Diego is known for its year-round sunshine and stunning beaches, so where is better to stay than alongside the golden sands. There are lots of choices, however keep reading to see the very best of where to stay beachside.

The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

'The Great-View One'

📍1370 Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma, San Diego, CA 92107, United States

Along the sandy shores of Ocean Beach, The Inn at Sunset Cliffs is a real gem, and it'll be hard to tear yourself away from this stunning coastline.

Sun setting across the ocean alongside the bright blue rooms at The Inn at Sunset Cliffs, San Diego
You could never tire from the ocean views from your room at The Inn at Sunset Cliffs.
© The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

READ MORE - Click here for booking options and prices

Why we love staying at The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

Book a room at The Inn at Sunset Cliffs and you are in for a treat! This beachfront hotel is just steps away from the ocean, and there is plenty to enjoy during your stay.

  • Directly on the Pacific Ocean, you are just steps away from Ocean Beach.
  • Stay active with the option to take up surfing, boating, sailing and swimming.
  • Seasonal outdoor swimming pool, with incredible ocean views.
  • Enjoy the on-site fitness and yoga classes, on the pretty terrace.

What is there to do close to The Inn at Sunset Cliffs?

There is plenty to enjoy during a visit to The Inn at Sunset Cliffs, with the beach just moments away and other top attractions close by. Here are some of the best.

  1. Sunset Cliffs Beach - Dramatic cliffs and stunning sunsets, perfect for scenic walks and photography.
  2. Ocean Beach - Laid-back vibe with a wide beach, ideal for surfing and relaxing.
  3. The Arch - Iconic natural rock formation offering picturesque views.
  4. Kahuna Reef Tidepools - A haven for exploring marine life in natural tidepools.
  5. SeaWorld San Diego - Interactive marine life shows and educational exhibits for all ages.

Click here for more information about The Inn at Sunset Cliffs