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The Top San Diego Hotels Near Downtown and the Beachfront

San Diego Epic Stays
by Hannah D. Cooper Aug 4, 2023

Sunny San Diego is just the ticket for a South California vacation. Downtown swarms with museums, rooftop bars, and taquerias while golden beaches and basking seals are a trolley, bus, or ferry ride away. When choosing where to stay in San Diego, you’ll need to weigh up whether you want hip urban digs or salt in your hair. These are the best hotels in San Diego for a downtown sojourn or for getting your surf on.

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We hope you love the San Diego hotels we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Best Hotels in San Diego’s Downtown District

Downtown San Diego is a great place to stay because it’s centrally located and offers easy access to many of the city’s most popular attractions. Staying downtown allows you to be close to the beach, Balboa Park, Seaport Village, Gaslamp Quarter, and more. It also puts you steps away from some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and shops.

Pendry San Diego Boutique Hotel

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  • Address: 550 J Street, San Diego, CA, 92101, United States
  • Rates from: $333/night

One of the coolest boutique hotels in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, the Pendry is topped by a corker of a swimming pool. The roof deck spills into the Pool House bar where shellfish towers are served alongside creative margaritas. Recover from all that relaxation with a CBD-infused soak or al fresco massage in the spa garden.

Lifestyle rooms sport custom tartan couches, coastal photography, and luxe tiled showers. Higher floors grant incredible bay and skyline views while suites are furnished with pool tables and soaking tubs, or – in the case of the Pool Suite – a personal cabana. The Pendry’s status as a dog-friendly hotel earns it further stripes.

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The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego

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  • Address: 326 Broadway, San Diego, CA, 92101, United States
  • Rates from: $369/night

As the most luxurious eowntown San Diego hotel, the US Grant is unashamedly indulgent from the second you enter its palatial lobby. Rooms are outfitted with sumptuous Egyptian cotton sheets and drip paintings by Yves Clement. Even the entry-level ones have bags of space while penthouse suites will tempt families and longer stays.

The Art Deco grill chases Pacific seafood dishes and sustainably-sourced prime cuts with imaginative cocktails. Live music drums up a crowd in the lounge on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Sandwiched between the Gaslamp Quarter, the Embarcadero, and Balboa Park, you’ll never fall short of places to visit in San Diego.

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The Guild Hotel, San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

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  • Address: 500 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
  • Rates from: $279/night

One of the most stylish boutique hotels in San Diego, the Guild Hotel brings a new lease of life to the former Armed Services Building. Once you pass through the splashy entrance, the lobby is refreshingly lowkey while the lush courtyard serves thin-crust Roman pizza and jarred puddings. “Aperitivo Hour” takes place daily in the velvet-clad speakeasy.

Radiantly white rooms feature tufted leather headboards and subway-tiled bathrooms. The loft collection is of a similar vein but with the perk of beautiful arched windows and the two-bedroom penthouse features a kitchen and an exclusive garden terrace.

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Andaz San Diego – a Concept by Hyatt

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  • Address: 600 F St, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
  • Rates from: $272/night

Things get off to a fine start at this pet-friendly San Diego hotel with a complimentary drink before you receive your keycard. A destination fee applies at the Andaz, granting a plethora of freebies including a daily beer and wine tasting, a one-hour kayak rental, and a day pass to a boxing club. You’ll also nab a discount at city attractions.

Comprising only 159 rooms, the Andaz is one of the best San Diego hotels for an exclusive poolside atmosphere. Only the Cabana Suite grants direct access to the water! All other units are appointed with work by local artists, teal bed stands, and Keurig coffee makers.

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Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton

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  • Address: 401 W Ash St, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
  • Rates from: $347/night

If you’re heading to America’s Finest City to pig out on SoCal cuisine, you’ll find yourself in good company at any of the Little Italy San Diego hotels. Close enough to smell the dough, the Carte Hotel Downtown lets you idle from pizza kitchen to brewpub to bakery. Work up an appetite with a dip in the landscaped outdoor pool and nurse a negroni with a view at Above Ash Social.

Floor-to-ceiling windows let you take in the urbanscape from the comfort of your bathrobe. One of the best hotels in San Diego for families and those with dogs, connecting rooms and ample suites provide more than enough space.

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Omni San Diego Hotel

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  • Address: 675 L St, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
  • Rates from: $268/night

A hop, a skip, and a jump from the Grand Stairway, the Omni is one of the best hotels near the San Diego Convention Center. This 34-floor tower keeps a watchful eye over the Pacific Ocean with top rooms and suites granting bay or Petco Park views. All units don a coastal aesthetic using maritime hues while the lobby and communal areas exhibit baseball apparel.

Bounded by palm trees, the heated rooftop pool and hot tub are the crowning joy. Follow a tanning session with a ritual at the property spa where hot stone massages are delivered with recycled tiger clam shells.

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Best San Diego Hotels near Beaches and Family Attractions

Staying near the beach gives travelers an opportunity to experience the city’s beautiful scenery and outdoor activities, while also providing them with a convenient place to stay. Plus, many hotels in the area offer discounts or packages that include tickets to attractions such as SeaWorld San Diego or the San Diego Zoo.

Paradise Point Resort and Spa

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  • Address: 1404 Vacation Rd, San Diego, CA 92109, United States
  • Rates from: $331/night

Located on a private island, Paradise Point Resort and Spa is one of the most kid-friendly hotels near SeaWorld San Diego. Only a five-minute drive from the aquarium, the beachfront hotel is equally convenient for the watersport haven of Mission Bay.

The vacation resort comprises five pools inclusive of a lagoon, a waterfall pool, and one for adults only. Oceanic-inspired guest rooms, suites, and bungalows facing the garden or bay come in a variety of configurations to accommodate families and couples. As befits a SoCal resort, casual restaurants bring you the freshest seafood while surf lessons and beach cruiser rentals cater to adventurous tastes.

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Orli La Jolla

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  • Address: 7753 Draper Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037, United States
  • Rates from: $369/night

A brand new hotel, Orli is a unique boutique beach hotel in San Diego already causing a stir. Located in the heart of La Jolla Village, magazine-quality rooms at this heritage residence are wrapped around a courtyard where olive trees thrive.

All 13 suites are individually styled with Parisian elegance. Retire to The Study where a typewriter will serve as your muse, let the sound machine lull you to sleep in The Nest, or play vinyl records until the wee hours in The Wing. One of the best hotels in San Diego for an authentic homestay experience, this seaside hideaway suits couples, families, and solo explorers.

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Inn at the Park

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  • Address: 525 Spruce St, San Diego, CA 92103, United States
  • Rates from: $206/night

Get a headstart on your exploration of Balboa Park’s countless museums by staying at the Inn at the Park. One of the more family-friendly hotels near San Diego Zoo, the two-bedroom suites accommodate groups of eight. All classically designed domains feature simple kitchenettes and dining areas while a handful of smaller units have the perk of a balcony.

This landmark building culminates with a knockout rooftop terrace where you can catch sunsets over the bay. There’s no restaurant but you’re welcome to take your own drinks or snacks up there to sweeten the experience.

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Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant

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  • Address: 2660 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110, United States
  • Rates from: $240/night

If walls could talk, those of these Old Town San Diego hotels would chew your ear off. What started life in 1827 as an adobe home went on to serve as a stagecoach office, olive cannery, and Mexican restaurant before becoming the Cosmopolitan Hotel. As the second-oldest building in the state historic park, vintage rooms capture the spirit of the Victorian era with tin bathtubs and late 19th-century dressers.

If San Diego hotels downtown are more your vibe, at least swing by the restaurant. Overlooking a bountiful orchard, the menu celebrates ranch, ocean, and farm produce while weekend brunch and afternoon tea are perfect for a special occasion.

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Tower23 Hotel

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  • Address: 723 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109, United States
  • Rates from: $322/night

San Diego’s only beachfront lifestyle hotel, all “pads” and suites at Tower23 Hotel are themed as per Sky, Surf, Sanctuary, or Serenity. Superior units come with a Pacific Ocean view, a private balcony, and a whirlpool bathtub. Those at the top of the chain have all three.

One of the vibiest San Diego beach hotels for sampling the California way of life, this hotel is steps from surf schools, yoga studios, and espresso bars. On-site restaurant JRDN is worth a look-in for an açaí bowl or chili mango margarita while the rooftop zen garden is a prime sunset spot.

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Which area is best to stay in San Diego?

The downtown core around the train station and the Gaslamp Quarter are the best places to stay in San Diego for a first-time visitor. Awash with restaurants and cultural institutions, these neighborhoods are convenient for Balboa Park, the Embarcadero, and Little Italy. If you’d prefer to wake up to the sound of the sea, the best San Diego hotels near the beach are located around Mission Bay, Ocean Beach, and La Jolla.

Where is walkable to stay in San Diego?

San Diego’s downtown district and parts of the Embarcadero are walkable although you will need to use the trolley to connect between the main districts. The best hotels in San Diego for walkability are located in the Gaslamp Quarter. Old Town, one of the best places to visit in San Diego for history, is walkable but you’ll need to ride the trolley there.

Is it good to stay in downtown San Diego?

The downtown neighborhoods are the best places to stay in San Diego. The wider district covers the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, the Embarcadero, and the marina. The Gaslamp is particularly walkable with awesome dining, fun nightlife, and the best hotels in San Diego for luxury.

What is the best hotel to stay in San Diego?

The Pendry Boutique Hotel and the US Grant Luxury Hotel are two of the best hotels in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter for style, amenities, and location.. Close to SeaWorld, the Paradise Point Resort and Spa caters to families while the new boutique hotel Orli La Jolla is an irresistible seaside retreat for couples.

Is it better to stay in La Jolla or San Diego?

Twelve miles north of Downtown San Diego, the seaside village of La Jolla also refers to La Jolla Cove and Torrey Pines State Reserve. Although a car is handy for getting around, public transport links the inner city with the resort in just over an hour. As a first-timer in San Diego, it makes more sense to stay downtown and visit La Jolla for a day. On the other hand, La Jolla is an attractive option for families, surfers, and those who prefer beach environments to urban.

Are three nights in San Diego enough?

At the very minimum, you’ll want to spend three nights in San Diego. This will allow enough time to scratch the surface by touring the downtown attractions, exploring Balboa Park, and devoting a morning to Old Town. Although half the size of Los Angeles, San Diego is pretty spread out and has a bevy of sights and activities that mean you can easily fill a week in the region.

Where to stay between San Diego and Disneyland?

The drive time between San Diego and Disneyland in Anaheim is around two hours, subject to traffic. One of the best places to visit in San Diego for wildlife and water activities, staying in La Jolla would spare you from falling prey to downtown congestion. The halfway point town of Oceanside, California, is an alternative stopover with an appealing blend of beach and urban delights. Served by the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, you can trade the wheel for the rails and stay at an Oceanside Airbnb.

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