Planning a trip to America’s Finest City? If you’re wondering where the most fabulous place to stay is, you’ve come to the right place: our list of the best hotels in San Diego. This jewel of California may be best known for amazing beaches, sun and tacos, but throw in a stellar nightlife, breweries galore (including one of the best craft breweries in the country) and delicious dining options, and you’ll also find an impressive hospitality scene. From chic downtown hotels to party the night away in, to relaxing hillside resorts and historic gems on the shore, there’s a hotel for anyone looking to get away from it all and get amongst the best things to do in San Diego.
Best hotels in San Diego
Grand is the perfect description for this hotel. Purchased by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in 2015, it first opened in 2007, in the lush green hills of Del Mar. The property features elegant Mediterranean décor with a sprawling golf course, 249 guestrooms, four heated pools, two tennis courts and an award-winning luxury spa, which just launched a series of wellness retreats. Much-lauded French restaurant the Addison is arguably the most renowned—and expensive—place to eat in San Diego.
Hidden in the hills of Carlsbad, Park Hyatt Aviara is most known for hosting the LPGA Kia Classic Tournament on its distinguished golf course. Perfect for feeling far away from the bustling city—without the long drive—the hotel features views of the Pacific, 327 guestrooms (including 43 suites), a spa, 24-hour fitness center, and four restaurants, including Argyle Steakhouse. The renowned temple of beef boasts a Steak Knife Concierge Program, where guests can choose the perfect knife for their particular choice of meat.
Get your Zen on at Deepak Chopra’s only holistic center, the Chopra Center, located on Omni La Costa’s property. The sprawling resort also features its own luxury spa, which is a popular bridal shower and birthday party destination. It features a private pool, waterfall showers, Jacuzzi, café, relaxation rooms and reflexology path. The Spanish Mission-style resort includes 600 guestrooms, suites and villas, an athletic center, adults-only pool, two golf courses and two acclaimed restaurants, Bistro 65 and Bob’s Steak & Chop House.
If you’re heading to the races at the Del Mar Racetrack, there’s no other hotel to get your pre- or post-Opening Day party on than L’Auberge. With gorgeous views of the Pacific, it also houses signature contemporary restaurant Kitchen 1450, a spa, an outdoor whirlpool spa and a pool with cabanas for rent. All 121 guestrooms offer coastal, garden or village views with their own balcony or patio—perfect for lounging in your bathrobe (which is included in each guestroom).
Located in the high-end neighborhood of Rancho Santa Fe in North County, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is an all-suite property, consisting of 45 acres of gardens, trails, olive groves and 49 casitas with private terraces. Dining options include the Veladora, a fine-dining Mediterranean restaurant, and the Pony Room, with American fare and craft cocktails. Its shining gem is the spa, which contains a 1,000-square-foot open-air Serenity Yoga Pavilion, where guests can partake in yoga, pilates and various other exercise programs.
Hidden in the quiet neighborhood of Rancho Bernardo, the Inn makes guests feel worlds away from the busy city. Surrounded by trees and greenery, the spa and pool here welcome guests to rent cabanas for the day, or lounge by the water’s edge. A popular place for golfing, the property also hosts many weddings and special events. Its signature restaurant, Avant, boasts woodsy interiors, craft cocktails, local craft beers and an impressive wine list.
Another beauty by the Coronado bay, Loews has prime waterfront real estate. Rooms offer views of their private marina from furnished balconies and terraces. The family-friendly hotel includes a Kid’s Club designed by Pottery Barn Kids, three outdoor swimming pools—including an adult section—whirlpools, paddleboat rentals, and direct access to the Silver Strand State Beach. For a romantic treat, the Gondola Company provides cruises through the nearby canals of the Coronado Cays, complete with a serenading gondolier.
The tallest waterfront hotel on the west coast, the Manchester Grand Hyatt is located downtown adjacent to Seaport Village. An impressive marble-stoned entryway greets guests in the hotel’s expansive lobby. Two rooftop pools entertain both children and adults, while the Marilyn Monroe Spa provides a variety of treatments and four dining options keep guests well fed. The newly renovated Top of the Hyatt cocktail lounge is located on the 40th floor, and features stunning views with elegant concoctions and light fare.
Built in 1888, the iconic Hotel Del remains Coronado’s main attraction. It was famously the backdrop to Marilyn Monroe’s film, Some Like it Hot, and Monroe’s image as well pictures of as numerous other famous guests line its halls. There are 757 rooms, beach cottages, spa, shops, pool, and a fine-dining restaurant, 1500 Ocean—which utilizes the hotel’s on-site garden. Fair warning: If you don’t like the idea of tourists wandering the property taking in its Victorian charms, it may not be the right choice for you.
This signature pink hotel by the sea opened its landmark doors in 1926. Situated on busy Prospect Street in the fancy seaside neighborhood of La Jolla, La Valencia overlooks the famous La Jolla Cove. Spanish mosaics splash the hotel walls and the palm-tree–lined pool includes sweeping views of the Pacific. The property’s 114 rooms are equipped with various amenities including imported bath products aand gourmet private bars; plus pet-friendly restaurant, THE MED, encourages guests to dine with their pooch alfresco.
Want more? Find San Diego attractions
Nestled in Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo fully deserves its reputation as one of the finest in the world. It pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits to recreate more natural animal habitats, and remains one of the few zoos outside of China to house Giant Pandas. Its sister property, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, allows visitors to get even closer to the bigger African and Asian animals: its popular ‘Caravan Safaris’ involve two-hour drives in the back of a covered open-air safari truck. Quirky overnight camping options—the brilliantly monikered ‘Roar & Snore’ packages—are available too.
No visit to San Diego is complete without taking in Balboa Park. The sprawling 1,200-acre public park is home to the Old Globe theater, a gargantuan outdoor pipe organ and no less than 15 major museums. That’s an awful lot of ground to cover, but San Diego Fly Rides offers a speedy solution, with their fleet of high-end electric bikes. For $75 per person (including a snack, water and helmet), you can saddle up for their two-hour ‘Spanish Twist’ tour and zip around the humongous park at speeds of up to 20mph with a local guide.