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
Opened in February 2017, this chic downtown newbie has introduced a new nightclub, the Oxford Social Club, to the San Diego scene, as well as several restaurants and bars. The dining venues are located on the ground floor, easily accessible to guests and non-guests. The hotel proper packs a lot of amenities into the 12-story space, with a rooftop pool—which will soon feature happy hours and summer pool parties—spa, fitness center, ballrooms, and 317 guestrooms including 36 suites, one of which opens to the pool’s deck.
Want to feel like you’ve stepped into Versailles? Visit the Westgate in downtown. Opened in 1970, the boutique luxury hotel will remind you of an antiquated 70s building from the outsider, but the interiors are opulent, dripping with European-inspired decor. Generations of San Diegans have indulged in their Sunday brunches and classic afternoon tea here. The hotel has recently debuted a 40,000-square-foot wellness facility called AquaVie Spa & Wellness Center, which includes treatment rooms, fitness classes, gym and a rooftop lap pool.
If chic ambiance, nightclubbing and rooftop pool-lounging is what you seek, then Andaz might be for you. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, the hotel has undergone a recent $4-million makeover that reinvigorated its 142 guestrooms and 13 junior suites with original artwork, modern furniture and couches that pull out for lounging. STK–that sleek, modern steakhouse of Las Vegas and international fame—was slated to open in the hotel’s ground floor in fall 2016, but now has an estimated opening time of early summer 2017.
Developed by the son of the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, THE US GRANT made its downtown San Diego debut in 1910. Now a Luxury Collection Hotel, its glamourous setting is ideal for weddings and fancy soirées. The hotel’s distinct food and drink programis a major plus, but it lacks in the pool and spa department. The Grant Grill features renowned California cuisine, and seasonal cocktails and a recently debuted Vieux Carre cocktail cart can be found in the hotel lobby.
The ultimate destination for pool parties and nightlife, the Hard Rock Hotel has been entertaining guests since 2007. Located at the entrance of the Gaslamp Quarter, the 12-story property is just steps from Petco Park, the Convention Center and numerous restaurants and bars. Revelers dominate the Float rooftop bar and 207 lobby bar. Guests can experience unique services like a free downloadable playlist or a free in-room Fender guitar rental with Nixon headphones, so you can channel your inner Slash without disturbing the neighbors.
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.