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Best San Diego Hotels for Every Type of Traveler

Best San Diego Hotels for Every Type of Traveler

Stay at these spots for luxurious experiences, beach bliss, family fun, or wellness

With its palm trees and 70 miles of Southern California coastline, San Diego makes an idyllic spot for any vacation, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family trip, a luxurious indulgence, or just a few joyful days on the beach. The best hotels in San Diego County offer both beautiful scenery and high-end amenities including world-class restaurants, acclaimed spas, and unique ways to play.

Those great hotels extend beyond the city limits, too, stretching out into the beach towns of North County and the rolling terrain of the inland communities and East County. Here are great hotels for four different kinds of experiences: luxury, beach time, family vacations, and wellness getaways.

San Diego's Best Hotels on the Beach, Alila Marea Beach Resort

Best San Diego Hotels for Those Looking for Luxury

Alila Marea Beach Resort

Location: Encinitas
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 29 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Combine beach bliss with Zen ambience at this low-key luxe resort next to a beach in North County.

Choose from views of the ocean or neighboring Batiquitos Lagoon at this contemporary hotel that is one of the most luxurious members of the Hyatt family. The 130 rooms and suites come with perks such as fully furnished patios, firepits, and surfer-friendly wetsuit racks. Walk the short path to South Ponto Beach and watch the waves from a lounge chair set up by the beach butler, or take a surf lesson yourself. Or, book a biplane tour of the area, arranged through the resort. Don’t miss dinner at the resort’s Vaga, helmed by Iron Chef competitor Claudette Zepeda.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Location: Carmel Valley
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 20 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: This palatial, Mediterranean-style resort offers classic leisure—spa, golf, pools—along with a three-Michelin-star restaurant.

This AAA Five Diamond resort sits just a few miles from the sand and surf of Del Mar, but it creates such a bubble of luxury that you might forget that the beach is even an option. Spend your days golfing on the Tom Fazio–designed course, luxuriating in the spa, or lounging by one of the four pools. The 249 rooms exude opulence through sheer space (starting at 500 square feet), soaking tubs, and terraces or balconies with views of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. The resort offers several dining options, too—most notably Addison, the only San Diego restaurant to earn three Michelin stars, thanks to the locally influenced “California gastronomy” of chef William Bradley.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, La Valencia

La Valencia Hotel

Location: La Jolla
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 13 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Enjoy a classic La Jolla getaway at the hotel known as the Pink Lady, with beaches, shops, and restaurants just beyond the lobby.

The heart of La Jolla is in the “Cove,” the posh downtown area that overlooks the Pacific Ocean—and one could argue that this 1926 hotel, nicknamed the Pink Lady, is the heart of the Cove. The landmark hotel is steeped in history: World War II soldiers stayed here before shipping out, and Gregory Peck and other Hollywood A-listers were regulars. Today the 114-room hotel offers elegantly updated rooms, suites, and villas—some with Juliet balconies, gorgeous mosaic tile, and vaulted ceilings. Every room offers access to the ocean-view pool and easy walks to the beach, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and countless restaurants and shops.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Best San Diego Hotels for Families

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Location: Carlsbad
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 31 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: The whole crew will have fun at this resort that boasts its own village with a kids club, a huge pool complex, golf course, and spa.

Beaches and LEGOLAND California are both just a few minutes’ drive away from this 607-room hotel in Carlsbad, but it’s also easy for families to play for days at this 400-acre resort. After all, La Costa has a Kidtopia kids club, with half- or full-day camps, and an eight-pool complex that includes slides and a splash area. Parents can enjoy their own pool as well as the resort’s acclaimed spa, tennis, golf, and fitness camps. La Costa also offers six different dining options, including the grab-and-go-style Marketplace. Check the activities calendar for more family perks such as drive-in movies, scavenger hunts, and s’mores roasting.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

LEGOLAND Hotel and LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Location: Carlsbad
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 34 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Make the most of a visit to the LEGOLAND California theme park by staying at one of its two on-site hotels.

Stay at one of the hotels located outside the entrance of LEGOLAND California and you get more than walk-in access to the Carlsbad theme park. Each 250-room hotel embraces its own theme and offers its own perks. The original LEGOLAND Resort Hotel features rooms celebrating LEGO friends and pirates, while the LEGOLAND Castle Hotelsalutes LEGO wizards, knights, and princesses. Each hotel features LEGO sculptures, pools, and a free buffet-style breakfast. The LEGOLAND Hotel is famous for its musical “disco elevator” while the Castle Hotel has an outdoor movie screen, playground, and lawn games. At both hotels, kids can enjoy trading LEGO Mini Figures with staffers.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Location: Mission Bay
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 5 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Get a bayside beach to yourself at this tropical-themed resort that sits on a small island right next to Mission Beach and SeaWorld San Diego.

Take the family on an island getaway in the middle of San Diego’s Mission Bay: This laid-back resort sits on a 44-acre private island that is just a couple minutes from SeaWorld San Diego, Mission Beach, and Belmont Park. The 462 bungalow-style rooms and suites open up to grassy areas or your own stretch of sand along Mission Bay. Rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to explore the calm bay waters, splash at the five pools scattered around the resort, or choose from the activities such as lawn games, a basketball court, and a nine-hole putting course. Plan easy meals around the onsite restaurants and the resort’s own delivery service of pizza and the offerings of other local restaurants.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, Hotel Del Coronado

Best San Diego Hotels for Beach Lovers

Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Location: Coronado
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 8 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Staying at this legendary hotel offers history, ambience and an expansive, surfing-friendly beach.

This 1888 hotel on Coronado Island is notable for a variety of reasons: its distinctive Queen Anne style helped make it a National Historic Landmark; it appeared in the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like It Hot; and it sits on a generous 28 acres of beach. Choose from rooms in the hotel’s original building, in the newer tower, or in the family-friendly cottages and villas. Each offers excellent access to the sand. Take surf lessons, ride a bike down the 15 miles of paved paths, or Zen out in a beachside yoga class. After dark, the resort’s beach firepits make a great place for dinner or ’smores; during the holiday season, a section of the beach becomes an outdoor ice rink.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, L'Auberge Del Mar

L’Auberge Del Mar

Location: Del Mar
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 22 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Feel like a local at this small beach town resort that sits next to a unique beach and park

The 122-room boutique hotel offers beach house–style convenience: Take a private pathway down to two-mile Del Mar Beach and its neighboring Powerhouse Park, perfect for picnics and watching for occasional dolphins out on the water. Spend the day on the sand using the complimentary beach gear or borrowing a beach cruiser. This intimate property also offers plenty of bigger hotel perks: tennis courts, a pool, and a farm-to-table restaurant. The on-site spa offers ocean-themed treatments such as the Soothing Seascape Massage or the Ocean Quench detoxifying wrap. Or, rent a surfboard and take a lesson. You’ll feel like a local with Del Mar’s main surf shop and pizza place right across the street.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, The Seabird Resort

The Seabird Resort

Location: Oceanside
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 39 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick:  Enjoy an expansive beach, a historic pier, and the buzzy beach town of Oceanside from this casually elegant resort.

Stay at this Hyatt-affiliated resort for front row access to the sand in North County’s Oceanside. The 226-room hotel sits across the street from the expansive Oceanside Beach and its 1,954-foot-long pier. Reserve your complimentary beach chair and umbrella at the resort stand, or rent a bike to pedal down the strand. Choose from rooms with pool or ocean views, or set up at the third floor pool deck and watch surfers in the distance. While the hotel has its own onsite restaurants, you’re also walking distance to a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops in Oceanside.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Best San Diego Hotels for Wellness Experiences

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Location: La Jolla
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 15 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: This blufftop resort embraces its natural setting next to a nature reserve—and the spa channels that woodsy magic.

The setting of this arts and crafts–style resort has a soothing effect thanks to the dark woods and stained glass, set against Torrey Pines State Beach and the graceful Torrey pine trees. The La Jolla hotel even smells wonderful, with its signature scents of lemongrass and sage wafting through the hallways. Wellness pursuits easily begin in the on-site spa, with its own fireplace and intricate tilework ambience, plus treatments such as the Coastal Salt Scrub. Or, head outside to play a round at the neighboring Torrey Pines Golf Course or hike the trails of the adjacent Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Play croquet or take a yoga class on the lawn, then walk through the resort’s botanical garden.

Rancho Bernardo Inn

Location: Rancho Bernardo
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 27 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Enjoy spa treatments in gardens at this full-service resort that offers a variety of ways to play outside.

Free yoga classes, a championship golf course, and lawn games are just part of the healthy fun at this 265-acre resort in the inland community of Rancho Bernardo, about 30 miles from downtown. The center of the wellness program is its spa, where you can enjoy massages or skin treatments in outdoor treatment rooms set in gardens. Walk the trails through the beautifully landscaped grounds, lounge by the two pools, or wander the chef’s garden to check out the produce used at the on-site restaurants.

The Best Hotels in San Diego, Rancho Valencia

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Location: Rancho Santa Fe
Distance from San Diego International Airport: 25 miles
Why It’s a Best San Diego Hotels Pick: Feed your body and soul at this orange-tree-dotted resort that combines luxurious casita living with pickleball, vegetable garden tours, and a world-class spa.

Lose yourself in this 45-acre resort that feels like its own hacienda within San Diego’s upscale Rancho Santa Fe area. When you’re not relaxing in one of the 47 Spanish-style casitas, play tennis or pickleball or take a class in yoga, Pilates, or sculpt. Set aside plenty of time to enjoy the acclaimed Spa at Rancho Valencia, with its orange-scented products, and treatments including a citrus body polish, the Thermastone Massage, and “The Kur,” a soak, wrap, and massage inspired by European spa holidays.

Planning Your Trip to San Diego

The best hotels in and near San Diego make great home bases for exploring the towns and communities of San Diego County, including downtown San Diego, La Jolla, Chula Vista, Carlsbad, and Escondido. Most attractions in the county are within a half-hour drive, and many are quite close to each other.

Luxury fans and foodies will want to check out these Top San Diego Eats, while beach lovers will want to try San Diego’s Best Beaches, San Diego Boat Rides, or the Best San Diego Tide Pools. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss theme parks such as LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld San Diego, as well as the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Birch Aquarium, and Sesame Place San Diego. For an active getaway, be sure to take some of the

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