With 70 miles of coastline, near-perfect weather, and a buzzing culinary scene, San Diego has all the necessary ingredients for an indulgent vacation. There’s no shortage of luxury hotels and resorts where you can make your home base, too. Choose from elegant five-star properties on the beach, palatial resorts with championship golf courses, and downtown hotels that offer their own nightlife.
While the most expensive luxury hotels in San Diego offer a variety of settings, most of them tend to have a few things in common and deliver their own kind of value: prime locations, excellent spas, a high level of service, and restaurants that are destinations unto themselves. Here are eight of the best San Diego luxury hotels, listed south to north.
Hotel Del Coronado, Coronado Island
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: This red turret-roofed landmark, just over the Coronado Bridge from downtown San Diego, lives up to its legendary reputation and offers timeless dazzle with its 28-acre beach.
“The Del,” as locals call it, has been the main landmark of San Diego’s Coronado Island since it first opened in 1888. While the 757-room National Historic Landmark has received presidents and royalty alike—and made a famous cameo in the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like It Hot—travelers still love it for its mix of the traditional and the new.
Choose among rooms from three sections: the original Victorian building, the beachside tower known as The Views, and the bigger family–friendly Beach Village cottages and villas. Spend the day lounging by the pool or on the beach, rent a bike or surrey to explore the 15 miles of paths, or take part in activities such as beach yoga, spin class, and tours of the hotel grounds. Get a massage at the Spa & Salon at the Del, then bliss out during the evening by the beach firepits. Many of the island’s best dining options are here too, from the old-school Babcock & Story Bar to the modern, sea-to-table Serẽa.
Pendry San Diego, Downtown
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: With six food-and-drink options, the Pendry San Diego appeals to serious foodies, while its nightlife scene will make you feel like you’re on the right side of the velvet rope.
This 317-room luxury hotel in the heart of downtown San Diego balances elegantly comfortable rooms—think chaise lounges and surfing photography—with stellar dining options, as well as a Moët & Chandon Champagne vending machine in the lobby. Plenty of rooms offer views of both downtown and the harbor, and it’s a short walk to the best restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy.
It’s easy to stay put in this bubble, though. Lounge by the rooftop pool or get an ocean-themed massage at Spa Pendry. Or build your day around dining at the acclaimed restaurants right in the hotel, including the espresso and marketplace vibe at Provisional, sustainable seafood cuisine at Lionfish, and the buzzing after-hours scene at Oxford Social Club.
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: Soak up both San Diego and American history at this stately 1910 property that offers pomp and pageantry as well as contemporary amenities.
This 270-room hotel has legitimate presidential street cred: It was built by Ulysses S. Grant’s son and is home to one of the few existing portraits of the 1869 President Grant. Today the hotel still exudes plenty of commander-in-chief-style elegance in its lobby, with its chandeliers and the clubby AAA/CAA Four Diamond Grant Grill, offering local craft beer and specialty cocktails.
Take time to stroll the hotel’s public spaces and see its $6.5 million collection of artwork. Featured artists come from European, American, and Native American backgrounds—including the Kumeyaay nation, which inhabited this land before European settlers, and which bought and renovated the hotel in the early 2000s. The hotel’s Gaslamp location offers plenty of easy-access perks: You’re just a few blocks from Petco Park and the Rady Shell.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: Relax at this architectural stunner that sits next door to a beach, a nature reserve, and the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course.
This stunning La Jolla resort on the bluffs above Torrey Pines State Beach is an architectural love letter to the Arts & Crafts era of the early 20th century. The Lodge’s public spaces feature dark wood beams, stained glass, and stone fireplaces that invite you to sit on a velvet easy chair and gaze out at the ocean. Rooms feel woodsy yet refined, some with their own views of the ocean and the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the site of the annual Farmers Insurance Open and the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Open.
Book a tee time to play the public course yourself or get a spa treatment that features the resort’s signature lemongrass-and-sage oil. Take the trail down to the beach or hike through the neighboring Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, lined with the feathery-needled pine trees for which the hotel is named. Don’t miss dinner at the farm-to-table A.R. Valentien or the famous Drugstore Burger at The Grill.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar, Carmel Valley
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: Tucked in a canyon, this palatial resort offers classic amenities and a culinary gem: a two-star Michelin restaurant.
It’s more than a mile from Del Mar Beach, but the triple five-star Fairmont Grand Del Mar offers enough plush distractions that you won’t mind in the slightest. Onsite highlights include the four pools spread across the sumptuous Mediterranean-style resort; the Tom Fazio–designed golf course; tennis courts, a kids club; and an equestrian center. The 249 traditional rooms are decked out with dark woods, marble, and tassels, along with terraces or Juliet balconies looking out over the resort grounds and the neighboring Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
The dining options take a stay at the Grand Del Mar to a whole other level. Addison, helmed by William Bradley, is the first San Diego County restaurant to have been awarded two Michelin stars, thanks to its inventive “California gastronomy” that draws on local ingredients and the region’s diverse influences. For lighter bites, enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine of Amaya, The Cent’Anni Café, and the Del Mar Social Club, which spreads across the resort’s front lawn on weekend evenings.
L’Auberge Del Mar, Del Mar
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: Located in the heart of the refined beach town Del Mar, this boutique hotel offers big-resort perks.
The North County town of Del Mar is home to the Del Mar Racetrack and summer’s San Diego County Fair, but the heart of the community sits right along 15th Street, home to a variety of restaurants, boutiques, and the 112-room L’Auberge Del Mar. The hotel exudes a posh Cape Cod beach house ambience, with crisp white linens and plantation-style shutters, and with Del Mar Beach a short walk away on a private pathway. Rent a surfboard and take a lesson or book a bike to pedal along the coast.
While L’Auberge is not large, it still has all the marks of a bigger resort, such as tennis courts, a pool, and spa with treatments like the Champagne of the Seas detoxifying wrap. While you’re just a short walk from Del Mar’s eateries, such as Pacifica Del Mar and Sbicca, the resort has its own excellent dining, including the farm-to-table Adelaide.
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, Rancho Santa Fe
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: Enjoy a hacienda lifestyle at this Relais & Chateaux resort, located amid citrus groves deep in Rancho Santa Fe. It offers a full lineup of tennis, spa, and fine dining.
Staying at Rancho Valencia feels like you’ve secured your own hacienda in Rancho Santa Fe—or “the Ranch,” as locals call it—the most exclusive area of San Diego County, where large homes sit on acres of citrus orchards. All 49 lodgings at Rancho Valencia are Mediterranean-Spanish cottages, each with hand-painted tile work, open beam ceilings, a fireplace, and a patio. Enjoy the fresh-squeezed OJ that comes to your door every morning, then dine on “coastal ranch” cuisine at The Pony Room—a favorite of locals thanks to its big patio, long wine list, and craft cocktails. Wander the resort’s garden to get a look at ingredients and glean some tips for your garden at home.
This is the kind of luxury hotel where you’ll want to settle in and make the most of the place, though the beach is also only about 15 minutes away. Play tennis or pickleball, lounge by the pool, take a yoga or hydrotherapy class, or treat yourself to a day of treatments at The Spa, including the citrus body polish or the balancing gemstone massage.
Alila Marea Beach Resort, Encinitas
Why it’s a Luxury Pick: Enjoy a zen, upscale hotel that walks the line between coastal resort and a beach town getaway, with its immersive views, notable chef, and easy access to funky Encinitas.
This sleek, 130-room hotel—a high-end member of the Hyatt family—sits on the bluff over the beach in Encinitas, a North County beach town with a hippie heart. The hotel keeps a low profile in town, literally—its understated, wood-and-and-stone aesthetic makes the building seemingly disappear into the bluff. Choose from rooms with views of the ocean or neighboring Batiquitos Lagoon, or book one with its own patio fire pit.
From the hotel, a stone path takes you down to South Ponto Beach, where a beach concierge can set you up with a lounger and umbrella. Borrow an e-bike, book a spa treatment or surf lesson, or just lounge by the pool until dinner at the on-site restaurant helmed by Iron Chef champ Claudette Zepeda. Or head into walkable downtown Encinitas, dotted with cool vintage clothing shops, an old-school movie theatre, and excellent restaurants, including Brian Malarkey’s Herb & Sea.
What to Do in San Diego
Booking a luxury hotel is just the start of a relaxing, fun-filled San Diego getaway. Check out the best culinary experiences around San Diego (including the best seafood), as well as the wealth of shopping options, hidden gems, and of course, world-class craft beer.