The Best San Diego Hotel For Every Type Of Traveler

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San Diego is a big city that sort of ~magically~ feels much smaller than it is. A land where surfers and bikini-wearing beach lovers thrive. But also there are military folks! Business people! A thriving LGBTQI scene! It’s the kind of place where — even on a day darkened by the marine layer — the beach will be filled with runners, surfers, dog walkers, and sunbathers alike. The quintessential California dream.

I’m saying all that from first-hand experience. I recently moved to San Diego from Los Angeles (I still love you, LA). While LA isn’t far behind in terms of the classic beach city vibes, something about San Diego feels really… cruisy. I also love that each San Diego neighborhood has its own characteristics and sub-communities, which is why I’ve spent the past few months staycationing around the city. I’ve stayed at some of San Diego’s most popular hotel properties and explored their nearby food, drink, and party spots.

From the luxury lifestyle of Del Mar to the party-ready vibes of downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, I’m sharing a few hotels worth booking for your next visit to San Diego — all based on your vibe. — below.

For the City Traveler: Westgate Hotel

Located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter — the most lively section of downtown San Diego full of bars, restaurants, museums, and the Padres’ Petco Park — Westgate Hotel offers the amenities of a highly stylized hotel and the convenience of being close to all the fun. The hotel itself is a luxurious escape that feels like stepping back in time, thanks to the vintage-inspired decor and old-money aesthetic; think sparkling chandeliers, gold accents, and velvet furniture. The hotel even hosts a daily high tea, so bring your best dress and hat.

Don’t let the traditional energy fool you, though. The hotel has some modern features like a rooftop pool, outdoor gym, and wellness club. For the tourist who loves being in the heart of the action, the Westgate puts you right in the busyness of downtown. You can catch a Padres game, browse the immersive WNDR Museum, or go bar hopping through the endless supply of rambunctious hot spots.

Book a room at Westgate Hotel here.

For Young Families: Town & Country Resort

Town & Country Resort San Diego
Gabe Halvor

Family-friendly may be a turnoff to some, but Town & Country brings an updated and frankly cool vibe to being a young family traveling with your kids. The recently renovated mid-century modern-inspired property, originally opened in 1953, has everything you could need to keep your little ones entertained (ie: a whole ass waterslide) while also enjoying your own vacation — yes, that includes boozy slushies by the pool. The colorful and vintage-style “endless summer” aesthetic of the property is sure to put you in OOO mode immediately.

Located in the central Mission Valley neighborhood, Town & Country is just a few minutes from luxury shopping, golf, hiking, the beach, and dining options — including its own chef-led restaurant, ARLO. If you feel like getting a workout in, the property’s state-of-the-art fitness facility has various machines, weights, equipment, and mats for your exercise needs.

Book a room at Town & Country Resort here.

For the Luxury Traveler: Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Chloe Caldwell

Tucked in the hillside of Del Mar, one of San Diego’s affluent neighborhoods, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is the type of resort you don’t want to leave — with an 18-hole golf course, a spa, two pools (including an adults-only Relaxation Pool for spa guests), pickleball courts, e-bike rentals, and more. The 400-acre coastal canyon property’s design is what stands out most. The blush-painted buildings fixed with round stone arches, vintage luxury aesthetics in the hotel’s interior and rooms, and the mountainous landscape surrounding the property almost make it feel like a serene Mediterranean escape. While drinking my morning coffee on my balcony, complete with stone Greecian-like pillars and a hillside view, I almost forgot I was in San Diego — or even in the United States.

As for dining, you can enjoy breakfast, brunch, and dinner on the terrace of the resort’s restaurant, Amaya. It serves California-bistro cuisine like striped bass and 14-day aged striploin. You can also grab a snack at the pool or visit the resort’s café, Cent’ Anni Café, for a coffee and breakfast on the go. No matter what brings you to San Diego, make sure to leave room on your itinerary to simply enjoy the Grand Del Mar and its many amenities.

Book a room at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar here.

For the Influencer: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

Estancia La Jolla
Estancia La Jolla

If a dreamy ambiance and photo-ready backdrops are a priority to you, look no further than Estancia La Jolla. There are vibrant flowers, trendy furniture pieces (who knew a chair could be so pretty?), painted murals, and modern rustic designs sprinkled throughout the property. This place even has a butterfly garden and a wishing tree, where guests can write down their desires and meditate. (Are we sure I’m not still in LA?)

As for the amenities, they’re actually as nice as the hotel looks. Head to the pool and spa for some sun and relaxation — opt for a private cabana if you’re traveling with a group. Not only is the property a whimsical escape from everyday life, but it’s also located just a few minutes from the many picturesque La Jolla hot spots — including Torrey Pines State National Reserve and the La Jolla Cove, as well as plenty of restaurants, shopping, and adventure activities.

Book a room at Estancia La Jolla here.

For the Beach Bum: Cape Ray Carlsbad Beach

Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach
Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach

You’re most likely visiting San Diego for its laid-back vibes and famous beaches. So if lounging in the sand and salt water is the only thing on the itinerary for your trip (I don’t blame you), then book a room at a seaside hotel like Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach. Located in San Diego’s northernmost neighborhood, Cape Rey is just steps from the coastline — you’ll even get a view of the ocean from the hotel pool.

If you want to hang out like some local surfers, walk half a mile from the property to The Camp Store, a beachside pizza spot with live music every Wednesday through Sunday night. Make sure to take a Cape Rey e-bike rental to downtown Carlsbad, too. You can peruse locally-owned boutiques, restaurants, bars, and thrift stores to take home some classic beach town souvenirs.

Book a room at Cape Ray Carlsbad Beach here.

For the Budget Traveler: ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel

Pacific Beach Hostel
ITH Hostels

Balling on a budget? No problem. At the Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel, you can get a beachside vacation for less than 70 bucks per night — as long as you’re okay with a shared bunk. (If you’re not keen on a community room, you can also book a private queen room for about $200).

Located right on the boardwalk of Pacific Beach, which offers a young party-centric scene, the vibrant and colorful property delivers everything budget, minimalist travelers and digital nomads could need. It has a community kitchen, lockers for your belongings, 24-seven reception, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, and a workspace. Plus, the hostel often hosts social events for its guests, making it easy to make friends on the road.

Book a room at ITH Pacific Beach Hostel here.

For the Partiers: Hotel Indigo

Hotel Indigo
Hotel Indigo

What’s a party without a rooftop and a killer skyline view? That’s what you’ll get when you stay at Hotel Indigo in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter. Start your epic San Diego weekend with a Padres game at Petco Park, which is right next door to the hotel. Pregame at the hotel’s rooftop bar (obviously), where you can enjoy your craft cocktails by a firepit. Then, hit one of the many restaurants and bars nearby — there is no shortage of options, so you can basically wander around the streets until something catches your eye.

When you’re finally ready to call it a night, Hotel Indigo has contemporary yet comfortable rooms to come back to. You can recover at the on-site fitness center and grab a coffee at the hotel’s 24-hour grab-and-go market.

Book a room at Hotel Indigo here.

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