Best Places to Stay in San Diego: Boutique to Budget
Maggie Danielli Pecorino
San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the U.S. The people are laid back. The food and drink scene is fun and fresh. And the opportunities for enjoying perfect weather are endless. While you’ll probably be out enjoying the city’s abundant sunshine for most of your trip, there are so many wonderful hotels to enjoy. Read on for a look at the best places to stay in San Diego — for all budgets.
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Where to stay
Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego
An exclusive, sophisticated stay amid excellent natural and cultural attractions.
$100 food / beverage or spa credit
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Pendry San Diego
Handsome newbie in the Gaslamp Quarter with oversized rooms that overlook the city or bay, with a lively bar and restaurant.
$100 resort / hotel credit.
Upgrade whenever possible.
Samesun Ocean Beach - San Diego
Facing the beachfront, Samesun Ocean Beach offers 2-star accommodations in San Diego and features a shared lounge and terrace
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Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara (Boutique)
Overview: Located in laidback Carlsbad, just 30 minutes north of San Diego proper, this tranquil sanctuary dotted with Spanish colonial villas creates a resort experience that feels like home. Arrive to a fully-stocked fridge courtesy of your personal concierge — who can arrange virtually anything. Enjoy fitness classes in the open-air pavilion and after, relax at the dreamy spa. Take a dip at one of two heated outdoor pools. Stop by the all-day Barista Bar for a quick fresh-squeezed juice, or grab dinner at the Seasons Restaurant. Aviara is a proper Four Seasons-style getaway.
Good for: Luxury travelers (couples or families) looking for a natural escape outside of the city, yet with easy access to all SD has to offer.
Rooms and rates: Guest rooms (four people) from $435/night, one-bedroom residences from $735/night. The privacy of the villas is excellent, and the private kitchens are perfect for outdoor dining on your terrace with views of the surrounding hills or neighboring Batiquitos Lagoon.
Highlight: Aviara is a golfer’s heaven. Some of the area’s best courses are minutes away, including Aviara Golf Club & Golf Academy and Gears Performance Lab.
Tips/recs for client: Do not skip the beach towns in between Aviara and SD for an uncrowded vibe stretching some of SoCal’s most beautiful coastline. La Jolla is the most popular day trip; stop at Wayfarer Bread & Pastry and then picnic with the sea lions at La Jolla Cove. (But don’t sleep on Encinitas.) Aviara’s location makes it one of the best places to stay in San Diego for exploring the smaller surf towns of North County.
Pendry San Diego (Mid-range)
Overview: Stylish new spot in the happening Gaslamp Quarter. Walking distance to major spots like Petco Park, the SD convention center and the Coronado Ferry. Spacious rooms overlooking the city or the bay. Stylish rooftop pool. 24-hour fitness center. Six different bars and restaurants — because you need that kind of variety in your life.
Good for: first-time visitors, or any design-conscious traveler looking to be in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Rooms and rates: 350 sq foot+ city view rooms from $395/night, 600 sq foot+ suites from $675/night. King-size beds and pillow top mattresses for all!
Highlight: Pendry offers some really cool, bespoke experiences for its guests. Indulge in a morning of self-care with a personalized yoga and meditation class. Learn to hydrofoil with an experienced teacher by your side. Or, take a hike with a professional photographer to capture the beautiful nature of San Diego County.
Tips/recs for client: While there’s no shortage of drink options on-site, be sure to check out Noble Experiment — a posh and popular, DIY cocktail bar just a five-minute walk away.
Samesun Ocean Beach (Budget)
Overview: Not all US hostels are scary! If you’re looking to save (or spend your cash elsewhere), Samesun OB is friendly, fun and ideally located in one of SD’s most unique neighborhoods. Expect free breakfast and a well-stocked, clean kitchen. Surfboard rentals. Complimentary activities such as yoga classes, bonfires and movie nights make this one of the best places to stay in San Diego on a budget.
Good for: backpackers, young travelers, and those looking to save some money. Anyone looking to be steps from the beach while near all major sights. Anyone looking for some new friends!
Rooms & rates: Four to eight person dorms from $35/night, privates from $115. All rooms are clean and the AC works great — just don’t expect 200+ thread count sheets.
Highlight: Location. Location. Location. Samesun is just a five-minute walk from the famous OB pier and the beach — making it one of the best places in San Diego to stay for an early morning surf sesh.
Tips/recs for client: Take advantage of Samesun’s kitchen and cook! There’s a great market across the street, or if you’re lucky enough to be in town on a
Wednesday: don’t miss the OB Farmer’s Market. Don’t feel like cooking? Check out La Doña for some reliably solid Mexican fare, just around the corner.
Need to Know
There are so many different ways to enjoy the beauty of San Diego and North County. This city truly has something for all ages and wonderful accommodation for all budgets. The next time you’re craving some sunshine his winter? I couldn’t recommend San Diego more.
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