Cool and unusual hotels in San Diego

Top 20 Cool and Unusual Hotels in San Diego 2022

One of the most open, smog-free, and sunniest cities in the whole of the USA, San Diego – located on California’s Pacific coast – beguiles and charms many of its hundreds of thousand visitors. Feeling more like a collection of ultra-hip neighborhoods each with its own character and personality, the affluent ocean-orientated city is famously laid-back and easy-going in a cool surfer dude kind of way. Planning a stay? Here are the coolest and most unique hotels in San Diego (in no particular order)

1. Andaz San Diego – a sleek, upscale design hotel which is the place to be seen in San Diego

Andaz San Diego Hotel

Andaz Hotel in San Diego

San Diego, Andaz Hotel

Famous for its swish suites with mirrored floors and plush beds, the 4-star exceptionally rated Andaz Hotel San Diego is geared to a fun-loving crowd and a stay at this sleek and sexy San Diego hotel is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Attracting guests who are into velvet-rope exclusivity, the Andaz aims to please. Home to its very own RoofTop600 nightclub, evening DJs at weekends, and a stylish rooftop restaurant/bar and swimming pool this is the place to be seen!  

Here you can dine at The Rooftop by STK restaurant and bar and enjoy artisan cocktails mixed for you by your own dedicated server. Located in the historic and popular Gaslamp Quarter, you will be right on top of one of the West Coast’s premier entertainment districts full of unique shops and eateries. The Andaz is decadent and opulent and easily one of the coolest hotels in San Diego!

2. Tower23 – a cool and funky modern beachside retreat

Tower23 Hotel Room

Tower23, San Diego

Tower23 Hotel

Just a 1-minute walk from the beach, the 4-star exceptionally rated Tower23 combines minimalist design with sleek sophistication. Perfect for anyone wanting to take part in a huge array of beach-based activities including surfing and whale watching, this cool and funky San Diego hotel located right on the beach overlooking the ocean.

Offering a unique boutique hotel experience with a glass-paneled exterior, guests can enjoy pristine ocean views from their private balconies or patios, as well as a clean and modern design packed full of high-end amenities. Suites offer extra living spaces and some have cool whirlpool tubs. Relaxing as you want it to be, or as tech-ready as you are, the hotel is situated in the exclusive resort community of La Jolla, and its unique architecture gives it iconic status on the waterfront. The JRDN restaurant offers sushi and Californian light bites overlooking the Pacific Beach – wonderful!

3. Moxy San Diego Gaslamp District – a fun and trendy hotel perfect for millennials and Gen Z

Millennial hotel San Diego

Instagrammable hotel in San Diego

Fun hotel San Diego

This fun and very Instagrammable boutique hotel is located in the heart of San Diego, easily walkable to a slew of restaurants, bars, and other attractions for visitors of all interests. The unique, inviting lobby at Moxy San Diego Gaslamp District features a 24-hour bar and cozy corners to meet up, play games, and recharge. You even check in at the bar!

The rooms are well-appointed and, even if small, they maximize the space in this coveted and expensive section of the city. It is perfect for young singles or couples looking to take advantage of everything San Diego has to offer.

4. The Guild Hotel San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – one of the nicest and stylish hotels to stay in San Diego

Boutique hotel in San Diego

Design Hotel San Diego

Opened in a converted YMCA building in the heart of downtown, this frontrunner among the cool hotels in San Diego maximizes its outdoor space in a part of the city where that is at a premium. If you’re hoping to take in the sunshine away from the beaches, Guild has you covered.

This gorgeous modern hotel blends historic with modern, which is quintessential to the Gaslamp District itself. The Guild Hotel San Diego has preserved much of the old tilework and other architectural features of the original building while updating the rooms with modern features, such as motion lights and large walk-in showers. The Guild features several delicious dining options on-site, or you can walk to all of San Diego’s best restaurants nearby.

5. Hard Rock Hotel – a fun and Instagrammable rock ‘n’ roll-themed hotel

Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego

Hard Rock Hotel Room

The Hard Rock chain is alive and well in San Diego and the 4-star much loved Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is a fine example of just why they are so popular. Home to the trendy 207 nightclub with live DJs, Float rooftop bar with cool fire pits, a contemporary spa, Mary Jane’s Diner, and the popular Nobu Japanese restaurant, this is a real resort destination for visitors looking to stay in the center of it all in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Close to PETCO Park and the San Diego Convention Centre, as well as a host of other downtown attractions, the Hard Rock is fun both inside and out. With smart, sleek rockstar bedrooms complete with high-thread-count sheets and rainfall showers (suites offer Juliet balconies and whirlpool tubs) and a real sense of glitzy glamour throughout, this hip San Diego hotel is a sight to behold!

6. The Pearl Hotel – a hip, retro-styled boutique hotel

The Pearl Hotel, San Diego

The Pearl Hotel Room

Close to San Diego Bay, the very highly rated Pearl Hotel is a sweet little boutique hotel that has a playful 1960s atmosphere and offers plenty of fabulous retro Californian touches. This vintage mid-century modern hotel is a hip, cool and cost-effective alternative to the bigger chain hotels available in the city. Bedrooms have quirky features like mirrored ceilings or private patios, and the pool is the heart of the hotel in a traditional Southern California kind of way.

You can catch the week “Dive-In Theatre Cinema Social” and join fellow guests to watch a movie around the outdoor screen by the pool, or stay and enjoy snacks and beers and unlimited conversation. A short drive away from the Gaslamp Quarter, The Pearl offers friendly, cute and uber-cool San Diego accommodation that is still close enough to get involved with big city life. Guests at the hotel can also easily visit Fort Rosecrans Military Reserve and National Cemetery as well as Point Loma Lighthouse.

7. Kimpton Hotel Palomar – a modern and trendy boutique hotel in San Diego perfect for Instagrammers

Kimpton Hotel Palomar, San Diego

Kimpton Hotel Palomar

Kimpton Hotel Palomar, Boutique Hotel in San Diego

Located in San Diego’s trendy Gaslamp Quarter, this sleek and funky upscale hotel (part of the ever-popular Kimpton chain) offers polished accommodation for the discerning traveler. Recently renovated, this contemporary urban hotel is within easy reach of all of San Diego’s hotspots. The communal space and lounge area at the 4-star exceptionally rated Palomar Hotel are effortlessly cool, while the stylish bedrooms are delightfully well thought out and totally chic in every way.

The Palomar also offers its very own Curadero Mexican street food restaurant complete with late-night Taco bar, as well as a massage service, the Level Four rooftop pool, sundeck, hot tub, and bar where you can sip cocktails whilst enjoying views out across the beautiful Californian city.

8. The Keating – bold, funky and very cool

The Keating Hotel

The Keating Hotel, San Diego

Offering Soho style mixed with a Californian chill, the 4-star highly rated Keating Hotel is a downtown hotel that has been configured by the Italian motorcar designers, Pininfarina. With plenty of design nods to the red and black styling synonymous with Ferrari, the chic and trendy San Diego accommodation offers a luxury boutique experience like no other. Housed in a Romanesque Revival-style property dating from 1890, it features open plan spaces, large airy bedrooms with extensive design features like concrete floors and cylindrical baths, and amenities like Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems, iPod docks, minibars and espresso machines, in-room spa treatments (for a fee) and high-thread-count sheets.

It’s very own Fresca Spa Suite, the Keating is opulent in an American-Italian type of way and there’s even an onsite burlesque club, jacuzzi, and a 24-hour personal concierge service. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, this hotel is close to the Balboa Theatre, the San Diego Convention Centre, and hip bars, shops, and restaurants galore.

9. The Pendry Hotel – a luxury San Diego with a unique style

The Pendry Hotel, San Diego

Bar in The Pendry Hotel

The Pendry Hotel Room

Located downtown in the heart of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter, 4-star exceptionally rated The Pendry Hotel is within easy reach of the San Diego Convention Centre and Petco Park, as well as a world of Californian bars, restaurants, shops, and attractions. A hip San Diego hotel with a definite lean towards the creative side of life, the Pendry offers a heady mix of the modern and the traditional, pairing classic Southern Californian charm and hospitality with all the modern luxury and conveniences you could ever wish for.

The bedrooms offer calming coastal color schemes teamed with vintage furnishings, while the fitness room, spa, and communal areas are as modern as can be. Opt for a suite and you can expect wet bars and sitting areas, and some have kitchens and dining areas. Also featuring a collection of no less than six unique restaurants and bars, a modern spa, an ultra-cool rooftop swimming pool, and a fitness center, the Pendry is a resort destination hotel that you may never want to leave!

10. Hotel Indigo – a bright, fun and funky hotel to stay in San Diego

Hotel Indigo

Indigo Hotel Room

Just a short walk from the Gaslamp Quarter and 10-minutes from the San Diego Convention Centre, the 4-star highly rated Indigo Hotel offers plush, comfortable accommodation. Bedrooms at this funky San Diego hotel are modern, bright, and cozy and offer hardwood floors, plush beds, and glass-walled showers with teak benches.

Superior rooms come with bathtubs and overlook the popular rooftop bar that offers fabulous views over the city, whilst offering an extensive cocktail, beer, and wine menu. The Indigo also prides itself on its LEED certification and dedicated to the environment making it a great choice for guests interested in going green. Add in an in-house all-day restaurant, a gym, and a rooftop cocktail bar overlooking PETCO Park with weekend DJs and you have yourself a pretty funky stay in the sunny Californian city! 

11. Hotel Republic – a hip, stylish and sophisticated boutique hotel

Hotel Republic, San Diego

Republic Hotel Room

Hotel Republic

An upscale lifestyle hotel close to the popular central Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, and the bayfront, the 4-star highly rated Hotel Republic (part of the prestigious Autograph Collection) is an opulent and prestigious redesigned city center destination.

Its fabulous rooftop bar is popular with locals and visitors alike, and with three dining options to choose from in the chic San Diego hotel alone, the Republic has plenty to offer everyone. Rooms are stylish and contemporary, and communal spaces are beautifully decorated. The modern on-site fitness center is well equipped and perfect for exercising off all that delicious overindulgence during your stay!

12. Pacific Terrace Hotel – a chic hotel located near the Pacific Beach boardwalk

Chic boutique hotel in San Diego

Boutique hotel in San Diego

The Pacific Terrace is one of the nicest boutique hotels in San Diego, with 73 well-appointed rooms affording guests casual luxury. Also a recipient of AAA’s Four Diamond Award, it is located right on the water with beach access and is known for its water sports, including surfing, sailing, and fishing.

Even though it is located on the far north end of the Pacific Beach Boardwalk, it is still within easy access to restaurants, bars, and shops, and not far from the popular Gaslamp District.

The rooms are elegantly appointed in an old-world plantation style with stately, hand-carved wood furniture and plantation shutters. Each room also features a patio or balcony where you can enjoy sunrises or take in sunsets over the water, as many rooms have ocean views.

13. Sofia hotel – a chic wellbeing city retreat

Sofia hotel

Sofia hotel room

Nestled in downtown San Diego, close to the Gaslamp Quarter, the highly-rated Sofia Hotel is a spa hotel that offers relaxing accommodation in the heart of the city. Bedrooms are adorned with fine art and decorative wallpaper, and superior rooms offer soaking spa tubs with jets. The swish San Deigo hotel focuses very much on the health and spa experiences that it offers, and The Harkishan Yoga Studio and Health Centre are open all day, every day for visitors to use as and when they want to.

They also offer loaner urban bikes for 2 wheeled explorations of the city, and 60 minutes Gaslamp Walkabout tours that depart from the hotel every Saturday and Sunday at 9 am. The Currant American Brasserie with an elegant dining room and an outdoor terrace serves lunch and dinner along with 2 daily Happy Hours. A tranquil zen-like oasis in the city!

14. Hotel Z – a fun and trendy mid-range hotel

Hotel Z, San Diego

Hotel Z Room

Located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the highly-rated Hotel Z is within an easy walking distance of Petco Park, the San Diego Convention Centre, and a wide array of shops, bars, and restaurants. Part of the popular cute/kitsch StayPineapple Hotels group, the Z offers bright, clean, contemporary accommodation as well as beach cruisers and a local shuttle service to the city’s most popular attractions.

There is no bar or restaurant onsite, but in this fantastic location, you certainly won’t go hungry. The Z also challenges its visitors to try out its very own “Naked Experience” meaning that the hotel is so clean you will have no hesitations to sleep naked between the sheets!

15. Fairmont Grand Del Mar – an oasis of calm and beauty with a touch of classic 1920s Hollywood 

Unique hotel in San Diego

Chic resort hotel in San Diego

This stately 249-room hotel is built and designed in classic Mediterranean style. Its ample meeting space and a plethora of on-site activities make it perfect for a unique and relaxing getaway.

Located out of the city center, the distance allows for some amazing outdoor amenities, including a championship golf course designed by Thomas Fazio, four heated pools, tennis courts, and even hiking trails. If you’re looking for a quiet, sunny adventure, this is your place.

In addition, the hotel has an award-winning five-star spa, the Center for Wellbeing, which turns wellness into an art form. Enjoy several on-site dining options or take an easy ride into the city center for hundreds of choices in restaurants and bars.

16. Cosmopolitan Hotel – a quirky and nostalgic San Diego hotel

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Cosmopolitan Hotel Room

If you fancy staying somewhere completely different, the 4-star highly rated Cosmopolitan Hotel offers character and history in spades.! A grand 1870s Californian residence has been transformed into a Victorian-style hotel complete with private dining rooms and a historic saloon. Every part of the hotel is elegantly appointed with antique furnishings from the 1860s and 1870s, and with just 10 rooms on offer, the quirky San Diego abode offers a unique and intimate experience.

Rooms that take you back in time and some offer claw-foot tubs, balconies, and/or fireplaces, there’s an on-site restaurant and a bar with outdoor seating in an orchard courtyard and a saloon room bursting with décor from the Old West. This unusual one-in-million kind of hotel is situated in the heart of Old Town San Diego, meaning you won’t need a stagecoach to find your way around the city.

17. Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa – a top spa hotel resort to stay in San Diego

Top spa hotel in San Diego

Spa hotel in San Diego

Named one of “The World’s Hottest Hotels,” this elegant hotel located in the La Jolla section of San Diego is decorated in a hacienda ranch-style that was common in this region during the early 20th century. Evoking vintage charm, this hotel is situated on 10 acres of lush land.

Estancia’s 210 rooms are bright and airy with luxurious linens and furnishings. But with all the outdoor amenities, you won’t want to stay in your room. There are the standards, of course, including a heated pool with cabanas and open-air spa. But there are also several unusual outdoor features including outdoor yoga on the lawn, a secret garden, and one of the region’s best and most unique outdoor dining venues.

18. Wolf of Wall Street Penthouse – a quirky filmed themed San Diego apartment

Wolf of Wall Street Penthouse

Wolf of Wall Street Penthouse, San Diego

Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, the Wolf of Wall Street Penthouse is a fun themed self-catering apartment that can accommodate up to 12 guests. Offering air conditioning and free WiFi, the unique and quirky San Diego abode is beautifully decorated and designed and has plenty of pictures and references to the film of the same name.

Enjoy a drink with the Wolf at the white leather in-home bar, or relax and enjoy the use of the hot tub available onsite. There are also shared swimming pool and barbecue facilities for visitors to the apartment, and the location makes it easy for visitors to explore all the biggest and best attractions the city has to offer. Way up high, the views from the private balcony are stunning and stretch out for miles.

19. Goodfellas Penthouse – a fun and stylish film-themed apartment

Goodfellas Penthouse

Goodfellas Penthouse, San Diego

Located in downtown San Diego, The Goodfellas Penthouse is a self-catering apartment close to the San Diego Convention Centre. Cleverly designed and featuring giant wall murals and quotes from the famous film of the same name, Goodfellas is a unique and unusual Pied a Terre that offers easy access to the city.

With 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, this deluxe penthouse pad has its own private balcony with uninterrupted views that stretch out for miles. If you want to get your Goodfellas on, and are a fan of the film, you simply won’t find better than this cool and unique San Diego accommodation located in the heart of the city.

20. The Rancho Valencia – a lovely upscale Spanish style gem

The Rancho ValenciaThe Rancho Valencia, San Diego

Set amongst the acres of olive groves of North San Diego County, the 5-star exceptionally rated Rancho Valencia is an ultra-lush resort that offers luxurious and spacious California-style bungalows. Offering a Mediterranean-style ambiance, each of the hacienda-style suites offers upmarket sophistication and more than a touch of luxury.

A brilliant choice if you are really looking to get away from it all, each suite offers a private patio and open fire, flat-screen TVs, stereo systems, high thread counts and upgraded suites offer a private outdoor pool and a hot tub. The communal facilities are also first-class – spend time on the tennis courts, in the wine bar, or work out in the yoga pavilion, fitness center or bocce ball court/croquet lawn, before enjoying coastal-ranch cuisine in the critically acclaimed Veladora restaurant. Luxury car rentals are complimentary – you won’t want to leave! 

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a special fondness for Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland.


  • Ekta Kapoor

    19 June, 2018 at 6:36 am

    This hotels are really beautiful with tasteful decor and lovely furnishings. There is no better place to take summer vacation than in San diego Cailfornia. This would surely be very useful for tourist looking for a unique ‘cool’ places to stay in while vacationing or visiting San diego. I look follow to lodging at the Kimpton hotel palomar in my next visit.

    Thanks Becky


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