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 thousands of 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? From chic and quirky boutiques to towering modern high rises, here are the coolest and most unique hotels in San Diego, California (in no particular order)…
1. Andaz San Diego – a sleek, upscale and very Instagrammable design hotel that is the place to be seen and party in San Diego
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!
- To book, check prices or availability for The Andaz San Diego
2. Tower23 – a cool, funky and modern beachside retreat that combines minimalist design with sleek sophistication
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 is 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!
- To book, check prices or availability for Tower23 San Diego
3. Moxy San Diego Gaslamp District – a fun, hip and trendy hotel perfect for partying Millennials and Gen Z’s
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.
- To book, check prices or availability for Moxy San Diego Gaslamp District
4. The Guild Hotel, San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – this elegant, upscale boutique hotel that blends historic charm and modern amenities is one of the best hotels in the city
The Guild Hotel in downtown San Diego is housed in a classic 1924 building that preserves many original and delightful features like a carved-stone facade, high ceilings, decorated archways, a romantic courtyard, tile work and large arched windows. This rich architectural heritage is merged with contemporary design and comfort and some quirky artwork.
The comfortable rooms have a muted decor, high ceilings and accents like velvet drapes, exposed beams and curated art from local artists.
The hotel is conveniently close to attractions like Little Italy, the Bayfront and the Gaslamp District The area abounds in craft breweries, theaters, galleries, and music venues.
You can start your day with breakfast at The Guild Café and in the evenings, try out the Prohibition-themed cocktails and delicious food at The Guild Bar with its red velvet seats or sit outside in the courtyard.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Guild Hotel, San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
5. Hard Rock Hotel – a fun and Instagrammable rock ‘n’ roll-themed hotel located very near the lively Gaslamp Quarter
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!
- To book, check prices or availability for Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
6. Pacific Terrace Hotel – a chic upscale boutique hotel located dramatically perched above Pacific Beach and the Boardwalk
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.
- To book, check prices or availability for Pacific Terrace Hotel
7. The Monsaraz San Diego, Tapestry Collection By Hilton – a cool and trendy hotel with a midcentury vibe where pets are welcome too
The low, clean lines of this new bayfront hotel are perfectly set off by the brilliant seaside skies, palm trees and sunsets. Harmonizing with the setting, there’s plenty of outside seating, mosaic tilework, earth tones, and exposed wood beams. Quirky and inspiring artwork enlivens the walls in the lobby and bar as well as the rooms,
Rooms have views of San Diego bay with moored boats or the peaceful courtyard with a backdrop of hillside terraces and houses with red adobe roofs. The Mediterranean- and coastal-inspired decor and workspaces with convenient electrical outlets combine aesthetics with function for a relaxing and productive stay.
Located close to San Diego Airport, downtown and the beach, the Monsaraz is a short drive away from attractions like Balboa Park, Cabrillo National Monument, House of Blues and La Jolla Cove.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Monsaraz San Diego, Tapestry Collection By Hilton
8. San Diego Mission Bay Resort – a stylish and contemporary beachfront resort to stay in San Diego perfect for design-loving Millennials and Gen Zs
There are times in your life when you just want to soak up the Southern California sun, enjoy walks on the beach and maybe evening bonfires, chill out in a poolside cabana, get a relaxing spa treatment, and eat fresh seafood for dinner. The San Diego Mission Bay Resort is exactly the right place to do all that, and much more.
Located within easy distance of the city, the resort is still a world in itself, where you can enjoy sailing, water sports, tennis on championship courts and s’mores night on the beach.
The breezy rooms have a coastal decor with the colors of sea and sand, and many open right on the beach. Some rooms have garden views, and there are studios with private fire pits, and suites with their own patios or balconies.
The Covewood restaurant with its informal decor and understated luxury offers a menu of seafood, fresh vegetables, local wines and cocktails. Don’t forget to visit the Mercado for a memento of your holiday.
- To book, check prices or availability for San Diego Mission Bay Resort
9. The Pearl Hotel – a funky retro-styled boutique hotel and hipster haven only minutes away from San Diego Bay
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.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Pearl Hotel San Diego
10. Kimpton Hotel Palomar – a modern and trendy boutique hotel in San Diego perfect for Instagrammers and design lovers
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 a 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.
- To book, check prices or availability for Palomar Hotel San Diego
11. Hotel Republic – a hip, stylish and sophisticated boutique hotel located near Little Italy
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!
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Republic San Deigo
12. Kimpton Alma Hotel, an IHG Hotel – a fun, trendy and upbeat boutique hotel with a great design, a rooftop pool and gorgeous city views
The newest design hotel in downtown San Diego, the Kimpton Alma has just undergone a complete remodel by Indidesign studio. The former Hotel Palomar building has been redone with clean lines and large windows that create a feeling of space, a rooftop swimming pool and deck, and three onsite dining concepts.
From the street art mural on the roof deck to the Mexican-inspired textiles and decor in the guest rooms and the frequent appearance of comics-related motifs, the redesign emphasizes local culture and history. There’s also a focus on wellness with a fitness center and yoga mats and Japanese tea sets available in each room.
Plush fabrics, beanbag chairs and quirky art emphasize the signature playful luxury of the brand, while work desks, Frette linens and an honor cashbar in the rooms sets you up for serious work or relaxation.
Onsite dining options include The Desmond where chef Jason Neroni serves up small plates with local seafood and other ingredients, the all-day café on the first floor, and the poolside L.O.A. (Leave of Absence) with a pizza oven.
The location is close to the Gaslamp District, Little Italy, Balboa Park and Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kimpton Alma Hotel
13. The Pendry Hotel – a luxury San Diego with a unique style devoted to service, design and culture
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!
- To book, check prices or availability for The Pendry Hotel San Diego
14. Fairmont Grand Del Mar – an oasis of calm and upscale beauty with a touch of classic 1920s Hollywood
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.
- To book, check prices or availability for Fairmont Grand Del Mar
15. Hotel Indigo – a bright, fun and funky hotel to stay in San Diego located within the popular Gaslamp Quarter
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 overlooks the popular rooftop bar that offers fabulous views over the city, whilst offering an extensive cocktail, beer, and wine menu. The trendy party hotel also prides itself on its LEED certification and is 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!
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Indigo San Diego
16. Hotel La Jolla, Curio Collection by Hilton – a trendy boutique with a modern boho vibe just a 10 minute’s walk to the Pacific Ocean
Palm trees, check. Ocean breeze, check. Tiki torches, check. You’ll find all that’s necessary for a laid-back SoCal stay at Hotel La Jolla, right on the beach and 15 minutes drive from downtown. Or you can walk down to the nearby La Jolla Village to check out the shops and restaurants.
The casual, coastal chic decor will put you in the right frame of mind for relaxation, as will the luxurious rooms with plush bedding and private balconies or patios that open to the Pacific Ocean. For when you need to work, there are ergonomic workspaces and a coffeemaker and fridge to keep you fueled.
The hotel has a fitness center and an outdoor swimming pool, and the Cusp restaurant offers American cuisine along with stunning views. The poolside Hiatus lounge has drinks and small bites in a quintessentially Californian outdoor setting.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel La Jolla, Curio Collection by Hilton
17. Humphreys Half Moon Inn – a beautiful and romantic tropical resort located on the waterfront in Shelter Island
The tropical-themed resort-style Inn is located on the secluded Shelter Island, but close to the downtown Gaslamp Quarter. It’s a popular destination for dining, live music at the Backstage LIVE music lounge, and international concerts.
The rooms and suites at Humphreys Half Moon Inn have a relaxed, casual style with wood detailing and beams, sloping roofs and patios or balconies with views of the ocean or the poolside gardens. They come with luxurious amenities like plush bedding, in-room massage services and 55″ LCD HD flat-screen televisions.
At the Humphreys Restaurant, Executive Chef Tom Connolly and his team serve favorite classics with fresh, locally sourced foods in a lively setting with amazing views. There’s also the Lobby Pantry, and other amenities include a private marina, swimming pool, spa and fitness center, all of which have earned the hotel a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award.
- To book, check prices or availability for Humphreys Half Moon Inn
18. The Inn at Sunset Cliffs – a charming and romantic waterfront hotel offering stunning ocean views located in historical Point Loma
A surfers’ and beach lovers’ paradise, the The Inn at Sunset Cliffs is located right on Ocean Beach, and near local attractions.
The rooms have coastal decor in the colors of sand and sea with marine life motifs, luxurious beds, comfortable plush seating and large windows to let in the sea breeze. Suites are equipped for families or longer stays with kitchenettes that have a stove, refrigerator, microwave, toaster, coffee maker and utensils.
The heated outdoor swimming pool and terrace are right next to the beach, and you could spend hours there watching the waves crashing on the shores.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Inn at Sunset Cliffs
19. Sofia hotel – a chic and lovingly renovated luxury boutique and well-being retreat
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!
- To book, check prices or availability for Sofia Hotel San Diego
20. Hotel Z – a cool, fun and trendy mid-range hotel with quirky-chic contemporary decor
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!
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Z San Diego
21. Cosmopolitan Hotel – a quirky and nostalgic historic San Diego hotel located within the Old Town
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.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Cosmopolitan Hotel
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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 and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.
2 thoughts on “Top 20 Cool and Unusual Hotels in San Diego 2023”
As an SD local, I can vouch for this list. These are the places I would recommend to visiting friends.
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.