One of the most smog-free, and sunniest cities in the whole of the USA, San Diego – located on California’s Pacific coast – charms many of its thousands of visitors. There are many creative and incredible hotels to stay in and discover. From quirky boutiques to modern high rises, here are my favorite cool and unique hotels in San Diego, California…
Andaz San Diego
Famous for its swish suites with mirrored floors and plush beds, the 4-star exceptionally rated The Andaz 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!
Vibrant upscale ambiance
DJ performances at a nightclub
Lavish rooftop restaurant
Breakfast is not included
Costly valet parking
Pool closes at sunset
Just a 1-minute walk from the beach, the 4-star exceptionally rated Tower23 San Diego 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!
Panoramic beach view
Minimal sleek decor
Cool refreshing ambiance
Whirlpool tubs in some rooms
The carpet is a bit dated
Only service animals are allowed
Limited veg menu
Moxy Gaslamp District
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.
Exciting vibrant decor
An eclectic bar in the lobby
Close to many restaurants
Expensive valet parking
No swimming pools
The Guild Hotel
The Guild Hotel, San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio 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.
Retro chic ambiance
Neutral-toned cozy suites
Minimal romantic courtyard
Tempting prohibition-themed cocktails
Rooms might be smaller
No fridge in rooms
No hotel parking
Hard Rock Hotel
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!
Refined rockstar ambiance
Sumptuous pleasing guestrooms
Fun rooftop bar
Near to popular attractions
Lower floor’s rooms are noisy
No parking available
No complimentary drinks
Pacific Terrace Hotel
Pacific Terrace Hotel 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 and sailing.
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.
Artisanal hand-carved furniture
Close to restaurants and bars
Surfing and sailing games
The pool is a little small
Rooms are a little darker
Paid towels for the pool
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 at The Monsaraz San Diego, Tapestry Collection By Hilton 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.
Breathtaking sunset view
Effortlessly beautiful workspaces
Sleek upgraded rooms
Close to parks and monuments
Valet only parking
No swimming pools
No microwave in rooms
Mission Bay Resort
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.
Secluded beach view
Tranquil coastal ambiance
Fresh juicy seafood dinner
Sailing and other water sports
Some rooms need updating
Overcrowded outdoor pool
Costly valet parking
The Pearl Hotel
Close to San Diego Bay, the very highly rated The Pearl Hotel San Diego 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.
Retro-chic hotel design
Quirky rooms with private patios
Dive-In Theatre Cinema Social
Exotic cocktail bar
No 2 beds in rooms
No spa services
Faint traffic noises
An upscale lifestyle hotel close to the popular central Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, and the bayfront, the 4-star highly rated Hotel Republic San Deigo (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!
Industrial chic decor
Visually appealing white rooms
Vibrant rooftop bar
Equipped fitness center
Additional destination fee
Expensive per night parking
No swimming pool
Kimpton Alma Hotel
The newest design hotel in downtown San Diego, the Kimpton Alma Hotel 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.
Utterly tasteful chic decor
Modern funky ambiance
Opulent cozy rooms
Late-night Taco bar
No spa in the hotel
Thin room walls
No hot tub
The Pendry Hotel
Located downtown in the heart of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter, 4-star exceptionally rated The Pendry Hotel San Diego 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!
Modern hip decor
Retro cool ambiance
Strikingly tasteful rooms
6 energetic bars and restaurants
Early rooftop closing hours
Extra amenities fee
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
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, then Fairmont Grand Del Mar 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.
Timeless Mediterranean-style decor
Vintage chic ambiance
2 lush tennis courts
No complimentary breakfast
No private pool in suites
Costly on-site dining
Just a short walk from the Gaslamp Quarter and 10 minutes from the San Diego Convention Centre, the 4-star highly rated Hotel Indigo San Diego 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!
Colorful funky ambiance
Rooftop bar view from deluxe suites
Weekend DJs performance
Bar overlooks PETCO park
No complimentary breakfast
No swimming pools
Hotel La Jolla, Curio Collection by Hilton
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, Curio Collection by Hilton 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.
Funky bohemian decor
Private patios overlook the beach
Heated outdoor swimming pool
Rooms decor is a bit dated
Daily parking can be expensive
Breakfast is not included
Humphreys Half Moon Inn
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.
Calm romantic ambiance
Cozy intimate rooms
Poolside garden or beach view
Fresh local food ingredients
Seagull noises at night
No elevators only stairs
Pets are not allowed
The Inn at Sunset Cliffs
A surfers’ and beach lovers’ paradise, 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.
Magical romantic ambiance
Soft-toned pleasing decor
Beach view from the terrace
Tranquil heated pool
No breakfast included
Faint traffic noises
Nestled in downtown San Diego, close to the Gaslamp Quarter, the highly-rated Sofia Hotel San Diego 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!
Urban chic decor
Yoga studio and wellness center
In-room spa services
Bike rentals to explore the city
No swimming pools
No bell service
Located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the highly-rated Hotel Z San Diego 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!
Cool and trendy ambiance
Refined sleek decor
Shuttle service to nearby attractions
Complimentary loaner bikes
No on-site bar and restaurant
Some rooms overlook the building's rear
Soundproofing can become better
Comparing Unique Hotels in San Diego
The following table compares the Top 19 Cool and Unique Hotels in San Diego.
|Hotel Name||Location||Price Range (per night)||Fitness Facilities||Distance to Attractions(km)||Nearby Restaurant|
|Andaz San Diego||600 F Street||$292 - $530||Yes||1.3||4|
|Tower23||723 Felspar Street||$392 - $525||Yes||0.2||5|
|Moxy Gaslamp District||831 6th Avenue||$213 - $230||Yes||1.3||4|
|The Guild Hotel||500 West Broadway||$252 - $399||Yes||0.5||8|
|Hard Rock Hotel||207 5th Avenue||$287 - $343||Yes||1.5||6|
|Pacific Terrace Hotel||610 Diamond Street||$488 - $578||Yes||0.4||5|
|The Monsaraz||1451 Rosecrans St||$186 - $390||No||0.9||2|
|Mission Bay Resort||1775 East Mission Bay Drive||$408 - $723||Yes||0.4||3|
|The Pearl Hotel||1410 Rosecrans Street||$241 - $285||Yes||0.9||5|
|Hotel Republic||421 West B Street||$317 - $396||Yes||0.7||8|
|Kimpton Alma Hotel||1047 5th Avenue||$398 - $923||Yes||1.2||4|
|The Pendry Hotel||550 J Street||$437 - $3927||Yes||1.4||7|
|Fairmont Grand Del Mar||5300 Grand Del Mar Court||$996 - $2483||Yes||0.4||2|
|Hotel Indigo||509 9th Avenue||$249 - $382||No||1.6||5|
|Hotel La Jolla, Curio Collection by Hilton||7955 La Jolla Shores Drive||$300 - $658||Yes||2.4||2|
|Humphreys Half Moon Inn||2303 Shelter Island Drive||$233 - $470||Yes||0.8||2|
|The Inn at Sunset Cliffs||1370 Sunset Cliffs||$348 - $414||Yes||3.9||6|
|Sofia Hotel||150 West Broadway||$273 - $388||Yes||0.8||4|
|Hotel Z||521 6th Ave||$233 - $377||No||1.4||4|
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Becky Moore – Owner, writer and photographer
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 ex Athens 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, Borneo, Finland, Greece, Berlin, Laos, California and the surreal and beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.
I’ve been quoted in Forbes, National Geographic, The Times, Yahoo Travel, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Thrillist, British Airways Magazine, Entrepreneur, express.co.uk, Wanderlust, Telegraph Travel, Daily Mail and metro.co.uk. Find me on Linkedin or Facebook.