The Best Boutique Hotels to Book in San Diego, California

Swing back to the 1960s at the fabulous mid-century-modern Pearl Hotel in San Diego
Swing back to the 1960s at the fabulous mid-century-modern Pearl Hotel in San Diego | Courtesy of the Pearl Hotel / Expedia
Photo of Andrea Schulte-Peevers
10 December 2021
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From fine dining and a world-class zoo to sublime beaches and cultural trophy sights, “America’s finest city” has lots of attractions to entice travelers looking for urban adventure and a long line-up of super-stylish hotels to match. We’ve done the hard work and ferreted out some of the best boutique hotels in San Diego ready to impress Insta-savvy nomads with their design, amenities and ambience. Historic landmarks, swanky downtown spots, romantic hideaways and luxurious retreats – here are our top picks, all bookable on Culture Trip.

The Pearl Hotel, for retro chic

Snug mid-century modern bedroom at the Pearl Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of the Pearl Hotel / Expedia
Swing back to the 1960s – pinkie raised and all – with al fresco cocktails at this fabulous mid-century-modern San Diego boutique hotel. After a top-to-bottom refurb, its 23 rooms mix and match retro with 21st-century creature comforts, including Finery and Casetta bathrobes. Ranging from snug to spacious, all rooms orbit a saltwater pool that hosts weekly “dive-in” movie nights. For prime screen views, book a patio table at the restaurant-bar or grab the junior suite with a pool-facing balcony.

Hotel Solamar, for catching a ball game

Aerial view of pool and sun deck area of Hotel Solamar in San Diego
Courtesy of Hotel Solamar / Expedia
This red-brick gem in the up-and-coming East Village – just a baseball toss away from Petco Park – is an urban respite for style-conscious nomads. Rooms are sheathed in geometric patterns and a playful palette of plum, gold and black; the spacious spa suites feature Fuji soaking tubs. Alternatively, unwind by the rooftop pool with its lounge and stunning views of the downtown skyline. The sleek Jsix restaurant serves modern American fare, but there’s a slew of other hip restos within strolling distance of this top San Diego boutique hotel.

La Pensione Hotel, for dining out in Little Italy

Large two-bed guest room with silver accent wall at La Pensione Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of La Pensione Hotel / Expedia
This intimate, friendly hotel wrapped around a frescoed courtyard sits just a whiff away from potent espresso, crusty pizza and bustling piazzas that give the historic Little Italy neighborhood its characterful edge. Rooms make the most of limited space and exude swish European style exemplified by platform beds, ostrich leather headboards and standing mirrors. Framed black-and-white vintage photographs of San Diego landmarks add a local touch. Use the black-out blinds to make sure you’ll get your dose of post-sightseeing beauty sleep.

The Guild Hotel, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, for bygone era vibes

Retro-luxe room with art-deco-style lamps, leather headboard and separate seating area at the Guild Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of the Guild Hotel / Expedia
A century-old YMCA in the Gaslamp Quarter has been reborn as a design-driven downtown pad, making maximum use of nostalgic design elements while supplying the gamut of mod-cons, including Smart TVs with Netflix and Hulu. There are six room categories in this sublime boutique hotel in San Diego, all equipped with Art Deco-style lamps and leather headboards backing plush beds with built-in drawers, along with Maison Margiela bathroom amenities. The Guild Bar, jazzed up by red velvet and marble, transports you back to the Roaring ’20s.

Andaz San Diego, for being in the heart of downtown action

Stylish and sleek rooftop pool area with lounge chairs and cabanas at Andaz San Diego – A Concept by Hyatt
Courtesy of Andaz San Diego – A Concept by Hyatt / Expedia
Hospitality is taken very seriously at this fine boutique hotel in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter where you’re welcomed with a free drink before checking into oversized rooms with cosmopolitan flair and sexy glass-enclosed showers. Kick-start your day with a healthy SoCal breakfast (great cold-brew coffee and mimosas!) at the rooftop poolside lounge that develops a clubhouse vibe on weekend nights. If you feel like a privacy-craving rock star (or are one), book the Cabana Suite with access to your own poolside cabana via a spiraling staircase.

Moxy San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter, for meeting fellow travelers

Industrial-chic lobby area with varied seating areas, neon sign and bookcase at Moxy San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter
Courtesy of Moxy San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter / Expedia
Jazzy and upbeat and with lots of look-at-me features like neon signs, porthole mirrors and a mural, Moxy’s lobby is clearly tailored to the Insta-generation and perfect for socializing. Meet fellow fun-seekers over a game of Jenga or sip local craft beer at the 24/7 bar lidded by a circular LED-fixture. Rooms, while on the small side, feel as comfortable as a hug from a good friend and feature playful nautical accents in an homage to the region’s naval past.

Horton Grand Hotel, for a historic stay downtown

Victorian interior of dining space featuring antique chandelier and wall painting at the Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of the Horton Grand Hotel / Expedia
Connect to the grandeur of yesteryear at this Victorian beauty featuring romantic quarters loaded with polished antiques and marble-encased gas fireplaces, elevated by all the expected mod-cons. The stately courtyard building is actually an amalgam of two of the city’s oldest hotels, magically moved and cobbled back together brick by brick in the current location. Styled like a grand saloon with sumptuous wood, shiny brass and frilly details, the restaurant-bar serves breakfast, bites, beverages and a bottomless Sunday brunch.

Tower23, for beach access

White bed with private balcony overlooking the ocean at Tower23 Hotel in San Diego
Courtesy of Tower23 Hotel / Booking.com
In a swoon-worthy spot on the Pacific Beach boardwalk, this luxury lair is one of the best boutique hotels in San Diego. It takes its name from lifeguard tower 23 burrowed in the soft sand right in front of the property. Mod and minimalist rooms carry over the ocean-themed vibe with teak beds, teal accents and a private balcony or patio, some with water views. The trendy JRDN (pronounced “Jordan”) restaurant is a local hotspot with sophisticated Cali cuisine and inventive drinks.

For more options, discover our guide to the best hotels in Chula Vista, San Diego, and book now on Culture Trip.

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