San Diego’s nickname is America’s Finest City – so it goes without saying that it’s home to some of the country’s finest hotels, too. One has played host to presidents; another boasts a twice Michelin-starred chef. There are places with suites befitting movie stars and places with glamorous rooftop pools. Here’s a full list of the best five-star hotels in San Diego, bookable on Culture Trip.
The timeline of this five-star hotel in San Diego stretches back to 1910; the guestbook features names including Charles Lindbergh and JFK. It’s easy to see why VIPs choose this hotel. Inside, it’s all high ceilings, chandeliers, dark wood and marble, and it’s home to an art deco restaurant, plush spa and speakeasy-style bar with a seasonal cocktail menu. The location is spot on, too – right in the middle of the buzzing Gaslamp Quarter.
A rooftop pool with views of the Gaslamp Quarter and a calm spa with treatments including gemstone facials and green coffee body wraps are just two of the many ways this luxury hotel in San Diego seeks to please. The selling points continue with its nightclub, beer hall and Fifth & Rose cocktail bar, where mixologists shake up drinks such as the Fire & Ice, made with mezcal, Chartreuse and chili bitters.
The decor of this San Diego five-star hotel was inspired by the French palace of Versailles. Step into the lobby and you’ll see chandeliers, gilded mirrors, oil paintings, a grand piano and clusters of velvet-clad French furniture. Walk the corridors and you’ll find cabinets full of antiques, and plinths topped with ornamental vases. The food has a French theme, too. Afternoon tea is served with petits fours and pyramids of pastel-colored macarons.
The best rooms at this San Diego luxury hotel are in the Skyline Collection. They come with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Downtown area of the city or the harbor, and some also have balconies and oversized spa baths. Whichever room you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy the rooftop pool, its waterside cocktail bar and the Mexican restaurant, which serves dishes such as tacos and drinks such as Mexican Coke – that’s Coke made with cane sugar.
Set on the narrow slither of land that is Shelter Island, Kona Kai is backed by San Diego Bay and fronted by a marina filled with more than 500 superyachts. You can take in views of the extravagant boats from some of the rooms, the hotel’s private sandy beach and the outdoor pool with luxury sunbathing cabanas and a tiki bar. The cocktail menu there features inventive options such as spicy melon margarita made with tequila, lemon and jalapeños.
Of all the luxury hotels in San Diego, this is the one to choose if you plan to watch the Padres play at Petco Park – it’s right next door to the stadium and connected by a convenient skybridge. Your pre- and post-game downtime, meanwhile, can be spent relaxing by the outdoor pool, getting a personalized massage in the spa, or refueling at West Coast Social, where the menu features treats including truffle cheeseburgers and nachos.
This San Diego luxury hotel is set in the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter of the city. While it’s surrounded by sights, bars and restaurants, the hotel also has plenty of facilities that’ll make you want to stay on-site. Highlights include the gridiron-sized rooftop pool area with fire pits, craft cocktail bar and waterside cabanas, and the Jsix restaurant, where the menu changes regularly to showcase locally sourced, seasonal produce.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.