Encinitas is a quintessential Southern California surf town located about 25 miles north of San Diego. A handful of other well-known areas are part of the Encinitas incorporated city, including Leucadia, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Olivenhain.

So, when we refer to Encinitas hotels, we’re talking about accommodations in all four of these San Diego County neighborhoods.

Together, they boast pristine sandy beaches, world-class surfing (Swami’s beach was even name-checked in Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys), diverse local food offerings, an expansive craft beer scene, and eclectic vibrant downtown areas along Highway 101.

Encinitas has managed to retain its laid-back, small-town vibes. Hotels in Encinitas are typically smaller, boutique-style inns with loads of charm and amenities, small budget chains, or family-owned motels — all close to popular things to do.

Note from Katie: We independently choose all featured hotels. Booking methods mentioned are popular with our readers or ones we think offer the best value. If you book through select links, we may earn a commission and appreciate you supporting our business. Prices and amenities are subject to change. Our editorial guidelines.

1. Alila Marea Beach Resort

Alila Marea Beach Resort sits on the bluffs of Encinitas above the beach.

Address: 2100 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Hyatt Prive amenities we can add:

  • Daily breakfast for 2 in Vaga (value at $30/person plus tax and gratuity)
  • A $150 property credit
  • A welcome amenity
  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
  • Early check-in & late check-out, subject to availability

If you’re looking for luxury by the beach, Alila Marea is a great option. The hotel sits on the clifftop overlooking rugged South Ponto Beach and exudes a boutique hotel vibe despite looking huge from the outside and containing almost 130 guest rooms.

The rooms are designed to incorporate the natural elements of the coast, and almost all have an ocean or lagoon view, thanks to the way the hotel snakes around the coastal bluff. You can read details on the various room options in my Alila Marea Encinitas review.

Guests can take a dip in the resort swimming pool as the waves crash below on the beach or enjoy the hotel’s luxury spa. Dining options include the chic VAGA restaurant for fine dining (book well in advance), or the more casual option of surf-inspired The Pocket, where you can enjoy tacos and craft cocktails.

All rooms have either a patio or balcony (some with a firepit), coffee and tea service by local favorite Lofty Coffee, a mini bar, bath amenities, and a 65-inch wall-mounted television. Valet parking is available in the parking garage under the hotel.

2. Inn at Moonlight Beach

Outdoor fire pit surrounded by lounge chairs at Inn at Moonlight Beach

Address: 105 N Vulcan Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024

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The all-suite Inn at Moonlight Beach was completely redesigned in 2019 and is a standout among Encinitas hotels, being the first WELL-certified hotel in the world.

WELL certification is accredited by GBCI (Green Building Certification, Inc.) when buildings enhance the guest experience across seven categories that include Air, Water, Light, Nourishment, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind.

Hotel guests are greeted with a fresh pot of herbal tea in their rooms. The onsite biodynamic garden features medicinal herbs, teas, and vegetables. Healthy Start Breakfast Baskets are full of local artisanal treats daily, to name a few of the healthy living offerings.

To tie in with the hotel’s ultra health-conscious ethos, a range of luxury and unique spa treatments and packages are available. Or you can try one of workshops in the hotel’s Wellness Lab during your stay, including making Moonlight Ocean Stones or creating your own succulent, vegetable, or edible flower garden to take home.

The Inn at Moonlight Beach is conveniently located just two blocks from the Coaster train station and within easy distance to Moonlight Beach and downtown Encinitas.

It was also voted Best of North County San Diego 2019 by San Diego Magazine. There are only five suites, so book early.

(The top post photo is also courtesy of Inn at Moonlight Beach.)

3. Twelve Senses Retreat

A king bedroom interior with view of hammock on the balcony.

Address: 1004 Nardo Road, Encinitas CA 92024

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Described as an holistic retreat inspired by the four elements of nature, this exclusive boutique hotel only has four guest rooms and features a luxury minimalism aesthetic. Twelve Senses is still relatively new, having been rebuilt and expanded in 2019, and the property was actually the home of German owner Anke Bodack before she transformed it.

The interior, including a cozy library, boasts furnishings by renowned designers, including Philippe Starck, while the exterior features eco-friendly tiles adorning the rooftop bar that were repurposed from ocean plastic waste.

The four rooms are named after the elements: Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, and are all uniquely decorated, with Earth being the largest option and featuring an outdoor shower on the patio.

Twelve Senses is located a little inland in a residential neighborhood and close to a high school, but it’s only a 6-minute drive or a 40-minute walk to Moonlight Beach.

4. The Encinitan Hotel & Suites at Moonlight Beach

Address: 85 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas, CA 92024

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Perched atop a hill overlooking stunning ocean views, the Encinitan Hotel & Suites is also conveniently located west of Interstate 5 and within easy walking distance of Moonlight State Beach. Bustling downtown Encinitas, with its eclectic surf shops, cafes, boutiques, and restaurants, is just a quarter of a mile away.

Accommodations at the Encinitan Hotel & Suites range from standard rooms with single or double beds to suites with kitchens and sofa sleepers.

All rooms have private balconies, and there are several rooms with an ocean view. The hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, and the $15 per night resort fee includes self-parking, WIFI, access to the fitness center and a continental breakfast. This was formerly a Best Western.

5. Surfhouse

Address: 960 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

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If you’re looking for Encinitas hotels on the beach, Surfhouse fully embraces the local surf culture. Surfboards and gear rentals are available to hotel guests, and Surfhouse offers lessons and customized guided surf experiences as well.

Shred waves at Beacon’s Beach, a block away, widely considered also one of the best spots to take in a Southern California sunset. Or for those who want to stay on land, try a yoga class on the beach or use a complimentary beach cruiser.

The hotel also offers a 3-night all-inclusive Surf & Golf package, where you get to surf in the mornings and take to the links to enjoy two rounds of 18 holes in the afternoons.

Each of the quaint hotel’s eight unique guestrooms is named after well-known local surf breaks and decorated with art from local artists. Guests can enjoy a hot outdoor shower and complimentary WiFi.

There’s no onsite dining but you’re within steps of several excellent dining and nightlife options along Highway 101.

6. Moonlight Beach Motel

Moonlight Beach Motel

Address: 233 2nd St, Encinitas, CA 92024

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Family-owned and operated since 1976, Moonlight Beach Motel is one of the hotels in Encinitas CA located two blocks from Moonlight Beach, which offers incredible surf, sand volleyball, grassy picnic areas, and bonfire pits on the sand. Several restaurants, coffee shops, and nightlife hotspots are also within walking distance.

The guestrooms at Moonlight Beach Motel range in size from studios to suites with up to three beds and each offers private balconies and ocean or garden views. Each room is equipped with a full kitchenette that has a stove and oven, refrigerator, and microwave.

Fresh danishes and coffee are also served daily in the front office. WiFi and self-parking are both complimentary.

7. Leucadia Beach Inn

Leucadia Beach Inn

Address: 1322 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

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The Leucadia Beach Inn is one of the hotels in Encinitas, CA, with a rich local history. It was originally built in 1920 in the classic hacienda design popular for serving people traveling between Los Angeles and Mexico.

Although it was completely renovated in 2005, the Leucadia Beach Inn still retains much of its original charm. The guestrooms face into a sunny, flower-filled courtyard, and the hotel is within walking distance of some of the area’s best beaches, including Grandview and Beacons beaches.

All of the spacious guestrooms include free WiFi, air conditioning, and kitchenettes. The Leucadia Beach Inn is ultra dog-friendly and will happily provide guests with pet beds, grain-free dog food and snacks, and food and water bowls. A one time pet fee of $50 is charged, plus $25 for each additional pet.

Parking is free and the Coaster train station is just a three-minute walk away.

8. Kate Stanton Inn

Kate Stanton Inn

Address: 1904 Leucadia Scenic Ct, Encinitas, CA 92024

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When deciding which Encinitas hotels on the beach to stay at, consider the Kate Stanton Inn, a luxury bed-and-breakfast perched on a hill but within walking distance of Moonlight Beach and Carlsbad State Beach.

Each of the Kate Stanton Inn’s spacious guestrooms includes complimentary WiFi, comfortable work desks, plush bathrobes, refrigerators, and premium linens. 

Guests are treated to daily personalized breakfast and an afternoon reception with tea, wine, and cheese on the community-shared patio with sweeping ocean views. Numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops are also within easy walking distance.

Parking is free, and guests have complimentary access to beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas. The Kate Stanton Inn also maintains a community library of books and movies for guests to enjoy. 

9. Cardiff by the Sea Lodge

The hotel is closed for renovations but open for December 2023 bookings onward. For the latest updates, click here.

Cardiff by the Sea Lodge

Address: 142 Chesterfield Dr, Cardiff, CA 92007

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Cardiff by the Sea Lodge boasts one of the best locations in Cardiff, situated within walking distance of San Elijo State Beach. Several restaurants (Pipes for breakfast is legendary), cafes, and shops are also within minutes and easily accessible in Cardiff and the adjacent towns of Solana Beach and Encinitas.

The 17 guestrooms at this boutique hotel are all uniquely appointed with individual themes and designed by the husband (an architect) and wife (an interior designer) owners.

Each room offers a view of either the hotel’s gardens or the ocean and comes with complimentary WiFi and breakfast each morning.

Some rooms also have Jacuzzi spa tubs or working fireplaces. The expansive rooftop deck features lush tropical landscaping and sweeping ocean views. Parking is also complimentary at Cardiff by the Sea Lodge. 

10. Hampton Inn Encinitas-Cardiff Beach Area

Hampton by Hilton Encinitas-Cardiff Beach Area

Address: 1661 Villa Cardiff Dr, Cardiff, CA 92007

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With an ultra-convenient location and several standard amenities, the Hampton Inn Encinitas-Cardiff Beach Area offers something for every type of traveler.

It is just off I-5, a three-minute drive from Moonlight State Beach and Fletcher Cove Park and 10 minutes from Cardiff State Beach and the Del Mar Fairgrounds. LEGOLAND California and premium outlet shopping in Carlsbad is just 10 miles north. 

The hotel offers an outdoor heated pool and hot tub, a 24-hour fitness center, free parking, and a daily complimentary hot breakfast.

Although there is not a full-service restaurant onsite, there are many restaurants within walking distance.

Pets are welcome at the Hampton Inn Encinitas Cardiff Beach Area, and there is an on-site market and ATM for guest convenience. It’s also a great way to earn or redeem Hilton Honors points.

What are your favorite hotels in Encinitas, CA? Browse all San Diego hotels and top pick lists.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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