The best hotels in Carlsbad, CA, run the gamut from luxurious to playful, and my list of personal favorites includes both. You’ll benefit from my insights on Carlsbad hotels gathered through personal experience, reader feedback, and VIP contacts at hotels I work with.
To give you an idea, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa is popular for its casual nature and kids’ club in San Diego. Four Seasons loyalists like me gravitate toward Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara when it comes to Carlsbad luxury hotels.
I’ve also included hotels in Carlsbad by the beach and near LEGOLAND California in this post because that’s what many families are looking for.
I’ve indicated the Carlsbad luxury hotels that I have relationships with where I can help you enjoy extras like complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, spa credits, and more. These are perks you would otherwise not have access to on your own.
Note from Katie: We independently select all featured hotels. Booking methods mentioned we think offer the best value or are popular with readers. If you book through some of our links, we may earn a commission. Prices and amenities are subject to change. Our editorial guidelines.
Top Hotels by the Beach in Carlsbad
Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach, a Hilton Resort & Spa
This hotel is the perfect choice for families who may spend some time at LEGOLAND® but want to enjoy the majority of their time in San Diego at the beach.
While Cape Rey Carlsbad is an official LEGOLAND California partner hotel with an on-site LEGO concierge, it’s also a quick walk away from the shore and the best rooms have beautiful views of the surf.
You can grab a beach pack at the front desk with an umbrella, two chairs, two towels, and bottled water, or book a surf excursion through the hotel’s Director of Adventure.
Reservations: Join Hilton Honors (free) and book the discounted member rate.
Beach Terrace Inn
This is one of the most laid back hotels in Carlsbad and it’s the only one located directly on the beach in all of North County.
It’s a small hotel with big rooms, and the decor is definitely beach-inspired. When you stay here, you’ll enjoy a private beach entrance; complimentary beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas; complimentary use of boogie boards and sand toys; a signature beach walk fitness pack; and Sunday morning beach yoga.
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West Inn and Suites
Suites run on the larger side at this boutique hotel where the atmosphere is charming and relaxed, making it a great choice for families.
It’s just three blocks (a 10-minute walk) to the beach (and the Museum of Making Music). Guests enjoy day use of beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, beach toys, and bedtime cookies and milk, which are a big hit with small travelers. West Inn & Suites is dog-friendly, too (we’ve taken ours for a staycation there).
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Carlsbad Luxury Hotels
Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego
I have a soft spot for the elegant Four Seasons service, residence-style accommodations with living rooms and kitchens, and the brand’s quieter luxury. This Carlsbad luxury hotel is located close to attractions, but guests feel like they are worlds away from the tourist hotspots’ hustle and bustle.
The villas at the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, in particular, feel like a home away from home with their living rooms and full kitchens (king rooms have kitchenettes).
The Four Seasons may be luxurious, but it’s also family-friendly. They offer child-sized bathrobes and slippers and special children’s bath amenities. There are babysitters on staff, and the Kids Club 760 has great activities for younger guests (children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult as the club is unstaffed).
Reservations: I can book you in as a Four Seasons Preferred Partner guest (which is how I book my own Four Seasons reservations because of the outstanding benefits).
- $75 Daily breakfast credit
- One-time resort credit: $100 for Superior King Guest Rooms, $200 for One Bedroom Villas, $300 for Two Bedroom Villas
- Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites, villas, and private residences)
- Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms; complimentary premium Internet in all suites
- Welcome note at check-in acknowledging you and your travel agency and the amenities that are being extended
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa
This Carlsbad luxury hotel is a great choice for World of Hyatt members, families traveling to LEGOLAND who prefer to stay at a luxury resort, large groups, and guests who need suites as they tend to price reasonably.
There’s excellent service, excellent golf, an award-winning 15,000-square-foot spa, and lots to do. You can take golf lessons at Aviara Golf Academy, there are tennis clinics, bird-watching outings, and a surf concierge who can get you up and riding waves in a two-hour lesson.
The dining at the Park Hyatt Aviara, which includes the Argyle Steakhouse, is exquisite. Plus, the resort is fresh off of a fantastic renovation of the rooms and common areas. It’s gorgeous.
Reservations: You can book into Park Hyatt Aviara with Virtuoso amenities at no additional cost that include:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
- Daily full breakfast, for two guests per bedroom
- $100 USD Resort credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Complimentary daily Aviara Spa access for two guests including sauna, whirlpool, steam room and indoor solarium lounge.
- Locally-inspired culinary welcome amenity
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
When booking on Virtuoso.com use only the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details.
*You may need to be on the desktop version of Virtuoso.com to search rates and book online. To enable the desktop version of a hotel page from a mobile device, scroll down to the navy blue section at the bottom of the web page and click “Full Site.” When searching rates, do not input children ages 17 and under as they will be priced as adults. I’m notified when you book and will add them when I contact you about your reservation.
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
This Carlsbad hotel is less luxe and more casual than the two above but widely regarded as one of San Diego’s most family-friendly resorts. The gorgeous villas with designer kitchens are perfect for large families or multigenerational vacationers, and guests of all ages can have a wonderful time without ever stepping foot off the resort.
There are two world-renowned golf courses; lifestyle boutiques for golf, yoga and beach gear; wellness treatments at The Spa; and an impressive daily activity schedule for kids that can include anything from reptile shows to crafts. The Omni La Costa kids’ club is staffed year-round.
Reservations: I used to book Omni La Costa with my extra benefits but I find that people who stay here either book directly using Omni sale rates or through Hotels.com.
Hotels Near LEGOLAND California Resort
Some of the best hotels in Carlsbad also happen to be hotels near LEGOLAND. It’s nice because it means you don’t have to sacrifice comfort just because this theme park will be a big part of your California vacation.
And, don’t forget that you can buy discounted tickets to LEGOLAND California.
Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa
This comfortable Carlsbad hotel is actually located right next door to LEGOLAND (adjacent to the Crossings Carlsbad golf course) and has its own private entrance to LEGOLAND California Resort.
It also has beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the world-class Ocean Pearl Spa, and the 7 Mile Kitchen restaurant, which serves some of the best seasonal California coastal cuisines. It’s a great option for families visiting LEGOLAND who’d prefer not to stay in one of the park’s two themed resorts. The pool even has a water slide.
Reservations: Join Marriott Bonvoy (free) and book the discounted member rate.
Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa
Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa is adjacent to the Sheraton Carlsbad. Of the two, it caters more toward couples and business travelers as there are less family amenities. It’s a new hotel though with freshly decorated contemporary rooms so if you prefer to stay here with the kids then go for it.
With its sweeping views of the north Pacific Ocean, this refined hotel isn’t on the beach but there are pristine beaches not far away and the drive up the coast to reach them is a gorgeous one. When you’re not at the beach, you can still splash around in the hotel’s four pools and five Jacuzzis.
Reservations: Join Marriott Bonvoy (free) and book the discounted member rate.
The LEGOLAND Resort Hotels
Visitors planning to spend multiple days at the park may want to stay at the ultra kid-friendly LEGOLAND Hotel or LEGOLAND Castle Hotel for the convenience and the fun.
LEGO fans will love how immersive these hotels are (there’s LEGO decor in every room) and the fact that guests can enter the park and go on certain rides 30 minutes before the park opens to the public. Kids who stay at both hotels get a Welcome Treasure Hunt map and a prize for finding the treasure.
Reservations: Check prices on top sites for both (powered by TripAdvisor).
Grand Pacific Palisades
This is one of the best hotels in Carlsbad for families because it has a pedestrian entrance to LEGOLAND (across the street) and vacation rental condos with full kitchens.
When we stayed here, many guests were stocking up at the nearby Costco to prepare meals in their suites to enjoy the facilities (many left their doors open to let kids run around as it’s very casual).
In addition to a family-friendly pool with a splash pad, there’s a separate adults-only, Olympic-sized pool with a sunset view and cabanas, plus a free trolley to Carlsbad’s pristine Tamarack Beach.
You can order in-room massage treatments, and the hotel is also a free shuttle away from the luxurious Ocean Pearl Spa at the Sheraton Carlsbad.
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If you’re a fan of this San Diego County beach city, what are your best tips for visiting Carlsbad, CA?
*Top photo is courtesy of Hilton