If you want to base your vacation in a walkable area with fantastic restaurants, a rich history, and a location near the airport, you may want to check into one of our best hotels in Little Italy, San Diego.

Little Italy is the oldest and most notorious historical neighborhood in downtown San Diego. Originally, it was a humble Italian fishing community, but it has recently transformed into one of our hippest urban neighborhoods while retaining its original charm. I’ll share what I think are the top hotels in Little Italy and why this part of town is a popular place to stay in.

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.

Why Stay in Little Italy, San Diego?

Thanks to the leadership of the nonprofit Little Italy Association, the area is ranked among the top Little Italy neighborhoods in the nation. (It is also the only district management of its kind in any cultural neighborhood throughout the nation.)

It’s the biggest Little Italy in the United States, covering 48 square blocks, and one of the most popular San Diego tourist attractions. The community has always had a proud tradition, made up of many mom-and-pop businesses centered around sharing food, joy, and love with anyone that enters the store. Foodies come in particular to dine at the fantastic Little Italy San Diego restaurants and bring home gourmet delights from the markets. Mixed in are also the trendiest restaurants in the city and boutiques of all sorts.

You are also within walking distance of the Embarcadero, where the USS Midway Museum, Maritime Museum of San Diego, and Waterfront Park are located. Seaport Village or even the Gaslamp Quarter are also reachable on foot. You can easily drive or take an Uber to La Jolla, Old Town San Diego, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and places further afield (be mindful of weekday rush hour traffic).

Best Hotels in Little Italy, San Diego CA

Below I’ve listed the best nine places to stay for your trip so that you can enjoy a good night’s rest after being on your feet all day exploring Little Italy. You’ll see that these San Diego hotels run on the smaller, boutique side or lean toward comfortable extended stay options.

1. Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton

Address: 401 West Ash Street, San Diego, CA 92101

A list of the best boutique hotels San Diego has to offer on the beach, in downtown, and North County
Photo courtesy of Carte Hotel San Diego

As part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, Carte Hotel San Diego is one of the newest Little Italy San Diego hotels. Its integration with the 28,000-square-foot Fit Athletic Club and outdoor swimming pool makes it a great option for wellness enthusiasts. I can also tell you from personal experience that the sea-to-table at Watercolors restaurant inside the hotel is outstanding for lunch or a delicious four-course dinner. Plus, you have the heart of Little Italy restaurants and shops a few blocks away.

The hotel offers 246 luxurious guest rooms, each boasting smartphone streaming capabilities, and there are water bottle refill stations on every floor.

For those wanting to relax after a day in the city, I would recommend a trip to Above Ash Social. This rooftop bar and lounge offers curated cocktails to go along with the stunning views of the city and the San Diego Bay.

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2. Porto Vista Hotel

Address: 1835 Columbia Street, San Diego, CA 92101

A small furnished terrace at Porto Vista Hotel overlooks Little Italy to San Diego Bay.
Photo courtesy of Porto Vista Hotel.

Porto Vista Hotel prides itself on being a fun yet stylish hotel. Check in to one of 190 mid-century-style rooms (including five suites) that have recently been refreshed. Discover contemporary local and international artists throughout the hotel, even in unexpected spaces, through Porto Vista Hotel’s collaboration with 1805 Gallery Director Lauren Siry.

Another fun highlight is the rooftop “spool” (heated mini-pool with spa jets) and on-site GlassDoor restaurant for local fare and cocktails with panoramic views of the Bay and Little Italy neighborhood. When you’re ready to sightsee, head on over to the Gaslamp Quarter, the USS Midway Museum, and other family-friendly spots on the Embarcadero, downtown’s scenic waterfront area.

And up to two dogs (up to 40 lbs.) are welcome in your room. The Amici dog park is across the street.

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3. La Pensione Hotel

Address: 606 West Date Street, San Diego, CA 92101

This 67-room boutique-style hotel is situated in the heart of San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. Their casual Queen and Queen Queen rooms blend comfortable European design features with vintage photography of the city’s most celebrated landmarks. 

Guests enjoy free WiFi, a free first ride with Uber, and a free coffee and pastry in the morning at Caffe Italia, the espresso bar and cafe located on the ground floor of this San Diego Little Italy hotel. Also located on the ground floor is the local favorite Mr. Moto Pizza restaurant specializing in NYC-style pizza, wings, and salads.

La Pensione also has a charming courtyard that immediately makes you’ve stepped into a personal oasis. It’s the perfect place to sip coffee, read your favorite book or simply enjoy the California sunshine.

You can also book a spa treatment and use the small fitness room during your stay at La Pensione Hotel.

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4. Best Western Plus Bayside Inn

Address: 555 West Ash Street, San Diego, CA 92101

A king room with a view to the bay at Best Western Plus/Bayside Inn, a Little Italy San Diego hotel.

This urban-inspired refuge is situated in the heart of downtown San Diego. Recharge in their contemporary rooms with pillow-top beds, refrigerators, and free WiFi.

Forget to pack an essential item for your trip? No stress, use their “forget something” amenity program, which covers all your necessities. The Best Western Plus Bayside Inn also offers free breakfast (Grab & Go Breakfast Bags) to start your day. 

Next, step out of the hotel and explore the Little Italy neighborhood. Finish your day by unwinding with a quick workout in their modern exercise facility or taking a dip in their heated pool, which also offers poolside food and beverage service. 

Let the refreshing bay breeze do its magic, while you’re enjoying a nightcap on your private balcony and admiring the striking bay or city views.

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5. Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside Hotel

Address: 2137 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101

The outdoor swimming pool at Hilton Garden Inn near Little Italy San Diego with panoramic views.
Hilton Garden Inn San Diego

The Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside Hotel rooms are modern and spacious and come with complimentary Wi-Fi, 42-inch HDTVs, a microwave, and a mini-refrigerator. 

If you are looking to take a dip and refresh yourself, you might want to consider taking a swim in their heated rooftop pool, which also offers magnificent views of the city. Do you want to get a quick workout in before your busy day of exploring? Then you can make use of their 24-hour fitness center.

This hotel is paired with Homewood Suites by Hilton/San Diego to create the Hilton Bayside campus.

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6. Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside

Address: 2137 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101

A full kitchen inside a suite at Homewood Suites in Little Italy, San Diego.
Photo courtesy of Homewood Suites by Hilton

Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside has 160 large suites on offer. Each suite provides a fully equipped kitchen, which is perfect if you want a nice quiet meal after a long day of exploring or are in town for a longer stay. The kitchens are the benefit of staying on this side of the Hilton Bayside campus. Suites also come with a work desk and a separate living area.

The accommodation offers plenty of great amenities as well. Indulge in their hot full breakfast each morning, or head to their fitness center and get your workout going. 

For those on a relaxing vacation, head up to their rooftop heated outdoor pool, and take in the breathtaking views of the city and harbor. Homewood Suites is a short drive to popular major attractions in San Diego, including the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and of course, the breathtaking beaches in La Jolla.

Finish your day in their on-site restaurant, Bayside Kitchen + Bar. Enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a craft cocktail. 

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7. Residence Inn San Diego Downtown 

Address: 1747 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101

Residence Inn San Diego Downtown is an extended-stay Little Italy San Diego hotel by Marriott with spacious studios and suites fitted with living areas, fully equipped kitchens, and HDTVs.

Take a swim in their heated outdoor pool or work up a sweat in their fitness center. No need to overpack as you can wash clothes in the coin laundry machines on site. Pets 40 lbs. or less are also welcome (additional fee applies).

Don’t forget to grab your complimentary breakfast before heading out for the day. There is also a 24-hour market onsite.

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8. Urban Boutique Hotel

Address: 1654 Columbia Street, San Diego, CA 92101

Overlooking the San Diego Bay, this European-inspired, no-frills boutique hotel is a great choice for your next San Diego getaway.

Urban Boutique Hotel offers just the right mixture of old-world charm and modern amenities. Rooms include coffee/tea making facilities, deluxe bedding, flat-screen TVs, wireless internet, and an in-room safe. It also offers spa amenities, and you can park in one of the nearby parking lots.

You cannot forget to mention its great location. It is located within minutes of various things to do in San Diego, and it is a short cab ride away from the historic Gaslamp District, Petco Park, and the San Diego Convention Center.

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Staying at Hotels in San Diego’s Little Italy: The Bottom Line

Little Italy has something for everyone, from swanky bars to family-owned bistros. Plan a romantic trip with that special someone, or invite your friends for a weekend getaway. San Diego’s Little Italy hotels and the area’s energetic social scene make it the perfect getaway destination. Have kids? They’ll love it, too. You can also check my lists of downtown San Diego hotels and Gaslamp San Diego hotels.

The sign for Little Italy San Diego in February with blue skies

Little Italy San Diego Vacation Rentals

If you’ve decided that a Little Italy vacation rental is more appropriate for your situation, I prefer Marriott Homes and Villas because they vet the properties and only use those with professional management. However, VRBO has the most availability.

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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