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I know San Diego luxury hotels better than anyone. I discuss them with readers daily and communicate with hotel in-house teams nearly as frequently. My expertise stems also from five years of living in a luxury hotel. So, I know what travelers are looking for when they say they want recommendations for five-star hotels in San Diego.

This list is based on property offerings, service, quality of the rooms, personal stays, reader feedback, and insider information from my contacts at each property below.

You might see properties not mentioned here that are designated as luxury hotels in San Diego on other lists. We have tons of great hotels. Many are in what I would call the high four-star range or they are boutique hotels that can’t offer robust amenities due to space constraints. But, if you tell me you’re used to staying in Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, The Ritz-Carlton, Montage, and similar brands (like I am), you’ll be happiest referring to the list below. I feel very strongly about this.

Through me, you have access to VIP amenities at most of these properties. I’ll tell you which San Diego luxury hotels my benefits apply to. If not, you’ll find a link to check the best prices across multiple travel sites or to the hotel directly. When you book using my links, I may be compensated.

CHECK OFFERINGS DURING YOUR STAY

We are living in an ever-changing environment. For the most part, services listed below are as they are during normal times. When you know your dates, check with the hotel to see what’s on offer or you can ask me.

1. Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Location: Carmel Valley (East of Del Mar)

Why go: Fairmont Grand Del Mar is considered one of the best five-star hotels in San Diego and has graced many lists of best luxury hotels in the United States.

It’s one of a handful of Forbes fifteen-star properties in the world (for the hotel, spa, and Addison restaurant). Addison is San Diego’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.

You may not want to leave, why is why it’s also a perfect staycation or vacation choice for couples, families, or solo travelers who need pampering. The decor is Mediterranean-style and the suites, in particular, are beautiful, plentiful, and often surprisingly reasonable for those who need a bit more space. You feel like you’re on vacation in a huge Tuscan villa.

See also: Fairmont Grand Del Mar Review

Hotel amenities:

  • State-of-the-art supervised Explorers Club with daily scheduled programming or drop-in use for kids ages 5-12 that includes the latest video games, fully-stocked arts and crafts center, traditional games, foosball, ping pong, and more (check for opening hours)
  • Horseback riding lessons at the onsite Equestrian Center
  • Children’s pool with wading area
  • Family pool with underwater music and sand play area
  • Adults-only rooms (Signature Terrace) and pool
  • Seasonal activities such as s’mores and family movie nights
  • Private Tom Fazio-designed golf course with exclusive access for hotel guests and junior golf programs for kids ages 13–17 (junior golfers play at half-price)
  • One of San Diego’s best spas complete with gorgeous lounging areas, couples treatments, a salon, and a private pool
  • Addison, a culinary sensation that’s regarded as San Diego’s best restaurant
  • Two pro-style tennis courts complete with instructors and clinics for adults and kids
  • Designer boutiques
  • Guided canyon hikes
  • Business center
  • Bikes for riding along the nearby trails in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve
  • Top-notch service everywhere
  • Seasonal beach butlers to drive guests to the beach and set up chairs/umbrellas
  • Spacious rooms with marble bathrooms, some with verandas or patios.

Good to know: This family-friendly San Diego luxury hotel does not charge for self-parking as it is included in the resort fee of $49/day. A rental car is advisable because the resort is located a bit inland without much to do within walking distance. A central San Diego location with easy access to the I-5 freeway makes it easy to get to attractions like LEGOLAND® to the north and Balboa Park, Mission Bay, or San Diego Zoo to the south. The Signature Terrace guest rooms are adults-only and surround the adults-only pool.

Awards: TripAdvisor Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the United States (2019), AAA Four Diamonds, three Forbes five-stars each for Addison, the hotel, and spa.

Reservations: Fairmont Grand Del Mar is a Virtuoso® property which means that I can book you in with the following amenities (keep an eye out for their 3rd-night-free promotion which is valid on certain dates):

  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability (excluding suites)
  • Daily continental breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in Amaya or in-room dining (up to $70 per bedroom per day)
  • $100 USD Activity credit per stay, valid for golf play, golf instruction, the Spa services, and/or Explorer’s Club fees to be utilized during stay (cannot be combined, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full – not valid towards retail or Haim Salon Services)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

*If using a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the Virtuoso page, click “Full Site” to enable the desktop version, and you’ll be able to access rates and online booking. Do not input any children traveling with you as they may be priced as adults (common in travel agency software for some hotels). Place them in the booking notes and I’ll add them in when I double-check your reservation.


2. Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego

Location: Aviara (Carlsbad)

Why go: Stay here if you’d like a home away from home with the usual flawless Four Seasons service. Most of the villas at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara have kitchens or kitchenettes. The villas offer separate bedrooms and living areas that provide travelers with plenty of space (Superior King guest rooms do not) for (usually) a reasonable price for what you get.

This is one of the best hotels in San Diego, CA for extended stays and multigenerational travel, though a stay of any length will be an enjoyable one. The dining at Seasons Restaurant is lovely and changes seasonally — and sometimes daily as the Chef de Cuisine is inspired by the local farmers’ markets — so there’s always something new.

If you’re a fan of Four Seasons (I work with many people who only stay in FS properties), this might be the best luxury hotel in San Diego, California for you.

See also: Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara Review

Hotel amenities:

  • Kids Club 760 with fun activities such as arts and crafts, ping pong, video games, and dive-in movies (unstaffed)
  • Board games to check out and use in the villas
  • Two swimming pools and a special children’s pool
  • Childproofing, high chairs, and other accessories available upon request
  • A full-service resort spa and fitness center
  • Babysitting services
  • Special coastal tours (the kids can come, too) in a vintage Woody, by reservation
  • Seasons barista bar for gourmet coffee drinks and to-go items
  • A special dining experience like the chef’s table and kitchen counter where guests pull up a stool to interact with chefs and taste bites in the open kitchen
  • A Two-Bedroom Villa that sleeps up to 8 people.

Good to know: The Park Hyatt Aviara is next door, so guests can enjoy dining there, too. Aviara is an inland residential/golf community so it helps to have a rental car. This hotel is outstanding. Of all the top luxury hotels in San Diego, this is one that I haven’t had a single complaint about. Self-parking is included in the $25/night resort fee.

NOT A SPRAWLING RESORT

It isn’t going to feel like a Four Seasons Maui or even one of their urban hotels. It’s quiet, luxe, and you can even bring your pets. And, it can be great value.

Reservations: Cadence is a Four Seasons Preferred Partner agency which means that I can book you in with additional value-added amenities and services. This is how I book my own Four Seasons stays. (I lived in a Four Seasons hotel, stay in them regularly, and can tell you in detail about nearly every property in their portfolio.)

  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
  • USD 100 Resort credit
  • 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

3. The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Location: La Jolla (Torrey Pines/UCSD area)

Why go: You want an intimate, highly-rated, luxury boutique hotel right next to Torrey Pines Golf Course and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. You’ll need to appreciate its California craftsman style. The Lodge at Torrey Pines boasts ocean views and excellent customer service. I book a lot of repeat guests and was reminded by how beautiful it is during a recent personal stay.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is often mentioned in national publications as not only one of the top luxury hotels in San Diego, but also one of the top hotels in all of California.

The spa is excellent, as is its farm-to-table restaurant, A.R. Valentien. They even have complimentary luxury car service to take guests within a five-mile radius, which includes beaches and the Village of La Jolla. I truly believe that The Lodge at Torrey Pines deserves its AAA Five Diamond rating.

See also: The Lodge at Torrey Pines Review

Hotel amenities:

  • Outstanding dining via room service and at the restaurants
  • Full-service spa
  • Torrey Pines Golf Course (the Golf Services team can help secure tee times)
  • Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits
  • Heated pool and hot tub
  • Weekend yoga classes and croquet
  • Spacious guest rooms that range in size from 500 square feet to more than 1500 square feet
  • Luxury suites up to 2500 square feet
  • Egyptian cotton linen and quilted duvets
  • Suites with fireplaces and balconies available
  • Keurig coffee brewers with complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary shoeshine service
  • Children’s menus at all restaurants
  • The farm-to-table A.R. Valentien restaurant — one of San Diego’s best

Good to know: This La Jolla hotel overlooks the renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course. Golfers should stay here because Golf Services can make tee time reservations at other private golf courses around the county. The spa is not huge, but it’s a very, very good one (I go for massages there sometimes). Palisade Rooms are my favorite because they have ocean horizon views.

Awards: AAA Five Diamonds, Forbes 4-Star recipient, Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Award

Reservations: The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a Virtuoso property, which means my readers can book in with benefits. This includes a usually discounted rate (you’ll have to be logged into Virtuoso to see the discount if it applies during your dates) and additional amenities that include:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Full breakfast daily in the restaurant for up to 2 in-room guests per bedroom (up to 60.00 credit per day)
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full, excluding gratuity and tax) <–right now, this is a resort credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi internet access

*If using a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the Virtuoso page, click “Full Site” to enable the desktop version, and you’ll be able to access rates and online booking.


4. Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa

Location: Rancho Santa Fe

Why go: You’d like to stay put and enjoy a quiet getaway in luxurious and large villas with access to tennis courts, a state-of-the-art spa, fitness programming, and peaceful surroundings in the luxury of a Relais & Chateaux property.

It’s also a great spot to recharge your batteries given its wellness offerings. And guests can look forward to golfing at some of the region’s best golf courses, including some that are otherwise private.

In other words, there’s a good reason Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa has been ranked the #1 California Resort by U.S. News & World Report Travel and earned a Five Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide. When you stay here, you won’t lack for anything. A lot of people book in and just stay put.

See also: Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa Review

Hotel amenities:

  • Complimentary games, bocce ball, ping pong, bikes, and more for family-friendly fun
  • Yoga pavilion, Pilates studio, and fitness center onsite with classes
  • An excellent tennis program with lessons and clinics
  • Access to private and public golf courses including The Farms, Torrey Pines Golf Course, Del Mar Country Club, and more.
  • Four heated swimming pools including an adults-only pool, two saline pools, and a family pool
  • Loaner Bentleys for resort guests
  • All-suite hotel

Good to know: If you are planning on spending a lot of time off-property, Rancho Santa Fe might be a bit too inland for you. A car is definitely necessary. Agave and Olive Suites have sunken living rooms in the same open space as the bedroom. Palm Suites and above have fully-separate living rooms and bedrooms.

Awards: TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award, AAA Five Diamond Hotel, #1 Tennis Resort by Tennis Magazine

Reservations: Rancho Valencia is a Virtuoso property which means I can book you in with:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in-room guests (maximum $40 credit per person)
  • $100 USD Resort or Hotel credit, (Not valid in Sheridan, the resort’s boutique. Not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi internet access

*If using a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the Virtuoso page, click “Full Site” to enable the desktop version, and you’ll be able to access rates and online booking.


5. Pendry San Diego

Location: Downtown (Gaslamp Quarter)

Why go: Pendry San Diego opened in 2017 and quickly became one of the top luxury hotels in San Diego. The boutique hotel’s specialty is blending modern with traditional throughout the entire hotel including in rooms, the beer hall, social club nightlife experience, rooftop lounge, elegant hotel bar, and signature farm-to-table restaurant.

It’s not a small hotel either, with 317 guest rooms including 36 suites. With its attention to detail, luxury linens, stylish decor, city views, and excellent service, Pendry San Diego is a top choice for those who want to stay in the downtown San Diego Gaslamp Quarter area. There’s even a pool concierge (you’ll get his email when you book through me).

See also: Pendry San Diego Review

Hotel amenities:

  • Rooms with luxury linens, custom amenity program from renowned parfumerie MiN New York, Waterworks bath accessories, 50″ televisions, fully-stocked mini bar
  • An awesome pool suite that opens up to the outdoor pool
  • 6 Restaurants and bars
  • Rooftop pool
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • Spa Pendry
  • Pet-friendly

Good to know: Pendry San Diego is one of the many top luxury hotels in San Diego that welcomes families (kids receive a special welcome amenity) and they also offer connecting hotel rooms. Hotel guests receive expedited entry into the social club. It’s also easy to walk to Petco Park if you’re a baseball fan or to the San Diego Bay for tours and museums located on the Embarcadero. I love working with my contacts here because they spoil my guests.

ROOM BOOKING TIP

The rooms are the same size but what differentiates them is the view. I would book Deluxe rooms and above to get further up from Gaslamp Quarter street noise.

Reservations: Pendry San Diego is a Virtuoso property which means that we can add on the following amenities to your room or suite:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Breakfast credit at Provisional Restaurant or In-Room Dining for two per bedroom daily ($30 maximum per person, per day)
  • $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi internet access

*If using a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the Virtuoso page, click “Full Site” to enable the desktop version, and you’ll be able to access rates and online booking.


6. Beach Village at The Del

Location: Coronado (Beach Village is a private enclave in the Hotel Del Coronado)

Why go: This San Diego luxury hotel offers our very best beachfront experience. Beach Village is a private enclave at Hotel del Coronado with designer cottages, an elevated level of service, and many VIP amenities.

Only guests of Beach Village have access to its swimming pools, common areas, and breakfast at the Windsor Cottage (temporarily unavailable). It is much quieter than staying in the main resort It’s popular for groups and multigenerational travel because many accommodations have full kitchens.

If your idea of true luxury is privacy, then you’ll definitely find that this one of the best luxury hotels in San Diego.

See also: Why Beach Village at The Del Is San Diego’s Best Beach Vacation

Hotel amenities:

  • Access to the members-only Windsor Beach club with food and drink service, posh sofas and sand chairs styled by Room & Board (open during summer only)
  • Beach Village guests have access to Hotel del Coronado resort amenities (not vice versa)
  • Complimentary use of beach chairs and umbrellas at Del Beach (half-moon cabanettes and day beds are available for rental) where it’s also possible to enjoy drink and food service to the sand.
  • Early morning yoga on the beach and outdoor beachside spinning classes.
  • A beachside boardwalk in front of the hotel perfect for riding bikes and surreys (rentals are available)
  • Private beach bonfires with s’more roasting
  • Boogie board, surfboard, and skim, board rentals
  • Personal Concierge service
  • VIP Entrance
  • Private dinners in your cottage prepared by resort chefs
  • Priority reservations across the resort
  • Pools with cabanas and lounge chairs for Beach Village guests only
  • Cottages with hot tubs
  • Designer cottages with designer appliances

Good to know: The cottages closest to the beach border the boardwalk, so avoid these if you want privacy because you will see people on bikes, walking, etc.

Reservations: Beach Village at The Del is a part of Hotel del Coronado and therefore a Virtuoso property with these amenities (online booking is unavailable so you’ll need to request a Virtuoso rate from me):

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (room upgrades are not possible in Beach Village)
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

You can also take a look at the discounted Hilton Honors rate.

Why go: This San Diego luxury hotel offers our very best beachfront experience. Beach Village is a private enclave at Hotel del Coronado with designer cottages, an elevated level of customer service, and many VIP touches.

Only guests of Beach Village have access to its swimming pools, common areas, and breakfast at the Windsor Cottage (temporarily unavailable). It is much quieter than staying in the main resort It’s popular for groups and multigenerational travel because many accommodations have full kitchens.

If your idea of true luxury is privacy, then you’ll definitely find that this one of the best luxury hotels in San Diego.

See also: Why Beach Village at The Del Is San Diego’s Best Beach Vacation

Hotel amenities:

  • Access to the members-only Windsor Beach club with food and drink service, posh sofas and sand chairs styled by Room & Board (open during summer only)
  • Beach Village guests have access to Hotel del Coronado resort amenities (not vice versa)
  • Complimentary use of beach chairs and umbrellas at Del Beach (half-moon cabanettes and day beds are available for rental) where it’s also possible to enjoy drink and food service to the sand.
  • Early morning yoga on the beach and outdoor beachside spinning classes.
  • A beachside boardwalk in front of the hotel perfect for riding bikes and surreys (rentals are available)
  • Private beach bonfires with s’more roasting
  • Boogie board, surfboard, and skim, board rentals
  • Personal Concierge service
  • VIP Entrance
  • Private dinners in your cottage prepared by resort chefs
  • Priority reservations across the resort
  • Pools with cabanas and lounge chairs for Beach Village guests only
  • Cottages with hot tubs
  • Designer cottages with designer appliances

Good to know: The cottages closest to the sand border the boardwalk, so avoid these if you want privacy because you will see people on bikes, walking, etc.

Reservations: Beach Village at The Del is a part of Hotel del Coronado and therefore a Virtuoso property with these value-adds (online booking is unavailable so you’ll need to request a Virtuoso rate from me):

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (room upgrades are not possible in Beach Village)
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi internet access

You can also take a look at the discounted Hilton Honors rate.


7. Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Location: Coronado

Why go: You’d like a waterfront hotel with a big list of offerings. The red roof of this historic San Diego hotel has become one of the city’s icons. The roster of Hollywood celebrities, U.S. Presidents, and other dignitaries who have stayed at the Hotel del Coronado since its opening in 1888 is nothing short of impressive.

It’s San Diego’s best beachfront resort that is full-service, but I would call it four-plus stars. I mention it here because it’s tied to Beach Village and because the enhancements in progress will raise it to five stars in my book. And, it’s the San Diego hotel that people book most through me because it does offer a well-rounded slate of activities.

Plus, Coronado Central Beach in front of the hotel has beautiful and expansive white sand. It’s one of the best places to go to the beach in all of San Diego. You can also walk to the shops and restaurants on Orange Avenue from the resort, though it has enough things to do onsite that you may not want to leave.

See also: Detailed Hotel del Coronado Review

Hotel amenities:

  • Full-service beach area (with seasonal chairside food and drink ordering) called Del Beach with luxury lounge chairs, umbrellas, half-moon cabanettes, and day beds for full-day rental
  • Stand-up paddleboard and surf lessons (arranged through the concierge)
  • Morning beach yoga and outdoor beachside spinning classes.
  • A beachside boardwalk in front of the hotel that is perfect for riding bikes and surreys (rentals are available near the hotel)
  • Private daily roasts can be arranged for beach s’mores
  • Boogie board, surfboard, and skimboard rentals
  • Kidtopia kids club for kids ages 4-12 featuring 2-hour activities and 3-5 hour adventures including games, stage performances, arts and crafts, and more (temporarily paused)
  • Delicious ice cream parlor on-site
  • Water toys and fun in the main pool
  • 17 shops to browse (Babcock & Story is my personal favorite)
  • Several waterfront dining and cocktail areas that are amazing venues during sunset
  • San Diego’s best Sunday brunch (temporarily paused)
  • Full-service resort Spa at The Del with packages for ages 13 and up (temporarily closed)
  • Cabana rooms are newly renovated (king bed guest rooms have a double sofa bed so can sleep two adults and two kids) and some have patio fire pits.

Good to know: Restaurants and shops on Orange Avenue are within a short walk. There is a ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island (the ferry is about a 30-minute walk from the hotel or short Uber ride). The resort can feel very busy during peak times as residents and tourists visit the shops and restaurants during the day. It is not a good choice for people looking for a quiet getaway, but it is one of San Diego’s icons and the hotel that is most requested by readers of this site.

I recommend making dining reservations (including breakfast) and spa reservations in advance if traveling during a holiday week. Speaking of holidays, there is also quite a bit to do during the holidays at Hotel del Coronado from a seaside ice skating rink to other special programming.

I have also written a very detailed guide to Hotel del Coronado that addresses how to select a room and much more. A $400 million renovation is underway and construction is visible around the resort. Travelers need to know the following before making a reservation:

  • Book ocean view rooms if possible (avoid resort view for now as they may overlook construction).
  • Avoid Property Enhancement View rooms in the Cabana Building. These overlook construction happening in the Ocean Tower.
  • Read the latest updates regarding the renovation and what to expect here before booking in.
  • Guests continue to book in and have a great time!

Awards: AAA Four Diamonds, Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award, and many more

Reservations: Hotel del Coronado is a Virtuoso property which means that I can book you in with the following value-added amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (room upgrades are not possible in Beach Village)
  • Daily breakfast, for up to two in room guests (currently two, $30 vouchers for Sheerwater)
  • $100 USD Equivalent Spa Services credit (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi internet access

The benefits above usually outweigh any AAA, military, or other discounts, however, you can also check rates on Hilton as the hotel is a Curio Collection by Hilton property.

*If using a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the Virtuoso page, click “Full Site” to enable the desktop version, and you’ll be able to access rates and online booking. Do not input any children traveling with you as they may be priced as adults (common in travel agency software for some hotels). Place them in the booking notes and I’ll add them in when I double-check your reservation.


8. Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club and Spa

Location: Aviara (Carlsbad)

Why go: You want to base your stay in a North County San Diego luxury hotel with excellent golf and an award-winning spa. Or you like to earn or redeem Hyatt points. Park Hyatt Aviara is a popular choice for families because they usually have reasonably-priced suites and connecting hotel rooms in addition to a game room, family pool, and more. And, they’ve just reopened after a massive renovation that updated the lobby, rooms, and marble bathrooms to more of an upscale standard.

If you’re traveling during the Christmas season, this is one of the best luxury hotels in San Diego for holiday decor. Their holiday displays are usually epic, and the Festival of Wreaths — a silent auction of professionally decorated wreaths and trees benefiting Semper Fi Fund — is a sight to see. 

Hotel amenities:

  • Aviara Kids Academy by Camp Hyatt for ages 4 – 12 during the summer
  • Bird watching over the wetlands
  • Seasonal junior tennis clinics
  • Outdoor family swimming pool with underwater lights, an adults-only pool, and a shallow wading pool and water play area
  • Surf concierge including transportation to Ponto Beach and 2 hours of boogie board or surf lessons for ages 6 and above
  • Kids DVD library
  • Arnold Palmer designed golf course
  • Six state-of-the-art lighted tennis courts
  • An awesome 15,000-square-foot spa with solarium lounge area, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, couples treatment areas, and locker and dressing areas
  • TaylorMade Performance Lab for a 2-hour custom club fitting experience
  • Exquisite, varied dining between Argyle steakhouse, Vivace (Italian), and California Bistro
  • Frette robes and pillow-top beds
  • Two bed guest rooms have two king beds in them

Good to know: As mentioned above, this incredibly beautiful part of Carlsbad is inland of the I-5 freeway so you’ll need to drive to the beach. You might read that people feel that it was not up to par with other Park Hyatt locations, but it was typically priced lower than other Park Hyatts. We’ll see how things shake out when they reopen. Read about our recent stay at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort.

Awards: AAA Five Diamonds

Reservations: Book the Virtuoso rate which includes some extras at no extra cost to you 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

Tip: They’re offering a 3rd night free on many dates. And, since I have access to the Hyatt Prive VIP program, I can upgrade you at the time of booking (usually within 24 hours).

*If on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and online booking. Do not input your children as it will price them as adults. At booking, please mention how many kids you’re traveling with (and ages) in the special requests section. I’ll take care of adding them when I double-check your reservation.


9. THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego

Location: Downtown (Gaslamp Quarter)

Why go: Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. spent $1.9 million (a lot in 1910) to build this hotel in honor of his father, President Ulysses S. Grant. Fourteen U.S. Presidents and countless celebrities have stayed here. It was also a speakeasy and a place where women’s rights were won.

Now, after a careful restoration that combined old with new, THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego, is better than ever. It is one of the top San Diego luxury hotels for history buffs searching for a unique stay in my city.

It’s also the best choice for those who would like to earn or redeem Marriott Bonvoy points. The recently-refreshed rooms have a contemporary look to them with stunning original modern artwork over the beds. And the hotel’s Grant Grill has some of the best cocktails around.

See also: THE US GRANT San Diego Review

Hotel amenities:

  • Contemporary guest rooms and suites with original modern artwork
  • Elemis bath products
  • 300 Thread-count sheets
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • 24-hour in-room dining
  • Complimentary morning coffee and tea service in the lobby
  • Complimentary afternoon beverage service in the lobby
  • Nightly turn-down service with chocolates
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • PressReader subscription with 5000+ magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Limited spa treatments (no full-service spa)

Good to know: There is no swimming pool in the hotel. The hotel is in a superb downtown location that is within a short walk of some of San Diego’s best restaurants, entertainment venues, and shopping in the Gaslamp Quarter. You’ll be able to reach Balboa Park within less than 10 minutes. The hotel prices well for location and quality. Bathtubs are hard to come by in downtown San Diego but you can book Grande Deluxe Tub rooms here.

Awards: Forbes 4-Star Award, US News and World Report Best Hotels in California, US News and World Report Best Hotels in San Diego

Reservations: There are two ways I can book readers into THE US GRANT: Virtuoso and Marriott STARS. Both programs typically include:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Full breakfast daily for up to two in-room guests in The Grant Grill or via room service (maximum value of $60 per day)
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full, available in the Grant Grill or via room service only)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

You can book in as a Virtuoso guest and I will adjust the reservation to Marriott STARS if I see it’s more advantageous.

*If using a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the Virtuoso page, click “Full Site” to enable the desktop version, and you’ll be able to access rates and online booking. Do not input any children traveling with you as they may be priced as adults (common in travel agency software for some hotels). Place them in the booking notes and I’ll add them in when I double-check your reservation.


10. La Valencia Hotel

Location: La Jolla (Village)

Why go: La Valencia is a boutique hotel above La Jolla Cove and in the heart of La Jolla’s main Village business and shopping distance. Built in 1926, “The Pink Lady” is a great spot for people who want to go carless in La Jolla and have everything they need within walking distance.

Ocean views abound from rooms and public spaces. La Valencia is considered the best luxury hotel in La Jolla’s downtown Village and it is a good spot for well-heeled travelers. Rooms have been renovated. There are also villas (recommend) that offer a little bit more privacy and ICON Suites.

See also: Detailed Guide to La Valencia Hotel La Jolla

Hotel amenities:

  • 24-Hour in-room dining
  • Luxurious European bath amenities
  • Cafe La Rue — modern European cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, and premium libations
  • 4 Room types: Vintage, Classic, Villas & Icon
  • “La Sala” Lounge with live music, libations, and tapas
  • Oceanview heated saltwater pool and spa
  • Complimentary shoeshine
  • Complimentary high speed and wireless internet
  • 300 count imported bed linens
  • Keurig coffee makers
  • Les Clefs d’Or Concierge service

Good to know: This La Jolla luxury hotel is pet-friendly. Weekend brunch at The MED restaurant is one of the most popular brunch spots in San Diego, CA and I love lunch there, too. They have a lot of different room and villa types starting with the Vintage King (small at 250 square feet). I think the Villa King Ocean or Villa King Ocean Suite accommodations are the nicest, as they are in a quieter part of the hotel and closer to La Jolla Cove.

Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, AAA Four Diamonds

Reservations: I would advise that you shop around a little for the best price or book direct. Unlike the other hotels on this list, the best way to book depends on what promotions they’re offering. They sometimes offer promotions for certain credit card holders and rates that include breakfast.


11. L’Auberge Del Mar

Location: Del Mar

Why go: L’Auberge Del Mar is a luxury boutique hotel that is reminiscent of a private, coastal estate. It’s the best option for people who want to stay in the heart of Del Mar so that they can walk to great restaurants and shops.

It is across the street from the beach but has its own walkway to the sand. The spa is excellent, as is the dining. I would consider it also four-plus stars hotel class but it appeals to horse racing enthusiasts (the track is a short drive away) and people who love the upscale community of Del Mar.

Hotel amenities:

  • 121 Guest rooms including seven suites ranging from 500 – 1222 square feet
  • All rooms have coastal, garden, or village views with balconies or patios, in-room coffee service, complimentary newspapers, Wi-Fi, 42″ flat-screen TVs, sitting area/desk, iHome stereo systems
  • Recently-refreshed interiors are decorated with a beach casual, upscale chic look by the exclusive Barclay Butera
  • Some guests rooms have fireplaces
  • Fitness center
  • Full-service, beach house-style spa
  • Dogs are welcome
  • Several excellent dining options, including Kitchen 1540
  • Beach cruisers available onsite
  • Two lighted championship tennis courts
  • A recently debuted seasonal beach butler sets up chairs, umbrellas, towels for guests
  • Beach picnics available for ordering

Awards: AAA Four Diamond Award, #1 Hotel in Southern California (Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards)

Reservations: The Noble House VIP Select Rate includes a $30 Breakfast credit per person (up to 2 people) and a $100 one-time Spa credit applied to the resort’s best flexible rate (which you can check online first). To book, I’ll need to know your dates and preferences via the form below.


12. Rancho Bernardo Inn

Location: Rancho Bernardo

Why go: When it’s easiest to stay in East County San Diego, Rancho Bernardo Inn is your place. It’s a nice boutique hotel with truly fabulous spa facilities. It is convenient to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, nearby wineries such as Bernardo Winery, and golf.

It’s quiet over here and kids like this hotel. I like it as a San Diego staycation resort for residents, too. One thing I love about dining at this luxury San Diego hotel is that there is a chef’s garden — many greens and herbs used in the hotel’s restaurants are gathered by staff the same day they’re served.

Hotel amenities:

  • Recently-renovated 18-hole San Diego Championship Golf Course
  • An incredible resort spa with products featuring organic and natural ingredients (like food)
  • Saltwater pool at the spa, an adults-only pool, and a family pool
  • In-room camping package that kids love
  • Fitness center
  • Four dining options
  • A smartphone app for reservations, housekeeping, etc.
  • Rooms have private balconies or patios

Good to know: Rancho Bernardo Inn is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts.

Awards: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Reservations: I can book you in as a Preferred Platinum Guest. Benefits include:

  • Daily complimentary breakfast for two
  • $100 Hotel Credit for use during stay
  • Room upgrade based upon availability at check-in
  • Hotel welcome amenity

Honorable Mention: The Westgate Hotel

Location: Downtown (Gaslamp Quarter)

Why go: With its classic Victorian vibe, The Westgate Hotel capitalizes on the era of grand décor while providing modern amenities. You’ll enjoy big rooms, a lovely rooftop pool, and a fantastic location on the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter. Guests can also take advantage of the adjacent AquaVie Spa + Wellness Center during their stay.

There is also an extravagant Sunday champagne brunch at Le Fontainebleau (one of the city’s best). And, The Westgate Hotel is within walking distance of many popular Gaslamp Quarter restaurants and shopping.

Hotel amenities:

  • Access to the state-of-the-art AquaVie Fitness + Wellness Club
  • Rooftop pool with views of downtown
  • One of the best Sunday brunches in San Diego at Le Fontainebleau
  • Luxury linens and 49″ LED TVs
  • Handcrafted European furniture

Good to know: It’s not a huge hotel and can’t really be compared to five-star hotels in Paris. It is lovely for those who want to enjoy European hospitality and decor. It’s in the four-star hotel class and offers very good value for the price. I have luxury traveler readers who love it and some who think it’s just okay.

Awards: AAA Four Diamond Award, Open Table’s Diners’ Choice Winner for The Westgate Room and Brunch

Reservations: You can check with the hotel directly or search prices below.


FAQs About the Best Hotels in San Diego

Here is your TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) or a summary of everything mentioned above including what I think are the best hotels in San Diego, CA by travel style.

Which Luxury San Diego Hotels Would I Choose?

The answer is that it depends. There are usually a few things that come into play when booking rooms at the best luxury hotels in the San Diego area (or any hotel anywhere) that I ask people to think about first.

  • Where in San Diego will you be spending most of your time?
  • Do you like restaurants, shops, and things to do within walking distance?
  • Will you spend most of your time at the resort?
  • What do you plan to do in San Diego?
  • What kind of beach access do you need?
  • Are you loyal to a particular brand?
  • How much do you want to spend?

However, some of my preferences are listed as answers to the questions below.

When Is the Best Time to Book Five-Star Hotels in San Diego?

As for when to book, the right answer is sooner rather than later — especially if you are planning to visit during summer, spring break, or winter break. This goes for any nice hotel in Southern California beach cities.

The months with the lowest hotel occupancy rates tend to be September, November (aside from Thanksgiving week), the first two weeks of December, and January after winter break until spring break season starts in March. Occupancy rates are high year-round compared to other cities.

The sooner you book your rooms, the better your chances of getting great views at great rates. You can read more about the best time to visit San Diego. And, if you book a flexible rate through me we can have it adjusted down if prices drop in the meantime.

What Is the Best San Diego Luxury Hotel on the Beach?

Beach Village at The Del is the best San Diego luxury hotel on the beach. It’s the beachfront private enclave of designer cottages and villas that is part of Hotel del Coronado. Beach Village guests have access to everything on the main resort but only Beach Village guests can use Beach Village pools and amenities. You will also enjoy an elevated level of guest service.

What Is the Best Luxury San Diego Resort for Families

Fairmont Grand Del Mar offers a blend of location and activities for families looking for five-star resorts in San Diego. They also offer one of our only supervised kids’ clubs, an equestrian center onsite, beach butler service to Del Mar beach, and more for families to enjoy. The location puts you roughly in between downtown San Diego attractions and LEGOLAND California. You can read more in my list of best family-friendly hotels in San Diego.

What Is the Best Hotel in San Diego?

The top luxury hotel experience in San Diego for those looking for the best food, accommodations, and high-end touches is Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa. Guests can even use the resort’s fleet of Bentleys. This list of awards the resort has won is too long to list but it’s our only Relias & Chateau property if you’re a foodie.

What Is the Best Luxury Hotel in Downtown San Diego?

I love Pendry San Diego for those seeking a luxe urban experience. The service is excellent on my site and the guest side. Guest rooms and suites are new and the rooftop pool area is one of the best in town. Not to mention, the restaurants are among the most popular in the Gaslamp Quarter and hotel guests can skip the line into Oxford Social Club.

Which Luxury Hotel in La Jolla Should I Choose?

I mention two luxury hotels in La Jolla on this list, so here’s how to pick which one is best for your vacation.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is for those who want the best service, a full-service spa, a quiet hotel, and to play golf at Torrey Pines. You don’t mind not having many shops and restaurants within walking distance because you can drive or use the hotel car service. It’s a nicer property.

Choose La Valencia if you want to be located in the Village of La Jolla within walking distance to more shops and restaurants. You don’t mind a busier hotel and less personalized service (though it is still good). The swimming pool is saline and there is not a full-service spa.

How Do I Use Your Benefits?

When it comes time to book a San Diego luxury hotel, I have access to exclusive VIP amenities where you can enjoy extras like complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, spa credits, and more. I don’t charge a fee for you to access these.

You can book most hotels in San Diego that offer these amenities online (Beach Village, L’Auberge Del Mar, Rancho Bernardo Inn, and Four Seasons rate requests require filling out this form).

Do you have favorite San Diego luxury hotels?

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