Originally settled in 1769 with a single fort and a mission — the first in California — Old Town San Diego is considered our state’s birthplace. It’s visited by tens of millions of people annually for its fantastic Mexican food, heritage sites, museums, and shops. Staying in one of the Old Town San Diego hotels puts you close to the action here but also to major transportation arteries, including two freeways and the Old Town Transit Center where one can catch the bus, MTS trolley, or train. And, rates tend to lean more moderate than in other parts of town.
I’ve listed favorite hotels in Old Town San Diego and where I think you might find the best hotel deals. In most cases, that’s either going directly through a brand’s loyalty program or hotels.com. Offerings may temporarily be modified from what is described below in 2020 and 2021.
1. Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Old Town/SeaWorld Area
Address: 4200 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110
Tip: Hilton Honors rates are usually best.
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Location really is everything at the Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Old Town. Just off the I-5 and a 10-minute walk to Old Town and Presidio Park, all of San Diego’s most popular attractions are easily accessible from here. The pet-friendly Hilton Garden Inn is one of the newest Old Town hotels and offers complimentary Wi-Fi, a fitness center, an outdoor pool, and a 24-hour business center. The onsite Verde Kitchen & Bar serves Mexican-inspired cuisine for breakfast and dinner, and the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry is where you’ll find grab-and-go snacks and staples.
Many of the oversized guest rooms have city views, and they all come with Serta Suite Dreams beds and bedding, 47″ flat-screen TVs, work stations with ergonomic desk chairs, and Neutrogena bath products. Adjacent room blocks and meeting/event spaces are also available, making this a great choice for business travelers and special events. You can use mobile check-in via the Digital Key feature on the Hilton app. It’s also on our list of best hotels near SeaWorld San Diego.
2. Old Town Inn
Address: 4444 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92110
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The family-owned Old Town Inn is a low-key, Spanish-style hotel with lush tropical landscaping and a prime location. Guests enjoy a long list of complimentary amenities, including continental breakfast, free parking, and Wi-Fi, and there is no resort fee — a pleasant bonus in southern California. Guests also enjoy a heated outdoor pool and shared BBQ grill.
There are multiple types of guest rooms, including well-kept original rooms, renovated Deluxe rooms, two-bedroom extended stay spacious suites with kitchenettes, and the Jacuzzi Suite. All rooms have DVD players and guests are provided a library of movies.
It’s located in a self-described industrial pocket, but it’s still one of the most convenient spots among Old Town San Diego hotels. SeaWorld San Diego is five minutes away, popular San Diego beaches are 10 minutes away, and the Old Town Transit Center is just across the street. The latter provides trolley service to downtown, Mission Valley, and the border in addition to Amtrak service to Disneyland, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and beyond. I chose it also as a top pick for budget-friendly or cheap hotels in San Diego.
3. Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town
Most commonly known as simply the Hacienda Hotel, this charming Spanish mission-style property offers an ideal location and expansive views of Old Town and Mission Bay. Rustic Santa Fe-inspired furnishings and décor combine with top-notch amenities to create a uniquely warm, welcoming ambiance.
As far as hotels near Old Town San Diego, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that provides so much value to guests. In addition to the fitness room, helpful front desk, heated pool and spa, and complimentary airport and cruise terminal shuttle, guests enjoy a complimentary welcome cocktail in the adjacent Old Town Tequila Factory and the Manager’s wine and cheese reception on Wednesdays. The hotel is situated near both I-5 and I-8 and is also three blocks from the Old Town Transit Center trolley and Amtrak station.
4. Cosmopolitan Hotel
Originally built as the family home for early San Diego settler Juan Bandini in 1829, “The Cosmo” is the only hotel located within Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The historic building has been used as an apartment building, olive mill, and restaurant. Today, the 10-room boutique hotel has been fully restored and overlooks picturesque Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Some of the original floorboards, windows, and wainscoting remains, but guests enjoy modern comforts such as Wi-Fi also.
This Old Town hotel features the indoor/outdoor Cosmopolitan Hotel Restaurant (yes, the same name). Guests are treated to a complimentary daily breakfast of housemade pastries and coffee in the saloon. The Victorian-style guest rooms are decorated with antique American-made furniture and several feature in-room fireplaces, balconies, or claw-foot tubs. While Wi-Fi is provided, there are no TVs or phones in the rooms to keep the feel more authentic. Reserved parking is complimentary. It is one of the haunted hotels in San Diego.
5. Courtyard San Diego Old Town
Address: 2435 Jefferson St, San Diego, CA 92110
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Mere steps from everything Old Town has to offer, this Courtyard by Marriott has it all — a phenomenal location, modern and spacious guest rooms, onsite dining, and a whole host of amenities. Several restaurants are within walking distance, and the location just off the I-5 makes it simple to visit the San Diego attractions on your must-see list. For guests who prefer to stick close to the hotel, the hotel’s onsite restaurant, The Bistro, serves Starbucks coffee and breakfast and dinner and evening cocktails.
Amenities at Courtyard San Diego Old Town include complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour outdoor pool and fitness center, oversized 60″ televisions, in-room coffee, and mini-fridges, ergonomic workstations, and luxury bedding. In addition to the standard guest rooms, there are one-bedroom spacious suites available that are ideal for families — all are praised for cleanliness thanks to being newly-renovated in 2020.
6. Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport—Old Town
At Holiday Inn Express Sam Diego Airport-Old Town you’re less than a mile from San Diego International Airport and near Old Town San Diego, CA. Spacious rooms include luxury linens, new furniture, a mini-refrigerator and microwave, and blackout shades.
Guests also receive free full breakfast and free Wi-Fi in addition to the use of the heated outdoor pool, fitness center, and self-service laundry.
7. Fairfield Inn & Suites San Diego Old Town
Well-suited to leisure and business travelers alike, the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Old Town is a charming hotel with Spanish-inspired decor situated close to the I-5 and I-8 connection. Guests are treated to a complimentary hot breakfast buffet each morning, as well as a business center, outdoor pool, hot tub, and fitness center.
The comfortable guest rooms include a mix of standard studios and suites with separate living and sleeping areas, and some have private balconies. All rooms include free Wi-Fi, work areas with ergonomic chairs, in-room coffee makers, mini-fridges, and microwaves, and large flat-screen TVs. On-site parking is available for a fee. The airport, SeaWorld San Diego, and the San Diego Zoo are all within a 10-minute drive.
8. Comfort Inn Old Town/Airport
The bright and colorful Comfort Inn Old Town is the epitome of SoCal-cool combined with modern amenities. The business center and outdoor pool and hot tub allow travelers to mix business with pleasure, and there is also an airport shuttle for added convenience.
Each morning guests can enjoy a complimentary Bright Side Breakfast before heading out for the day with a waffle bar, yogurt, fresh fruit, and more. Sunny guest rooms include pillow-top mattresses, complimentary Wi-Fi, large flat-screen TVs, and in-room coffee makers, mini-fridges, and microwaves. Suites have separate living areas with pullout sofa beds, and children under age 18 are always free with a parent.
9. Old Town Western Inn & Suites
If you’re looking for no-frills, budget hotels in San Diego near the Old Town area, one option is Western Inn. Rooms, including an option for larger families that has two queen beds and a sofa bed, come with a microwave, small refrigerator, flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi internet. Guests receive a free daily breakfast which can be enjoyed on a small outdoor patio or in the breakfast room.
Sure, it’s a little old-looking, and reviews are mixed but you are going to pay less than other hotels on this list.
(This is a better low-price alternative to E Z 8 Motel Old Town which you will see on many lists of Old Town hotels and motels — read the reviews and you’ll see why it’s not on this list.)
Tips for Staying in Old Town San Diego Hotels
In addition to lower prices than you might pay at other San Diego hotels, there are other trip conveniences offered by the location.
You’re near public transportation as mentioned already, but also have access to the hop-on, hop-off Old Town Trolley Tours stop in Old Town. This popular sightseeing tour can take you to Balboa Park where the San Diego Zoo is located and to places further afield like La Jolla, the Downtown city center, or even Coronado (the stop is in front of Hotel del Coronado). It’s an easy place to go carless in San Diego.
What are your favorite hotels in Old Town San Diego?
Top photo credit: Antony-22 [CC BY-SA] via Wikimedia Commons
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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