13 Best Budget-Friendly Hotels In San Diego (An Instagram Tour)

Hotels that are good value here don't mean sacrifice

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Searching for budget or cheap hotels in San Diego can be a daunting task. First, San Diego is such a popular business and vacation destination that hotel often prices reflect demand based on events or season.

This means that our lowest-priced hotels can crest well over $100 at times and that visitors can experience a bit of sticker shock even with national brands normally known for low prices. This also can mean that budget hotels in San Diego, don’t always mean sacrifice. Many have cool, contemporary interiors, great restaurants and convenient locations.

Prices for Cheap Hotels in San Diego Vary by Location

Speaking of location, when exploring budget hotels in San Diego, location plays a big roll in price. All Gaslamp hotels or beachfront hotel rates increase drastically during Comic-Con or peak summer season, for example, due to close proximity to the action. These fluctuations are not usually seen in some San Diego neighborhoods such as the inland Mira Mesa neighborhood. Additionally, close proximity to the beach leads to higher pricing year-round but especially during months when schools are on holiday or the sun is shining.

To help you scour through cheap San Diego hotels, without giving up on a quality night sleep, here are some suggestions for the best budget hotels in San Diego. And who better than to show you what they’re like than Instagrammers who have been guests.

Beneath each listing, you’ll have the opportunity to compare prices across the most popular online travel booking sites (Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and many more) but clicking the button and then entering your dates to see pricing (it’s so cool). However, when it comes to Hilton, and there are many on this list, you’re almost always better off booking direct using their Hilton HHonors discount. Enjoy this list of cheap hotels in San Diego.

Gaslamp San Diego Budget Hotels

Choose a Gaslamp San Diego hotel if you need to be near the city’s best nightlife, the San Diego Convention Center, PETCO Park or the cruise ship terminal.

Ramada Gaslamp/Convention Center

Location: Gaslamp Quarter

Back at it again….

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Also in the center of San Diego’s cherished downtown, the historic Ramada (also fondly known as the St. James Hotel) puts you within walking distance of all the key Gaslamp restaurants and attractions. Its building was built in 1913 and has been restored to preserve its Victorian era roots. As an older addition to the Gaslamp quarter, rooms will be slightly more dated than the newer modern selections. It is also right next door to Brian’s 24, one of San Diego’s most popular 24-hour restaurants. If you’re flying in, make sure to take advantage of their complimentary airport shuttle.

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Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside

Location: Downtown San Diego

Recently renovated and reopened last fall, this extended stay San Diego hotel is getting rave reviews. Each of the 160 large, contemporary suites has a fully equipped kitchen, work desk and separate living area. Don’t feel like cooking? Opt for room service, the onsite 24-hour Suite Shop with snacks or any one of San Diego’s best restaurants located within walking distance. This hotel will also fill your suite’s full-sized fridge with groceries, by request. Other perks include daily hot breakfast and a Monday–Thursday evening social hour. And, Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside is literally steps from the attractions on the Embarcadero and Little Italy.

Book on Hilton

Porto Vista Hotel & Suites

Location: Little Italy

Nestled in the Little Italy neighborhood, Porto Vista is a family-owned boutique hotel with amenities that one might expect in a first class hotel such as rooftop yoga, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, rooms with harbor views, two-level lofts (perfect for entertaining) and The Glass Door restaurant. Dogs up to 40 pounds are welcome. This cool hotel is within walking distance of the major downtown attractions as well as enjoying all the charms of Little Italy right outside your door. They also have a complimentary airport shuttle.

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Airport/Shelter Island Budget Hotels

These are great for when you need a San Diego airport hotel.

Best Western Plus Island and Marina

Location: Shelter Island

Poolside day 2! Sunny and 75 degree. Next stop Coronado and Imperial Beach?

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A waterfront Best Western? Yes, and it’s a great hotel near the airport and downtown San Diego attractions and restaurants. In addition to spectacular water and skyline views this San Diego budget hotel has a private mega yacht marina (excursions are available), two waterfront pools, tennis courts, free WiFi, complimentary bike rentals, laundry facilities, an onsite restaurant, cheap parking at $10/night and more.

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Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport-Liberty Station

Liberty #Staycation (or vacation) @marriottlibertystation or @homewoodsuitesls ?

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Location: Liberty Station

Yes, it’s another Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego option that is located along the water in San Diego’s cool lifestyle complex, Liberty Station. Here, guests enjoy multiple restaurants, Stone Brewing Company (famous local craft brewery), a luxe movie theater, the city’s only public market and more. The complimentary shuttle takes guests to the airport in just a few minutes. Suites have one or two bedrooms and separate living areas. Included in the rate is a complimentary hot breakfast and an evening social hour (Monday–Thursday).

Book on Hilton

Beach & Neighboring Areas Budget Hotels

As mentioned earlier, cheap hotels in San Diego near the beach typically have higher rates than inland properties but these options are good value.

La Jolla Cove Suites

Location: The Village of La Jolla

This is seriously the view from La Jolla Cove Suites, located steps from La Jolla Cove beach where our famous sea lions congregate. The fabulous location also allows guests to walk to the best restaurants and shopping in La Jolla. Rooms here have been recently refreshed and offer larger configurations such as two-bedroom suites with full kitchens for those on an extended stay. It’s a good option for groups looking for a more wallet-friendly La Jolla hotel. They also have a great rooftop with panoramic ocean views that occasionally hosts events.

See also: Guide to the best La Jolla Beaches.

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Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Hotel

Location: Carlsbad Village

This Carlsbad hotel is in an ideal location within walking distance of three popular Carlsbad beaches. Amenities include complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel, 24-hour fitness center, a 24-hour onsite convenience store with snacks, a lounge and restaurant, bicycle rentals and an outdoor pool. Many rooms boast breathtaking ocean views in addition to a microwave, refrigerator, and a coffeemaker.

Book on Hilton

See also: 20 Things to Do in Carlsbad with Kids

North Park/Old Town/Mission Valley Budget Hotels

These locations are excellent for those who want to be near downtown’s action without actually being in downtown. Hotels over here tend to skew a bit lower in price.

Kings Inn

Location: Mission Valley

San Diego

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Creating a charming and inviting ambiance, Kings Inn in Mission Valley prides itself on friendly service. You’ll enjoy clean and spacious rooms, free parking and WiFi, a kidney-shaped pool (the largest in Mission Valley) and laundry services. Rest assured that you won’t go hungry as there are two fun restaurants on site. The Waffle Spot is famous for (you guessed it) waffles in addition to comfort food favorites like country fried steak and eggs or huevos rancheros. The Amigo Spot, a family-style Mexican restaurant, with a menu of carne asada fries, fajitas, California burritos and more. Located right off Interstate 8, guests will find an easy drive from Mission Valley to major attractions in San Diego. To give you an idea, Fashion Valley Mall a neighbor and this San Diego budget hotel is also within 15 minutes or less of Old Town San Diego (1 mile away), Balboa Park and downtown San Diego.

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Hotel Iris

Location: Mission Valley

This modern, eco-friendly hotel provides guests with spacious rooms, easy freeway access, and excellent service. Amenities (with a small $5 resort fee) include an outdoor pool, Wi-Fi, free parking, daily housekeeping, and laundry/dry cleaning facilities. Rooms have luxury linens, blackout shades in addition to a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee/tea maker. Pets are welcome.

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Old Town Inn

Location: Old Town

The Old Town Inn is actually a AAA Two-Diamond property with consistently good reviews, despite an unusual location near the freeway. It’s a 10-minute walk to the sights in Old Town San Diego, a popular spot for margaritas and experiencing the birthplace of California. This also means it’s just a 10-minute drive from the airport. Rates include a complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, free internet, free parking, DVD players in all rooms and free movies. They offer extended stays and even a jacuzzi suite (pictured above). Amenities include an outdoor pool with a BBQ.

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Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows


A post shared by Abe Garcia (@thehonestape) on

Location: North Park

Channel your inner hipster for a stay at this lively, fun boutique hotel in North Park right in the middle of excellent dining and nightlife that caters more to locals than tourists. It has an Old Hollywood vibe as it was a place that celebrities used to hang out back in the day. The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows considers itself community minded and attracts families, single travelers, groups, couples and free spirits alike. The pool, designed by former Tarzan and five-time gold medal winner Johnny Weissmuller, however, is one of the best in town (also pictured at the top of this post). The well-designed rooms with funky-cool-modern decor include traditional suites, bungalows with two or three bedrooms and family suites with bunk beds and a California king.

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Coronado Budget Hotels  

Coronado is not a big place so the upshot of budget hotels here is that you’re still within walking distance of the beach and the best sights, in addition to the Coronado Ferry to downtown San Diego.

Glorietta Bay Inn

Location: Coronado (across the street from Hotel Del Coronado)

Glorietta Bay Inn was built in 1908 as the home of sugar baron John D. Spreckels. While its appearance and amenities make it look pricier than it is, the fact that rooms start at $149 makes this Coronado hotel a very wallet-friendly option for the location. Amenities include continental breakfast; 24-hour hot brewed coffee, assorted tea, fresh water, and assorted fruit in the lobby; a mini putt-putt course; daily afternoon refreshments and a heated swimming pool. As the Hotel Del Coronado and the glorious beach in front of it are across the street, Glorietta Bay Inn provides guests also with complimentary beach chairs, towels, and sand toys.

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Crown City Inn

Location: Coronado (Orange Avenue)

peachy #brunch w mom

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Crown City Inn is a renovated 1940’s motor court hotel and a quality island budget option with a popular, intimate bistro that locals love. Rooms are very simple (a bit dated) but clean and also have a microwave, refrigerator and renovated showers. The laid-back in also offers complimentary fitness passes to a fitness center down the street, complimentary beach cruisers and a small, outdoor heated swimming pool onsite. Pets are welcome and the shops and restaurants on Orange Avenue are within walking distance.

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See also: 20 Best Things to Do in Coronado

Do you have a favorite best budget hotel in San Diego?

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1 Comment

  1. charly
    May 4, 2018 at 10:17 am — Reply

    I think this post holds so much potential – love the idea of bringing in real people’s experiences at hotels documented through Instagram into the curation of a list of budget hotel recommendations. Crown Inn is 110 dollars a night. Glorietta Bay Inn 289 dollars. King’s Inn 83 dollars. These might be budget luxury hotels or value for money, but theyre’re not budget-friendly which is what the title of the post stated.

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