Searching for budget or cheap hotels in San Diego, California, can be daunting. San Diego is such a popular business and vacation destination that hotel prices often reflect demand instead of quality.

It’s not uncommon for visitors to experience sticker shock here, even with national brands normally known for low prices.

However, the best budget hotels in San Diego don’t always mean sacrifice. The ones reviewed on this list have cool, contemporary interiors, great restaurants, and convenient locations in or near tourist areas. Are they the cheapest hotels in town? No, but they are places you can feel good about staying that aren’t as expensive as some of our other hotels.

This is, without a doubt, the most difficult list we have to create and maintain because hotels renovate, and demand causes prices to spike or plummet. We’ve done our best to find the best consistent value.

Prices for Cheap Hotels in San Diego Vary by Location or Season

As I just mentioned, a budget hotel can price like a luxury hotel during certain timeframes. And on the contrary, some of our nicer resorts can have low prices during the off-season.

When exploring the cheap hotels San Diego has to offer, know that location plays a big role in price. For example, prices for all Gaslamp San Diego hotels increase drastically during Comic-Con or large conventions due to proximity to the Convention Center.

Additionally, San Diego hotels near the beach have higher prices year-round than their urban counterparts, especially during months when schools are on holiday or when the sun is shining.

These seasonal fluctuations are not usually seen in other San Diego neighborhoods, such as the inland Mira Mesa neighborhood. In fact, the more inland you go and further away from tourist areas, the easier it is to find cheap San Diego hotels.

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.

(If you have questions about hotels in San Diego, feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll answer.)

1. Town and Country Resort

Neighborhood: Mission Valley
Address: 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108

It’s kind of hard to believe that a resort like this would fall into the budget category, but it does, mostly due to its Mission Valley location. It’s in what’s called Hotel Circle, where many business and budget hotels in San Diego line the I-8 freeway. So the access to important transportation arteries is good, but you won’t find beaches or views to speak of.

Town and Country Resort recently underwent an extensive multi-million dollar renovation that accentuated the Mid-Century vibe and refreshed the amazing pool deck with a fun water slide, nearby firepits, and a zero-entry family pool.

All of the rooms have modern decor and amenities like Keurig coffee makers and Egyptian cotton sheets— even art by local artists. You can also choose larger suites and to dine at one of the three onsite outlets. They also normally offer a large roster of activities and lawn games.

This is the best full-service resort on this list for consistent value.

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2. The Pearl Hotel San Diego

Neighborhood: Point Loma
Address: 1410 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92106

The Pearl Hotel San Diego boutique hotel offers excellent dining and craft cocktails and one of San Diego’s best pool experiences. Guests book in for poolside movies and pool parties (during normal times).

Rooms are comfortable with bright whites and neutral colors accented by mid-century modern style and eco-friendly furniture. The vibe is upbeat, with a bit of 1960s Palm Springs mixed with great service.

It’s located in Point Loma, near San Diego International Airport, Cabrillo National Monument, Ocean Beach, and Liberty Station. It’s about a 15-minute drive to things to do in downtown San Diego.

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3. Porto Vista Hotel & Suites

Neighborhood: Little Italy
Address: 1835 Columbia St, San Diego, CA 92101

Outdoor terrace at Porto Vista Hotel overlooking Little Italy.
Photo courtesy of Porto Vista Hotel & Suites

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 GlassDoor restaurant. Dogs up to 40 pounds are welcome.

This cool hotel is within walking distance of the major downtown attractions and enjoying all the charms of Little Italy right outside your door.

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4. Old Town Inn

Neighborhood: Old Town San Diego
Address: 4444 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92110

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 California’s birthplace. This also means it’s just a 10-minute drive from the airport, Mission Beach, Belmont Park San Diego, and SeaWorld San Diego.

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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5. Kings Inn San Diego

Neighborhood: Mission Valley
Address: 1333 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA 92108

The pool at Kings Inn Mission Valley.

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, and laundry services at this San Diego motel.

Rest assured that you won’t go hungry as two fun restaurants are 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 is 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, things to do near this San Diego budget hotel in 15 minutes or less by car include Fashion Valley Mall, Old Town San Diego, and Downtown San Diego. It’s also a good choice for motels in San Diego because you can park your car outside your room.

MORE Mission Valley Budget Hotels

This location is excellent for those who want to be near downtown’s action without actually being downtown. All hotels here, especially along Hotel Circle San Diego, tend to skew a bit lower in price. Here are some other places to check.

  • Atwood
  • Handlery Hotel
  • Best Western Seven Seas

You won’t have ocean views (or much of a view at all) but it’s convenient and near several freeways.

6. The Dana on Mission Bay

Neighborhood: Mission Bay
Address: 1710 W Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

We often get people looking for resorts at a lower price point. The Dana on Mission Bay fits this wish. People like that it’s a casual resort near SeaWorld San Diego (in fact, it’s the closest hotel to the theme park). You’ll drive about a mile to the heart of the action in Mission Beach. Multiple swimming pools and two main buildings (Marina Cove and Water’s Edge) make up the 10-acre bayfront resort.

Families also like it for the onsite water sports, lawn games, and included 1-hour bike rental. Another perk is that parking is included in the resort fee.

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7. Best Western San Diego Zoo/SeaWorld Inn and Suites

Location: Mission Valley
Address: 2485 Hotel Circle Place, San Diego, CA 92108

This hotel despite its name is really located in the Hotel Circle area which is I suppose is in between San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego but still a short drive from either.

That being said people like it. There’s a two-bedroom family suite with bunk beds, an outdoor heated pool, free WiFi, and free breakfast. Also handy for dealing with beach days is the onsite guest laundry

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8. Hotel Z – San Diego

Location: Gaslamp Quarter
Address: 521 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

If fun and festive is your vibe, look to the highly-rated and cheery Hotel Z San Diego. Rooms include queen, king and two queen bed options with Tommy Bahama bath amenities, in-room coffee, and comfy linens. Things that you’d normally be up-charged for like WiFi are all wrapped up into the nightly amenity fee. There’s also a water refill station in the lobby and free afternoon pineapple treats.

You’ll be able to easily walk to Petco Park and some of San Diego’s best restaurants and nightlife. It’s also pet-friendly (a fee applies), and you can explore with the first come, first served hotel bikes.

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Downtown/Gaslamp San Diego Budget Hotels

If there’s no big event happening, here are some other nice options that can price well ($100-200).

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.

9. Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside

Neighborhood: Downtown San Diego/Little Italy
Address: 2137 Pacific Highway Suite A, San Diego, CA 92101

Hilton’s Bayside campus includes two hotels: Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside and Homewood Suites San Diego Downtown/Bayside.

Homewood Suites San Diego Downtown/Bayside

The full kitchen inside Homewood Suites San Diego Downtown Bayside
Photo courtesy of Hilton

Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside

Hilton Garden Inn Bayside outdoor swimming pool
Photo courtesy of Hilton

Having two hotels on one campus is designed to provide a resort-like experience. Which of the 364 total guest rooms and suites across both hotels you choose depends on your length of stay and price.

Homewood Suites

Homewood Suites is an extended-stay San Diego hotel with contemporary suites with fully equipped kitchens, work desks, and separate living areas.

Don’t feel like cooking? Opt for room service, the onsite 24-hour Suite Shop with snacks or any of San Diego’s best restaurants 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.

Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Garden Inn features rooms with a fresh aesthetic, some with bay views. The hotel also features a cool pool and Bayside Kitchen and Lounge.

The campus location is two blocks from the San Diego Bay, and steps from attractions on the Embarcadero (like USS Midway Museum) and Little Italy.

Hilton Hotels are usually best booked using the discounted Hilton Honors rate (free to join).

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10. Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina

Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina

Neighborhood: Shelter Island
Address: 2051 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

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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 swimming pools, tennis courts, free WiFi, complimentary bike rentals, laundry facilities, an onsite restaurant, cheap parking at $10/night and more.

And the food at Blue Wave Bar and Grill onsite is excellent, complete with water views.

11. Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport-Liberty Station

Neighborhood: Liberty Station 
Address: 2576 Laning Road, San Diego, CA 92106

Breakfast area at Homewood Suites Liberty Station
Photo courtesy of Hilton

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 (a famous local craft brewery), a luxe movie theater, the city’s only public market (so much good food here), and more.

The complimentary airport shuttle takes guests to the terminals in just a few minutes. Suites have one or two bedrooms, full kitchens, and separate living areas. The rate includes a complimentary hot breakfast and a Wednesday evening social hour.

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12. The Fin Hotel, a Tapestry Collection Hotel

Neighborhood: Oceanside
Address: 133 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054

The further you go north or inland in San Diego County, the more likely you’ll be able to find cheap hotels in San Diego. The Fin Hotel in Oceanside is one of those gems where you get 300-thread-count sheets just a few walkable blocks away from an awesome beach and great dining. I want to mention it because a hotel like this will allow you to assess the value proposition between a northern location and one closer to, say, Balboa Park.

Rooms come with Keurigs and big 50″ TVs. There’s even a concierge desk. An onsite restaurant called The Switchboard serves Hawaiian-inspired fare in honor of the women who worked in the building during WWII when it was a war command center.

Pricing can increase as the hotel sells out and on peak dates, so book in advance to enjoy lower $100s rates.

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13. La Jolla Cove Suites

Neighborhood: The Village of La Jolla
Address: 1155 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037

As I mentioned earlier, cheap hotels in San Diego near the beach will typically have higher rates than inland properties. La Jolla Cove Suites prices very well for its oceanfront location in the heart of the Village of La Jolla.

It’s 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.

However, the hotel is undergoing some much-needed changes to deal with the issues guests have left in reviews. There is the new Pines section, where rooms are a little pricier. However, you can stay in some Terrace rooms for the mid-$150 range or lower. And that’s a steal for the location if you don’t mind some street noise and some cosmetic imperfections in the older rooms and some common areas.

It’s a good option for groups looking for a more wallet-friendly La Jolla hotel because of some larger suites. 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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14. Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Hotel

Neighborhood: 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, a 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 and a microwave, refrigerator, and coffeemaker.

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See also: 20 Things to Do in Carlsbad with Kids

15. Crown City Inn

Neighborhood: Coronado
Address: 520 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118

Crown City Inn is a renovated 1940s 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 inn 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 easy walking distance.

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Coronado Budget Hotels

Coronado is not a big place. So, the upshot of budget hotels here is that you’re within walking distance to Coronado beaches. Here are some other places to check that can price well outside of peak season.

  • La Avenida Inn
  • Glorietta Bay Inn
  • Hotel Marisol

It’s not a place for nightlife, but there are outstanding restaurants and many things to do. You can also take the Coronado Ferry to downtown San Diego for all three.

Find Even Cheaper San Diego Hotels on This Map

If you are purely shopping by price, one way to look around is on the map below. You can enter your stay dates and get a feel for how hotels, motels, and VRBOs are pricing in the part of San Diego County you prefer.

FAQs About Budget Hotels in San Diego

Trust, me I know how frustrating it can be to find an affordable hotel here. Here are some questions I receive.

Can Hotel del Coronado Have Budget Hotel Pricing?

Not really. During the off-peak season, you might find a non-renovated, resort view Victorian room at Hotel del Coronado in the $250/night plus $50/night resort fee and taxes — but this is rare. And this building is closing for renovation in early 2024, so there’s no chance of budget pricing at this resort when it’s done. Otherwise, the cheapest rooms are around $400/night.

Why are there not Many hotels under $100/night on this list?

Kings Inn and the two Best Westerns are really the hotels on this list that can price under $100/night. We don’t have others on this list because we can’t recommend them due to quality control reasons, and truthfully, there just aren’t that many to begin with in the tourist neighborhoods.

We actually used to have more options in this price range, but these hotels were purchased and renovated to a higher standard. And then, the pandemic hit, and San Diego became one of the most popular vacation destinations thanks to its outdoor activities and sunshine.

Where Can I Find Even Cheaper Hotels in San Diego?

The further you go inland, the less expensive hotels (and likewise real estate) will be. You can check lesser trafficked areas like Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, and San Marcos.

What do you think are the best cheap hotels in San Diego County?

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).

More San Diego Hotels

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