13 Best Budget-Friendly Hotels In San Diego (An Instagram Tour)
Hotels that are good value here don't mean sacrifice
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.
Table of Contents
- Prices for Cheap Hotels in San Diego Vary by Location
- Gaslamp San Diego Budget Hotels
- Airport/Shelter Island Budget Hotels
- Beach & Neighboring Areas Budget Hotels
- North Park/Old Town/Mission Valley Budget Hotels
- Coronado Budget Hotels
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.
I find that our partner Booking.com site has great deals on San Diego budget hotels but when it comes to larger brands especially, you might be better off booking direct. I’ve included booking links to where I think you might score the best price.
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
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.Book Now
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Downtown/Bayside
Location: Downtown San Diego
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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 Now
Porta Vista Hotel & Suites
Location: Little Italy
Nestled in the Little Italy neighborhood, Porta 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.Book Now
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
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.Book Now
Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport-Liberty Station
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 Now
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.Book Now
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 Now
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.
Location: 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 (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.Book Now
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.Book Now
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.Book Now
Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
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.Book Now
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.Book Now
Crown City Inn
Location: Coronado (Orange Avenue)
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.Book Now
See also: 20 Best Things to Do in Coronado
Do you have a favorite San Diego budget hotel?