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The most unique places to stay in San Diego

From historic hideaways to beachfront gems, San Diego is full of special places to stay that offer guests a break from traditional motels and hotels.

Lobby at LaFayette Hotel & Club

The lobby at the LaFayette Hotel and Club

Image via LaFayette Hotel and Club

Table of Contents

We all need a staycation or a trip to a different city from time to time. Whether you’re a San Diegan feeling a little cooped up or a visitor looking for a special experience in America’s Finest City, picking the perfect home away from home is crucial.

We went looking for unique lodgings around town that showcase San Diego spirit. So choose your ideal digs, pack your bags, and get ready for a memorable getaway.

Exterior Hotel Del SDtoday

This type of view can only be found in San Diego.

Hideaways with history

Hotel del Coronado | Coronado
Since 1888, this beachfront resort has offered a luxury experience that’s attracted presidents, celebrities, and royalty. It’s been named a National Historic Landmark for its place in US history and role in Hollywood films. Guests are dazzled by the hotel’s stunning architecture and halls filled with history, but the modern amenities are just as impressive — ice skating with an ocean view, anyone?

La Valencia | La Jolla

Known as “The Pink Lady of La Jolla,” this landmark hotel can trace its history back to the old days of Hollywood royalty. It’s gone through renovations over the years — most recently in 2010 — but it continues to offer luxury accommodations and access to La Jolla’s attractions.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant | Old Town
This building’s history spans nearly two centuries, standing strong as San Diego blossomed into a major city. The hotel underwent a major renovation in 2010, but it still maintains Old West decor, design elements from the 1800s, and some people believe it’s haunted.

Horton Grand Hotel | Downtown San Diego
If you want lodging and local history, this hotel boasts that it’s the oldest one downtown. Its story dates back to the late 1800s, and it continues to offer luxurious accommodations and dining in a Victorian-inspired building.

The US Grant | Downtown San Diego
Named after President Ulysses S. Grant, this luxury hotel has hosted presidents, celebrities, and a Prohibition-era speakeasy. It’s home to a $6.5 million collection of artwork, and it serves as a time capsule for local history — it literally had a capsule in the building that was opened in 2005. This was also where the first ever San Diego Comic-Con was held back in 1970, in the hotel’s basement with ~300 attendees.

Rooftop pool Margaritaville

Fly over to Margaritaville for this rooftop pool.

Image via Margaritaville Hotel San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

Modern chic

Margaritaville | Gaslamp Quarter
Billed as having the largest rooftop pool in San Diego, this new resort will let you enjoy local luxuries while wearing your favorite Jimmy Buffet-approved Hawaiian shirt. Dig in to the hotel’s three restaurants, live entertainment, and easy access to local attractions — there are even complimentary bikes for rent.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar | Del Mar
This five-star, Mediterranean estate boasts stunning views and design elements, but it offers luxurious amenities for a modern vacation. Enjoy the hotel’s golf course, spa, tennis courts, and pool. Then, grab dinner at the on-site Michelin-starred Addison restaurant.

Hotel Z | Gaslamp Quarter
This bright, dog-friendly hotel is designed to offer a convenient getaway in San Diego. It provides guests with complementary bike rentals, entertainment via its streaming service, and a cozy “sleep naked” experience.

Crystal Pier Cottages with beach view in the back

The Crystal Pier Hotel Cottages have beach views in very direction, including under your feet.

Photo by Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Retreats on the water

Bahia Resort | Mission Bay
At this resort, you’ll get access to beaches and Mission Bay, but its especially noted for its tropical gardens and decor. Guest also enjoy getting out on the water on the resort’s Mississippi-style boat cruises.

Cottages on Crystal Pier | Pacific Beach
You can’t get any closer to the beach than this vacation destination. Built in 1930, these cottages sit on PB’s iconic pier. Expect to fall asleep to crashing waves, catch views of surfers from your patio, and be steps away from the sand.

Roberts Cottages in Oceanside

This sight makes us feel Oceanside vibes.

Roberts Cottages | Oceanside

Located near the beach, these cottages are perfect for a waterfront vacation and a dose of Oceanside history. They were built in the 1920s and attracted visitors due to their location on motor Route 101, and they remain a recognizable site for visitors passing through the city.

The Hobbit house

Home sweet hobbit.

Photo by Roy Toft + Airbnb

Here’s the theme

Hobbit House | Ramona
If you’re a “Lord of the Rings” fan, this home will feel like it hopped right out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel with its natural rock exterior, round door, and outside amenities. It’s the perfect place to unplug from the world because there’s no electricity or WiFi, but — plot twist — you need to book it on Airbnb.

Courtyard San Diego Downtown | Downtown San Diego
This isn’t your average Courtyard by Marriott hotel — it fully embraces its history as a historic landmark. It’s located on the former site of San Diego Trust and Savings Bank, and while you can find hotel accommodations, the building hasn’t withdrawn its Italian Romanesque Revival architecture or bank vault.

The LaFayette Hotel and Club | North Park
San Diego has a number of hotels that take inspiration from their old Hollywood roots, but this one has retained much of its glitz and glamour from the 1940s. Recently renovated, it’s noted for its decor, dining options, “The Gutter” bowling alley, and Olympic-length pool. Pro tip: You can get a day pass to swim at the pool without booking a room.

East County mountains + Mountain Empire

Banner Ranch Julian stagecoach room

You can sleep inside a covered wagon at Banner Ranch Julian.

Banner Ranch Julian | Julian
This “rustic hideaway” is surrounded by mountains and lets visitors enjoy Julian’s natural elements. The accommodations might make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, including covered wagons, tiny homes, and campsites. It’s 12 minutes from Julian’s Main Street.

Jacumba Hot Spring Hotel | Jacumba
At this hotel, you’ll find various types of lodging, dining, and entertainment. But it’s really built a name for itself thanks to its mineral pools that are filled with natural water from the Jacumba Hot Springs. If you’re not staying over, day passes to the mineral pools are available.

Tiny Home Mt Laguna community sign

Despite its name, “Big Blue” is perfect for tiny living.

Image courtesy of Vrbo

Tiny House Block | Mt. Laguna
If a trip to Mt. Laguna makes you want to get outside, you may not need a lot of indoor space. That’s the idea behind the Tiny House Block, just south of Laguna Mountain Lodge. While not every home is a short-term vacation rental, many are — like “Big Blue - Pura Vida Tiny Home Mountain Retreat.”

Julian Gold Rush Hotel | Julian
This historic hotel dates back to the late 1890s and was built by Albert Robinson — a freed slave and prominent figure in Julian — and his wife Margaret. Both came to San Diego during the Gold Rush and this restored Victorian building pays homage to that time period. Nowadays, guests aren’t likely to find gold, but they will discover everything Julian has to offer.

The Palms at Indian Head entrance with mountains in the background

Celebrities in the 1950s stayed at this hotel, and it’s kept its mid-century design.

The Palms at Indian Head | Borrego Springs
Originally built in 1947 and rebuilt in 1958 using California modern style with Mondrian influences, this hotel attracted Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Will Rogers, and Bing Crosby. It was restored in 1993 to maintain its mid-century charm, and it remains an oasis with its Olympic-size pool.

Find your next hotel using the map below.

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