Sunny California destinations are rarely budget-friendly, but those who look hard enough can find some wonderful cheap hotels in San Diego. Or just read on—we’ve done the research for you.
Cheap Hotels in San Diego
You don’t have to consign yourself to grungy motels if you’re on a budget. The following cheap hotels in San Diego offer clean rooms and good value.
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The Pearl Hotel
The boutique Pearl Hotel is a mid-century modern gem in inland Point Loma, with great access to downtown San Diego. It’s affordable but also clean and cool. The center courtyard features a cozy pool, and rooms are petite but comfortable, especially if you book the Super Strand suite, which has a platform king bed with a pillowtop mattress, luxury sheets, custom mosaic, and a patio. The whole vibe here is welcoming, chic, and friendly—and that extends to the staff as well.
Amenities: Movies by the pool, California cuisine restaurant, cocktail bar, poolside dining, free Wi-Fi, and a pet fish in each room.
La Pensione Hotel
Little Italy’s 75-room La Pensione is one of the best cheap hotels in San Diego. As its name suggests, this boutique inn rents out small, European-style rooms. Accommodations are affordable and attractive, with comfy beds, good-size bathrooms, and blackout blinds. Outside, there’s a relaxing courtyard and a neighborhood full of spirited restaurants and nightlife.
Amenities: In-room refrigerators, rain showerheads, downstairs restaurant, cafe, small fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and limited underground parking spots.
The Sofia Hotel
The Sofia is a historic urban boutique hotel near the harbor, the Gaslamp Quarter, and an Amtrak station. Its 211 cozy, clean rooms make for a quiet stay—they’re compact, comfortable, and decorated in modern style. Take the hotel’s free Saturday morning Gaslamp Walkabout tour, then dine on-site at Currant Brasserie, where plates are pretty, decor is contemporary, and chandeliers hang over black-and-white floors.
Amenities: In-room workstation, armchair, flat-screen TV, microwave, mini refrigerator, coffee, suites with jetted soaking tubs and plush armchairs, 24-hour fitness center, free yoga classes, free loaner bicycles, free Wi-Fi, on-site restaurant, cocktail bar, valet parking, non-smoking policy, business center, dry-cleaning and laundry service, and concierge service.
At edge of the vibrant Gaslamp District, cheerful Hotel Z is a trendy Staypineapple hotel with yellow-accented decor and dream-worthy beds. The pineapple theme is everywhere here, and as far as cheap hotels in San Diego go, you can’t get rooms that are cuter or more comfortable than these. The location is great, too: In addition to easy access to the Gaslamp, you can walk to Petco Park, as well as the San Diego Convention Center.
Amenities: “Naked Experience” bedding, loaner beach cruiser bicycles, dog-friendly policies, non-smoking policy, valet parking, local shuttle, free Wi-Fi, dry-cleaning and laundry service, business center, concierge service, breakfast available, and complimentary pineapple cupcakes in the afternoon.
Inn at Sunset Cliffs
The Inn at Sunset Cliffs is a small 1950s-style hotel in Point Loma near Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and Ocean Beach. There’s no beach access here—hence the low rates—but the views over the Pacific are spectacular. Accommodations are clean, charming, and cozy, while service is warm and friendly. The hotel’s large deck is a great place to relax and watch the sun set into the ocean. After that, retreat into your room to fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
Amenities: In-room microwave and refrigerator, heated outdoor swimming pool, oceanfront massages available, free Wi-Fi, free parking, breakfast available.
The Dana on Mission Bay
The Dana on Mission Bay is a traditional marina resort with restaurants, swimming pools, nicely kept grounds, and tropical landscaping that will make you feel as though you’ve landed in Hawaii. A great option for families, the Dana offers a couple of different types of accommodations, all 271 of which are very clean: the Water’s Edge rooms overlook Mission Bay and Sunset Point, while the Marina Cove rooms were recently renovated to make them contemporary and light-filled; some have lanais with views. Service here is friendly, and the location is fantastic. Stay here to have quick access to sun and fun on the bay, as well as to Mission Beach and amusement parks including Belmont Park and SeaWorld.
Amenities: Two heated swimming pools including an infinity pool, hot tub, spa services, onsite restaurants, cocktail bar, fitness center, watersport rentals, bicycle rentals, private marina, dog-friendly policies, room service, free internet, children’s activities, dry cleaning and laundry service, and a business center.
The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
The Lafayette opened for business in 1946 and retains much of its old-time glamour. Bob Hope was a regular here, as were Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. Stay here for the charming retro feel, excellent service, and affordability, especially considering the quality of what you get for what you pay—this is one of the most worthwhile cheap hotels in San Diego. Its inland location means lots of sun, which is great when you’re lazing by the big pool.
Rooms and bungalows come with comfortable beds and colorful decor. If you’re traveling with kids, book a Suze Suite to stash them in the next room, and to have a dining table and microwave. The poolside rooms are on the larger side, lounge areas are fun and funky, and the adjacent Red Fox Room is a fantastic piano bar with craft cocktails.
Amenities: Large heated swimming pool, Hope 46 hotel restaurant and bar, adjacent Red Fox Room bar, onsite improv theater, fitness center, free Wi-Fi, business center, laundry service, concierge service, easy parking, breakfast available.
Kings Inn San Diego
Kings Inn is one of the family-friendliest cheap hotels in San Diego. It’s in Mission Valley, which is freeway-convenient to all of San Diego, especially the zoo and bay. This fun family-owned property has a nicely updated retro style in its public spaces, as well as great service, plus guest rooms that are clean and colorful with beachy decor. There’s an on-site waffle restaurant for breakfast, as well as a Mexican restaurant with live jazz in the evenings.
Amenities: Two restaurants, full bar, free parking, in-room refrigerator and coffee maker, laundry service, 24-hour concierge, heated pool, hot tub, free Wi-Fi, and a fitness center.
Humphreys Half Moon Inn
Humphreys, on Shelter Island, is a tropical resort-style property on the bay with lush grounds, a grand heated pool, and proximity to San Diego’s most popular attractions, as well as the airport. Book here for a quiet, relaxing stay in rooms done in neutral colors and wooden touches—choose one with a private patio and views of the marina and bay. Dine at the on-site restaurant for a lovely dinner accompanied by live musicians.
Amenities: In-room microwave, heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, poolside bar, walking and jogging paths, bicycle rentals, fitness center, non-smoking policy, live concerts, private marina, laundry and dry-cleaning service, on-site restaurant, free Wi-Fi, fitness center, business center, room service, children’s activities, and concierge service.
Fans of the Old West will appreciate this throwback bed and breakfast, built from adobe brick in the 1820s and not much different now than it was then. In the heart of Old Town, it’s one of the best cheap places to stay in San Diego, providing easy access to the historic district’s restaurants and shops. The 10 petite guest rooms are filled with antique furnishings and period art, and the public spaces are just as Victorian and museum-like. Other niceties include verandah outdoor seating on the second story, friendly staffers, afternoon tea, and the complimentary continental breakfast, served in an authentic saloon.
Amenities: Free breakfast, free parking, free Wi-Fi, live entertainment on weekends, afternoon tea, pillowtop beds, balconies, and an on-site restaurant and bar.
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—Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.