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16 Best Cheap Hotels in San Diego – Fun Budget Places to Stay

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

Our lowest-priced hotels can crest well over $100 at times and causing visitors to experience a bit of sticker shock even with national brands normally known for low prices.

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. You’ll get your money’s worth.

Prices for Cheap Hotels in San Diego Vary by Location

When exploring budget hotels in San Diego, know that location plays a big roll in price.

All Gaslamp hotel rates increase drastically during Comic-Con or large conventions, for example, due to proximity to the action.

Additionally, San Diego hotels near the beach have higher pricing year-round, especially during months when schools are on holiday, or the sun is shining. These fluctuations are not usually seen in other San Diego neighborhoods, such as the inland Mira Mesa neighborhood.

To help you scour through cheap San Diego hotels without giving up on a quality night’s sleep, here are some suggestions for the best budget hotels in San Diego.

Note from Katie: I mention hotel booking resources I know offer the best prices via membership programs or are popular with readers. If you book through links on this page, I may earn a small commission. Some amenities may be temporarily modified. Check with the hotel also for updated safety measures and travel restrictions.

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


Downtown and 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.

1. The Sofia Hotel

The Sofia Hotel

Neighborhood: Steps from the Gaslamp Quarter
Address: 150 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 (Steps from the Gaslamp Quarter)

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The Sofia Hotel steps from the Gaslamp manages to keep modest pricing for a boutique hotel. It certainly doesn’t feel or look like it fits into the budget category but it has comfortable rooms with modern decor, a spa, and Currant restaurant (a local favorite).

It’s also a good choice for those who enjoy historic properties. The property opened in 1926 as the first hotel in San Diego built with en suite bathrooms.

Pets love it, too, and they offer perks like complimentary yoga classes in the fitness center and bike rentals for guests. Rooms have a microwave, mini-fridge, flatscreen 42″ televisions, and coffee makers.

2. Homewood Suites San Diego Downtown/Bayside

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

3. Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside

Hilton Garden Inn Bayside outdoor swimming pool
Photo courtesy of Hilton

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.

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 length of stay and price.

Homewood Suites

Homewood Suites is an extended stay San Diego hotel with contemporary suites that have 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 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.

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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4. 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 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/Point Loma Budget Hotels

These are great options for when you need a cool San Diego airport hotel with things to do nearby.

5. 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.

6. 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 (famous local craft brewery), a luxe movie theater, the city’s only public market and more.

The complimentary airport shuttle takes guests to the terminals 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 (usually Monday–Thursday).

7. The Pearl Hotel San Diego

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

Exterior of The Pearl Hotel San Diego
The Pearl Hotel (Josh Cho Photography – Pearl Hotel)

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).

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

It’s located in Point Loma, not too far from the 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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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.

8. La Jolla Cove Suites

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

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.

The hotel is going through some much-needed changes right now 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.

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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9. Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Hotel

Neighborhood: Carlsbad Village

A double Queen room at Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach, a hotel near LEGOLAND California.
Photo courtesy of Hilton

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 in addition to a microwave, refrigerator, and coffeemaker.

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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. All hotels over here, especially along Hotel Circle San Diego, tend to skew a bit lower in price. These are my favorite cool gems to consider.

10. Town and Country Resort

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

View over the swimming pool to the main building of Town and Country Resort.
Photo courtesy of Town and Country Resort

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.

Town and Country Resort just went through an extensive multi-million dollar renovation that accentuated the Mid-Century vibe and refreshed the amazing pool deck, complete with a fun water slide, nearby firepits, and 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.

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11. Kings Inn San Diego

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

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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, and laundry services at this San Diego motel.

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 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 (1 mile away), Balboa Park, and downtown San Diego.

12. Hotel Iris

Neighborhood: Mission Valley
Address: 625 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA 92108

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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.

13. Old Town Inn

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

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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, 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.

14. The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows

Neighborhood: North Park
Address: 2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

The Lafayette Hotel swimming pool surrounded by lounge chairs.
Photo courtesy of The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows

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 locals love, too. It has an Old Hollywood vibe because 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.

However, the pool, designed by former Tarzan and five-time gold medal winner Johnny Weissmuller, is one of the best in town. 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.

Tip: It’s on my list of hotels near San Diego Zoo and you can save money by bundling tickets with your room in a vacation package.

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

15. La Avenida Inn

Neighborhood: Coronado (across the street from Hotel del Coronado)
Address: 1315 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118

You can’t beat La Avenida Inn’s location, right on Orange Avenue, the main Coronado artery. Not to mention Hotel del Coronado with gorgeous Coronado Central Beach is across the street.

La Avenida Inn is known for its 29 comfortable rooms and friendly service. Complimentary services like hot coffee, pastries, and fruit each morning, WiFi, and parking are included in the rate.

Guests may even borrow beach chairs, towels, and boogie boards. It’s also pet-friendly.

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16. Crown City Inn

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

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 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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Save More Money with Vacation Packages

If you’re going to visit our popular theme parks, search your dates to see what vacation packages are available. You may be able to save even more money by bundling your hotel and tickets together.

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

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