There is an eclectic mix of seven urban neighborhoods that make up Downtown San Diego. Each has its own personality with hotels to match. Adult travelers looking for the best Downtown entertainment gravitate to the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village. Business travelers find Core-Columbia and Marina district hotels best suited to their needs. Families enjoy budget-friendly Little Italy, or the resort hotels of the Marina district. Visitors will have an authentic SoCal experience without ever leaving Downtown with one exception – there are no beaches, because it sits along San Diego Bay. For vacationers coming to San Diego for beach life, there are other neighborhoods more suited to that experience, but for those who want to experience San Diego Italian, historic, or maritime culture, staying in a walkable Downtown neighborhood is a good choice.
The Gaslamp Quarter and East Village represent San Diego urban entertainment at its best. These two side-by-side neighborhoods offer historic and modern boutique hotels that cater to savvy adult travelers, whether solo, a couple, or a group. Many feature rooftop lounges with stunning views and vibrant nightlife. Some, like Hotel Indigo, offer eco-chic ambiance; some have lovely historic charm, like The Keating Hotel or Ramada Gaslamp (Hotel St. James); and still others, like Andaz, provide ultra-modern sophistication packed with high-end amenities.
Core-Columbia has a concentration of historic luxury hotels. The incomparable 270-room U.S. Grant Hotel is an elegant 1910 neighborhood icon. Historic boutique hotels like Hotel Palomar or The Sophia Hotel, definitions of urban luxury, characterize the neighborhood. Although not historic, The Westgate Hotel in the Marina district is another luxury hotel with old world European charm. However, the Marina district is primarily known for its high-rise bayside resort-style hotels like the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Economy is not a characteristic of these two Downtown neighborhoods where affluence reigns.
Little Italy has the most affordable hotels in the Downtown area. The quaint bayside neighborhood has several small boutique hotels and a few budget conscious franchise hotels. It’s one of the most popular neighborhoods for families and adult travelers who want the downtown experience at an affordable price. Two popular choices are La Pensione, a boutique hotel and neighborhood icon in the heart of the neighborhood, and Days Inn San Diego, offering a room with a view a block from the bay.
Who Should Stay Downtown
Little Italy and the Marina districts are the best choices for families who want to stay Downtown. Of the two, Little Italy has more great-value hotels. Visiting families will find boutique hotels here that are less expensive than those of the Gaslamp. Great-value franchise hotels in the neighborhood have pools, kids’ favorite amenity. The Marina district has luxury high-rise resort hotels with every imaginable amenity, and a price tag to suit. During summer, these high-end hotels cater to families with extras like kid-friendly welcomes or family night activities.
Business travelers will find services they need at Core-Columbia and Marina district hotels. Many high-rise Marina hotels have either Fed-Ex or UPS Store business centers on-site. Core-Columbia hotels are conveniently located in Downtown’s business and financial area, and Marina district hotels are within walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center.
The Gaslamp Quarter and East Village, which are all about entertainment, appeal largely to adult travelers, although there are opportunities for kids to have a good time in these neighborhoods as well. The hotels, however, cater primarily to adults, and are missing many kid-friendly perks like pools where they feel welcome, kids’ menus in hotel restaurants, and family oriented hotel activities. Families would do better to stay in pricey resort-style hotels in the Marina for a better price to kid-friendly amenity ratio.