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Great San Diego Hotels On A Budget

The Bristol Hotel

The Bristol Hotel

  • The Bristol Hotel
  • La Pensione Hotel
  • El Cordova Hotel
  • Del Mar Motel on the Beach
  • Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel
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It doesn’t take heaps of moola to vacation in San Diego. First-rate, budget hotels abound, without compromising cleanliness or amenities. Urban dwellers and beachophiles alike have choices galore. Here’s just a few.

The Bristol Hotel
1055 First Avenue San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 232-6141
Fresh, modern and an extremely helpful staff is the troika of kudos constantly bestowed upon this downtown hotel. Amenities rival resorts twice the price -- valet parking, in-room dining, even same day dry-cleaning, should you be traveling on business. Daisy’s Restaurant and adjacent bar nourish and hydrate guests from early morning to late night. Visitors are smitten with the signature tini, “Crazi Dazi”, which melds vodka, rum, citrus and cranberry juice. The Starlight Ballroom on the ninth floor features SoCal’s only retractable roof. (Rates start at $126 a night.)

La Pensione Hotel
606 West Date Street San Diego, CA 92101 (800) 232-4683
The hotel takes its name from guest houses throughout Europe referred to as “Pensiones.” It is immersed in Little Italy, a vibrant, 52-square block urban quarter with a colorful history. Both the Mafia and tuna industry had strong ties to the nascent hub, which today is considered one of San Diego’s hippest hangouts. La Pensione’s recently renovated rooms have private bathrooms, unlike many of its aforementioned European counterparts, as well as wifi, ac, and flat screen cable televisions. The chic platform beds with pearlized ostrich leather headboards and sleek modern furniture are the antithesis of what one expects at a 20 year old inn. A fresco painted interior courtyard off the lobby houses a handful of tables where guests sip espresso and dine on authentic cuisine from Vincenzo Ristorante Italiano. (Rates start at $89.99)

El Cordova Hotel
1351 Orange Avenue Coronado, CA 92118 (800) 229-2032
Bienvenida to a little piece of Mexico on Coronado Island. The Spanish style, 40 room, 1902 mansion was originally built for wealthy industrialist Elisha Babcock. Homey nuances still remain with four-poster beds, outdoor barbeques, and laundry facilities. Since it’s inception, the hotel has expanded to include three restaurants - Miguel’s Cocina, Brigantine seafood, and Bino’s café - which are frequented by locals regularly. The Pacific Ocean is steps from Cordova’s front door. San Diego Harbor and Glorietta Bay sit to the North and East, establishing the hotel as an aquatic lovers dream.(Rates start at $99.)

Del Mar Motel on the Beach
1702 Coast Boulevard Del Mar, CA 92014 (800) 223-8449
Motels are usually associated with roadside locations, but this one has chosen to rest beside white, powdery sand instead of black top macadam. Amplified waves replace car engine clatter. The two-story, North County structure is reminiscent of a simpler time when life’s pace was slower. There is no pool or on-site restaurant, but there are cushion clad chaises where guests can wile away the hours reading a good book, conversing, or just staring at the crystal blue ocean. (Rates start at $139.)

Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel
5805 Armada Drive Carlsbad, CA 92008 (760) 827-3200
Fancy name for such an affordable hotel. It straddles the fine line of casual and elegant remarkably well, and it cost less than $130 a night. Twelve, landscaped acres provide fun for all ages. Children can spend the day slip-sliding away at splash-tastic water park, or playing at the activity center and game room. Adults seek refuge at the 18 and over Olympic size pool for a dose of serenity. Interestingly, their restaurant is technically a brewery, Karl Strauss, but it’s kid-friendly. They open at 7 a.m. … Bloody Marys anyone?(Rates start at $129.)