Looking for budget accommodations in the heart of San Diego? For a start, call the HI-San Diego (521 Market St., 800/909-4776, www.sandiegohostels.org, $20–30). Located perfectly right in the middle of the Gaslamp Quarter, you can get just about anywhere from this almost-elegant youth hostel. (Bring your HI card for lower rates!) Inside, you’ll find private and double rooms, as well as dorm rooms that sleep 4–10 people in single beds.
The amenities include all standard hostel fare: coin-op laundry, an open kitchen, common rooms with and without TVs, and a garden area. Plan to bring or buy a lock for the lockers provided in the dorm rooms.
The hostel’s packed events calendar includes free walking tours of Balboa Park and the downtown area, and regular free trips down to Tijuana. Between the food and nightlife of the Gaslamp and the endless stream of interesting people and activities, the HI-San Diego is the perfect resting place for young people visiting San Diego.
Looking for a Mediterranean-style student hotel? Try the Hotel Occidental (410 Elm St., 619/232-1336, www.hoteloccidental-sandiego.com, $80–150). Located only a block and a half from the entrance to Balboa Park, you can visit the zoo and museums, or head downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter. Don’t expect tons of in-room luxury here—smaller rooms share baths, and even some of the larger rooms have only a half-bath, with shower facilities down the hall.
Decor feels European (in the Ikea sense when it comes to furniture), with lots of clean lines and plain linens and small, ingeniously used spaces. Hotel-wide amenities include free Wi-Fi, complimentary continental breakfast, and private kitchenettes that let you keep some of your own food rather than depending on restaurants for every meal.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition