It’s not as close to SeaWorld as its name might suggest -- more like a 10-minute drive -- but this Holiday Inn Express still makes a solid home base. Bright and modern, with a pool, free parking, and a complimentary breakfast, it’s a budget-friendly option, especially for families. The hotel is also right by the freeway, offering easy access to the rest of San Diego.
YOU SHOULD KNOW This Holiday Inn Express is on the small side for the brand.
Standard rooms come with two queen beds, a TV, and a coffeemaker. Though a bit underwhelming they have a beachy contemporary feel, with clean-lined wood furniture, turquoise carpets, lemon yellow and royal blue accents, and black-and-white palm tree artwork. Plus the beds are comfy.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Guest reviews are mixed when it comes to cleanliness.
Bathrooms are basic, with a good amount storage space and a separate water closet and walk-in shower and tub.
The lobby features contemporary style, a cheerful if a bit dated mix of light wood and bright turquoise and yellow accents.
Set against a lemon yellow border wall, and lined by yellow chairs and chaise lounges, the outdoor turquoise pool is perfect for an afternoon in the sun.
A small fitness center provides the essentials.
The Holiday Inn offers its usual complimentary breakfast buffet, a boon for families and busy corporate travelers.
The Holiday Inn is right by Interstate 5, or “The 5” as locals know it. I-5, which runs north-south, is one of San Diego’s major freeways. From there, you can get just about anywhere, either on I-5 or its connecting highways. From this part of town, it’s really easiest to get around by car. There’s a bus that goes to SeaWorld but it takes almost an hour.
If you prefer a heartier breakfast than the hotel’s spread, Swami’s Cafe (5-minute walk) is a local chain that dishes up classic breakfast fare and healthy options like acai bowls. It’s a Taco Shop Mexican Food (4-minute walk) serves the greasy diner equivalent of Mexican food -- that’s not an insult, either. There are Mexican eateries like this all over San Diego. There are several chains nearby, as well, including Red Lobster, Denny’s, and SoupPlantation.
This is not the place to stay if you want decent nightlife within walking distance. Old Town is just five minutes away, though, where you’ll find several drinking options -- especially if frosty margaritas are your jam. Cafe Coyote (5-minute drive) has some of the better ones in town, and a lively scene to boot, while The Old Town Tequila Factory (5-minute drive) serves a good selection of top-shelf tequilas.
WHY WE LIKE IT
For families whose kids dream of dancing dolphins and the Shipwreck Rapids, this Holiday Express is just a 10-minute drive from SeaWorld. While it’s on the dated side, it’s easy on the wallet and gets the job done, and a pool and free parking are pluses. The hotel is also right by the freeway, offering easy access to other San Diego attractions.