Comparing Luxurious-Yet-Kid-Friendly Hotels in San Diego

How do you compare luxury hotels with similar service levels, room quality, amenities, and pricing to figure out which is best for your family?  It all comes down to the specific experience you want to have for a given holiday. Understanding the key differences between hotels to determine the best choice requires some digging.

If you’re traveling to San Diego and looking for a family-friendly luxury hotel we have great options on Ciao Bambino. I recently stayed at two wonderful luxury hotels with my kids (ages 4 and 7): The Grand Del Mar and Park Hyatt Aviara.

Which experience would I recommend to other families as a favorite? That depends. Do you want something kid-friendly or kid-centric?

The Grand Del Mar

The Grand Del Mar is reminiscent of a grand Mediterranean villa. The property feelsold-world with sculpture-filled grounds and meticulously manicured landscaping. Even the tennis courts are integrated into the European atmosphere.

Despite the tranquil and elegant setting, the Grand Del Mar is kid-friendly and the attitude towards families is helpful and accommodating. Service at this hotel is exceptional. While the hotel offers a kids’ club and multiple family pool options, it’s not kid-centric or over-the-top oriented towards people staying there with children.

We visited on Father’s Day weekend and while there were many families staying at the hotel, it never felt filled with kids. I also love this venue as a girls’ getaway or for a couples’ night away. The adult pool is far away from the family pool area and offers a heavenly experience. I had an epiphany here about the value of hotel kids’ clubs as I sat relaxing with my husband knowing our children were being cared for in a safe environment.

The Park Hyatt Aviara

Staying at the Park Hyatt is an adventure for families. At each turn, we encountered a new experience that every one of us enjoyed. The hotel caters to families in a top notch way. Kids receive a welcome treat in their room upon arrival and have their own pint-sized bathrobes. There’s a long list of amenities here for families including a complimentary kids’ club and it’s very easy to keep kids entertained.

The game rooms with free video, arcade and billiards is a highlight for all ages and we saw many families engaged in fun competitions. The grounds are spread out on multiple levels with kid-friendly hikes (school age or with strollers) onsite. The large pool area offers something for everyone—a kid’s pool, picnic area with mini-picnic tables, water spray area, pool noodles, and complimentary cabanas. The only downside is that the family and adult pools are near one another and there is some overflow of kids into the adult pool area.

The hotel is only a 5-minute drive from Legoland and attracts many families that visit the park; you get first-hand reviews of Legoland from the kids that hang out in the whirlpool and pool.

In summary, these are both great options for families. If you want a maximum number of kid-friendly amenities I’d choose the Park Hyatt Aviara, particularly if Legoland is on your itinerary. If you want a luxury experience where kids are welcome but the environment is less kid-centric, I’d recommend the Grand Del Mar.

Ciao Bambino received complimentary accommodations at both hotels. We were not asked to express any particular point of view. Photos courtesy of Kristi Marcelle.

Relevant Links:

Complete Ciao Bambino review of The Grand Del Mar

Complete Ciao Bambino review of Park Hyatt Aviara

Mission Beach San Diego with kids

San Diego family vacations, top kid-friendly activities

San Diego with kids, winter activities

Review of Legoland’s new waterpark

San Diego Zoos’ Wild Animal Park

San Diego surf camp for kids

Tips for booking luxury family hotels


  1. As a San Diego resident, I’ve enjoyed holiday tea with my daughter at the Grand Del Mar. Fancy-schmancy! Both hotels look like lovely places to stay with kids.

  2. The Grand Del Mar is truly exquisite. I recommend this hotel to colleagues, family and friends visiting the area. I also agree with Colleen – it is also a great, unique, and rich experience for locals.

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