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  • Writer's pictureTara Wilson

Hotel Guide: The Cassara Carlsbad

If you're looking for an affordable stay in Carlsbad with some photo-worthy spots, the Cassara Carlsbad by Hilton is a great choice! However, my recommendation does come with some caveats - read on to see why.

Sign at the entrance to the Cassara Carlsbad
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The Cassara Carlsbad is located next to Legoland, Sea Life Aquarium, and right above the infamous Carlsbad Flower Fields, making it an ideal location for families visiting from out of town. Though it's not directly on the beach, you get a great view of the coastline from the Cassara, and a complimentary shuttle can get you to the beach as well as the nearby premium outlets within minutes. The spacious rooms, resort-like pool, and close proximity to several Carlsbad attractions makes this a great hotel choice for families on a budget.

However, there was some information that was lacking online that would've been helpful to me when choosing which hotel to stay at in Carlsbad. Hopefully this post will be helpful to you so you have a better idea of what to expect if you choose the Cassara for your Carlsbad trip!

Navigating this post:

Insta-worthy dining area in the Hotel Lobby
Insta-worthy dining area in the Hotel Lobby

Parking & Checking In

Both parking and checking in were a little confusing. Once we turned onto the driveway, there were no signs clearly indicating where we should park if we were staying at the hotel. While researching this hotel before I decided to book, I learned that there were two hotels with this address (The Cassara and The Grand Pacific Palisades), but that was the extent of the information I could find.

When you pull up on the driveway, there is just one big building straight up ahead, but nothing to indicate which hotel it was or where specific hotel guests should go. Since there were two hotels at this address, I assumed maybe they were both in this same lot, but I didn't realize they'd both be in the same building.

Front facing image of the Cassara Carlsbad and Grand Pacific Palisades hotels
The entrance to both the Cassara & Grand Pacific Palisades hotels. The left half of the building in this photo is the Cassara.

Parking sign to the Cassara Carlsbad

The few spots out front seemed like a possible valet area, and I knew there was underground self parking somewhere, so we flipped a U-turn and went back down the driveway and saw a Self Parking entrance. At this point I still wasn't sure which hotel parking lot I was headed to, but I figured we could move the car after we checked in if needed.

Self parking in the underground garage was very easy to navigate and there were plenty of spaces available when we arrived. There were also plenty of signs that pointed to a hotel lobby and check in, but once again we were unsure which hotel we were headed to.

When we walked up the stairs to the lobby, there were two check-in desks facing each other, so we walked up to the closest one and then were redirected to the opposite check-in desk. From there, we noticed a sign at the front doors (not visible from the garage entrance into the lobby) that indicated which check-in desk was for which hotel. That's when we realized both hotels were in the same building.

lobby area of the Cassara Carlsbad

Checking in was pretty quick. For whatever reason, they weren't able to find my reservation with my name, so I pulled up the Hilton app and showed my reservation information, and from there they were able to find it.

We were a few hours early for check in, but were told there was a room available, which was convenient. For parking, we were given a decal to hang in the car and were told we could park in the underground garage or over in the Karl Strauss parking lot. There was no indication that we'd have to pay for parking - however, since I researched beforehand, I knew to expect a $24 charge on my receipt.

The joint hotel lobby was clean and had a couple little photo-worthy spots. They even had two swings that were super cute!

Picture of swings and dining area in the Cassara Carlsbad lobby
Swings & Dining Area in the Lobby

The Hotel Room

The room was very spacious (over 400 sq. feet!!), and we loved the room itself. However, we really really were unhappy with the location of the room.

balcony on the ground floor of a standard room at the Cassara Carlsbad

The room we were given was on the ground floor directly facing the parking spots at the front entrance (if you look back up at the photo of the building, our room was in-between the palm trees to the left). One of the main reasons for booking this hotel was the balcony - we usually like to sit out and enjoy our own lunch before getting dinner at the hotel. However, anyone parked out front or going in/out of the hotel would have an unobscured view into our entire hotel room. So not only were we not inclined to sit out on the balcony, but we also had to keep both sets of curtains completely closed at all times unless we wanted people to be able to see into our room.

Had we known that there were rooms on the ground floor, or had a better understanding of the hotel layout so we could ask for rooms not facing the parking lot, we could've put in a specific request for room location.

As for the room itself, it was great - plenty of space and very clean.

Layout of a standard room with king bed at the Cassara

King bed in a standard room at the Cassara Carlsbad

There was a Keurig coffee maker with complimentary water bottles, as well as a mini-fridge, an ironing board, several full-length mirrors, and plenty of outlets.

The bathroom was also a decent size with a shower/tub combo and Lockwood soap products (shampoo, hair conditioner, body wash & body lotion).


The pool situation was also a little confusing - I had read on their site that there were two resort-size pools as well as a "family splash pad." I had also read on this site that one of the two pools was a "Quiet Pool" that had swimming lap lanes, whereas the other pool was more of a family pool, which is also where the splash pad was located. However, once we got to the Cassara, we only saw the one pool with the swimming lanes. It's possible that the other pool area was over by the Grand Pacific Palisades part of the hotel, which you have access to as a Cassara guest, but once again, since they're marketed as two separate hotels, I tried to get a grasp on what was specifically at the Cassara.

Photo of the Quiet Pool at the Cassara Carlsbad
Pool Area - the sun finally decided to make an we were checking out the next morning.

As for the "Quiet Pool," it was a lovely pool area with direct access from the lobby, and had a hot tub, plenty of lounge chairs, fire pits, and three cabanas. A key card from either of the two hotels granted you access to this pool area.

picture of a complimentary pool cabana at the Cassara Carlsbad
Complimentary Cabana at the Cassara Carlsbad Pool

The three cabanas are complimentary, they're just on a first-come first-serve basis. Since we didn't want to spend time in our room or on the balcony, we decided to head to the pool and luckily 2/3 cabanas were open, so we snagged one. Since outside food & drinks are not allowed in the pool area, we figured we'd check out the pool bar for lunch - unfortunately, the lobby bar that provides food for the pool as well wouldn't open until 3pm. It was only 1pm and we were pretty hungry, so we grabbed our lunch from the room and enjoyed it in our cabana (another family was doing the same thing, and since the hotel wasn't offering food anyway, we figured why not).

We had hoped to enjoy the pool, however, the day we went to Carlsbad, the weather was super overcast and cold, despite the forecast saying it would be in the 80s and sunny. We did check out the hot tub later on before dinner, and that was nice, but that seemed to be a popular idea among other guests as well and the hot tub eventually got a little crowded.

The fire pit area was nice - in the evening, we grabbed some drinks for happy hour and noticed there was a fire pit going outside, so we decided to enjoy our cocktails out there. There were wet towels that some guests decided not to put in the towel bin before they left, but we just avoided those and enjoyed the warmth before we grabbed dinner.

There is also a fitness center onsite and a business center. Though they do not have a spa, they do provide complimentary shuttle service to/from the spa at the Westin Carlsbad.


As far as we could tell, in the Cassara there was only one dining option (the Cassara Kitchen and Bar) and it was open to the lobby - there wasn't a separate, enclosed restaurant option. You could order your food to go and take it back to your room or you could eat it in the lobby dining area.

cocktails from the Cassara Carlsbad bar
Our cocktails: a Manhattan and a Rest in Peach

As for room service, the only option was to order from the Karl Strauss restaurant next door and have it delivered to your room.

The Cassara Kitchen and Bar does have a Happy Hour (Mon-Fri 3-5pm), and since you're charged a resort fee that includes a food & beverage credit, I recommend taking advantage of either happy hour or breakfast to use up that credit if you plan on dining outside of the hotel for dinner. To see Cassara's happy hour menu click here, for the breakfast menu click here.

For food, we ordered to-go to bring back to our room so we could eat while watching a movie. We had the feta dip (garlic naan, cucumber, carrot, spicy honey $17), Cassara burger (½ lb. patty, grilled onion, white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, house sauce $20) and the fried chicken sandwich (pineapple slaw, swiss cheese, garlic aioli, spicy honey $19). All the food was delicious and we were happy with our choices.

If you plan on dining at the Cassara (and don't want Karl Strauss), keep in mind that there is a chunk of time when their kitchen & bar are closed. For an updated list of their hours and menus, click here!

Cassara dining area in the lobby.
Cassara dining area in the lobby.


Overall, I think the Cassara is a great hotel choice for families looking to spend several nights in Carlsbad, especially for those who plan on going to Legoland, the Flower Fields or the aquarium. Not only is it closer to those attractions, but it's also less expensive than the many hotels at the beach, and still offers complimentary shuttle service to the beach.

For my boyfriend and I, being a young couple with no kids, I can appreciate the money we saved by staying at the Cassara (spacious hotel room for less than $180 before fees) but we'll most likely be choosing another location to stay at if we make another Carlsbad trip.

Pros and Cons list of staying at the Cassara Carlsbad

I think the two-hotels-in-one concept threw us off and was confusing. The impression I got was that the Cassara had more traditional hotel rooms whereas the hotel on the other side of the building had apartment-like rooms. The hotel site advertises the Cassara as being part of their "luxury hotels," but this 2-in-1 concept didn't contribute to a luxury vibe.

Also, since the weather wasn't cooperating with our plans to hang by the pool, I sort of wish we had spent the extra money to stay at one of the resorts on the beach. That way, if it wasn't pool or beach weather, we could at least be close enough to walk around the beach area and Carlsbad village without worrying about a shuttle, or at the very least have on-site restaurants and bars to check out that weren't a part of the lobby.

In the off-chance we decide to go back to the Cassara, we'll definitely put in a request for a room that's not on the ground floor, and is located on the back (not the front) of the hotel.

Quick Hotel Facts

  • Check out: 11am

  • Check in: 4pm

  • Transportation: Complimentary shuttle service to Carlsbad beaches, Carlsbad premium outlets, Westin Carlsbad spa, and The Crossings at Carlsbad golf course

  • Pets: Yes, small pets up to 25lbs are allowed for a non-refundable fee of $50; maximum of 2 pets allowed

  • Parking: Underground self-parking for $24/day. No valet, no secured parking

  • Gym: Yes, there is a fitness center

  • Spa: No spa at the Cassara, however there is a shuttle that will take you to/from the Ocean Pearl Spa at the Westin Carlsbad

  • WiFi: Yes, free in room and in lobby WiFi

  • Rooms: To see an overview of the different types of rooms they offer, click here!

  • Resort Fee: daily mandatory urban destination charge of $20; includes premium internet access, $20 daily food/beverage credit to be used at the hotel, and daily one hour bike rental program

Ready to book your stay? I've linked the Cassara Carlsbad in the following links so you can quickly compare rates to find the best deal: TripAdviser, Expedia and, or you can simply fill out the form below:

Have you visited Carlsbad yet? Let me know in the comments where your favorite places to stay are!
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