A historic hotel right in the heart of the busy Gaslamp district in San Diego, Ramada Gaslamp Convention Center oozes an old-fashioned charm from the minute you step into the lobby with its grand crystal chandeliers, stained glass, ornate decor and the vintage cage-style elevator once touted as the “fastest elevator in the world”. While it is not exactly upscale or spanking new, its convenient location that connects you to nearby attractions and affordable price point more than makes up for it.
Glamorous lobby with connecting restaurant
Built in 1913, Ramada Gaslamp Convention Center’s interior decor evokes a strong sense of nostalgia reminiscent of old hollywood glamour. Check-in is quick and fuss-free and the lobby is also connected to a 24-hour restaurant next door, which offers room service for the hotel’s guests. There is also free shuttle service to and from the airport, which runs every hour, but it is recommended to make a reservation in advance.
Antique elevator with metal gate
The twin elevator system built in 1913 fascinated hotel guests back then and was even touted as the “fastest elevator in the world”. Today, Ramada Gaslamp Convention Center still retains the original look of the elevators from the 1900s, which adds to the hotel’s historic charm.
Complete with a door and a metal grill gate, the vintage elevator looks cute but might be hard to use, especially for guests carrying a lot of luggage as the door is quite heavy and you have to hold on to the door and pull open the metal gate before you can make your way into the rather small elevator.
For me personally, I had this irrational worry that my hand would get stuck everytime I tried to pull open the gates. It was once the fastest elevator, but that was in the 1900s, therefore, its speed is naturally slower than the usual elevators in hotels today and you have to exercise more patience when boarding it.
Small but well-furnished room with modern amenities
The room is small and rather basic but it feels clean and it has all the essential items you need. Even though it is a historic hotel, it still comes with modern amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi-service, iron and ironing board, safe, flat-screen TV, desk with desk lamp, bedside phone charger etc.
As it is situated in the Gaslamp district, which is the entertainment and nightlife area of San Diego, it can get noisy at night, but ear plugs are offered so you can wear them if you are a light sleeper. I slept like a log and didn’t hear any noises even though I did not use the ear plugs and stayed on the second floor.
Clean but small bathroom
The bathroom is a long, narrow rectangular shape, therefore, you might find it extremely cramped if you are of a bigger size. You can’t open your arms wide, that is how narrow it is. The showering area probably measures only about one metre by one metre (about 3 ft by 3 ft). However, it does come with all the necessary toiletries and it is quite clean.
Affordable and no-frills boutique hotel in a great location
Given that I only paid slightly over 100 USD for one night’s stay and it is in such a great location that is of walkable distance to all the shops and restaurants in Gaslamp, I find Ramada Gaslamp Convention Center a worthwhile accommodation.
Additionally, I like that it offers free airport shuttle service, which means you could save at least 20 USD for the cab fare to and from the airport. Ramada Gaslamp Convention Center is also a short walk away from Westfield Horton Plaza, a shopping mall in downtown San Diego. The nearest trolley station, Fifth Avenue, which connects you to all the attractions in San Diego is also just a few minutes walk away.