Fodor's Expert Review Gaslamp Plaza Suites

520 E St., San Diego, California, 92101, United States, San Diego, California, USA See on Map

In 1913, the 11-story building that now houses the Gaslamp Plaza Suites was the city’s first skyscraper. Now a nationally registered historic site, the Gaslamp Quarter hotel still showcases many of the building’s original architectural embellishments, such as brass, Corinthian marble, mosaic tile, and Australian gumwood carpentry. While the once-towering building has since been eclipsed by modern high-rises, the Gaslamp Plaza Suites maintains a vintage charm that’s complemented by traditional European-style interiors. The rooftop terrace is also a scenic spot to enjoy the hotel's free breakfast.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Valet parking is $32 per day. Depending on your itinerary, public transit may be a better option than a car.


Recently renovated, elegantly appointed rooms feature traditional style, from the subtle striped wallpaper to the dark wood furniture. Suites include a mini-fridge, coffeemaker, microwave oven, dinner plates, and silverware.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Some rooms are on the cozy side and guests might not find the traditional furniture comfortable by modern overstuffed standards.

Photo: Silver Imagery
Junior/Mini Suite
Photo: Junior/Mini Suite


Smallish bathrooms feature butter yellow walls, white mosaic-tiled floors, marble sinks, large mirrors, and a subway-tiled shower-tub combo.


The hotel’s glamorous marble-sheathed lobby has a luxurious Old World feel, with elaborate ceiling moldings, brass elevators, and a mirrored ceiling inlay that reflects a glittering crystal chandelier. It isn’t exactly a place to lounge around though.

The hotel's rooftop terrace has comfortable patio seating with umbrellas and views of the Gaslamp and Coronado Bridge in the distance.


There’s no restaurant, but the hotel serves a continental breakfast on its rooftop terrace, which boasts panoramic views of the city.


No bar, either, but step outside and you'll find lots of options.


Getting Around

Much of San Diego is best explored by car, but staying in the Gaslamp Quarter makes public transit a viable option, depending on your itinerary. The City College trolley station is a 10-minute walk from the hotel; the trolley’s Green Line services the Gaslamp Quarter, the Santa Fe Depot (home to Amtrak and the Coaster, which services coastal communities to the north), Little Italy, Old Town, and the world-class Fashion Valley shopping center. Interstate 5 (known to locals as “The 5”), a major north-south freeway, is about a mile from the hotel; I-5 connects to other highways that cover the sprawling region. Park Boulevard, a few blocks away (take Seventh Avenue north, then east on A Street), heads north through scenic Balboa Park to the happening Hillcrest neighborhood.


Step outside the hotel and you have endless options for dining, from the casual to the classy, plus a lot of chains. Brian’s 24 (1-minute walk), “the restaurant that never sleeps,” serves 24/7 breakfast, along with lunch, dinner, and booze. The surprisingly classy spot features a copper-clad open kitchen, beveled glass windows, a crystal chandelier, and a mahogany bar with an interesting backstory. The handsome wood counter and backboard once belonged to Joan Crawford and have graced many bars since; you can still see the gouges from when Crawford danced on the bar in stilettos. Full Moon Sushi + Kitchen Bar (1-minute walk) serves ultra-fresh sushi and internationally inspired seafood small plates in a chic, contemporary setting. It’s spendy but worth it.


The Gaslamp Quarter has some of San Diego’s best nightlife. You’ll find everything from packed dance clubs to tiny hidden cocktail lounges. Parq Nightclub (1-minute walk) is a visual delight, with mood-enhancing lighting features in shades of fuschia and funky furniture. The cavernous warehouse space features live DJs, including the occasional celeb appearance. Like all Gaslamp clubs, the cover is steep and the dance floor is crowded. For a more mellow experience, Stone Brewing Taproom (10-minute walk) -- the Gaslamp outpost of the Stone Brewing empire, a big San Diego success story -- has a variety of craft beers on tap and an industrial-cool setting.


Lots of character and a convenient location are draws at this historic San Diego hotel with a European vibe. Vintage architectural elements like marble, brass, and fancy moldings make a great first impression, while renovated rooms complement the building’s original features with classy decor. Easy access to public transit and the Gaslamp’s many restaurants, bars, and shops also make the hotel a worthy option.


Local Flavor


Phones: 800-874–8770;619-232–9500

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