The Ramada Gaslamp/Convention Center hotel is better known locally as the Ramada St. James. This historic hotel was the original St. James Hotel, which at eleven stories was the first high-rise luxury hotel in San Diego. Built in 1913 in time for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, it featured twin elevators that were once the fastest in the world, and a rooftop terrace with 360-degree panoramic city views that are even more spectacular today.
Ramada St. James is a harmonious blend of Victorian era charm and modern amenities and services. The pristine hotel is in a fabulous Gaslamp Quarter location on 6th Avenue between E and F Streets, and two blocks from Horton Plaza. It is close to a bevy of bars, restaurants, and shops, and is within walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center.
Ramada Gaslamp Ambiance
From the sidewalk, the burgundy and blue-grey brick façade, large rooftop neon hotel sign, and globed street lamp – emblematic of the Gaslamp Quarter, harken back to the hotel’s early 1900s roots. Step back in time when you enter the tastefully decorated lobby where shimmering 1913 chandeliers hang from the detailed tin ceiling, and stained glass windows rise above a marble staircase. The white, cream, tan, blue, and black color palette, classic style, plush conversation areas, and friendly guest service reflect an ambiance where refinement and decorum are still in vogue.
While some guests consider the hotel “dated,” other guests embrace what they see as “vintage appeal.” Be aware that if it is modern shiny glam you’re looking for, this may not be your hotel. If you’re into the charm that only comes with age and experience, you’ll love it here. Enjoy the many vintage details of the Ramada St. James that make it special, such as the original cage elevators, the carefully restored public spaces, and the detailed furnishings and Victorian décor.
Conventioneers and business travelers will appreciate the 2,200 square feet of meeting and event space supported with catering services and use of audio-visual equipment. A fully equipped business center, and a restaurant that is open 24 hours are also great perks for the savvy business traveler. Solo travelers and couples looking for great value for the money will also favor the Ramada St. James. The hotel is probably not the best choice for families due to the small size rooms.
Ramada Gaslamp Rooms and Suites
All 99 rooms and four suites at Ramada St. James have been renovated. Modern amenities that have been added include complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with premium channels, coffee makers, laptop safes, electronic check-out, magnetic room keys, and 24-hour room service. Some rooms also have downtown views, microwaves, and refrigerators. USB ports on the night stands and electrical outlets on both night stands and desks are a nice touch.
Accommodations at Ramada St. James come in three styles of suites and two styles of rooms. Guests choose from the San Diego Presidential Suite, one-bedroom deluxe suites, or two bedroom suites. The spacious presidential suite is 1,300 square feet with wet bar, mini-bar, and LCD flat-screen TV. The separate bedroom has a king four-poster bed and matching armoire. The elegant marble bathroom features a four-person Jacuzzi and separate shower.
Tenth floor one-bedroom deluxe suites have a separate bedroom with a queen bed, living room with sofa bed, dining table, wet bar, mini-bar, LCD flat-screen TVs in both rooms, a full kitchen, and a Jacuzzi tub in the marble bathroom. Ninth floor two-bedroom suites have queen beds in separate bedrooms, a living room with sofa bed and LCD TV, Microwave, and refrigerator. These suites have one shared bathroom. In total, there are four suites at the Ramada St. James, so it may require some advance planning to snag one.
Rooms at the Ramada Gaslamp are on the small side and many have armoires instead of closets. If you prefer your stay on an upper floor, request a room with either a downtown or San Diego Bay view. Most rooms on the lower floors do not have remarkable views. Cozy queen rooms feature a comfortable queen bed; double queen rooms are actually adjoining queen rooms with a shared bath. This would be the most workable accommodation for families.
Room tip: The Double Deuce, located on the F Street side of the hotel, is a lively “boot rockin’” honky-tonk that is known for its DJs, drink specials, mechanical bull, and party atmosphere. Consequently, it can be noisy. Avoid taking a room on that side of the hotel, if possible, although rooms on that side of the hotel come with complimentary ear plugs.
Ramada Gaslamp Hotel Amenities
Night owls and early birds will appreciate Brian’s 24 Bar & Grill – the restaurant that never sleeps. Open 24-hours a day, the family-run restaurant serves New American comfort food, specializing in breakfast that is served all day. The menu is crowded, catering to niches throughout the day – breakfast, sandwiches, entrees, lunch specials, appetizers, pizzas, light eaters, happy hour, greens and soups, burgers and burritos, desserts, and late night eats. Chicken and waffles is a signature dish, but guests also compliment several other menu selections on review sites.
Brian’s 24 has recently remodeled the restaurant replacing old school classy with a more modern look. The original mahogany bar purchased from Joan Crawford’s estate is still a fixture at the restaurant, along with the 1913 chandelier, tin ceiling, beveled glass window wall, and copper kitchen. (Look for the stiletto marks on the bar top where Crawford used to dance during private parties when it was in her home.) Grey walls, white pedestal tables with chocolate bistro chairs, pops of orange and blue, and framed photos reflect a casual hipster ambiance. There is a tiny patio for sidewalk dining.
Other amenities at Ramada St. James include complimentary shuttle service between the hotel and the airport, and affordable valet parking at prices that beat local city lots. A business center in the hotel provides guests use of desktop computers and printers; high-speed wireless Internet is available throughout the hotel. They also provide complimentary use of a nearby full-service gym. Guests can take advantage of hotel room service 24/7, concierge services, an activities desk, a front desk safe-deposit box, ATM services, and complimentary newspapers. The hotel is ADA accessible. There are no amenities on the rooftop deck beyond comfortable seating and killer views.
Ramada St. James is dedicated to green lodging and has been awarded an impressive Gold status for the property’s commitment to green practices. If an eco-friendly hotel is your priority, this hotel qualifies to make your list.
Ramada Gaslamp Neighborhood
The bustling Gaslamp Quarter offers a wide array of activities. There are approximately 90 neighborhood restaurants from casual to fine dining within walking distance of Ramada St. James. Nearby Westfield Horton Plaza is an expansive outdoor mall that is home to department stores, chain retailers, boutiques, bistros, and a movie theater. If you’re in town during baseball season, Petco Park is just blocks away; grab your Padres tickets and cheer on the home team, or catch the action from “Park at the Park” on K Street or Level 9 Rooftop Bar & Lounge atop Hotel Indigo in East Village.
In the Gaslamp Quarter you can enjoy musical and theatre performances, comedy shows, orchestra events, and museums. Check out Copley Symphony Hall, Spreckels Theatre, Fourth and B, House of Blues, and the Civic Center Theatre; they are just a few venues where you can enjoy the arts. Seaport Village, near the San Diego Convention Center, is the place to stroll among eclectic shops and outdoor eateries, or make your way out to the embarcadero overlooking San Diego Bay. It is a great option for finding San Diego gifts and souvenirs. Widen your scope beyond the Downtown area and explore Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Pacific Beach, SeaWorld, or Old Town; they’re all minutes away by car and offer their own unique experiences.
Ramada Gaslamp Promotions
Two long-standing hotel packages at Ramada St. James have been to stay two consecutive nights or more and receive a discount of the best available rate, or book 14 days in advance and take advantage of even greater discounts. The hotel offers monthly featured specials, so check the website for available travel deals during your stay.