The Gallery Inn
Travel Blogs from San Juan
... but that did not stop us from enjoying the hell out of shrimp mofongo (shrimp stuffed in plaintains) and Cuba Libres.
We decided to take a 15-minute ferry from Old Town to the world headquarters for Bacardi Rum. Our Lonely Planet, in attempt #2 to screw us, advised that once we arrived at the ferry dock, not to waste $5 on a shuttle- it is "a 15-minute walk" to the Bacardi distillery. ONE HOUR and a stop for ice cream later (it was a long several-mile stroll), we arrived ...
... packed with the reverberation of the electronic anthems being
cranked out by the DJs!
Performers were everywhere. Looking
up there were tightrope walkers battling gravity and in any given direction you
could see jugglers and clowns cheering up and motivating the crowd. A paradise
for those into electronic music, this circus attraction beamed with energy. The two local electro DJs, ...
... ride tour through the distillery I learnt all about the family, the history of the famous white rum and how it is made. It was an interesting tour and as it is free (with free cocktails) who can argue? I tasted two 'newer’ flavours, which were a pineapple fusion and dragonberry. Refreshing and tasty.
Back over to San Juan for a spot of lunch at Raices Restaurant – a ‘touristy’ local ...
... port until we ran into the infamous Senor Frogs, and we had to go in this time. It was crazy busy in there, I have no idea how we got seated so quickly, with 5 people in our group too! But we did luckily, and we wasted no time with ordering drinks. While we were drinking our frozen margaritas, a lot of activities were going on around us. There's a head DJ/Host type person that organizes fun things to do, that normally you probably wouldn't do but you're on a Caribbean island and ...
... ride. You're speeding along one direction and then bam, you're off in another. Mud was flying everywhere and we were getting splattered regularly. At long last we arrived at the place our hike would start to the rappel cliff. What a hike it was. Everything was so slippery you really had to watch your footing. At some points they had rope attached from tree to tree to give you something to hang onto. Over rocks, under rocks (good thing ...
How has this inn rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews The Gallery Inn San Juan
Only the location is great!
The location, between El Morro and Fort San Cristobal, was super. The hotel was not. It felt as though we were sleeping in a dirty garden.
When the room flooded, the staff was gracious and moved us. However, this did not make up for the lack of hot water, the lack of water pressure, or the lack of apologies for same. No discounts were provided - even when they could not fix the water related issues. Our credit card was charged IN FULL, IN ADVANCE of our stay.
Do not waste your money at this hotel.
Disappointed with service
uThe Gallery Inn is cute & quirky, and an aesthetically interesting place to stay. That part was good. Our disappointment was mainly with the service. Here's the situation. We were vacationing with another couple, and needed to head out early (6 am) to catch the ferry to Vieques. Because our rooms didn't have alarm clocks, we asked the front desk for wake-up calls at 5:40. Ours came at 5:55, and the other couple didn't get a call at all. Scrambing for the car service that was waiting, we mentioned to the front desk person that our call came late, and we had to go to our friends' room to wake them up. No apologies, only "not my fault"... Forty-five minutes out of San Juan our friends realized that they left their cameras, cell phones, & some money at the hotel. We called right away and the front desk person *refused* to go check the room. We asked to speak to the manager, and were told that he was the only person to talk to, and that we'd have to call back later. Then he hung up on us. Taken aback by being hung up on, we called a half-hour later and the same fellow said that he'd send the cleaning service up "sometime later" to check, but that he "could not" put them in an envelope for pick-up later. All eventually ended fine. The woman who ran the car service volunteered to pick them up later that day, and put everything in an envelope & got it to us the next day via the ferry captain. The Gallery Inn could not have been more unhelpful if they had tried. I was shocked & amazed, especially because they were so nice on the phone & the night before. Could just be one bad employee, but the rooms weren't cheap and we generally expect to encounter basic courtesy & help no matter how cheap or expensive. Needless to say, we won't stay at The Gallery Inn on our next visit to lovely San Juan.
Great memories for our honeymoon
My wife and I stayed there for the first part of our honeymoon and were glad we took the chance. The location was magnificent, and really helped us to feel we'd gone somewhere (unlike the Hilton Caribe where we finished our honeymoon which could have been any beach in any city in America). We were fortunate enough to book a room with a terrace and jaccuzzi - the hot tub came in handy after walking around old San Juan all day. The owner stopped and talked to us (while one of her birds showed off), which was a nice touch. She even recomended a restaurant that we fell in love with.
Our entire visit to Puerto Rico was great (minus an incident at the Hilton on the day we changed hotels), but the Gallery plays a key role in all the stories we tell. Anytime we're telling about the trip it always starts off with the great hotel we checked into the first day.
If you plan on going off around the island, this may not be the best base - getting into and out of Old San Juan can be a pain - but I would suggest spending at least a few days at this wonderful hotel and using it as a homebase for exploring Old San Juan.
A hotel out of a novel
A charming place with courtyards filled with plants and amazing performing birds; however, the accommodations were a little too reminiscent of the Gull Reef Club from Herman Wouk's "Don't Stop the Carnival" for my wife. The first day there was no water in the shower; the second day the hot and cold taps were reversed. Breakfast consists of little more than coffee, bread, and small trays of cut up fruits--all for about $300 a night. The pleasant and helpful desk clerk's greeting of "Welcome to the mad house" turned out to be apt.
Sweet place, friendly owners, very accomodating. The nooks and crannies to explore are endless. We had a great time just hanging out.
I was expecting the Inn to be unique but was not expecting it to be so beautiful and magical. The Gallery Inn is a small paradise within the larger paradise that is Puerto Rico. Upon check-in, I was offered a "better" room (like any of the rooms are bad!) at no extra cost since it was a slow night. I found my room very beautful, the bed unbelievably comfortable. Everything was perfect. Jan and the staff were wonderful.I would not recommend the Inn to anyone traveling with children unless those children are well behaved. I would return and indeed I plan to.
Amazingly beautiful place. You must stay here at least one night.
The Gallery Inn--Wondefully kooky
The Gallery Inn was a delight! It was perfect for people like us (recent college grads who've tasted the good life but don't eat a steady diet of it). It wasn't posh, though it was certainly comfortable and safe; what really made it memorable was the fact that it's a living (albeit slightly cluttered) museum. Think amazing antiques store, not hip SoHo gallery. My partner really enjoyed the music room, with a baby grand piano and a harp. My only complaint is that I got a little cold at night and couldn't figure out how to adjust the A/C. Overall, I highly recommend the Gallery Inn. Feel free to email me if you want more info; I'd be glad to talk!
The Gallery Inn--Quirky And Classic
This 20-room bed-and-breakfast-type inn is for travelers...not tourists. If you require TV, a desk with hotel writing pads and a cabinet stocked with liquor and $3 bags of honey-roased peanuts, this is not the place for you.
But if a 16th Century building with oddly shaped rooms, hundreds and hundreds of watercolors and sculptures, a patio with five squaking parrots, classical music playing in the background into the nigh and an honor bar -- yes, honor bar -- appeal to you, this is the place to stay in Old San Juan.
The gracious and beautiful Jan D'Esopo (spelling), daughter of a Yale chest surgeon (I think)came to San Juan in 1960. Somewhere along the way she bought this building on the ocean at the edge of Old San Juan and has turned it into a work of art itself.
As I said, there are literally hundreds of pieces of art -- all for sale, all created by Jan -- displayed around the building. The balance of it all, how each piece is positioned is a work of creativity.
There's no restuarant here. Only continental breakfast available each morning with hot, black Puero Rican coffe, freshly baked rolls, very, very ripe bananas, tasty jellies, that sort of thing.
My wife and I walked up stairs, down passageways, climbed to the roof, went out back, and I still don't think we saw the whole place in the four days we stayed there.
About that honor bar. Jan selects a few bottles of wine each day and you can take your pick. Or use the liquor on the counter and mixes in the refrigerator to concoct your own coctails. Jan also keeps three or four different brands of beer in the fridge. Then just fill out a slip, drop it in a little box, and you'll be billed at checkout.
We were fortunate enought to be invited to Jan's private quarters where we listed to music from her CD-playing Steinway and were entertained by her pet cockatoo, which my wife was allowed to carry on her wrist.
It's a short walk from the Gallery to the attractions of Old San. Although the building looks out on the ocean, you're about 15 minutes away from a beach.
And if the Gallery isn't filled when you're there, Jan and her staff is great about moving you into a room that better suits your fancy.
We loved the Gallery. I'd stay there again in a Detroit minute.
It's more than a place to stay, it's art
Well, it's not just art, either. It's a gallery. Galeria San Juan has to be one of the most distinctive guest houses in the Caribbean. The rooms are a bit small, but each is
quite unique and the fact that you are staying in a building with roots in the 18th century, located just in Old Town in San Juan with a commanding rooftop view of
the Atlantic is just icing on the cake.
We stayed there in 1999 on a layover to pick up a Sunsail catamaran in Guadelope. I wish we would have arranged at least two nights in Galeria San Juan. The folks were friendly, and there was so much to see in the building that we could have spent an entire day inside. The owners -- sorry, I can't recall their names right now -- have placed literally hundreds of small sculptures, tiles, bas relief work, and paintings throughout the place.
You can stay in a resort and enjoy cookie cutter luxury, or you can stay in Galeria San Juan and enjoy eclectic, intellectual stimulation.