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“Not worth the price” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Gallery Inn

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The Gallery Inn
3.0 of 5 Inn   |   204 - 206 Norzagaray St | Old San Juan, San Juan 00901, Puerto Rico   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #10 of 27 San Juan B&B and Inns
Decatur, Georgia
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Not worth the price”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2009

We had high hopes for our stay at the Gallery Inn, but unfortunately we ended up disappointed. If we hadn't had to pay $275/night, maybe we wouldn't feel so bad about our stay. It just was not nearly as nice as it looked based on the photos and in the many reviews on this site. If you have your heart set on staying in Old San Juan (and thus farther away from the beaches), you don't mind paying the money and you like a hotel with character, you'll like the Gallery Inn. It just wasn't for us.

Here's a list of what we didn't like and what we did.

Problems:
- No radio or tv in the room (ok without tv, but we had to buy a radio)
- Used (as in not new) shampoo & conditioner bottles
- Very loud outside - had to wear earplugs at night to sleep
- 1/2 price wine should've been at least one free glass given the price of the room
- breakfast was too basic and repetitious
- bugs in the room (little ants that got into any open food and our suitcase)
- right across from La Perla (a notoriously dangerous neighborhood - apparently there is an understanding in San Juan that tourists are off limits)

Pluses:
- Convenient to seeing main tourist attractions on foot
- Good view of water from our window
- Historic and interesting
- Staff was friendly
- Internet was available for free using computer in lobby

  • Liked — Location - could walk to all of Old San Juan
  • Disliked — The price and no parking
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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623 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (176)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
nyc
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2009

The Gallery Inn is a MUST for everyone visiting Old San Juan! It is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. The owners are lovely, and helpful. They have huge birds, tropical plants, and a great pool. You can stay in a unique room, and have an experience like no other! I love it! I plan to return many, many times in the future. They are in a quiet area, but walking distance to everything. The decks have ocean views! The place is both family friendly and romantic - I have no clue HOW they manage to do that, but they do. If you do not stay at the Gallery, you do not see Old San Juan. We totally loved it. We did not want to go back to Manhattan!

  • Liked — The owners, the room, and the huge birds!
  • Disliked — I loved everything
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh, NC
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2009

This is a unique, interesting, eclectic hotel! If you like to surround yourself with artists, musicians, and creativity--this place is for you. I will stay here every time I'm in San Juan. The location couldn't be better. The birds are great. The staff is friendly.

  • Liked — The art, the grounds, the location
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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united kingdom
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2008

Definitely a unique property and a wonderful stay for a certain type of traveler. However, you need to be patient with amenities and basic room functionality, this is a very old property that is difficult to keep in shape so check into the Hilton if you are looking for a modern hotel. This is for history and culture lovers, it is well situated and within walking distance to Old San Juan. Also, if you are not an Obama fan, perhaps the atmosphere might provoke resentment, the hotel is clutttered with Obama campaign and Obama visit memorabilia. My main complaint is that the rooms were not clean and in disrepair - otherwise an interesting and enjoyable stay.

  • Liked — Beds were awesome
  • Disliked — Poorlt maintained rooms
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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New York
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2008

We spent Christmas week at the Gallery Inn and had a wonderful time. The house is fascinating to explore, and the highlight is sitting outside on the patio feeling the warm breezes for breakfast and again for an evening glass of wine. The owners are friendly and gave great advice for restaurants. If you delight in the unconventional, this is the place for you.

  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Indiana
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2008

The Gallery Inn is a magical hotel that transports you to the time of kings and queens where on a Friday night, a chamber music concert can be heard through the historic walls of the building. The incredible swimming pool built into the ruins showcases the magical blend of history and modern amenities. This hotel is a marvelous jewel that is complimented by the warm hospitality of owners, Jan and Manuco.
Thanks to the wonderful staff for an incredible stay!
Emilio Colon, concert cellist

  • Liked — romantic allure
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Seattle
Top Contributor
79 reviews 79 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2008

For those short on time, here’s the take-home message about the Gallery Inn, delivered with a note that I am not usually given to hyperbole, nor to the use of upper case letters to emphasize a point. Here it is, then: in the best and most literal meaning of the word, this place is EXCEPTIONAL. If I could pick any one of the countless places in which I’ve stayed over the years, for the sheer pleasure of being there for a time, it would be this enchanted little spot at the top of Old San Juan.

Since you may think you have good cause to question my qualifications for making this rather extreme statement, here’s the abbreviated version of my experiential cv... Me: old(-ish) - fifty-two, to be precise. Incurable Victorian romantic. Seen a lot, kicked around the planet for four decades. Have stayed in places ranging from family-run homes in Indonesian villages to five-star hotels in major capitals, from a cheap little pension in Florence to the spectacular Al Bustan Palace in Oman. So mark this, gentle reader: in all my many wanderings, I have never found a place more delightful, more romantic or more special than the Gallery Inn. No kidding.

What follows will probably end up sounding like hagiography or the text for a hotel brochure, but it isn’t. I write this simply because I believe strongly that, in this day and age, people who have the vision to create places like this should be appropriately praised and reinforced. So...

Imagine a beautiful 350-year-old colonial house, complete with original walls and wide-beamed ceilings. Now fill that house with sculpture, artwork, soft romantic lighting, antique wood furniture, canopy beds and an atmosphere of serene tranquility. Give it a swimming pool flanked by sculptures and partly divided by the ruins of an original 17th century wall, and next to the pool a canopied couch strewn with gorgeous cushions. Place the house at the highest point in San Juan, in the heart of the old city, with expansive rooftop views across the harbor, the town and the ocean. What you have with all this is not a hotel, but a haven.

The Gallery Inn is owned by the affable Jan Desopo, a local artist and sculptor whose beautiful work fills the hotel, together with innumerable other pieces of artwork garnered from a lifetime of collecting. Everything about, and in, the inn is deliciously tasteful; walk through the endless series of rooms and enjoy all the surprises as the house opens up to you. There are obvious charms: narrow staircases and old wooden doors, tapestries and paintings, the lovely swimming pool, and a dining room whose furniture and decor make it seem as though it was frozen in time somewhere in the distant colonial past. And the less obvious: small portraits, sculptures or ornaments in and around every corner.

Granted, the place isn’t cheap. Rooms start at $270 a night and go up from there. I first discovered the Gallery Inn four years ago, and stayed in two of the smaller rooms, both beautifully intimate and romantic. Since then, Desopo has expanded the inn by buying the two houses on either side, and has managed to create a quite sizeable hotel that doesn’t seem that way at all; by virtue of its being divided into so many individually distinctive rooms, it has lost none of its intimacy and charm. This time around, my wife and I were upgraded to the Ocean Suite at the top of the house, a glorious set of old rooms with its own terrace overlooking the Atlantic.

One of the most impressive aspects of this hotel is that there are no cheap short cuts anywhere within its walls: everything here speaks of an uncompromising - and expensive - sense of taste. The only thing it doesn’t have - thank heaven - is televisions. None of the rooms have them, which will disappoint anyone whose idea of a vacation is to lay around channel-surfing the local cable network. The Gallery Inn is for those who want to retreat to another world, where books - they’re everywhere - replace electronic entertainment, and an evening can be spent in quiet contemplation over a glass of wine in a softly-lit room, or on a terrace or rooftop overlooking city and sea. Coming here you do indeed enter a different, self-contained world, far from the sometime-chaos of San Juan’s streets with their often tacky commercialism and roaming hordes of cruise-ship tourists.

If you do want to go wander around Old San Juan, it’s right outside the front door, with everything within easy walking distance. But you may find yourself feeling as my wife and I did: that we really didn’t want to leave the sanctuary of the inn’s lovely, romantic spaces, where - with the exception of an occasional car alarm or low-flying plane - you can easily forget that the hustle of urban Puerto Rico lies just beyond these ancient walls.

In a world of increasingly mass-marketed tourism and homogenous, forgettable chain hotels that all look and feel like each other no matter whether they’re in Taipei or Turin, Desopo’s Gallery Inn stands out as a rare beacon of taste, a refuge for the world-weary.

Herewith the summary: for $270, you can stay for around 1.6 nights at any of the big hotels in the Condado region east of Old San Juan (and fork over an additional $25 cab fare to get in and back)... and I guarantee that, on your departure, whatever place you pick will rapidly fade to a featureless, lackluster image in the rear-view mirror of your memory. Or you can shell out the minimal extra cash and treat yourself to a stay that you’ll remember forever.

There are times when it makes sense to save the extra money... this most assuredly isn’t one of them. As a widely traveled veteran of the planet’s hotels, and a connoisseur of its romantic places, I unhesitatingly give the Gallery Inn my highest recommendation. Long may its magic endure.

P.S. If you like parrots, there are five at the Inn including one named Campeche who loves cheese and music, with preference given - reputedly - to the latter...

  • Liked — Everything
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Gallery Inn

Address: 204 - 206 Norzagaray St | Old San Juan, San Juan 00901, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > San Juan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 27 B&Bs / Inns in San Juan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — The Gallery Inn 3*
Number of rooms: 22
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This sprawling 22-room ocean-view boutique hotel features lush gardens, tree-shaded patios and secluded and private nooks at every turn. The Wine Deck offers breath-taking, panoramic views from the highest point in Old San Juan. The newly completed sculpture waterfall pool meanders through ancient brick passageways, past fragrant gardenias. Six active art studios and world-class piano recitals are all open to our guests. Unique, elegant and exotic: the Old World charm of The Gallery Inn. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Gallery Hotel San Juan

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