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A historic picture of the now Gaslamp Hostel shows children in the windows and a group out front.

our story

Gaslamp Hostel is in the historic 1887 Llewelyn Building. In the 1800s, San Diego’s booming prosperity brought a variety of characters to town, including prostitutes and gamblers. One of the more famous residents was Wyatt Earp, who ran three gambling halls. Gradually, San Diego commerce moved north of Market Street. The abandoned area to the south became a red light district called the Stingaree, apparently derived the saying one could be stung as badly in the Stingaree as you could in the bay by the stingrays.

Built by William Llewelyn, it was the family shoe store until 1906. Thereafter, the building was occupied by a variety of generally of unsavory reputation. In 1917 the proprietors were charged with operating a 'cat house'. The charges were dropped after the tenants promised to behave.

A historic photo shows the first floor had a adult theater and adult book store in years past in the former Stingaree.

Speaking of spirits, the hostel also has a reputation of being haunted. There are several rooms and areas guests and staff have claimed to have had an 'experience' or a ghostly sighting. Ask us about the stories! 

Apparently that didn't stick because in the 1970s, the then Louis Hotel was considered one of the least savory addresses in the Gaslamp Quarter.


In 1994, the unsavory reputation changed to a fun one with the opening of the Grand Pacific Hostel, later renamed USA Hostels. Closed in January 2020, it's was reopened by former staff who wanted to keep the hostel spirit alive and provide an iconic place for visitors to our city.

Historic photo of the original Llewelyn's family shoe store
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