Where Should I Stay in Gay Puerto Vallarta? Should I Do an All-Inclusive Resort?

NO. Most definitely, you should avoid doing all-inclusive when visiting Puerto Vallarta! That may be appropriate elsewhere, but it is a mistake most visitors to PV make only on their first visit. The city is charming and walkable, with many affordable and delicious restaurants and bars, and there are ZERO good options for all-inclusive resorts that cater to gay men.

The area where you will want to stay is known as Zona Romantica (sometimes also called the Pink Zone or La Zona Rosa, although that has been falling out of favor in recent years). It is the area on the far south end of the Bay of Banderas, south of the Rio Cuale. The gay beach is known as Playa de Los Muertos (or simply Los Muertos), and it is the section of beach south of the intersection of El Malecon and Abedul Street. A very handy landmark is Blue Chairs Hotel—but it is only to be used as a landmark! Do not stay at Blue Chairs (my strong opinion)! There are many good options nearby, and Blue Chairs is notorious for being an always-under-construction dump. Visit the rooftop bar if you want, but avoid the hotel. I also avoid the Blue Chairs section of the beach, as the only reason I could see to visit that spot would be the convenience of charging the food and drinks to your room. Since you won’t be staying there, you can simply skip it.

So, the question remains: Where SHOULD you stay?

My favorite options are to find a private condo via AirBNB, VRBO, or other such apps; or a gay-friendly private hotel with a liberal “guest” policy. Some specific suggestions and more info below:

Hotel Mercurio. Hotel Mercurio is a gay staple in the Romantic Zone. It is a specifically gay hotel with a private courtyard where they hold regular, weekly events. Those events do come with some liveliness and noise, so this is not the hotel for you if you require a silent and tranquil ambiance. The events take place in the central courtyard around the pool and bar area, and include weekend drag brunch and a Sunday afternoon even called Beers Boys & Burgers that includes go-go dancers and burgers and beer for a single affordable price. Unlike many hotels in Puerto Vallarta, Hotel Mercurio does not strictly monitor overnight guests or charge an extra fee for having such a guest.

Regarding bringing a guest to your room in Puerto Vallarta: many hotels simply do not allow this, while others charge an extra fee or have a strict check-in process for guests. Many visitors have been surprised to find that they can’t bring a friend to their room, and you can imagine their consternation. This is simply the way things are done in much of Latin America, and rather than cause a scene and end up having a bad experience, simply choose a different option: stay at a hotel with a liberal guest policy or at a private condominium that does not have a strict door policy and where the owner does not live on-site! Unfortunately, the economic inequality that exists between tourists and locals means that tourists are frequently targeted for scams in all of their various various forms—robbing you in your hotel room, perhaps while you are in the bathroom; drugging you and robbing you; etc.—so I don’t mind a hotel that has a policy that requires guests to check in or leave their ID at the front desk. That helps to reassure you that the known scammers are kept out, and that the person has provided their name to the hotel and can be tracked later if there is a problem. So: strict check-in policy OK, “No Guests” policy not OK.

Another reasonably affordable option is the adults-only Hotel Amaca. This used to be one of the nicest gay hotels in PV, with a lovely rooftop pool and bar and a view of the entire bay—until the giant condominium project (and one of the tallest buildings in the Romantic Zone) Signature by Pinnacle was built directly in front of the hotel, completely blocking its view. The hotel still has a gay-friendly vibe and reputation, although it is not strictly gay any longer. It does allow visitors, and the rooms are comfortable and clean. Many rooms come with a balcony and/or in-room hammock.

Some of the other options that are centrally located and affordable include Amapas 115 (aka Amapas Apartments) and Villamercedes Petit Hotel. Hotels that have been known to cause difficulty if you want to bring a guest to your room include any of the super-cheap hotels (under $30 per night), Hotel Eloisa (guest policy inconsistently enforced), and these hotels that I would recommend all gay visitors avoid due to multiple reports of homophobic harassment: Emperador Vallarta, Hotel Tropicana, and Playa los Arcos.

If you decide to go the private condo route, it is best to read some previous reviews. You can usually glean from the description and the owner profile and previous reviews whether the place is gay-friendly or not. It is common for people who own buildings to rent out part of their building as guest units, and it is best to avoid that situation if the owner resides on-site, unless you know in advance that they cater to/accept gay guests and allow visitors. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are often scams set up to tempt you with a crazy-low price. If you see a listing for a cheap unit that has no reviews or only a single review, you may wish to choose a different option.

A few final tips:

  • Puerto Vallarta is hilly. The fact that your condo has multiple flights of stairs is not always obvious when looking at a map, so you may want to do some research into that if climbing stairs is a concern.
  • I always indicate 2 adult guests when making reservations even if I am traveling solo, so that the hotel doesn’t have any reason to complain if I bring a guest.
  • If you have a good experience at a private condo and you have a way to contact the owner, you may negotiate a better rate (and save both you and the owner some money) by contacting them directly rather than through the booking agency for a future stay. Of course, booking outside the formal system may make it harder to claim a loss on vacation insurance if you are forced to cancel a trip.
  • Always make sure your choice of habitation has all the things you consider essential: air conditioning, WiFi, etc. I accidentally booked a room without air conditioning once, and I had to pay more to move to a better room after spending a sleepless and sweaty first night.

If you have any of your own recommendations, or places to avoid, please feel free to comment below. I always appreciate hearing of options I haven’t tried before!

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