Romance on a Budget
On maps it might be listed as Colonia Emiliano Zapata, but the neighborhood at the center of Puerto Vallarta’s old town is almost universally known as The Romantic Zone. Stroll down its cobblestone streets, or watch a beachside sunset over Banderas Bay and you’ll know why. It’s also the area’s favorite destination for shopping, dining and night life, and a stay here puts you within walking distance of all the action, and the beach. And there’s good news for those seeking to stretch their vacation dollars: The Romantic Zone is home to a number of reasonably priced hotels that deliver hospitable service and three-star amenities, near to or on the beach, and in the heart of the action.
Posada del Roger
Two blocks from the ocean, and right in the heart of the Romantic Zone, this tidy family-owned property is an excellent value for those who don’t require the full resort experience, but still expect clean, functional accommodations to serve as home base for explorations of the city and excursions to the beach. The tile-roofed street facade is charming yet unassuming, while the interior opens to a landscaped courtyard with a pool and—for those willing to climb three flights of steps—a rooftop terrace. Rooms are compact and simply furnished in traditional Mexican style, but include modern amenities such as flat-screen cable television, wireless Internet and mini refrigerators. Rates beginning around $50.
Casa Dona Susana
This boutique hotel is a good choice for couples, as it is an adults-only property situated near galleries and restaurants, and equally close to the water. Compared to some of the area’s larger resorts, Casa Dona Susana offers a more personable feel, with rooms individually decorated with hand- carved furniture and traditional folk art. Standard amenities include Internet access, in-room refrigerators and an on-site restaurant and bar. In addition to the rooftop pool and sun deck, guests have access to the nearby beach club facilities at the company’s sister property, Playa Los Arcos, which sits on Los Muertos Beach less than two blocks away. Room rates start around $60, with the more desirable courtyard view rooms going for a bit more. The hotel also offers an all-inclusive rate plan.
Los Arcos Suites
A family-friendly property, Los Arcos Suites is ideal for anyone seeking a bit of extra elbowroom at a reasonable price. Guest quarters are spacious and include kitchenettes and separate living areas with sofa beds. As compared to other similarly ranked hotels in the area, there are several features that make this hotel especially well suited for stays with younger children. These include a separate youth pool, central elevator and available childcare services. An on-site restaurant and a coffee shop, combined with the in- room kitchenettes and a rooftop BBQ grill, provide a variety of dining options without having to leave the property. The hotel is also within easy walking distance of the beach—even for younger children—and guests have access to the Playa Los Arcos beach club. Room only rates start around $85 for up to four guests, and an all-inclusive plan is also available.
Playa Los Arcos Beach Resort & Spa
This family-owned hotel is a long-time favorite not only with U.S. travelers, but also Mexican nationals on holiday. The reason: Play Los Arcos provides clean beachfront rooms and a full range of amenities at very reasonable rates. The theme is Mexican Colonial, which translates to subdued warm tones, hand-carved wooden furnishings and extensive use of tile and marble. Rooms and suites range from compact to expansive, with most having ocean views over the central pool patio, and some directly facing the sea. The hotel beach club provides chairs, umbrellas and drink service on one of the most popular sections of Los Muertos Beach, just north of the new town pier. On-season rates start at less than $100 a night, and for another $20 to $30 you can have a direct view of Banderas Bay from your balcony.
Emperador Vallarta Beachfront Hotel & Suites
One of the few complaints that repeat visitors to this beachfront landmark have is that the word is getting out, and popularity sometimes makes securing a favorite suite a bit more difficult. Simple non-view rooms accommodate the truly budget conscious, but the real values are the standard suites, which add kitchen facilities and a shaded indoor-outdoor dining and sitting area that’s larger than the usual balcony. All rooms are air conditioned, and beds have recently been upgraded with pillow top mattresses. For those who don’t need fancy, bud do expect clean and courteous, this is a good choice, as pricing for an ocean view standard suite begin around $90, while additional living space can be had for around $120 a night.