Guesthouses and Local Hotels
Puerto Vallarta, like many coastal resorts, began as an old town that expanded into a new zona hotelera, where big hotels rise along a golden strand of beach. In the old town, surrounded by the piquant smells, sights, and charms of old Mexico, are the family-managed casas de huéspedes and smaller hotels, often arranged around sunny, plant-festooned inner patios.
Such lodgings vary from scruffy to spic and span, and from humble to distinguished. At minimum, you can expect a plain room, a shared toilet, and hot-water shower, and plenty of atmosphere for your money. Rates typically run $15–40, depending upon season and amenities. Discounts for long-term stays are often available. Such family-run, small hostelries are rarely near the beach, unlike many of the medium and larger older hotels.
Medium and Larger Older-Style Hotels
These hotels make up a large fraction of the recommendations of this book. Many veteran travelers find it hard to understand why people come to Mexico and spend $200 or more a day for a hotel room when good alternatives are available for as little as $35.
Many such hostelries are the once-grand first-class hotels established long before their towering international-class neighbors mushroomed along the beach. You can generally expect a clean, large (but not deluxe) room with bath and toilet and even sometimes a private beach-view balcony. Although they often share the same velvety sand and golden sunsets as their more expensive neighbors, such hotels usually lack the costly international-standard amenities—air-conditioning, cable TV, direct-dial phones, tennis courts, exercise gyms, and golf access—of the big resorts. Their guests, however, enjoy surprisingly good service, good food, and a native ambience more charming and personal than that of many of their five-star neighbors.
Booking these hotels is straightforward. All of them may be dialed direct (from the United States, dial 011-52, then the local area code and number) and, like the big resorts, many even have toll-free U.S. and Canadian information and reservation numbers.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition