San Sebastián’s most distinguished lodging is Hacienda Jalisco (reservations through Pamela Thompson in Puerto Vallarta, tel./fax 322/224-8122, 322/222-9638, or 322/226-1014, www.haciendajalisco.com ), competently run by owner Bud Acord (“Roberto” as he’s known locally) and his staff. Although the Jalisco’s luxuriously rustic ambience alone is reason enough to stay, it is owner Bud Acord, with his deep, loving understanding of things Mexican, who’ll most likely make your visit a memorable one.
He can enlighten you about the old days on the hacienda, arrange guides for hikes or horseback excursions, or talk about the time the president of Mexico arrived virtually unannounced. Classic movie buffs are especially welcome—Bud, who comes from a longtime Hollywood family, enjoys reminiscing of days with such Hollywood chums as Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ava Gardner.
Hacienda Jalisco’s rates, including a hearty breakfast and dinner, run about $80 per person per night. The antiques-embellished guest rooms are elegantly rustic (with hurricane lamps for lighting) and comfortable, with hot-water shower baths. Bud insists on reservations at least a week ahead of time, because he’s proud of the fare he serves and wants to be prepared. (Hacienda Jalisco is occasionally a focal point for an excellent horseback tour to or from Puerto Vallarta; see the sidebar “The Hacienda Trail.”)
Another good option is Hostal El Pabellón (López Mateo 55, tel. 322/297-0200, $18 s, $37 d, $55 t). Here, you seem to be stepping into an earlier age. Past the entrance, a graceful sala leads to a patio garden of fragrant orange trees surrounded by doorways opening into spacious, high-ceilinged rooms; you can easily imagine that, long ago, El Presidente once slept here. The nine rooms have private hot-water shower baths.
On the southeast side of town, find the Hotel del Puente (Lerdo de Tejada 3, tel./fax 322/297-2834 or 322/297-2859, $30 d), a former family house that dates from not long after the town’s founding in 1605, past the plaza corner adjacent downhill to the Presidencia Municipal. Here, the long-established Trujillo family has renovated an ancestral home and decorated it with handsome rustic furniture, attractive tile highlights, and wall art. All seven rooms open to a quiet, sunny inner patio garden. Options include rooms, all with private baths and hot-water showers, with one to five beds.
On the west side of town, on the right side, uphill, off the Puerto Vallarta ingress road, is the redecorated Hotel Real de San Sebastián (Calle Zaragoza 41, tel. 322/297-3223 or 322/297-3224, www.sansebastiandeloeste.com.mx ). Here, a new owner, with fancy furnishings, is trying to convert the former plain Hotel El Pedregal into something boutique. He offers six clean but small and dark rooms, embellished with antique-chic lace, scrolly bedspreads, and shiny new table lamps, for local high-end rates of $46 s, $65 d, with breakfast.
Yet another attractive choice (that I have only been able to visit on the Internet) is La Galerita de San Sebastián (tel. 322/297-2967, www.lagalerita.com.mx , $95 s, $105 d, with breakfast), a lovely stone-and-wood rustic home on the northeast side of the plaza, two blocks past Hotel del Puente. Owners offer three simply but invitingly decorated suites, with bath, for about $95 s, $105 d, with breakfast.
If nothing else is available, you’ll probably be able to stay at Hotel Posada del Sol (López Mateos 15, tel. 322/297-2854, $10 s, $20 d), on the town plaza’s southwest corner (on the right as you enter town), distinguished by its arch-decorated high front porch. Here you can drink in the entire scene—plaza, church, mountain backdrop—by day and sleep in an 18th-century room by night.
The hotel’s fortunate deviation from 18th-century furnishings is its clean (but with the exception of two rooms, mildew-smelling) rooms, with electric lights and private hot-water bathrooms. Rooms surround a homey hillside patio garden decorated with flowers and fruit trees, all overseen by the kindly management of owner Margarita García.