by Andrew Collins
Out of Town
There’s a reason that hotels charge twice as much – or sometimes even three times more – for a room facing the crashing surf or a soaring mountain peak than, say, a unit overlooking a parking lot or airshaft. Venturing away to some cushy retreat surrounded by visually arresting scenery practically guarantees romance (provided you bring a hot date). Overnight accommodations with stunning views come in many varieties, from antiques-filled B&B rooms overlooking sweeping desert mesas to sleek, skyscraper hotel suites offering magnificent panoramas of city skylines or monumental suspension bridges.
Here are eight gay-friendly hotels and inns around the world whose views promise to dazzle and delight you
Adobe & Stars, Taos, New Mexico
In Arroyo Seco – a small and richly scenic village north of Taos – the luxurious, light-filled Adobe and Stars B&B offers stunning 360-degree vistas of the surrounding countryside. To the east, you can see the 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, which is often capped in snow. Look west, and the high-desert mesa rolls for miles and miles – as far as the eye can see. This contemporary inn is surrounded by decks and patios and filled with big windows, high ceilings, and elegant furniture. Some of the seven guest rooms have fireplaces and Jacuzzis.
Casa Cupula, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta is home to one of the most alluring, dramatically situated gay resorts you’ll find anywhere – the stellar Casa Cupula, which excels as much for its stately accommodations as for its incomparable views. The elegant compound consists of 14 rooms and five suites, some with patios that afford unparalleled views of the city and Banderas Bay. Facilities include a well-stocked gym, four pools, and a large open-air lounge with adjacent computer room. The property tumbles down a hillside high above Zona Romantica, a 10- to 15-minute walk from the gay beach and the many bars and restaurants. But once you’ve spent a little time relaxing here, away from the crowds and in full view of Puerto Vallarta’s stunning shoreline, you may find it hard to leave this romantic property.
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Hong Kong
On the east edge of Central Hong Kong, in the Wan Chai district, the Grand Hyatt is distinct for its magnificent setting on the edge of the harbor. There are few tall buildings around it, which means that rooms enjoy knockout views of the water, the bustling Kowloon District, and the city center. This is a star in the gay-popular Hyatt brand, with some of the most lavishly decorated rooms imaginable. Don’t miss the 11th-floor outdoor pool, which is the city’s largest – it adjoins the beautiful Plateau Spa, which is an exceptional choice if you’re seeking a spa treatment while in town.
Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, California
Sure, plenty of soaring skyscrapers around the world house luxury hotels, but downtown San Francisco’s Mandarin Oriental truly stands out. Every room here is on a high floor, as the hotel occupies the 38th through the 48th floors of the city’s third-tallest building. And the views take in the Bay Area’s gorgeous topography. Depending which direction you face, you might gaze out at the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, the hills above Berkeley and Oakland, or some of downtown’s other dramatic towers. In every direction there’s both natural and man-made beauty. Decorated artfully with Asian silks fabrics, bamboo flooring, and tasteful antiquities, the rooms here are spacious and airy. Some units even afford knockout views from their bathtubs.
Mount Lofty House, Adelaide Hills, Australia
A highlight of touring the Adelaide Hills is a stop at Mt. Lofty Summit park, from which you’ll enjoy unsurpassed views of the city of Adelaide and the surrounding region. Nearby is one of area’s best lodging options, Mount Lofty House, a beautiful country lodge that offers similarly magnificent views. The hotel’s Piccadilly Restaurant & Wine Bar has earned considerable kudos for its well-chosen wine list and tasty food. It’s a great place to enjoy a memorable meal, high above the stunning South Australia countryside.
Nelson’s Guesthouse, Cape Town, South Africa
Close to Cape Town’s most exclusive beach communities, Clifton and Camps Bay, this posh, gay-owned guest house sits along the gentle slopes of Signal Hill. From this modern, Mediterranean-inspired, six-room property, you’re afforded fantastic views of the ocean and historic Robben Island in the distance. Look up in the other direction, and you can see the bald, grassy summit of Signal Hill and adjacent Lion’s Head. Each of the nattily decorated rooms has its own private courtyard, a perfect spot to soak up this romantic inn’s lovely ambience.
On The Rocks, Santorini, Greece
Among the many gorgeous Greek islands that dot the Aegean Sea, Mykonos has the strongest following among gay travelers. But it’s Santorini, whose cliffs rise several hundred feet above a volcanic caldera now filled with clear-blue water, that offers the most spectacular views. A number of accommodations here sit along the island’s sheer ledges, with the gay-friendly On The Rocks among the most luxurious, with each of its 20 rooms (with verandas) overlooking the sea. Decor is minimalist and clean – the same white and blue color scheme that dominates the island’s architecture. Also with fantastic views are a decent-size pool and adjoining bar, from which you can sip refreshing Greek wine while watching the sun descend each evening.
View Point Inn, Corbett, Oregon
A popular spot for romantic brunches, lunches, and dinners, this elegantly restored Arts and Crafts restaurant and inn is perched high on a promontory, some 1,100 feet above the Columbia River, with mesmerizing views of the Pacific Northwest’s iconic Columbia Gorge. Relax with a glass of local pinot noir in an Adirondack chair on the View Point’s sweeping back lawn, and you’d never know you’re just 20 miles or so from the bustling city of Portland.
What some visitors don’t realize is that this gay-owned property has a handful of eclectic overnight accommodations, ranging from an ultra-plush and spacious suite with a private bath and sweeping gorge views, to a few inexpensively priced, cozier rooms that have shared bathrooms. The fancier of the bunch, the Roosevelt Suite, is ideal if you’re planning an over-the-top romantic getaway, while the other rooms work nicely for budget-minded travelers who still want to stay somewhere with amazing views and great food in the restaurant, or for groups of friends traveling together.
The Little Black Book
Adobe & Stars, Taos, New Mexico 505-776-2776, http://www.taosadobe.com.
Casa Cupula, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 322-223-2484 or 866-261-3516, http://www.casacupula.com.
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Hong Kong 2588-1234, http://www.hongkong.hyatt.com.
Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, California 415-276-9888, http://www.mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco.
Mount Lofty House, Adelaide Hills, Australia 08-8339-6777, http://www.mtloftyhouse.com.au.
On The Rocks, Santorini, Greece 30-22860-23889, http://www.onrocks.net.
Nelson’s Guesthouse, Cape Town, South Africa 27-21-433-2602, http://www.nelsons.co.za.
View Point Inn, Corbett, Oregon 503-695-5811, http://www.theviewpointinn.com.