Travel Tips

How To Find Gay-Friendly Hotels – That Are Fabulous

Locations in this article:  Fort Lauderdale, FL Providence, RI San Diego, CA San Francisco, CA

Hotel Sign - Finding Gay-Friendly HotelsAs the high season for LGBT travel kicks off, we’ve told you about some of the biggest gay pride events and some of the smallest. But where to stay on your gay adventure? Want to find a gay-friendly hotel, but don’t know where to start? It’s easier than ever to find gay-friendly accommodations if you know where to look.

Purple Roofs

Purple Roofs has long been the go-to Web site for LGBT travelers searching for a friendly place to stay. Purple Roofs boasts a wide array of listings throughout the world, from luxury hotels to affordable bed & breakfasts to individual condos and apartment rentals.

The site also distinguishes between gay-friendly and gay-owned, and spells out which travelers are specifically welcomed at certain establishments, whether it’s a women-only B&B in Montreal, a men-only resort in Palm Springs, or “straight-friendly” hotels that welcome all genders and sexual orientations. Even better, some accommodations (especially the gayer ones) offer modest (usually 5 percent) discounts for mentioning Purple Roofs.


There’s a new kid in town when it comes to finding gay-positive lodgings. Owned and operated by Community Marketing, Inc., one of the biggest marketing outfits focusing on the LGBT community, Tag-Approved hotels are supposed to meet a laundry list of qualifications that demonstrate support for the community through policy and action. In other words, it’s not enough to slap a little rainbow sticker in the corner of the lobby window; this designation is meant to convey something more.

Among the qualifications for approval are non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, LGBT diversity and sensitivity training, giving back to the community, and hiring a diverse staff. also invites complaints about any less-than-friendly behavior and promises to take them up with any offending hotels.

Rainbow Colors - Finding Gay-Friendly HotelsWhile it’s an admirable concept, has a long way to go before it matches Purple Roofs in utility. While its lists are updated, detailed information is scarce and some of the listings will raise an eyebrow or two among well-traveled LGBTers. For example, while it’s admirable that many big hotel chains now actively oppose discrimination and support equality, if you’re seeking a gay-friendly hotel in San Diego, are you really looking for a Best Western, Holiday Inn, Courtyard by Marriott or the Howard Johnson San Diego Seaworld? And if you are looking for one of those hotels, did you really need a gay-identified site to find it?

Get more advice in our Hotels & Accommodations section.

Special Hotel Deals for LGBT Travelers

Joie de Vivre

Sharing Love - Gay-Friendly HotelsIf you’re headed to California in the next 18 months or so, San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre hotels is offering a special Get a Room promotion in honor of the 40th anniversary of San Francisco Pride. The cool part is that the promotion is good year-round (and into 2011, as well), not just on San Francisco Pride weekend. When booking a room at any one of Joie de Vivre’s 33 boutique hotels across California, LGBT travelers can score a 20 percent discount off the best available room rate. You’ll need to book online at (using the code PRIDE) to get the discount.

As an added bonus, many of Joie de Vivre’s San Francisco hotels are throwing in extras (on top of the discount) if you do actually stay there during San Francisco Pride. The Galleria Park Hotel is offering free morning mimosas, while The Hotel Rex is entering its PRIDE-code users into a drawing for a stay in its seriously Sapphic Gertrude Stein Suite. And finally, all Joie de Vivre hotels are TAG-Approved, signaling that they’re not only gay-friendly, but actively support the LGBT community.

Check out our Guide to the Biggest International Gay Pride Events.

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Rainbow Balloons - Finding Gay-Friendly HotelsHeaded to the San Diego Pride Festival on July 17-18? Consider a stay at the San Diego Festival’s official hotel partner, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. The hotel is offering a Pride Rocks package starting at $219 that includes accommodations for two and a $20 credit for hotel services (per stay, not per day) while the hotel will make a $20 donation to San Diego Pride and the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Frankly, though, you’re much better off opting for the “Anything You Want Package” if it’s available. Not only is it $20 less per night, but you’ll get a whopping $75 hotel credit that can be used for anything from hotel restaurant meals to spa services. Just be sure to send that money you save to the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Fortunately, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego’s commitment to the LGBT community is not limited to this package. In 2008, when same-sex couples were granted the right to marry in California, the hotel partnered with Olivia Companies, among the country’s biggest and best-known LGBT-owned travel companies, to host San Diego’s largest all-lesbian wedding event.

Find smaller pride events in 5 Unexpected Gay Pride Festivals.

Red Roof Inns

When most people imagine gay-friendly hotels, they usually imagine something along the lines of the Joie de Vivre hotels–chic, modern, eclectic boutique properties that lean toward the luxurious, not the economical. Thankfully, Red Roof Inns has recognized that not all gay travelers are luxury travelers (hear that, Hard Rock?).

End of the Rainbow - Red Roof Inns go gay-friendlyPartnering with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), all Red Roof Inns are now offering a 15 percent discount to all LGBT travelers. When combined with Red Roof Inns’ fairly low starting rates, it’s a very affordable option, especially for families who want lodgings that are both gay-friendly and kid-friendly. (Both kids under 17 and pets stay for free at all of their properties.) And with around 350 inns in 36 states, the Red Roof Inns offer is a pretty practical option for the vast majority of LGBT travelers.

LGBT travelers can take advantage of the 15 percent discount when they book
their next stay on or by calling 800-RED-ROOF (800-733-7663) and mention code #600446.

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By Matthew Calcara for