Travel

14 of the Coolest Queer-Friendly Hotels in the US

These spots will make you feel welcome and safe - and an endless supply of rosé doesn't hurt, either.

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

When it’s time to map out your next trip, obviously you want to find a hotel where you’ll feel not only safe, but celebrated. Across the country, numerous hotel chains and independent brands go out of their way to show support for the LGBTQ community, from commissioning queer artists and throwing rooftop Pride parties to donating funds to non-profits and painting rainbow murals. While it’s gotten much easier to sift through the fray and find hotels that are explicitly queer-friendly, or even downright queer-centric-it’s still a chore to choose. Here, we’ve done all the hard work for you so all you have to do is book your stay and get your vacay on.

Follow the rainbow to this hotel in Tucson, Arizona

Considering this destination’s lack of rain and eternal sunshine, rainbows are a rare sight in Tucson but the Hotel McCoy makes up for it. Billed as a mid-century modern “art hotel,” this low-key hideaway on the city’s quieter west side is a peaceful hideaway for travelers from all walks of life – including the kinds of walks involving high heels and feather boas. As you drive in to this retrofitted motel, you’re greeted by a huge rainbow mural under the phrase, “Tucson Is Magic” (and the rainbow art doesn’t stop there). It’s a recurring kaleidoscopic theme on murals and in art-filled rooms, which feature local Tucson artists including queer artists like Trevor Mock and LGBTQ activist Valyntina Grenier. “The idea of Hotel McCoy was innovated on the idea that inclusion shouldn’t feel isolating,” says executive director Nicole Dahl. After traveling there, we think you’ll agree.

Get quirky in Richmond, Virginia

With its pink color scheme and heartwarming touches like “Virginia Is For Lovers” merch and coffee cups with the words “Fuel the Love” on the side, it’s no wonder Quirk Hotel is all about the Pride vibes. The vibrant boutique property looks like something out of a twee Wes Anderson movie, providing an immediate sense of comfort and a welcome dash of whimsy. The hotel is also always super involved with Virginia Pride-pre-pandemic, Quirk became known for its rosé spritz-fueled Pride parties at Q Rooftop Bar, and the hotel also offers Pride-themed amenities for guests, as well as LGBTQ Pride Packages and discounts during Virginia Pride Month in September.

Scratch your itch to dance in New Orleans, Louisiana

Known for its raucous Mardi Gras parties, vibrant gay bars, and riotous drag shows (to say nothing of the judgement-free, devil-may-care shenanigans in the French Quarter), New Orleans has emerged as one of the foremost queer-friendly travel destinations in the US. And of the numerous hotels in town catering to LGBTQ clientele, the Bourbon Orleans Hotel reigns supreme. Centrally located in the French Quarter, this historic, party-ready property boasts a tranquil courtyard, outdoor pool, and surprisingly affordable rates. It’s also part of the New Orleans Hotel Collection, a locally owned group of boutique hotels that specifically caters to LGBTQ travelers. Fun fact: The hotel is also home to Napoleon’s Itch, a gay bar and nightclub known for its mojitos and martinis. 

Pamper and party on South Beach in Miami, Florida

W Hotels are always a gay go-to in any city, given that they’re owned by Marriott International, one of the most vocally LGBTQ-friendly hotel brands in the US (with a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index to prove it), but their Miami locations are particularly spectacular. Considering the swanky brand tends to skew towards a younger demographic, the South Beach outpost is the perfect getaway for those looking to let loose for Miami Pride, chill on the beach, or stay up to the wee hours dancing at Twist. The hotel itself, right off the beach and surrounded by nightlife and shopping, exudes contemporary luxury and style with its sleek design, ambient music, picture-perfect pool, and the “Champagne trolley” service at its see-and-be-seen restaurant, Mr Chow. It’s the perfect place to pamper and party in one of America’s liveliest-and most gay-friendly-cities.

Have the perfect elopement in Atlanta, Georgia

Housed in a historic building in Atlanta’s Poncey-Highland neighborhood, the Hotel Clermont is a property steeped in history and pride, preserving its past while celebrating a progressive future. The hotel was originally built as an apartment building before falling into disarray, and mostly known for its basement strip club, the Clermont Lounge. The subterranean haunt still exists, rife with character and saucy fun, while the rest of the property has undergone a serious makeover, including adding a terrazzo staircase, a rooftop bar, a snazzy French-inflected restaurant, and an entryway gussied up with Georgia pink marble. At the heart of it all is a whole lot of love. The rejuvenated boutique spells the words “Love is Love” on its marquis sign above the front door, and in 2019, the hotel offered an “Easy Elopement” package for gay couples, hosting wedding ceremonies on the roof. Pride shirts and Pride cocktails are also a common occurrence.

Find pride at a Poconos resort in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Rainbow Mountain Resort is one place where rainbow flags fly year-round. Tucked away in a pastoral Poconos town, the out-and-proud abode is specifically designed with LGBTQ travelers in mind. Aside from the flags throughout the 30-year-old property, the hotel also hosts various queer-centric events and parties, like drag karaoke and Pride on the Mountain, and the dance club is always a vibe. The homey resort is divvied into different houses and cabins scattered across the property, including a giant glamping tent called Rainbow Camp, along with a huge pool and hot tub. On a particularly heartwarming note, the hotel debuted its Rainbow Community Care program, where they donate 15 room nights each month in support of charities fighting for LGBTQ rights and visibility.

Discover an artsy retreat with a side of pride in Bentonville, Arkansas

When seeking out a cool queer-friendly hotel, a good rule of thumb is to follow the local artists. Be it a metropolis or a mid-size Midwestern city, any hotel that emphasizes and celebrates local art clearly has its head on its shoulders. It’s a sentiment on full display at the 21c Museum Hotel properties  which originated in Louisville in 2006 and gradually expanded to other modest cities like Durham, Oklahoma City, and Cincinnati – where the hotels house rotating art galleries. Preservation is another tenet for the brand, as founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson seek out historic buildings in need of a little salvation. These altruistic notions are the kind of connectivity that signals a sense of respite for LGBTQ travelers. It’s especially important in a place like Arkansas, where the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville perfectly exemplifies this by whipping up Pride cocktails and donating to NWA Equality, a non-profit that not only hosts Northwest Arkansas Pride, but provides resources, programming, and advocacy to support the LGBTQ community of Northwest Arkansas. 

Check out the hotel that serves up American history with a side of altruism in Washington, DC

Kimpton is another one of the most LGBTQ-friendly hotel chains in the US, scoring a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and partnering with the Trevor Project. As a queer traveler, these are the kinds of places that provide comforts of all kinds, be it warm oak decor, a boozy nightcap, or simply the warmth of feeling supported and seen. From Nashville and Milwaukee to New Orleans and Seattle, these happening havens can be found across the US, but if you’re looking for something extra unique-and particularly jaw-dropping-for your next queer-friendly getaway, look at Washington, DC’s Hotel Monaco. A favorite for its uber-historic past as the Blodgett’s Hotel in 1795 and subsequently the first post office building in town, the stunning property is as esteemed for its rich history as it is its inclusive atmosphere.

Sleep in a palace fit for a queer queen in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida

Any hotel housed in a lavish, historic building known as the Pink Palace is bound to be at least a little gay. Indeed, the decadent Don CeSar on Florida’s St. Pete Beach looks like a hotel fit for a queer queen. With architecture designed to resemble a literal Mediterranean castle, it’s a favorite getaway for folks attending St. Pete Pride, or those looking to get married (the hotel has hosted numerous LGBTQ weddings). Tucked just far enough away from downtown St. Petersburg, you get the best of both worlds: intimate solace on a sugar-white beach with enough restaurants and on-site luxuries to keep you pampered, while still being just 15 minutes from shopping, art, and gay bars & clubs aplenty.

Stay at this haunt as sweet as honey in Portland, Oregon

In a city that’s so progressive it’s almost cliche, Hotel Lucia provides a peaceful haven in the heart of Portland’s bustling downtown. The boutique resort  which is housed in a century-old building listed on the National Register of Historic Places  looks vintage on the outside, while skewing chic and swanky on the inside. It’s part of the Provenance Hotels group, which actively participates in LGBTQ charities and events, and has earned renown for its support of local artists and artisans. At Hotel Lucia, you can purchase locally made honey or sneakers and marvel at one of the largest black-and-white photography collections in the country, courtesy of Oregon photographer David Hume Kennerly.

Drink rosé all gay at this oasis in Palm Springs, California

Another member of the queer-friendly Provenance Hotels group is the Villa Royale, a desert oasis in queer-adored Palm Springs. This women-owned stunner is pure Palm Springs vibes, with soaring palm trees, a shimmering pool, terra cotta roofs, fire pits, and rosé all day at the intimate Del Rey bar (literally, the hotel offers a Rosé All Day package that gifts you with chilled rosé in a poolside cabana). If all that weren’t alluring enough, the hotel is famously close to the Dinah Shore Weekend, a lesbian music festival known for its dance-along performances and spirited after-parties.

Lounge in the lap of Luxor-y on Nevada’s Las Vegas Strip

A traveling queen deserves accommodations fit for a king. When it comes to queer-friendly hotels in the US, few are as fittingly regal as the iconic Luxor Las Vegas, which is flanked by a Giza-sized pyramid that shimmers in the Las Vegas sun like a diamond in the rough. It’s one of the star properties for MGM Resorts, which was the first hotel company in town to start catering specifically to queer audiences, and has served as the presenting sponsor of Las Vegas’ PRIDE Parade. Luxor, in particular, was the first local resort to host an LGBTQ pool party, and it’s served as the host hotel for Gay Days Las Vegas.

Keep it cool and queer in Austin, Texas

In Austin, Liz Lambert has become something of a lesbian icon and powerhouse businesswoman, and her bread and butter is boutique hotels. Of the several properties owned by Lambert throughout Texas, the Hotel San José is a particularly funky fixture with an undeniable cool factor and an emphasis on art and music. In true Austin fashion, the vibe is chill and unpretentious, with a courtyard pool, frosé, and DJ sets, along with a shop slinging local wares (don’t sleep on the rainbow kimono robe). The hotel’s on-site cafe, Jo’s, is beloved by locals and travelers alike, not just for its breakfast tacos, but for its always-queer-friendly community events.

Walk the pink carpet in San Luis Obispo, California

Any hotel that shares a name with the Material Girl is sure to be a hit with the gays, especially considering this historic landmark is just as eccentric and iconic as the singer. To describe the Madonna Inn as “unique” would be a wild understatement. Each of the 110 rooms is distinctly designed, with unconventional furnishings that run the gamut from giant flowers and outdoor waterfalls to animal prints, pink carpet, green brick walls, and omnipresent Christmas baubles. The whole hillside property on the Pacific Coast Highway looks part Liberace, part Alice in Wonderland – so naturally perfect for any queer road trip. With a general motif that screams “Pride Party on the North Pole,” this comfy California inn provides an innate at-home feeling for gay travelers who appreciate a quirky vibe, whether you’re sipping raspberry gimlets under a stained glass window in the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge, relaxing under a pink umbrella by the pool, or working up a sweat on the hot-pink tennis court.

Orbitz believes everyone should be able to travel freely, no matter who you are, who you love, or where you’re going. Discover LGBTQIA-welcoming hotels, plan queer-friendly trips, and get inspired to vacation. You’ll feel welcomed whenever you book with Orbitz. Travel As You Are.

Matt Kirouac is a travel writer with a passion for national parks, Disney, and food. He’s the co-founder and co-host of Hello Ranger, a national parks community blog, podcast, and app. Follow him on IG @matt_kirouac.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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