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Exclusive | Key West: Where to Stay

Exclusive | Key West: Where to Stay

Key West has an abundance of charming guesthouses, with a large percentage catering to a mixed clientele -- either mixed gay and straight, or exclusively gay, with a couple catering to both male and female guests. Even the big straight hotels often have a noticeable gay clientele. Many of the guesthouses are historic structures: They're high on charm, but not always in the best shape. Some properties here, however, are meticulously maintained with manicured gardens, state-of-the-art TV/video, and wired and wireless Internet connections. While there is only one women's guesthouse (the expanded Pearl's Rainbow), women are welcome at a large number of the listed places.

Of these, Heron House Court, Alexander's and The Pier House are particularly welcoming of women who want a mixed environment. A number of properties cater exclusively or near-exclusively to men. While few offer the "very high sexual temperature" environment that is so common in Palm Springs, there is a variety of environments, appropriate for a broad range of travelers. Another option is to rent a home for your stay; or offer historic properties with one to five bedrooms and private pools. Whatever your style, you'll find accommodations to match. Because the beach is not a focus here, our ratings reflect a heavy weighting for common areas, pool decks, grounds, and general ambiance. Count on spending a lot of time at the resort, but out of your room. Some properties do not offer in-room phones, and these are specifically noted.

All ratings are based on cleanliness, management's friendliness and professionalism, the quality of furnishings and the attractiveness of setting and decor. The ratings represent our own opinions, guided by information from guests, staff, locals and other knowledgeable travel professionals.

Five palms indicates a lodging experience that ranks with the very best in the industry for quality of accommodations, furnishings, amenities and service. These accommodations should satisfy the most discerning travelers. Three palms is an average rating. These recommended properties generally offer pleasant, comfortable accommodations and the amenities expected by most travelers. Four palms indicates a step up in the level of amenities, more stylized decor and a broader array of services. Two-palm properties are a step below the average level of accommodation, more likely to have lower prices, worn furnishings, minimal service and/or less appealing decor. One-palm establishments offer very basic accommodations and the lowest acceptable standards of service, decor and amenities. They are suitable only for the least picky of frugal travelers, and recommendable only when options are very limited.

In terms of location, we have divided the town into five sections: Old Town, the heart of the shopping and entertainment district; North, the northern end -- removed, quiet and residential; Atlantic, near the Southernmost Point and the Atlantic Ocean; Gulf, near the Gulf of Mexico and the sunset; and Convenient, close to the heart of Old Town, but north of Elizabeth Street. Nowhere is more than a mile from anywhere else, but the distinction is useful for determining how close to the action you will be.

In terms of clientele, % straight describes the percentage of straight vs. gay guests. Exclusively gay resorts (EG) are followed by percentage of men vs. women. Note that in the partially straight places, this can vary 100 percent from week to week. For meals: CB=continental breakfast; ECB=expanded continental breakfast; FB=full breakfast; C=cocktail hour or hors d'oeuvres of some sort; WC=cocktails on weekends or only occasionally.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Related Articles:
Key West: Introduction
Key West: Where to Eat
Key West: Where to Play/Meet
Key West: What to See and Do

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Joe Okonkwo