There is no shortage of unique lodging options on Key West, from luxurious, high-end resorts to fun and funky guesthouses. For gay travelers looking to enjoy the island’s easy-going attitude, gorgeous weather, diverse nightlife and world-class cuisine, Key West offers several exclusively gay or LGBTQ guesthouses that cater to lots of different styles.
Although it’s possible to find something for everyone at each of these properties, there are certain areas where each guesthouse excels. Get to know four of Key West’s LGBTQ guesthouses in our roundup below.
For Social Butterflies: Island House
Whether traveling alone or with loved ones, if you’re the type that loves making new friends wherever you go, Island House is a must-visit spot. The all-male, clothing-optional resort draws crowds to its heated pool, multiple hot tubs, sauna, steam room and infamous “red room.” The social atmosphere lends itself to plenty of friendly conversations (and friendly petting) between guests, but Island House is also the best place to mix and mingle with Key West locals.
Residents flock to Island House daily, but the grounds are particularly hopping Wednesdays and Sundays during the weekly naked pool parties. Guests from other neighboring resorts also frequent Island House, thanks to the resort’s day passes.
The friendly, frisky environment lends itself to lots of unforgettable encounters, but it’s also easy to find solace in solitude, if that’s what you’re after. The food in the café alone is worth the visit, but the accommodations are top-notch as well. Free porn channels and cloud-soft beds make the guestrooms every bit as inviting as the poolside.
For a Low-key Getaway: Equator
Equator is also an all-male, clothing-optional spot, but, unlike the Island House, there are no day passes or local memberships, so the scene is a bit more subdued. Guests unwind at the two pools and two hot tubs. The large, lush property offers a bit more privacy, but the five historic buildings create a private compound without all the sun-blocking foliage.
Staff pride themselves on treating their visitors like family, which accounts for the high number of returning guests. Clientele ranges in age from 18 to 80, and, like most of these resorts, it can be a mix of bears, twinks, daddies, otters, you name it.
The vibe might not be as cruisy, but with so many nude and nearly-nude dudes, action isn’t hard to come by in the evenings. However, most days it feels more like a casual hangout than a raucous party.
For a Relaxing Retreat: Alexander’s Guesthouse
The only queer guesthouse on Key West open to men and women, there’s much less of a sexual undercurrent at Alexander’s Guesthouse. There are still clothing-optional areas, so those looking to avoid tan lines need not worry, but it’s not a property for cruising.
Instead, the elegant, beach-style decor make Alexander’s Guesthouse a bright, welcoming environment for travelers. Built in 1902, the restored guesthouse still has its original pine floors. Now, there are 17 rooms, each with a private bathroom. Take a swim in the pool, dip in the hot tub or lay out on the sun deck.
Just because the atmosphere isn’t as overtly sexual doesn’t mean you won’t make friends. Guests gather for the expanded continental breakfast and the can’t-miss daily happy hour. Gregarious mixologists tend bar and help guests get to know each other, making sure that even travelers with packed itineraries make time to unwind with new friends.
For Party Animals: New Orleans House
The only LGBTQ guesthouse on Key West’s famed Duval Street, New Orleans House is at the epicenter of the island’s nightlife. Located above the banging Bourbon Street Pub, club kids don’t need to go far to shake their groove things. In addition to Bourbon Street, New Orleans House is just steps away from 801 Bourbon, 1 Saloon and Aqua. It’s also the site of the famed New Year’s Eve shoe drop where local drag legend Sushi is lowered in a giant, sparkly, fiberglass high-heel at the stroke of midnight.
Of course, that means potential visitors should come prepared for a livelier scene and bass pumping until the wee hours of the mornings. If that’s not your jam, you don’t need to write-off New Orleans entirely. Just let the staff know you’d like one of the quieter rooms when you book, and they’ll recommend an appropriate space. Plus, there are always earplugs available.
Guests and Bourbon Street Pub patrons gather around the outdoor bar and patio which also includes a clothing-optional pool and jacuzzi. The backyard is usually men only, but women are welcome weekly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday for ‘Ladies Night’ and for the Friday tea dance 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. with DJ Rude Girl.
Still, it’s not always a 24-hour rager. Enjoy the breeze on the large, inviting balcony where you can people-watch the tourists up and down Duval while sipping on a cool beverage.