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Queer-Friendly Hotels For Pride Month & Beyond

May 22, 2024

Queer-friendly hotels offering Pride events and specials for all of your gay travel needs.

I’m old enough to remember when being visibly gay and checking into a hotel was a scary situation.  I traveled with my partner through the Southern U.S. in the early 1990s and we would argue about which of us would go into the office to rent the room.  

“You look femme,” she’d offer.

I’d retort, “but I have pink hair!” 

“And I’m a big butch dyke!” She always won that argument for safety reasons, and I’d go get the room. 

If we both walked in, it depended on how the clerk looked at us when asking if we wanted one bed or two – sometimes we’d say, “Yes, definitely two,” for propriety’s sake. The people at the front desk have a key to your room, after all.  At the time, two men, in particular, requesting a room with one bed, would often be turned away. 

Let’s not forget that this is still how things operate in many hotels, motels, and campgrounds across the nation. Still, there are now bigger hotel chains that train their staff to be welcoming to people of all genders and sexual orientations. That doesn’t mean all of the staff love us – it means there’s more likely to be corporate accountability if staff harass guests. Luckily, there are many incredible hotel chains that are genuinely friendly to our community, and are offering discounts for Pride month. Maybe you’re traveling from a small town to the big city for the Pride festival, or maybe you just want to book a room to keep the after-party going. Either way, here are some of my favorite queer-friendly hotels offering Pride events and specials for your gay travels next month and beyond.

If you can afford it, Kimpton is always my top recommendation for hotels. The brand began in San Francisco more than 40 years ago and has always been on the forefront of marketing to, and welcoming queer travelers. Their elegant and comfortably quirky boutique properties are explicitly hospitable for LGBTQ folks, for travelers with pets, and for folks who want fine dining and interesting perks. Numerous properties, like the Chicago Kimpton Gray, have a partnership with Anthropologie where you can borrow (!) accessories like sunglasses, purses, and costume jewelry to snazz yourself up during your stay.  Here are some great Kimpton Pride specials. 

Kimpton Hotel Eventi, in New York is offering a pride package that includes cocktails, a $100 food and drink credit, a “pride welcome kit” and for each booking, the hotel will make a donation to The Trevor Project (focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth).  The Kimpton Shane Hotel in Atlanta welcomes LGBTQ+ travelers to Midtown with its Stay With Pride package, offering two welcome cocktails and a $10 donation to The Trevor Project. Midtown is known for art, music and food – but it’s also filled with the history of LGBTQ+ Atlanta and is the core of LGBTQ+ life in the city. This special isn’t just during pride month – it’s year round. (The Atlanta Pride Festival will take place October 12-13, 2024, in Piedmont Park, just a few minutes from The Shane.)  At this writing, the Alton Hotel in San Francisco is still planning their Pride specials, to be posted soon.  They have record players in the rooms and a vinyl library to check out at the front desk. Their lobby restaurant, Abaca, offers exceptional Filipino food. 

With 75+ hotels, the Kimpton brand is available in many cities, but never feels like a chain. It’s now a part of the IHG hotel group, though, so if you earn those hotel points on Holiday Inn stays for work, you can spend them at Kimpton on the weekend, as I’ve done for years!

Hilton is another great option for LGBTQ travelers. They offer brand consistency supporting our communities, and they are one of two hotel sponsors for NYC Pride, along with Le Meridien, New York. (Specials to be announced.) Most big city Pride websites include hotel sponsors on their websites, so be sure to check out who’s supporting our parties.

If you want more space than NYC has to offer, Level Hotels and Furnished Suites is a great choice during the 2024 Seattle Queer / Pride Festival. Their apartments come with access to resort-style amenities including two outdoor pools, BBQ and outdoor lounge areas. Book the Seattle Queer / Pride 2024 Hotel Package and choose from studio, one-, two-, or three-bedroom suites and enjoy 15% off, a waived amenity fee and 5% of your stay rate will be donated to the Pacific Northwest Queer Arts Foundation. Available stay dates are from now until Aug. 31, 2024. 

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is a luxurious option for a queer-friendly getaway for Chicago Pride this June. This year, the hotel started by raising the Pride flag outside its doors and launching the Love for All Pride Package. The indoor pool area at this downtown hotel (directly on the Magnificent Mile) is truly magnificent, with its 1920s blue and white tile work, seating and party areas. They are bringing back the Dive Into Pride Pool Party this summer, a Pride bash hosted by Chicago’s Mimi Marks and her cabana boys. Partygoers can also peruse the History is a Drag retrospective exhibit of Mimi Marks’ illustrious entertainment career in the hotel’s lobby.

The Westgate Hotel is a glamorous historic property in downtown San Diego and a sponsor for their pride festivities this year along with the Manchester Grand Hyatt.  Perhaps the Hyatt is making amends because I remember, more than a decade back, when the hotel’s owner put some big money toward California’s Prop. 8 initiative which succeeded in banning same sex marriage in the state. I don’t forgive that easily.

Truly, it’s hard to tell sometimes if a hotel is supportive of LGBTQ rights, or just trying to cash in on our reputation as avid travelers. That’s why it’s important to not just buy the pride package for the rainbow glasses and free bubbly. The Human Rights Campaign keeps up with how businesses treat their LGBTQ employees, which is a better benchmark than who waives the amenity fee during pride month. Hilton and IHG (including Kimpton), for instance, are both recipients of the “Equality 100 Award,” for their workforce protections, inclusive benefits, and training on inclusive culture in their workplace. The British site, World Rainbow Hotels, also has an accreditation program to test queer-friendliness on 120 key metrics, and they boast 1,200 LGBTQ+ friendly hotels in over 125 countries.

Small town hotels – especially in areas with queer populations – should get our attention too. And often, they’re hotels that are attentive to environmental needs as well. I stayed at the Hotel Floyd a few years ago in Virginia, on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. An explicitly “green” property, I recall them being welcoming to queer folks too, and it wasn’t even pride month.  Nestled amid stunning natural beauty, Hood River OR celebrates Pride June 7 and 8. The Hood River Hotel is one of the sponsors and their Emerald Room is the location for Diva Drag Bingo on the 8th. Eureka Springs, AK has a long list of queer friendly lodgings including cabins, bed and breakfasts, and motels, if you ever want to see the Ozarks in all their glory. This small town boasts a Pride Festival from June 6-9 and the welcome is better than any brief weekend discounts. I was astonished by how lesbian-friendly a small town in Arkansas could be. Palm Springs, CA is also stuffed full of small LGBTQ-owned and -friendly accommodations (including ample clothing optional and mens-only options), in addition to the swank Kimpton Rowan, positioned near all the mid-century modern art and museums you can stand. Palm Springs Pride events are extensive and scheduled in November, FYI, since it’s too hot to breathe in summer.

Not all businesses love us like they should, but when you’re ready to book a hotel room for Pride celebrations, some hotels are explicit in their welcome of queer folks. Some even treat us well as employees. The commercialization of pride events should give us pause, but not stop us from celebrating.  With minimal effort, we can at least avoid funding the haters, when possible – and enjoy those pride packages too.

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