The beauty of Puerto Vallarta is that it offers the best of both worlds

The beauty of Puerto Vallarta is that it offers the best of both worlds: beautiful beaches, but also an authentic, Mexican flair, which is shown off to the fullest extent in the city's Centro and Zone Romantica neighborhoods. 

While a great Mexican vacation can certainly be had at a slew of beach resorts all along the bay, another great way to see Puerto Vallarta is to book a stay at one of its several historical homes that have been turned into boutique properties. These homes-turned-hotels sit among cobblestone streets shaded with jacaranda trees, overlooking the red tile roofs of this historical city on the Bay of Banderas.

Casa Kimberly
Perhaps the best-known home hotel is Casa Kimberly, the former home of Elizabeth Taylor. Painstakingly restored and impeccably decorated, the urban hideaway has just nine guest suites, including the impressive Elizabeth Taylor Suite, which once served as the actress' private bedroom. Thoughtful touches include claw foot tubs, hand-painted murals, domed brick ceilings, and eye popping views around each corner. Most suites have private Jacuzzi tubs on secluded terraces, with views overlooking the city and the Bay. Beyond the elegant suites, the hotel also has a blue-tiled pool, which has been left as it was when Taylor lived in the house with Richard Burton. The intimate CK Spa has just two suites, each with a private Jacuzzi, and both were meant to a accommodate up to two for romantic couples treatments.  The open-air Iguana Restaurant and Tequila Bar is elegant, yet still contemporary and chic, serving Mexican food, fine tequilas and mezcal, and stunning views over the city.

Hacienda San Angel
And speaking of Richard Burton, just down the way from Casa Kimberly is Hacienda San Angel, a home that the actor purchased for his last wife as a Valentine's Day present. Similar to Casa Kimberly, Hacienda San Angel stands out as Europe-meets-Mexico, with grand villa accents like carved wooden columns, intricate headboards, fountains, impressive tile work, and deluxe accommodations. Within the hacienda are 20 suites set across multiple villas, each connected by terraces and gardens. The six Junior suites are decked out with antiques, artwork, designer bath products, and views over the terra cotta roofs of Old Town.  But the suite to beat is the Presidential, with Insta-worthy views over the ocean and city and outdoor living space complete with private Jacuzzi. A king-size bed is surrounded by antiques from famous cathedrals throughout Mexico, while the bed itself has views out over the Bay and of Old Town. The hillside hacienda has two open-air restaurants, as well. Hacienda San Angel Gourmet serves upscale Mexican food, complete with 180-degree views including the city's evening fireworks display. La Capella serves Italian fare, as well as a decadent Sunday brunch.

Garlands del Rio
Not often explored by many tourists is Puerto Vallarta's Rio Cuale, which divides Centro from the Zona Romantica. The river winds back up into the cobblestone streets, touching quieter, more residential parts of the city. It is here that travelers will find Garlands del Rio, a private home turned gorgeous boutique hotel, for a dose of high-society Puerto Vallarta living. Garlands has 17 rooms that center around a beautiful courtyard pool. Each room has its own name and decor style. The Countess, for example, sits on the top floor within a large cupola, offering mountain views, as well as an outside terrace. Arlecchino is another suite that overlooks the entire property. It is decorated with historical artwork, and pops of stained glass taken from the Santa Cruz Church. While there is no restaurant on site (though being in the heart of Zona Romantica, you won't have much of a problem finding a good meal), the kitchen area of the hacienda is a sight to see. Take coffee and continental breakfast each morning underneath a double tiered, 12-pronged chandeliers, 22-foot ceilings, and a 1930s Portuguese blue-and-white tile mural. Lounge by day at the hotel's centerpiece, the pool, or take a rest on the outdoor river deck that overlooks the Rio Cuale. 

Rivera del Rio
Next door to Garlands del Rio is Rivera del Rio, a sister private home turned equally sumptuous hotel. Each apartment is decorated with marble fireplaces, Victorian clawfoot tubs, and views of the jungle. But that is about all they share in common, as each suite is decorated in a completely unique style. The Green Room, for example, has stripes of black and green with inlays of gold. The art is anything but subtle, with pastel cherubs, stained glass, and two Botero paintings watching over the 15th-century iron bed. A library of leather-bound French books, as well as pinewood French shutters make this one of the more lavish suites in the city. The Carlotta suite is undeniably seductive, with a Venetian grand chandelier, twinkling wall lights, custom-designed art, and a fireplace with mirrored walls. This suite also has a private kitchen, as many of the suites do, which makes it a great spot for mid-size groups or entertaining. Unwind on the rooftop deck, complete with private pool, or exercise in the indoor lap pool.

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