Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
Intimate budget option with beautiful views
Playa Conchas Chinas was opened in 1979 on one of the sweetest little beaches in all of Bahia Banderas (though the hotel's stretch of sand disappears at high tide). This 20-room boutique is a bit worn around the edges and lacking in elevators and amenities, but some budget travelers may still find it charming.
From the street, the hotel is an unremarkable, somewhat drab-looking building, with a cobblestone parking lot out front. But once guests go into the neat little lobby with its brick arches and polished tile floors, down the meandering stairs, by the quaint pool and gardens, they'll likely have an entirely different impression.
The beach is a tiny and disappears entirely at high tide, but guests can stroll out among the offshore rocks and snorkel in clear waters. La Playita, one of the coolest beachfront restaurants in all of Vallarta, is shared with a neighboring hotel.
Near Old Town on a seemingly remote slice of beach
Playa Conchas Chinas is just three minutes south of Old Town, directly on the beach side of the highway.
Despite its close proximity to downtown, it feels a world apart; it faces the aquamarine waters of Bahia Banderas and there are jungled hills rising behind.
Spacious rooms decorated in classic Mexican decor
The 20 rooms and suites are situated across two levels down a few dozen steps from the lobby level. They all have French doors opening onto balconies overlooking the scenic bay, as well as classic Mexican decor (think: tilework and bright colors). Beds are hard and there are some maintenance issues such as worn furniture.
The beach is the highlight here, though it disappears at high tide
The hotel itself doesn't feature on-site dining, but there are a couple of great options at hand
La Playita, a perfectly located three-meal restaurant, lies on the beach at the bottom of the hotel. The restaurant, shared with a neighboring hotel, offers good, reasonably priced food in a wonderful spot.
El Set, the large, open-air restaurant next door on the street/lobby level (there’s a dedicated passage from the lobby to the restaurant) is sort of a legendary place that once upon a time was the hangout of choice for the gang shooting "Night of the Iguana" down the road (hence the name). It has some movie-related paraphernalia, a huge patio where tour operators bring busloads of cruise ship passengers for sunset cocktails, and Mexican food at semi-high prices.
For budget travelers, the 20-room Playa Conchas Chinas can be a cheap, intimate, and even charming option. The upsides include the a small pool area surrounded by lush greenery and a quaint beachfront location (though the beach disappears at high tide). Rooms, however, are a bit mixed. Though most are spacious, with classic Mexican style (think: tiling and bright colors) and great ocean views, expect some maintenance issues (such as missing knobs on furniture and balcony doors that don't close all the way). Some bathrooms are small and smell like sewage. Though kitchenettes are available in many units, there's no grocery store close by so cooking in will prove difficult; the adjacent restaurants are both popular.