by Diana Lambdin Meyer
A rugged cobblestone side street in the village of Riviera Nayarit’s San Francisco sets the stage for the simplicity and practicality of the Cielo Rojo. This lovely little boutique inn has just nine pleasant and very functional guestrooms, providing absolutely everything you need to be comfortable, but nothing over the top. Families who will enjoy this inn and town are those who enjoy an authentic and rural Mexican experience.
A tiny garden accented with driftwood art greets guests at the front entrance. The emphasis on the natural, organic world continues throughout the public spaces of the hotel. Sunlight streaming through overhead skylights nourishes the many plants in the lobby and dining room while enhancing the warmth of yellow and tangerine colored walls. Cielo Rojo means “red sky.”
Two small bistro tables on the front sidewalk and a book sharing box outside are indicative of the intimate nature of the inn and the emphasis on community services. Many families who come to San Francisco do so to volunteer at the award-winning community center or participate in the children’s circus supported by Cirque de Soleil.
You’ll also find a polo field in town and an energetic town square, but otherwise, San Francisco, sometimes called San Pancho, is a quiet little community that embraces the beach and the gifts of Mother Nature. This region is recognized as a superior bird watching area, especially in the winter months when the North American birds migrate to the warmth of Mexico.
Our Editor Loves
- Access to beach
- Fresh, organic foods
- Cozy, homelike atmosphere
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are four rooms with two double beds, sleeping up to four guests. One of the units has two rooms, capable of sleeping four and providing some privacy for mom and dad from the kids and vice versa. As a small hotel, only one crib is available (free), so be sure to request one at the time of registration. The majority of the rooms are located on the second and third floors, which have public reading areas with books and games. There is one room on the first floor.
The owners of the Cielo Rojo are avid collectors of antiques from Mexico and the American Southwest, so each room is decorated in its own unique style. Antique quilts cover some beds and photos of Native American Indians adorn the walls.
Despite the lovely antiques, the dÃ©cor is minimalist at best in each room, though cozy. You have just what you need and nothing more -- a bed, dresser and a nightstand. In some rooms, the beds are without headboards and are simply pushed against the wall. There aren't any TVs, DVD players, radios, iPod docking stations, refrigerators or mini-bars. The same is true with bathrooms -- colorful and eclectic dÃ©cor, but a simple, sink, shower and toilet with no wasted space or unnecessary trappings. A few rooms have small balconies; others have Juliette balconies, but all have spacious windows providing abundant natural light.
I work in San Pancho and had an emergency that required me to stay overnight. It was around 5:30 pm when I arrived at the front desk and met Mario. In short, he accommodated me and set me up in a room quickly.
The bed was outstanding and my sleep in the air-conditioned room was perfect. Coffee was waiting in the morning along with a complimentary fruit plate.
I should mention that I frequent the restaurant often for lunch and love the organic fresh food options on their menu. For those who don't know it is 1/2 block from the main drag called Tercer Mundo and takes you directly to the beach and surf.
Stayed at this charmer the first part of April, 2019. I was part of a group working with a local non profit. The staff and owners could not have been more helpful to make our trip successful. The rooms were unique and comfortable. The room with the palapa roof is terrific. The restaurant with service on the outdoor patio was delicious.
This is a small hotel in a small town, so many of the activities are outside of the Hotel Cielo Rojo. You'll find little nightlife with the exception of special concerts in the town square or a bonfire on the beach.
As sweet and intimate as every other aspect of the Hotel Cielo Rojo, the pool is just a bit larger than a typical hot tub. Located in the corner of the dining room/common area, the pool is a pleasant place to splash around with an infant or go for a quick cool-off after a day out exploring the community. A child expecting an expansive aquatic playground will not be satisfied.
The Hotel Cielo Rojo has two adult bicycles available for guests to use at their leisure. If the bikes are being rented or not the right size for your children, two nearby rental companies offer bikes of all shapes and sizes. Scooters are also available for rent nearby.
Just about two blocks away is the San Francisco town square that includes a lovely playground for kids -- swings, teeter-totters, and climbing structures are among the collection. The kids might enjoy riding their bicycles here on the paved walkways, as opposed to the cobblestone streets that make up most of the town. The square is also the site of many concerts, festivals and special events in San Francisco.
The Bistro at Cielo Rojo is considered the top dining experience in San Francisco. Focusing entirely on locally sourced, organic foods, you can count on the food your family eats being healthy and fresh. The primary sources of protein are eggs, cheese and fresh seafood caught from the Pacific. This may be a concern for some families because no chicken or red meat is served at Cielo Rojo.
However, the benefit of such an intimate hotel is the multi-lingual staff knows each guest personally and works to serve individual needs. Count on a colorful breakfast offering pancakes and waffles, loads of fresh fruit and the freshest of eggs served in creative and flavorful dishes.
The Saturday Taco lunch is a popular event in San Francisco.
Dinner is an event featuring homemade pastas, a brilliant rancheros huevos, and house made chocolates and ice cream for dessert. There is no children's menu, but the staff will work to accommodate children's needs within the scope of the organic options available. The kitchen is small and open to the intimate dining room and guests can watch the process underway to create these engaging meals.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The San Francisco Beach is less than three blocks away from Cielo Rojo. Beach towels and umbrellas are available for guests at no extra charge.
Just across the street from the street from the hotel is a coin laundromat.
The dining room is always open even when the kitchen is not serving meals. Help yourself to homemade oatmeal cookies, scones and other baked goods any time you like. Fresh fruit is available for the taking, as is coffee, tea and juice.
Well-behaved dogs are welcomed with an additional fee of about $12 per night.
A lovely collection of locally crafted clothing for women and girls is available in an alcove off the lobby. Brightly beaded bags, belts and other accessories complement jewelry that is made locally and by Native American tribes of the Southwest. There's a nice selection of Navajo turquoise.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season at the Cielo Rojo is similar to that of all Mexican beach communities -- Christmas until March or April. However, March is when the Circus of the Kids (Cirque de los Ninos) takes place in San Francisco, thus creating an extra high demand at all hotels. September, October and November are low season. The sanctification of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of San Francisco, is celebrated in mid-October, another busy week for the village and its hotels. Summer rates are up to 60 percent less than winter rates.
The village of San Francisco is about 45 minutes to an hour from Puerto Vallarta and the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport. The Hotel Cielo Rojo doesn't have a shuttle service, but can make arrangements for transportation for you. Otherwise, you might take a bus or enjoy a renting your own vehicle in order to better explore the Riviera Nayarit.
San Francisco is a small town so getting around can easily be accomplished on foot. There are, however, plenty of taxis to take you where you need to be or the bus stop for the main bus route through the coastal towns of Riviera Nayarit is about one kilometer, or about a half mile, from the hotel.
For Mom and Dad
The Cielo Rojo offers its own organic tequila, a fresh, light refreshment to carry to your room, enjoy in the dining room with other guests or with meals.
Sunset Dinner on the Beach
The Las Palmas Restaurant on San Francisco's beach is a great restaurant for lunch or dinner, but come in the evening to watch the sunset on the Pacific while sipping a glass of wine and enjoying some quiet time together.