Local Experts' 10 Best Beach Hotels

Due to the coral reef system surrounding Key West, the island isn’t known for its long stretches of soft sand, although Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach, and Fort Zachary Taylor all offer public access. Any remaining natural sand was prime real estate for hotels and resorts, and the others have improvised by creating their own “private beaches” – small areas that usually offer dramatic views and beach chairs for tanning. Here are some of Key West’s “beachfront” hotels.


Boasting 129 suites with gourmet kitchens, spa tubs, balconies; plus 93 king standard rooms the Key West Marriott Beachside brings luxurious comforts right to the guests' rooms. A free shuttle whisks them from downtown to this 4-diamond hotel, where guests are greeting with a champagne welcome. There is a restaurant onsite as well as a poolside bar and private cabanas, a fitness center, a sauna and full-service spa, a business center, banquet and event spaces, a Jacuzzi, and a game room. The private beach on the Gulf of Mexico is ideal for watching the sunsets. Check out their specials page for deals on vacation packages.

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With private oceanfront access and Smathers Beach just next door, this condominium rental resort is just the ticket for sand-seekers. Suites are fitted with kitchens, a washer and dryer, and over-sized balconies, plus guests have access to a whirlwind of amenities. The resort boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts, barbecue facilities, and a sun deck.

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This four-diamond hotel delivers spacious, quiet accommodations, an on-site Japanese restaurant, two heated swimming pools, and a staff that goes above-and-beyond to make guests feel welcome. All 35 of the one and two-bedroom suites are equipped with designer kitchens, an in-room washer and dryer, and iPod clock radios. The hotel is approximately a 15-minute walk away from Higgs Beach and the south end of Duval Street. Expert Tip: Keep in mind that Mallory Square and many other attractions are far enough away that renting bikes or taking a cab is advised.

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Rooms at the Pier House are decorated in a distinctly Florida fashion, with four poster beds, and several room options including traditional, Lanai (step right outside), harbor view, one and two-bedroom suites, and the Caribbean spa rooms, which feature bamboo floors and a secluded whirlpool and spa just a few steps away. The central location means that most attractions are within a 10-minute walk, but the Pier House has several restaurants and a piano bar on the premises if you don't feel like going far. Parking is plentiful and there aren't any "surprise resort fees" upon arrival.

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This casual, yet upscale property boasts one of the larger stretches of sand in Key West, and a picturesque pier extending over the Atlantic. In-room amenities at The Reach, A Waldorf Astoria Resort include wireless Internet access, satellite television, air conditioning, room service, and some whirlpool suites. Private dining is offered at the resort's steak and seafood house, but there is also a pool bar and room service. While The Reach has the advantage of being on the quiet side of the island, it is a rather long walk to Mallory Square and the historic seaport.

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Hyatt Beach House Resort, A Hyatt Residence Club Resort
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For a quiet stay away from the Key West party scene, the Hyatt Beach House Resort is a prime choice among travelers who prefer a condo-style approach to vacationing. All units have two rooms, a screened balcony, and fully-equipped kitchens. Other amenities include a spa tub, private beach, pool, shuttle to downtown and the airport, and free parking. Although this is timeshare resort, rooms can be booked the same as any hotel, but be aware that there is no daily housekeeping.

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Opened in 2008, this five-acre property located on Florida Bay is one of Key West's newest luxury resorts. Although it is two miles from Duval Street, the hotel offers a wealth of activities to keep guests busy including snorkeling, eco-tours, fishing, jet-ski rentals, and golf. White sand lines the 118 rooms, vacation homes, and spacious cottages that overlook the gardens or the bay (while others face the parking lot). Four pools, a cafe, and tiki bar complete the relaxed, "Floribbian" vibe that resonates throughout the hotel. Book a beachfront room and you'll literally step out into the sand with your morning coffee in hand. Note that parking can be an adventure during busy season, with many guests forced to park at the neighboring Walgreens.

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Not far from Higgs Beach, and its lengthy pier (prime for watching the sunrise) is Casa Marina, a mansion-style resort that boasts 1,100 feet of private beach. This timeless beauty is listed on the National Register for Historic Places and has been attracting celebrities and dignitaries since the 1920s. Indulge in a deep-tissue massage or aromatherapy in the Spa al Mare and experience the resort's signature "toes-in-the-sand" private beachfront dining. Guest rooms and suites offer WiFi access, espresso machines, iPod docking stations - many with ocean views.

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Galleon Resort And Marina
Photo courtesy of Woodlandsonline

No matter what type of accommodations guests are looking for, they can find it at the Galleon Resort and Marina, which offers one and two-bedroom condominium-style units, studios, and penthouses. Added comforts include a tiki bar, private beach, boardwalk, observation deck, and sauna - not to mention a breakwater-shielded marina for patrons that arrive by boat. A slew of seafood restaurants and bars are just next door in the harbor, including A & B Lobster House, Alonzo's Oyster Bar, and Schooner Wharf Bar. The resort is also home to Jet Pack Adventures, a thrilling new attraction that allows active travelers to fly using a water-powered rocket pack.

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On a less-crowded side of quirky Duval Street, rests Southernmost on the Beach, an upscale (yet unpretentious) hotel that boasts a private pier and beach, poolside bar, and on-site restaurant. Oceanfront guest rooms grant balcony vistas of the morning sunrise, modern decor, flat-screen televisions, and luxurious bathrooms (think glass enclosed sauna-style showers with tile walls and flooring). The resort offers complimentary use of beach chairs, parking, and WiFi, and special events such as beer school, live music, wine tastings, and water aerobics. Expert Tip: The beach cafe has killer happy hour specials, including some unique bar snacks.

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