Expert Tips


10 Best Hotels in St. Petersburg and Clearwater

With so many wonderful hotel choices in the St Petersburg-Clearwater corridor, deciding where to stay can be a bit of a problem – but a good one!

If the romance and allure of times gone by appeal to you, then think about checking into the landmark Don CeSar Hotel on St Pete Beach. Its Gatsby-era history and luxe atmosphere combine with a premier beach destination and stellar services to please the most discerning traveler.

Families may prefer the multitude of kid-friendly activities offered by St Pete Beach favorites such as Tradewinds Island Grand and its sister resort Guy Harvey Outpost.

If you’re not a beach lover, the majestic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club offers another historic option in a downtown setting offering easy access to nearby museums, alfresco restaurants, shops etc.

Something smaller and more intimate can be found in boutique choices such as the The Kimpton Hotel Zamora  on St Pete Beach, the popular PostCard Inn on the Beach or the 1920s era Birchwood in downtown St Petersburg.

If Clearwater Beach is more to your liking, choices include the posh Opal Sands Resort, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Resort and Spa, the Sandpearl or Sheraton Sand Key – all good choices for either family or romantic escapes.

There are no wrong choices!



Sheraton Sand Key Resort
Photo courtesy of Sheraton Sand Key Resort

Located in a pristine, peaceful paradise near Sand Key Park, the Sheraton Sand Key Resort provides all the amenities needed for a great family vacation. Located just a south of the busy section of Clearwater Beach, this resort provides a relaxing respite, complete with million-dollar sunset views. Enjoy the water vistas from the balcony in the room, sit poolside and soak up the warm ocean breezes or play in the sand and surf on the 13-acre white sand beach. Besides it's spacious private beach, the resort also has outdoor tennis courts and plenty of activities that will keep the whole family entertained.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: A jewel for families looking for a beach vacation, this resort is located on a 13-acre private stretch of white sand.

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Treasure Island Beach Resort
Photo courtesy of Treasure Island Beach Resort

A blend of laid-back luxury and island chic best describes Treasure Island Beach Resort's 77 tropically decorated suites, most of which feature glass-railed balconies with floor to ceiling windows revealing expansive views of the Gulf of Mexico. Additional perks include fully equipped kitchenettes, flat screen TVs, crisp linens, nicely appointed bathrooms with signature toiletries and more. BRGR Kitchen & Bar is the place for everything from light bites to a large variety of signature burgers, comfort food, salads, frosty signature drinks and more. As you would expect from a resort tucked along one of the area's best beaches, there's plenty to do in the surf, or on the sun deck with its snack bar, pool and hot tub. A fully equipped fitness center offers scenic views from the sixth floor while you work out.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This hotel is a family favorite and is situated right on the beach within walking distance to Pier 60.

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Opal Sands Resort
Photo courtesy of VSPC

Sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico, soothing décor and a chic ambiance define one of the newer resorts tucked along Clearwater Beach. Balconied rooms and suites offer Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges and coffeemakers. Upgraded suites boast separate living rooms with kitchenettes. Colorful cocktails, fresh seafood and locally sourced dishes take center stage at the elegant Sea Guini. The casual, beachfront Sandbar offers more casual fare, along with a Kids' menu with some of their usual favorites. The small, but complete Opal Spa features a wide range of soothing treatments in a cozy sanctuary with calming ocean views. Jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and beach cabanas are available for rent.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Check out the rooftop pool for amazing sunsets. It's the perfect vantage point from which to witness Nature's colorful spectacle.

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The Birchwood
Photo courtesy of The Birchwood

Tucked into a small building along bustling Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg, this charming hotel is a short walk to some of the area's best bistros, shops and attractions lining tranquil Tampa Bay. Built in 1924, this Spanish Mission-style edifice underwent an extensive renovation and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. With only 18 luxurious rooms, the boutique inn highlights a 1920s ambiance with modern-day amenities, which include elegant décor, plush linens, over-sized bathrooms and complimentary daily breakfast. The award-winning Birch & Vine one of the best restaurants in town features fine dining and an ample wine menu, while the Canopy Rooftop Lounge offers sweeping views to go with a diverse menu, signature cocktails and large wine and beer selection.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The Birchwood is a luxury boutique hotel, perfect for a romantic getaway close to downtown St Petersburg attractions.

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Located along the scenic shores of the Gulf of Mexico, this award-winning resort offers chic rooms and suites with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi and many other amenities. A lagoon-style, walk-in pool, beachfront fire pits, fully equipped fitness center and lavish spa with a wide range of soothing treatments, provide perfect chilling-out options. Two beachfront restaurants including the AAA Diamond Award-winning Caretta on the Gulf - dish up tasty cuisine and a "grab and go" Marketplace off the main lobby offers something for people on the run. For children 5 10 years old Camp Ridley offers plenty of seasonal activities to keep them entertained. The resort's location close to Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach allows access to nightly sunset rituals.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This resort is the perfect getaway for couple's looking for a romantic vacation or for families in search of total R&R.

Read more about Sandpearl Resort →

TradeWinds Island Grand
Photo courtesy of VSPC

Sprawling along the scenic shores of St Pete Beach, this popular resort features 20 acres of beachfront fun for the whole family. With five heated pools, meandering waterways with paddle boats, a bungee trampoline, high tide water slide and other fun activities, there's something for everyone. Additional activities for kids including performances by Red Beard the pirate are especially thrilling. Ten restaurants and bars offer sit-down or grab-and-go dining. Adults can pamper their bodies and souls in the luxurious spa with its selection of more than 25 treatments. Sister property Guy Harvey Outpost, located next door offers yet more activities and pools as well as the popular Rum Fish Grill with its 33.000-gallon aquarium where you can swim with the fish.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Featuring a floating water park and tons of stuff for the kids to do, this resort is every family's dream.

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The Hotel Zamora
Photo courtesy of VSPC

This chic, boutique Mediterranean-style hotel sits across from St Pete Beach and is one of the newer hotels on the beach. Opened in 2014, the 72 elegant rooms and suites - some with soaking tubs - boast elegant décor and top drawer creature comforts. A seven-slip marina, outdoor pool dotted with comfy chaises, hot tub and 24-hour exercise room are an added draw. Spanish, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine is featured onsite at the popular Castile Restaurant. An ample menu backed up by designer cocktails, wines, beer and martinis is sure to please every palate. When the sun sets, slip up to 360° Rooftop for lighter fare and stunning views.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: One of the newer hotels in the area, The Hotel Zamora is a luxurious boutique hotel with contemporary Spanish influence and design.

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Postcard Inn On The Beach
Photo courtesy of VSPC

Sitting on one of the area's prettiest - and most tranquil - beaches, Postcard Inn offers a touch of the past with décor hinting at surfers and seaside chic. The definitely laid-back vibe promises endless hours of R&R with guestrooms punctuated by beach-themed art and surfer memorabilia. Rooms all feature flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, safe, mini fridge, coffee maker and charming vintage light fixtures. An Olympic-size pool and water sports on the beach offer plenty to do. The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar dishes up tasty Floribbean cuisine along with designer cocktails such as the Smoked Old Fashioned, Strawberry Basil Smash and the unique Baconado Bloody Mary. The PCI Beach Bar (said to be the oldest on the beach) is the place for light bites, frosty drinks. Live music is featured on the weekend.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This unique hotel is big on conservation and named after one of the world's foremost ocean conservationists and artists, Guy Harvey.

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The elegant Vinoy has had many incarnations since it first opened on New Year's Eve in 1925 and despite its many ups and downs through the years it sits in testimony to the city's early 20th century, earning a place on the National Register of Historic Places. A $93 million restoration, which began in 1990, showcases the posh resort, which is conveniently located in downtown St Petersburg across from the scenic harbor. Named an Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation® it boasts elegant rooms and suites some with balconies - five restaurants including an elegant 1920s style eatery, a coffee shop and lobby bar, as well as a fitness club, luxe spa, heated outdoor pool, hot tub and sauna. Golfers will enjoy access to the 18-hole, championship golf course.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This historic gem situated in downtown St. Petersburg is located within easy walking distance to the Dali Museum and picturesque sidewalk cafes, bistros and shops.

Read more about The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club →

St. Pete Beach
The Don CeSar
Photo courtesy of The Don CeSar

One of the area's most well-known landmarks, the stately "Don" has been wowing generations of visitors to St Pete Beach for many years. Tucked into a pink palatial Mediterranean-style complex and affectionately dubbed the "Pink Palace," it debuted as a hotel in 1928 at the height of the Great Gatsby era - and was a favorite with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone, FDR and other notables. Today, it boasts lavish accommodations, an amazing spa, award-winning restaurants and two heated pools and is located on one of the area's best beaches. Picture-perfect vistas and topnotch services make this the perfect luxurious getaway. Dining is a treat in eateries ranging from the upscale Maritana Grille, to the appealing Sea Porch Café, casual Beachcomber Bar & Grille, Rowe Bar for light bites and refreshing cocktails and the popular Andy's Ice Cream Parlor offering not only ice cream, but tasty breakfast treats.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The Pink Palace is a legendary, family-friendly luxurious getaway located right on one of the best beaches around.

Read more about The Don CeSar →


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Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations. 

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