Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This 153-room property is located in northern Key Largo, a short drive from the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and close to shops and restaurants. Not a lot stands out, but there are a few perks -- like a diver’s center on-site, an adequate spa, and a nice private beach (albeit a tiny one). Big rooms have flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and nicer decor than other mid-range chains in the area. Book a room with an ocean view to enjoy the beautiful Key Largo sunsets.
Sunset Key Cottages, a Luxury Collection Resort, Key West Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This 40-room resort caters to the upscale traveler with luxurious, beach-chic cottages and high-end amenities. It is located on Sunset Key, a residential island off Key West, and is affiliated to the Westin Key West, with which it shares some features, such as the fitness center and the restaurants. The hotel itself has wonderful amenities, including a lovely pool, a gorgeous beach with palm trees and clear waters, and a pleasant spa. Its location, though idyllic and exclusive, might be somewhat inconvenient for travelers who want to be close to shops and restaurants (the hotel only has one eatery on-site).
Casa Marina Resort - a Waldorf Astoria Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The 311 rooms of the Casa Marina Resort have a light, sophisticated, but still island-y feel, with neutral tones, sheer curtains, and sleek hardwood or tiled floors. The resort also offers great in-room amenities, including free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and espresso machines. Although bathrooms aren't anything grand (just simple walk-in showers or shower/tub combos), they're clean and sleek. The resort's grounds are beautiful, with palm trees and lush foliage, and lead to a rare amenity in Key West -- a swimmable beach. Although it's too rocky to wade into the water, a long dock extends to sandier bottoms.
The Reach, a Waldorf Astoria Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Reach offers respite from rowdy, gaudy Key West with its brand of relaxed sophistication and its beachfront location. Its 150 rooms are what you would expect from the Waldorf Astoria crowd: spacious, modern and clean, with generic high-end furnishings and comfortable beds outfitted in crisp linens. They feel just a tad less upscale than those at the Casa Marina, its sister hotel next door, but the hotel's private white-sand beach with a pier for fishing is just as nice.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The 114-room Cheeca Lodge was one of the original luxury properties on Islamorada, dating to 1946 and earning plenty of celebrity cachet over the years (high-profile guests have included George W. Bush). The property was rebuilt after a fire gutted its main building in 2009, and now has bright, spacious rooms with tropical-luxe decor and massive bathrooms. The lush grounds are especially pretty at night, with Tiki-torch-lit paths.
Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Spread across 12 waterfront acres in the Florida Keys, Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort is a collection of upscale tropical Victorian-style homes divided into multi-story two- and three-bedroom suites with full kitchens and water views. There’s a private beach that used to have a problem with seagrass washing ashore and littering the beach, but the resort constructed an eco-friendly seagrass fence offshore to keep the beach in pristine condition.
Southernmost on the Beach Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Southernmost on the Beach is a Key West favorite. Many rooms have balconies, and some have corner, wrap-around balconies with ocean views that are truly spectacular. Polished rooms are decorated in soothing, beach-inspired tones. Highlights here include the spectacular beach, long pool, private sunbathing pier, and sunny fitness center. With hammocks strung between palm trees and Adirondack chairs looking out over the ocean, this 124-room hotel provides the perfect environment to relax.
La Mer Hotel and Dewey House Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The 19-room La Mer Hotel and Dewey House is an upscale, adults-only property built at the turn of the century on South Beach. With its breezy yet elegant style, beachfront dining terrace, and access to a sister hotels' pools, spa, and three bars, this property offers the features of a resort with a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere. Guest rooms are beautifully decorated in a classic style, and have flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers; some open to balconies. The property serves free breakfast, along with occasional treats like chocolate-covered strawberries, but there's a pesky resort fee and minimum stays are occasionally required.
Lime Tree Bay Resort Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The mid-range Lime Tree Bay Resort is an affordable seaside oasis on a palm-shaded sandy shore in the Florida Keys. There are many amenities for relaxing including hammocks, two outdoor pools, a hot tub, barbecue grills, and on-site kayaking. Most of the 56 rooms have flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, microwaves, and patios or balconies with sea views. Three-bedroom townhouses offer private garages and canal views; suites come with kitchenettes or kitchens. The remote location, though, is slow paced as the pools close at sundown and few dining options are located nearby. Both breakfast and Wi-Fi are free.