Luxury for Less: Where to Stay and Save in the Florida Keys

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Finding hotels that deliver real bang for your buck isn't easy, but it is possible -- and fortunately, we did the work for you. We were stunned by some of the high prices of our favorite luxury hotels in the Florida Keys when we were planning a getaway for this summer. Of course, these properties do offer the utmost luxury -- but many neighboring resorts and hotels are nearly as nice, for half the price. Whether you're seeking a luxe adults-only retreat or an upscale boutique experience, we'll show you the creme de la creme (that will cost you a pretty penny -- or two, or three, or thousands), as well as the hotel where you'll get almost the same level of luxury for a lot less green.

If You're Looking For: Adults-Only

Top: La Mer Hotel and Dewey House; Bottom: The Mermaid & The Alligator

Top: La Mer Hotel and Dewey House; Bottom: The Mermaid & The Alligator

Adults-only properties often charge premium rates; after all, they know how much parents are willing to spend to enjoy a little alone time away from the kids!

Splurge: La Mer Hotel and Dewey House, Key West

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, minimum stays are occasionally required, and summer rates are generally over $400/night.

Save: The Mermaid & The Alligator, Key West

This adults-only bed-and-breakfast, with just nine rooms, is also a four-pearl property — but rates are less than half the price of those at La Mer Hotel. Sure, it lacks La Mer’s direct beach access, but The Mermaid & The Alligator is just three blocks from popular Duval Street. Plus, it serves a lovely breakfast as well as free wine hours, and is home to a lush garden with a hammock and plunge pool.

If You're Looking For: Kid-Friendly

Top: Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort; Bottom: The Westin Key West Resort & Marina

Top: Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort; Bottom: The Westin Key West Resort & Marina

Splurge: Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort; Sunset Key

This 40-room resort caters to upscale families with luxurious cottages, a white-sand beach, and a large pool. Yet while its Sunset Key location (the hotel provides a free ferry to Key West, which takes less than 10 minutes) adds to the air of exclusivity, it can actually be more of a pain; in fact, many of the amenities (such as the fitness center and majority of the restaurants) are located at the sister property, The Westin Key West Resort, where $350/night rates offer a major discount compared to Sunset Key’s $675/night rates.

Save: The Westin Key West Resort & Marina, Key West

Rooms here aren’t nearly as nice as those at the Sunset Key property; bathrooms are small and decor is quite simple. But this 178-room waterfront hotel in Old Town Key West is a real resort, with dozens of features, including boat rentals, shops, a fitness center, and a marina. All this, for about half the cost of a stay at the Sunset Key Guest Cottages.

If You're Looking For: Boutique

Top: Almond Tree Inn; Bottom: The Weatherstation Inn

Top: Almond Tree Inn; Bottom: The Weatherstation Inn

Due largely to the fact that they’re smaller properties (and therefore lack a slew of amenities), both of these inns fall into the upper-mid-range category. However, they nonetheless offer boutique, elegant stays — one for far cheaper than the other.

Splurge: Almond Tree Inn, Key West

The Almond Tree Inn offers 22 stylish rooms decorated in yellow, green, and white tropical decor. Property features include a serene pool courtyard with waterfalls and lush landscaping, and the location is in the heart of Old Town Key West, within walking distance of Duval Street. With both free breakfast and a free happy hour, it’s a pretty solid value — except when compared to the The Weatherstation Inn, where a night’s stay is generally more than $100 cheaper.

Save: The Weatherstation Inn, Key West

Housed in a simple historic building on a quiet street in Old Town Key West, this eight-room property doesn’t look like much from the outside. But each of its rooms has a distinct character and charming decor (picture four-poster beds and antique touches), as well as relaxing views of the well-tended grounds. Rates are low perhaps due to the fact that there are very few amenities (just a tiny pool), but great freebies include Wi-Fi, parking, and a breakfast basket delivered each morning.

If You're Looking For: A Private Island

Top: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa; Bottom: Casa Morada

Top: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa; Bottom: Casa Morada

Splurge: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Palm Island

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is one of the most lavish properties in the Keys. Reachable only by boat or seaplane, it sits on a private island where wild key deer roam. Thirty luxurious suites, many with private oceanfront verandas, dot the five-acre property, and it’s a popular getaway for celebrities seeking seclusion. Top-notch amenities include a luxe spa, tranquil pool, and fine-dining restaurant with sunset views. But potential guests should take note: No children under 16 are allowed, rooms (purposefully) lack TVs, cell phones are not permitted in public areas, and summer rates are nearly $1,000/night.

Save: Casa Morada, Islamorada

Casa Morada may not sit on its own private island, but it does have a small private island, accessed by a footbridge and featuring a freshwater pool and secluded cabana with panoramic views of the Florida Bay. For rates that are generally less than one-third of those at Little Palm Island, we’ll take it! Inspired by a laidback Caribbean lifestyle, this upscale 16-suite boutique hotel iss perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, whether for a honeymoon or just because. Situated right next to the ocean in the middle of the Florida Keys on Islamorada, the hotel provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with hanging hammocks and lots of fun and free activities like yoga classes, kayaking, and bicycle rentals.

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