Oyster’s Spring Break Guide: Our favorite student-friendly party hotels

See recent posts by Kelsey Blodget

Dixe Dam's Country Bar at the Hooters Casino Hotel, a cheap spring break destination in Las Vegas.
Dixe Dam's Country Bar at the Hooters Casino Hotel, a cheap spring break destination in Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, we shared our insider tips on how to book a mind-blowing spring break trip on as little money as possible. But we know students are busy — with so much studying (ahem, pong playing) to do, who has time to research hotels? So we decided to do your homework for you, and rounded up our favorite spring destinations, from all-inclusive Caribbean party resorts to South Beach crash pads. Just don’t expect us to help with your term paper.

A quick note on prices: Those listed below are an average room rate for a stay on any of the next 30 days. But we selected these value hotels after spot-checking room rates in March.

Viva Wyndham Playa Dorada

  • Price: $148/night
  • Rating: 3.0 Pearls
  • Location: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

A solid choice for families, partiers, and the extremely budget-conscious. Euro-centric Viva Wyndham’s strengths include clean rooms, an enthusiastic activities staff, a decent beach, a lively pool scene, and even a rock-climbing wall. The food is not the greatest, but the Presidente beer flows like wine.

  • Price: $233/night
  • Rating: 2.5 Pearls
  • Location: South Beach, Miami

Across from the beach, in the middle of the all-night Ocean Drive chaos, this cheap party pad offers 50 clean, modern rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a bar that serves fishbowl-size mojitos. Ideal for spring breakers who can look past unsettling hallways and tiny bathrooms, the Colony is a steal.

  • Price: $183/night
  • Rating: 2.0 Pearls
  • Location: Negril, Jamaica

Negril is a nonstop party during spring break, and Negril Tree House has a prime location in the heart of the action — right on Seven Mile Beach and next door to great bars and restaurants. It’s not an all-inclusive, but with so many nightlife options to explore around town, you’ll be glad for the flexibility. The large, rustic rooms rooms have great balconies and hammocks, and guests only have to step outside to feel sand beneath their toes.

Hooters Casino Hotel

With a name like Hooters, it’s no surprise that this hotel is home to a raging party scene. The breasts are big, the tops are skimpy, and the drinks are a-flowin’. By day guests imbibe at The Pool Bar. Come nightfall the scene moves indoors to Dixie’s Dam Bar where the female bartenders dance on the bar in teensy outfits. They sometimes even hang from the ceiling. But after a long night, Dixie’s best asset might just be its 25-cent wings at 4 a.m.

Bahia Principe San Juan

  • Price: $94/night
  • Rating: 2.5 Pearls
  • Location: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Attracting party-focused youngsters in search of pre-noon cocktails, the Bahia Pricipe San Juan is one of the liveliest (i.e., loudest) all-inclusives in the D.R. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so guests stay on-site — drinking begins early at the swim-up bar and ends at the disco or the karaoke bar. The rooms are worn, but fine for passing out.

  • Price: $252/night
  • Rating: 3.0 Pearls
  • Location: South Beach, Miami

A hookah bar, a nightly happy hour with free (if watered-down) drinks, clean, modern rooms with hip design touches, and a location right in the heart of SoBe action — two blocks away from Ocean Drive and the beach — make the Chelsea a great spring break pick. With prices for this March currently around $160, it’s a deal.

The A-list party scene here centers around a massive pool area, where the Tropicana bar serves drinks until 2 a.m. The scene often includes internationally known DJs and a who’s who of Hollywood starlets (Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Lauren Conrad). Guests can rub shoulders with the stars at the pool, but to get past the door at the exclusive Teddy’s nightclub downstairs (where partygoers have included Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Jay-Z, and Penelope Cruz), you’ll have to dress your absolute best and pray for a little bit of luck.

Barcelo Punta Cana

  • Price: $118/night
  • Rating: 3.0 Pearls
  • Location: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

A giant step up from most Barcelo resorts, the Barcelo Premium comes with some newly renovated Deluxe Rooms, three pools, name-brand liquor, waterslides for kids, and a fantastic beach. Standard Rooms are dingy and the restaurant reservation policy can be maddening, but for the rowdy groups of 20-somethings who take over the property in February and March, the lively, late-night bar scenes, jumping disco, and quality booze more than compensate.

The President Hotel

  • Price: $161/night
  • Rating: 2.5 Pearls
  • Location: South Beach, Miami

The President Hotel may be the cheapest spring break hotel in South Beach. As of today, prices for this March were a little over $100 a night. Not bad for a place with clean, recently renovated rooms, fun, funky decor, 32-inch flat-screen TVs, and a location a block from the beach.

Las Vegas is pretty much the only city in the world where you can find a five-pearl hotel in this price range. Spring breakers willing to splurge can party like rock stars at XS nightclub, which surrounds the Encore’s sexy European Pool and Island Bar. A 10-foot rotating chandelier and nude mannequin torsos are part of the decor. Next door at the Encore’s sister hotel, the Wynn boasts two of Vegas’ best clubs, the 12,000-square-foot Tryst and the more relaxed Blush.

Update 2/12/10: Check out more hotel recommendations on our new Spring Break Party Hotels page.

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