Free use of snorkeling gear, beach gear, and toys for kids
Eight tennis courts and a fitness center nearby for free
Friendly owners will arrange tours and give invaluable local info
Weekly rum punch party in the backyard
Massage and nail services offered on-site on request
Free Wi-Fi and parking
Not directly on the beach
The pool area is small and not ideal for sunbathing
No restaurant on-site (ask the owner, Stephanie, for off-site suggestions)
Office hours are relatively limited
For those in search of an intimate boutique experience on Aruba, the Boardwalk Hotel is an excellent three-and-a-half-pearl choice. This peaceful 14-room property, tucked behind three massive Marriott properties and situated on a former coconut plantation, remains an oasis of calm. The bright, spacious casitas have full kitchens or kitchenettes, bright beach-chic decor, and semi-private patios. Snorkeling equipment is free to use, as is beach gear, and it's just a five-minute walk to Palm Beach (full of bustling restaurants, casinos and nightlife). There's also a "hidden" beach nearby that's recommended by the owners -- they know the local scoop. While the hotel does have a small pool, there is no restaurant. Those who'd prefer a boutique stay right on the beach should check out the Surfside Marina Hotel as an alternative.
Hidden gem of a boutique hotel that attracts a laid-back, adventure sports crowd
Just past a series of sprawling Marriott properties facing Palm Beach, and beyond some marshland, a curious orange and turquoise entrance beckons. It's this tucked-away first impression that characterizes the in-the-know-only Boardwalk Hotel Aruba. From the moment you arrive here, the relaxed, easygoing pace that runs throughout the rest of the island is immediately recognizable.
First impressions are bright: bold turquoise walls, scattered books and various island accents work together to create a beachy, casual vibe. Many guests will meet the dog, Lola, first, before one of the friendly owners (a pair of Belgian twins) offers a tour of the grounds. The small pool area is never crowded (though it can still feel a bit cramped). There are always plenty of lounge areas to have a beer and read a book -- like under the large palapa or in the backyard, next to fresh herb plants. The lack of a restaurant and activities on-site helps maintain a peaceful atmosphere here. It's never totally silent, though, as constant trade winds rustle the tropical vegetation; for guests looking to socialize, the hotel does host weekly rum punch parties in the backyard. Most are here to take part in the water sports that make the island famous, and couples and families make up the bulk of guests.
Five-minute walk to Palm Beach, but a rental car is recommended
The Boardwalk is situated on the northern end of the High-Rise District, behind several massive Marriott resorts. It's secluded behind a high wrought-iron fence, with a single entrance through the driveway, which is manned by a security guard after office hours. Generally a rental car is recommended to access other areas of the island, and the friendly owners gladly offer suggestions for local hot spots. Taxis can be arranged too, though fares can get expensive.
It's just a five-minute walk to Palm Beach, which is packed with high-rise hotels, beachfront restaurants, and shopping. Eagle Beach is just as well-known, and about a 10-minute drive away. A bit farther north by car are Malmok, Boca Catalina, and Arashi Beaches -- all are good spots for snorkeling and swimming and less than ten minutes away. Reaching the tranquil waters at Baby Beach takes a solid 35 minutes in a car.
The luxury mall, marina restaurants and casino in downtown Oranjestad are about an 18-minute drive, but there's only a single road and during rush hour driving times can stretch. Getting to Queen Beatrix International Airport takes a little longer -- about 20 minutes.
Spacious casitas have cheerful island style plus kitchenettes and furnished patios
The hotel has 14 spacious one- or two-bedroom casitas with kitchenettes or kitchens that include coffeemakers and microwaves, plus adjoining living rooms and separate bedrooms that are dressed in crisp white linens. The decor is minimalist chic, with wood-beamed ceilings, white walls, and bright accents in orange, turquoise, and lime. The artsy details and wicker seating come together to create a breezy, beachy style. The one-bedroom units with two queen beds can comfortably fit four family members, and the two-bedroom units can accommodate up to six.
Standard features include air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and sleek flat-screen TVs, plus DVD players on request. Bathrooms feature local Aruba Aloe toiletries and large walk-in rainfall showers. Furnished patios look out onto lush gardens and include quality deck furniture, cushions, hammocks, and charcoal grills. The carafe of fresh lemonade in the refrigerator is a nice welcome touch for new arrivals -- as is the treasure box -- a box of local tips from the owners and past guests.
Small pool area, private area on Palm Beach, some spa services, and weekly rum parties
There aren't a ton of features here, though what's on offer is helpful for independent-minded guests. The small outdoor pool rarely gets crowded since there are so few guests, but can still feel a bit cramped regardless. The terrace surrounding the pool is attractive, and there are wooden lounge chairs and brightly colored cushions. The hotel also has an area on Palm Beach that's reserved for Boardwalk guests, which includes a fresh-water shower and shaded areas. Palapas are limited, but can be reserved a day or two in advance. Beach towels, chairs, umbrellas, and coolers are provided free of charge. Kid-friendly beach gear includes frisbees, paddleball sets, floats, surfboards, and body boards.
While on-site activities are limited, the Aruba Racquet Club is free of charge for guests. The facilities are within walking distance and include eight tennis courts, a practice wall, fitness center, showers, playground, pool, and skate ramp. Though the hotel doesn't have an actual spa, massages can be booked in advance in rooms or the garden. Mani-pedis are available on request too. Boardwalk does not offer special packages for honeymooners. Let them know in advance, however, and a member of staff will place a bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator and flowers on the bed. There's also a weekly rum punch party in the backyard.
Plenty of toys, lawn games, board games, and crafts are available at the front desk. For added safety, Boardwalk can loan guests car seats, beach-proof strollers, and a children's gate to block the front door of the casita. Older kids might enjoy the free use of body boards, floats, Frisbees, paddle ball sets, and snorkel gear. Parking and Wi-Fi are both free at the hotel.
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