Theme-park mega-resorts and chain hotels may come to mind when you think of your usual-suspect Florida vacation rental. But these 14 hotels are far from typical (we should know: We visited hundreds of properties to find these charming standouts). From an Art Deco masterpiece to a romantic complex of beautifully refurbished 19th-century conch houses, these are Florida’s best boutique hotels.
This 40-room upscale resort -- located on Sunset Key, a residential island off Key West -- 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).
If you're looking for a relaxing getaway in South Beach, gorgeous Metropolitan by COMO is the premier pick. This Art Deco property's 74 pistachio-and-gray rooms are outfitted with modern features like 42-inch flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines, and free Wi-Fi. Other amenities are an outdoor pool, beautiful beach, rooftop hydrotherapy pool, fine seafood restaurant, and elegant spa.
Tinkling courtyard fountains and rich wood accents give this elegant, 80-room resort a British Colonial feel (and a Daniel Boulud restaurant and Frederic Fekkai salon give it some brand-name cachet). Note that accessing the nearby beaches requires crossing busy roads; those hoping to be directly on the beach may consider staying at the trendy Omphoy.
At this historic Art Deco hotel, the 87 retro-chic rooms have preppy blue-and-white decor, black-and-white photos, and whopping 55-inch flat-screen TVs. The sunny rooftop pool, clubby lounge with fancy cocktails, and super-hip basement nightclub are all big draws. The signage can be confusing -- it says The Gale on the front and The Regent on the back, for the two hotels were combined to form the current property. Also, first-floor rooms are noisy, Studios are suitable for just one person, there are no spa services on-site, and no good beach views.
This 61-room historic hotel does just about everything right. Its chic (but smallish) rooms have white-on-white decor and teak accents, as well as flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, bathroom mirrors embedded with TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Guests rave about the rooftop sundeck with ocean views, popular lobby bar, and excellent BLT Steak restaurant. The pool and fitness center are both on the small side, but many feel that the hotel's highlights -- including its prime Ocean Drive location -- outweigh those minor setbacks.
Situated between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, the cool, 134-room hotel has beautiful views all around (though some of the Intracoastal Waterway View rooms offer a tiny glimpse of the water). Celeb chef Michelle Bernstein's hot-spot restaurant, a stylish (though oddly located) pool, a private beach, and access to two private golf courses are excellent on-site attractions.
Quirky, cool furnishings and a hip atmosphere define this upscale, adults-only Art Deco boutique hotel. The 50 retro, citrus-toned guest rooms feature flat-screen TVs, Illy espresso machines, and rainfall showerheads (some have parking lot views, or lack views altogether). There are quite a few amenities to lure travelers (though direct beach access isn't one of them): a rooftop plunge pool, high-end Mediterranean restaurant, lobby bar, free bicycles, and free Wi-Fi. If you're looking for a beachfront property, try the nearby Raleigh Hotel.
Inspired by a laidback Caribbean lifestyle, Casa Morada is an upscale 16-suite boutique hotel that’s perfect for couples in search of a romantic getaway. Situated on a private island in the middle of the Florida Keys, the oceanfront property provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with hanging hammocks and lots of fun and free activities like yoga classes, kayaking, and bicycle rentals.
All rooms at The Tides are oceanfront suites and are bright, blissful, and homier than other high-design hotels. They're also bigger -- even the base-level rooms are among the biggest in South Beach. Though the hotel lacks direct beach access and the small pool is less than breathtaking, the genuine and pomp-free service more than compensates.
Located one block from the beach, the 69-room Redbury South Beach is an upscale boutique hotel with a beautiful rooftop pool and patio and modern rooms with extra-large bathrooms. The hotel has a striking, Art Deco exterior, along with an eye-catching lobby and lovely outdoor spaces. Guests have access to private beach facilities and a fitness center through the hotel’s sister properties.
Built at the turn of the last century, this 19-room adults-only property offers the features of a resort with a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere. Guest rooms are elegantly decorated in a classic style, and have flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers; some open to balconies. More pros include a beachfront dining terrace, free breakfast, and access to a sister hotel's pools, spa, and bars, while cons are a pesky resort fee and the occasional minimum-night requirement.
Refurbished from 1884 conch houses, the romantic and homey Marquesa Hotel is a compound of four buildings surrounding lovely interior gardens and two pools. Light and airy rooms feature flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and cozy sitting areas; suites have private terraces. An appealing on-site restaurant, Cafe Marquesa, serves fresh local seafood. Free Wi-Fi and parking add value.
The ocean views are the star at this all-white hotel (all 240 rooms have an ocean view), but you'll also find two great restaurants and a small pool with an outdoor bar. Despite a austere, minimalist design, the trendy hotel is popular with families, and it's not uncommon to see kids splashing in the pool or eating dinner in the restaurants.