Attached seafood restaurant serves lunch and dinner
Ocean-side outdoor pool with whirlpool
Heated indoor pool opened year round; plus small gym
Free parking and free Wi-Fi throughout
Slightly dated, no-frills decor
Balconies are small and narrow
No breakfast served at attached restaurant
Restaurant and Tiki bar are closed in January
Gym is tiny
The 115-room Golden Sands is a beachfront value hotel with underwhelming, sometimes dated decor (think patterned bedspreads) but clean digs and family-friendly, resort-style amenities. Rooms are spacious with comfy beds, sleeper sofas, and narrow balconies with ocean views, plus nice extras like mini-fridges, microwaves, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Larger family-friendly rooms and rooms with kitchenettes are also available. The property has an attached restaurant, a hotel-owned pier with a tiki bar and live music on summer weekends, indoor and outdoor pools, and a small gym, though no breakfast is offered on-site. The town's main restaurants and boardwalk are about a mile away; travelers who want to be closer to the action might consider the SeaWitch Motel.
The beachfront Golden Sands has the look of a classic motel with a stucco beige facade finished with inset balconies. While the decor varies from unexceptional to dated, a beachy vibe permeates, with white furnishings and blue accent walls. There's a little sunroom off reception with white wicker furniture and striped cushions, but otherwise the "lobby" is mostly a brochure-filled, beige-tiled reception area that extends quickly into a souvenir shop selling everything from snacks to sweatshirts and ceramic mermaids. The draw here is not the no-frills decor, of course, but the resort-style extras like the indoor and outdoor pools, private pier with Tiki bar that buzzes with live music on warm weekends, and access to a large swath of beach right outside the door. Guests also find this hotel remarkably clean for a value property, especially one near so much sand.
Beachfront property about a mile from the boardwalk
The beachfront Golden Sands hotel is located in the family-friendly, vacation town of Carolina Beach. Some eateries are in walking distance, though the enclave of shops and restaurants near the boardwalk are a bit of a hike on foot (about a mile away -- an 18-minute walk but just a four-minute drive). The flip side of this is that the beach at Golden Sands tends to be less crowded than boardwalk-side spots. With a car, nearby jaunts are doable to places like Fort Fisher (eight-minute drive) and Wilmington, home to Wilmington International Airport (about a 38-minute drive).
Dated but clean and spacious rooms with sleeper sofas, mini-fridges, and sea-facing balconies
Past guests have praised the rooms here for being clean and spacious with comfortable beds. Blue wall-to-wall carpeting, cream-colored walls, and wood-laminate furniture are common features, and all are in pretty good condition, but the style remains outdated with patterned bedspreads or burnt orange couches. Even entry-level rooms include sleeper sofas, desks, and sea-facing balconies with chairs (though balconies are narrow). Bathrooms are basic but well-maintained, usually with beige tiled floors and white walls and fixtures, including shower/tub combos.
The hotel offers a nice constellation of room sizes, many of which can accommodate families -- for example, a so-called Split Room has an additional bed separated from the main room by the bathroom walls, thus creating some privacy despite lacking an extra door. Other rooms have kitchenettes with sinks, hobs, dishware, cookware, and other essentials. All rooms have mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and microwaves, plus flat-screen TVs, safes, irons and ironing boards, and free Wi-Fi. Housekeeping comes daily.
Direct beach access, plus private pier with tiki bar, seafood restaurant, and two pools
For a value property, Golden Sands has a nice array of extra features geared toward family-fun and beachside relaxation. A guest favorite is the hotel-owned partial pier that runs over the beach and water, with a tiki bar that hosts live music on weekends in the summer. There's also an attached seafood restaurant serving lunch and dinner (but not breakfast, though free coffee and tea are available in the lobby) with a covered deck for outdoor dining. Both the restaurant and bar are closed in January.
In addition to direct beach access, the property has two pools, a heated indoor pool, opened year-round, and an ocean-side outdoor pool with a whirlpool. Decor-wise, they're pretty straightforward with few frills, but they're clean, surrounded by a handful of white loungers. The gym is small and basic with just three pieces of equipment (a circuit-style weight machine, elliptical, and treadmill). There's also an on-site meeting room, free Wi-Fi and free parking, and a souvenir shop near reception.