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Where to Stay in Key West
The whole island of Key West is a mere six square miles, but there are still distinctive neighborhoods and dozens of hotels squeezed in. The city has four broad districts: Old Town, Mid-Town, New Town and Casa Marina.
Old Town, the historic district of Key West, takes up the western end of the island and is where almost all of the hotels and biggest attractions are located. Major points of interest in this area west of White Street include Mallory Square, the Key West Cemetery and the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Casa Marina is a small area on the southern coast, near the border between Old Town and Mid-Town. You’ll find some of Key West’s best beaches and resorts there.
You can find cheap hotel deals in Key West by looking in Mid-Town and New Town, but hotels are fewer and farther between in these areas. And though they lack the historic charm of Old Town, they’re just a short bike ride away.
Key West Hotel Tips
Full-scale resorts with amenities like day spas and tennis courts are located throughout Old Town, many of them situated close to the beach. Some of the larger resorts offer condo-style rentals with full kitchens.
Mid-range and luxury accommodations are provided throughout the island by a mix of independent and national chain hoteliers. Some of these hotels are housed in historic buildings with lots of character. A handful of upscale B&Bs also offer fine accommodations with more personal service, but these establishments cultivate lots of repeat business and tend to book up far in advance.
If you’re traveling on a modest budget, numerous locally owned motels and budget inn chains are always competing to offer the lowest prices. You may also want to check into lodging options that label themselves as guest houses; though some specialty guest houses are akin to B&Bs, many are more like hostels, with simple rooms and low rates.
Key West Hotel Recommendations
The Westin Key West Resort & Marina is a fantastic hotel choice if you want to stay in the most active area of Old Town, just steps from Mallory Square. It has several levels of plush rooms, excellent on-site dining and a 24-hour shuttle boat to take guests to and from the Westin’s sister resort, Sunset Key. Situated on its own private island, Sunset Key’s individually appointed rental cottages are the most exclusive and secluded rooms in Key West.
The Marquesa Hotel, also in the heart of Old Town, is considered one of Key West’s most luxurious properties. Its spacious accommodations are divided among four buildings, two of which date back to 1884. Its poolside suites are particularly nice, and open directly onto the whimsically landscaped hotel courtyard and swimming pool. The on-site restaurant, Café Marquesa, is a local favorite.
More affordable accommodations are available at Ambrosia Key West, which features themed suites, town houses and cottages arranged throughout two acres of private gardens and pools. Though the rooms are spread out over the grounds to offer a greater sense of privacy, Ambrosia strives to provide the personal service of a B&B, including a daily gourmet breakfast.
Key West Transportation
It’s easy and generally safe to walk everywhere in Key West, which many visitors opt to do, as the roads frequently become congested and parking is both difficult and expensive. Bicycle and moped rentals are also popular on the island, and generally cheap. Your other transportation options include a public bus system and taxis.
If you do plan to rent a car after your flight to Key West, check with your hotel first to find out if guest parking is available and whether it costs extra. You may want access to a car for at least part of your stay if you plan on exploring the Florida Keys and using Key West as your home base.
Many visitors fly into Miami and proceed to Key West via rental car. If you go this route, compare the cost of keeping the rental car the entire time with the cost of taking two one-way rentals. Since you won’t need a car while in Key West, you may be able to save money this way. Another alternative to renting a car is to schedule shuttle service to Key West with one of the Miami airport shuttle companies.