Here are some of the best places to stay in Florida
Heading to the Sunshine State and looking for ideas for places to stay in Florida? As always, I am happy to share mine, of course.
Luxury and Florida do not normally go hand in hand – and if you think outside the Miami and Miami Beach areas (with an incredible amount of seriously great luxury accommodation options), well, you need to dig a little deeper.
However, in the last couple of years, there have been a few ‘changes’ in terms of luxury accommodation options and hotels in Florida (or more upscale options, so to speak), and here are some that may be worth considering for your upcoming trip to Florida.
As always, I can only recommend places I have visited – and this is not an exhaustive list in any way. There are many other magazine-like resources available on the web, but my blog would be pointless if I just added hotels to a list which based on hearsay.
So whereas this list is limited – it really includes places I have stayed at. I will add more options for luxury and boutique hotels in Florida here as I return.
Bal Harbour, Florida
The St. Regis in Bad Harbour is one of our classic Florida beach getaways for a reason – and the location is just perfect for us. Bal Harbour is located 15-20 minutes north of Miami Beach which means it is still great and close enough to go out for dinner and some shopping. What we also have discovered over our last 5 stays is that there is a LOT of more local dining options in the area which means you can literally stay local.
Across the road from the hotel, you will find the Bal Harbour Shops which is probably the best luxury shopping centre in Florida (and possibly in the United States), which comes with a handful of good restaurants. But in Aventura, besides the Mall (which is great), you will also find excellent dining options.
The rooms at the St Regis Bal Harbour are still well appointed, the sandy beaches are fantastic and it is a perfect base for a calmer Miami holiday which is key for us, and really what we really enjoy.
Marathon, Florida Keys
Accommodation is changing in the Florida Keys and you can get a little bit more less and a little less kitsch nowadays. We have always wanted to go, but in all honesty, every time I looked at where we would be staying, I would be uninspired – and again and again, we delayed visiting as it seemed pretty pointless.
However, there is a handful of really nice new places opening up across the beautiful beaches in Florida Keys and in 2019, we discovered Isla Bella and would happily return. Beautifully designed, I would happily recommend this hotel if you are visiting the Florida Keys. The only downside is that it sells itself as a beach resort… but there is no real beach, which is a shame. There are quite a few outdoor swimming pools but…
We were not really familiar with “The Keys” and had never heard of Marathon before, and it is basically halfway between the mainland and Key West (which we still have not visited).
Naples is such an affluent area of Florida – but I found the luxury hotel offerings quite lacking, which was a shame.
We stayed at Naples’ grand dame, the Ritz-Carlton, and felt it needed a little facelift. For the room rates it charges, I personally did not think it was worth it. The luxury part of the experience was very watered down – and makes no sense as the Ritz Carlton offers very good beach experiences elsewhere, so they know how it is done.
Until the hotel is upgraded, I think vacation rentals are the way to go in the area (and there are some truly fabulous ones which we found on Airbnb and other similar websites).
Check out my dedicated blog post on Naples, Florida here.
North Miami Beach, Florida
On my last visit to Florida before the Covid 19 Pandemic in 2020 (and our very long lockdown), I went to Florida… alone.
I basically wanted a place where I could have a lovely room, enjoy the beach, do reformer pilates and other fitness classes without leaving the hotel, be able to nip in and out and see some friends for meals (whilst not minding beach on my own) and also enjoy a spot of shopping. I looked for this combination everywhere in the world and turns out I found it in Florida, and I literally got on a plane 2 days later. Alone. (it was a big thing for me).
Some extensive google searching led to Carillion Wellness Resort And Spa which used to be Canyon Ranch as I understand. That gave me some peace of mind. It is also a member of Leading Hotels of the World (which doesn’t mean the world, but means something). I had NEVER heard about this hotel before or even read about it, so I did need some reassurance.
The Carillion Wellness Resort And Spa was a really great surprise – the rooms are great (all suites, which mean a bit as you do have extra space), service was on point and I loved the exercise classes. I did reformer pilates every day, I tried and loved Zumba, even tested some belly dancing (which was quite challenging). I loved it and I would return and recommend.
Whereas Sarasota is on the water, it does not have a real beach (this is particular important for my non-USA readers who would be flying to Florida with one thing on their mind: obviously the beach).
If you stay at the Ritz-Carlton, you have access to its beach club on Lido Key which was really quite good. It is located 10 minutes away, on its own (car accessible) island and worked well. The set-up was a bit basic (like in Naples which very average sun loungers), but the service was very nice and the restaurant was good (and slightly more upmarket).
The setting of the hotel in relation to Sarasota and also really liked its restaurant and bar, which was really lively. Rooms have been updated recently and service was good when we visited.
Check out my dedicated blog post on Sarasota, Florida here.
Probably one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at in the United States – and there are more than a handful to choose from. The Four Seasons in Surfside is stunning – and I wouldn’t even consider staying anywhere else in the area… except for the fact that it has under 80 rooms and is almost always fully booked for romantic breaks and luxury holidays. (It is a stone’s throw from the St Regis Bal Harbour and very close to The Carillon.
It is almost a boutique Four Seasons and truly special and I honestly don’t think there is a better hotel in the area – the location was great for me (and how I like to spend my time in the area) and I cannot recommend it enough. It is impossible to find a room for under $1000, so bear that in mind.
Click here to read my review of the Four Seasons Surfside.
There are plenty more fabulous places to stay in Florida – and the only way I can update this page is by visiting more often, which I hope to do.
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Check out my other Places to Stay in Florida posts below:
Check out my other Florida Guides below:
Check out my other travel guides below: