6 beautiful beach stays in Florida at both boutique hotels and large chains

Otto I. Eovaldi

Ready for a Florida beach vacation? With an ever-growing range of options at all price points, how does the Florida beach-loving traveler choose? Here’s the best in waterside accommodations for couples, families and group getaways.

The Gabriel Miami South Beach – Miami Beach

The Gabriel Miami South BeachThe Gabriel Miami South Beach — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell

The Gabriel Miami South Beach, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection of one-of-a-kind lodgings, offers high-end amenities and authentic local experiences in the heart of South Beach, steps from the ocean. Experience decades of glitz on the site of Desi Arnaz’s big band break that continues to welcome sophisticated party people.

A glass-bottomed rooftop pool looks down on four stories of art-filled circular hallways. There’s also an infinity pool near the outdoor bar in an attractive, contemporary-styled sitting area – perfect for afternoon cocktails and sumptuous breakfasts, including the tasty Greek omelet.

Spacious rooms and suites cater to couples and BFF getaways. Spring for a signature, full-length balcony suite overlooking the bright-green-and-yellow South Beach bike path. Complimentary beach chairs and a beach cruiser bicycle are available to ride the Ocean Drive trail and beyond.

Hillsboro Beach Resort – Hillsboro Beach

Hillsboro Beach ResortHillsboro Beach Resort — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell

Further north, just below Boca Raton, the intimate boutique Hillsboro Beach Resort features king and queen rooms and suites overlooking the blue-green waters and white sands of the Atlantic.

The sophisticated beachy design – both indoors and out – along with the casual, friendly and helpful staff inspire a restful and relaxing vacation, particularly suited to couples and singles.

Rooms and suites – some with balconies – include luxury linens, plush French terry robes, rain head showers, a 55-inch 4K smart TV, mini fridge, microwave and Lavazza coffee and tea. Rates include complimentary bicycles, paddle boards and kayaks.

The attractive restaurant Roi, focusing on international tastes, perches above the beach and caters to guests only. Nearby, foodie destinations include Mizner Park in Boca Raton and Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

Sonesta – Fort Lauderdale

Lobby, The Sonesta Hotel Fort LauderdaleLobby, The Sonesta Hotel Fort Lauderdale — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell

The Sonesta Hotel Fort Lauderdale overlooks seven miles of the famous white-gold sands.

The recently redesigned rooms (some with water views) and pool offer all travelers a laid-back beach vacation with the interesting addition of a Caribbean-South Florida fusion restaurant, Steelpan. Start your dinner with a happy hour “Tropical Splash” cocktail and a coconut shrimp taco.

On weekends, join in the beach yoga sessions or work out anytime in the newly renovated fitness center in this dog-friendly property. Within two miles of the Sonesta, you’ll find the Fort Lauderdale water taxi system – a tour in itself, along with museums, shopping, a state park and more great restaurants.

The Diplomat Beach Resort – Hollywood

Atlantic Ocean view suite with balcony, The Diplomat Beach ResortAtlantic Ocean view suite with balcony, The Diplomat Beach Resort — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell

Just south of Fort Lauderdale, The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, with its large, natural light-filled rooms and suites including luxurious amenities and linens, offers views of the Atlantic Ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway.

There’s truly something for everyone here. Water sports fanatics will appreciate the two beachfront pools: an infinity one with a partial glass bottom sitting atop the lagoon pool, a Dip + Slide Waterpark. There’s also a private beach where guests can jet ski, kayak or paddleboard.

Spa enthusiasts will love the 15,000-square-foot haven of manicures and pedicures, facials, wraps, massages and more.

Foodies and party people will love the six distinct lounges and restaurants manned by celebrity chefs, while boaters with dinner reservations dock free for four hours at the Diplomat Marina.

Family-friendly activities are accessed via Hollywood’s Circuit Shuttle to downtown historic homes and museums, while the water taxi ride stops at Fort Lauderdale attractions.

Postcard Inn – St. Pete Beach

The Postcard Inn, St. Pete Beach, FloridaThe Postcard Inn, St. Pete Beach, Florida — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell

On Florida’s west coast, the Postcard Inn sits on a desirable section of St. Pete Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, complete with a tiki beach bar, colorful giant Adirondack chairs and the largest hotel pool in an area filled with restaurants.

This refurbished retro motel offers spacious, renovated rooms – perfect for families and groups, along with ADA accessible rooms with beach wheelchairs.

The expansive property offers all forms of recreation – both indoors and out – in a pretty, garden-like setting where you’ll find picnic tables and outdoor games and activities. Books, board games and billiards are available in the open-concept lobby library, while the snack shack offers soft serve ice cream.

Tours can be arranged with local companies while parking, pool towels, beach chairs and cruiser bikes are all complimentary.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites – Madeira Beach

Holiday Inn Express Madeira Beach, FloridaHoliday Inn Express Madeira Beach, Florida — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell

Just off Madeira Beach – via a reliable, free beach shuttle – families, business travelers, groups and couples will enjoy an amenity-packed stay at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites.

Guests are greeted in a large lobby complete with business center and a sunny indoor/outdoor breakfast room offering complimentary hot breakfasts.

Contemporary, well-designed rooms with comfortable beds and black-out curtains ensure a good night’s sleep, while the landscaped exterior houses a pool, whirlpool, BBQs and private seating areas, some with tabletop propane fireplaces.

Nearby attractions include the John’s Pass Village with waterfront dining and shopping, available via the free shuttle service.

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