Where to stay in Key West
What an amazing and unique part of Florida isn’t it? This island is really a dream come true. Where to stay in Key West is probably one of the most common questions.
And it’s not only about which hotel but also which area works best based on the kind of vacation, this could be a romantic getaway or a beach and sunbathing holiday. And then comes the budget of course.
This guide has gone through the top neighborhoods and we built a map, below, with all you need to make a decision, as easy as that.
And now comes the best. It’s all recently updated, no old stuff and hotels in need of love.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where to stay in Key West – In a nutshell
- 2 Where to stay in Key West on the beach
- 3 Where to stay in Key West on a budget
- 4 Best place to stay in Key West for couples
- 5 Best areas to stay in Key West
You can read also
- Ultimate Guide to Where to stay in the Florida Keys
- Best areas to stay in Miami, from the beach to the city
Once on the island, you should check out the Key West Today FB Page for the latest events.
Where to stay in Key West – In a nutshell
- Key West is not a big island (4 by 1.5miles) however there are 5 distinctive areas that work for any budget and lifestyle: The Old Town, the Historic Seaport, the beach on the southern shore, New Town and the characteristic Bahama Village. You can read more below on the areas
- Best places to stay in Key West on the beach: if you are looking for a long beach, great for walks, then Smathers Beach is a great option and the Sheraton Suites is the best hotel to be. For a nice family-friendly beach stay in South Beach, here you should check out the Santa Maria Suites. For snorkeling, plan to stay close to Fort Zachary Beach and book your accommodation at the Lighthouse Court Hotel. Keep reading below about the best beach stays.
- Budget stay in Key West: not as easy, unfortunately. This island is as famous as expensive. Nevertheless, the best bets are in the northern part of New Town, and the Laureate Key West may fit the bill, or book your stay in a hostel around the center, and the Seashell is a great bargain. Read more on budget stays below.
- Where to stay in Key West for couples: there are two great options. The first one, for a boutique stay, is around the old town and the historic seaport. The Simonton Court Historic Inn is an adults-only accommodation fully dedicated to couples’ stay. For more of a laid-back option, you can also check out New Town and the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriot is a stunning choice. Read more about a romantic getaway.
- For families and kids: one of the quietest areas is around South Beach. You will be also close to the old town for a nice walk at night
- About the nightlife: do not expect anything super crazy, however, the best restaurants, bars and cocktail bars are in the Old Town & Historic Seaport
- Top experiences in Key West that you should not miss (free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance):
- A sunset sail on a dreamy 105-foot schooner
- A Sunset Party Cruise by Catamaran, including food and drinks, alcoholic too, a real bargain
- The unmissable snorkeling trip at the local reef, for the amazing colors. Or this combined eco tour including also dolphins watching
- For a fun family day, you should not miss out on the Hop-On/Off island tour on the Old Town Trolley
- For some real fun check out the Ultimate Watersports Adventure Tour
Where to stay in Key West on the beach
One thing this Florida Key island has in abundance is beautiful beaches.
But what are your options when you are trying to figure out where to stay in Key West on the beach?
Generally speaking, it would be best to stay as close as possible to the beaches on the Southern Shore.
These offer the best access not only to important amenities including accommodation but also fun attractions on the island.
With the accommodation part specifically, your best chance of getting exactly what you want is in the Old Town Neighborhood.
So what are the best beaches in Key West and where should you stay?
This is probably the longest beach in Key West with plenty of space and palm trees to give that nice Caribbean feeling.
It’s a beautiful spot for a nice walk on the soft sand.
There are days where you can experience seaweed and seagrass in the water, unfortunately.
Barbary Beach House is a beautiful hotel with amazing views of the ocean and Smathers Beach (see photos here).
The suites come fully furnished and include a flat-screen TV, a lounging area and a conveniently equipped kitchenette.
You also get access to a pool with a bar where you can hang out when you need a break from the beach.
South Beach (close to the center)
This is a nice family-friendly beach known for its clear shallow waters that are perfect for swimming (check location on Google Map)
You can also enjoy other water sports here including paddle boarding, snorkeling and kayaking.
It is generally a calm and lovely beach but can get crowded during the Island’s peak seasons.
The Santa Maria Suites are pretty iconic for a lot of reasons.
It features unique contemporary architecture that is complemented beautifully by the outdoor greenery and the beautifully decorated rooms (see photos here).
It is also unique in that you can literally walk to the southernmost point in the continental USA in just a couple of minutes.
This beach has a lot more to offer than warm sand and cold waters to swim in.
It has a restaurant on-site known as Salute on the Beach. This is a simple Mediterranean-style restaurant on the beach. They serve a variety of snacks and light meals for you to enjoy before or after your meal.
They also serve drinks to keep you cool and hydrated under the hot Florida sun.
Have a look also at the West Martello Tower, a quiet fort built in the 19th century with a nice lookout.
The Suite Dreams Inn by the Beach is the best choice in Higgs if you are looking for a great value place.
It features a boutique pool (see photos here) and you are a stone away from the beach.
Parking on site is also available
Check availability at Suite Dreams
This hidden gem is every pet owner’s dream. Yes, it is a tiny beach, however, very nice and practical.
If you brought your furry little buddy along with you on your trip then this is a beach you both will enjoy.
Here, dogs are allowed to play freely both in the water and in the sand.
And who knows, your bestie might just make a few new friends while on your beach day out.
H2O Suites is a great option if you want to be close to iconic attractions like Dog Beach and the southernmost point in the USA.
The adult-only inn offers a beautiful design in all the rooms, a gym, free Wi-Fi, a common pool and private pools too (see photos here).
Fort Zachary Beach
This is the most natural and beautiful of all of Key West’s beaches.
Unlike many others on the island, it was naturally formed and features sand native to the land.
This beach is hands down the best place to snorkel in Key West given the abundance of underwater wonders it has to offer.
The best part is that when you get hungry then all you have to do is pop into Caye Hueso Café which is actually on the beach. This casual eatery offers a decent variety of light snacks and drinks to keep you going.
Now the bad news, there is no accommodation on Fort Zachary Beach. You would have to book in the Old Town and from there grab a quick 1 mile taxi ride to the destination.
Lighthouse Court Hotel is truly a tropical paradise with all the lush greenery surrounding it (see photos here).
It is just a short walk from Fort Zachary beach as well as the iconic Duval Street. If you want a day off from exploring Key West, the hotel offers access to an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi and an onsite bar.
Check availability at the Lighthouse
Where to stay in Key West on a budget
Finding cheap places to stay in Key West can be a little tricky if you are unfamiliar with the area.
That’s what we’re here for; to help you find the budget friendlies option for your money-tight trip.
Let me say first that it’s almost impossible to find accommodations below the $100 mark.
New Town North
One way to save money is by staying north of New Town
There, there are a few great value hotels for you to choose from.
Unfortunately, settling for these accommodations means you will be further away from Key West’s Old Town than you should be.
The other silver lining in addition to the affordability is the proximity to spots like Kennedy Cafe.
This is a nice mid to low-budget Mediterranean and Middle-East restaurant that is perfect for those nights you want to treat yourself to something without bankrupting your entire vacation.
The Laureate Key West is one of the most affordable options in the New Town area.
The affordability does not compromise on the quality of your stay and you will still get to enjoy awesome views (see photos here) and nicely furnished rooms.
You also get free Wi-Fi and an outdoor pool.
Hostels in the Old Town
A Hostel in the Old Town is another option for a cheap stay.
In the old town, you will find a few hostels and bunk-sharing accommodation options tailored to suit the needs and financial abilities of low-budget travelers.
The location also gives you access to affordable eateries like Mary Ellen’s Bar and Restaurant. This is a simple fusion cuisine restaurant that offers large quantities of delicious meals at really great prices.
If the budget is really tight I suggest using the common kitchen and stock at Fausto’s Food Palace, not the cheapest supermarket but, considering the distance from the mainland, it’s not that bad.
Seashell Motel and International Hostel is located in the Old Town district of Downtown Key West and offers great value for low-budget trips.
You have access to a beautiful outdoor shared lounge (see photos here) with dining spaces and a hammock.
The rooms are air-conditioned and feature partitioned bunks for privacy.
Alternatively, consider turning your trip into a camping one to save money. In this case, Boyd’s Key West Campground is the best option.
Best place to stay in Key West for couples
Key West also happens to be one of the most romantic islands of the Florida Keys.
But where exactly are the best places to stay in Key West for adults?
As a general rule of thumb, a place to relax in a boutique or laid back area with possibly some nighttime fun.
On Key West, 2 neighborhoods best fit this bill.
Old Town & Historic Seaport (boutique)
This is ideal if you want a setting that just screams romantic.
The Old Town has some of the most breathtaking boutique accommodation options set in picturesque historical buildings.
It is also home to some of the most romantically set restaurants on the island.
A great example of this is Seven Fish. At first glance, this looks like any other old seafood spot. However, at night the restaurant transforms into a beautiful dimly lit wonderland that sets the perfect mood for you to enjoy your date.
As a couple, in the Old Town, you will find plenty of options for a late drink too, or just a romantic cocktail, and even for some nightlife.
The Simonton Court Historic Inn and Cottages is a lovely boutique accommodation (see photos here) right in the center of town.
In addition to the unique location, this adults-only hotel offers complimentary breakfast (although not the best in town) in a quiet environment with great old charm and a pool for those hot days.
Check availability at Simonton Court
The Historic Seaport area is also a great place for couples especially during the sunset hours where you get to see the sun disappearing into the horizon.
Turtle Kraals is one of the best restaurants to enjoy the sunset. The beachfront eatery serves a fusion menu with their seafood options being the most popular.
The Island City House Hotel is a very unique looking spot surrounded by beautiful trees (see photos here).
The property’s location and design offer much-needed seclusion and serenity which is exactly what most couples want or need for their retreats.
In addition to air conditioning and free Wi-Fi, the Victorian-themed rooms feature cable TV and kitchenettes for maximum comfort and convenience.
Check availability at Island City
New Town (laid back)
This neighborhood is perfect if you and your partner are looking for a more laid-back trip.
It offers a more isolated and romantic stay which is perfect for a couple’s getaway.
As if all this wasn’t good enough, this affordable neighborhood is just 10 minutes away from all the fun and action of Duval Street, should you crave some upbeat vibes.
Speaking of cravings, New Town has some pretty awesome restaurants to try out.
Mr. Z’s New Town is one such restaurant and is popular for its affordable yet delicious pizza.
Another restaurant to try out as a couple would be Benihana. This Japanese steakhouse is a little bit pricier and more luxurious than what you will generally find in the area but is definitely worth it.
Speaking of hotels, the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriot Key West is a great option for couples staying in the New Town area.
In addition to the beautiful rooms (see photos here) you will have a large pool and a bar with a great view to enjoy.
It is close to several attractions, shopping hubs as well as restaurants for you to explore as a couple.
Check availability at Fairfield Inn
Another option is Parrot Key Hotel & Villas. This accommodation has 4 pools you can choose from. It’s a big place but you still feel in a boutique hotel with a lovely island vibe (see photos here).
There is a complimentary shuttle service to downtown or you can rent one of the bikes, that easy.
Check availability at Parrot Key
Best areas to stay in Key West
Key West is the most popular of all the islands on the archipelago and it is not so hard to see why.
Imagine amazing Caribbean beaches, turquoise water, a lovely old town, great restaurants and bars to have a sunset dinner or drink.
The island is not too big, around 4 miles (6km) long and 1.5 miles (2.5km) wide.
It’s not all walking distance but you can most definitely cycle around it. Or at least take a quick taxi ride to/from any destination.
There are at least 5 great areas to stay in Key West, based on your type of holiday and your budget too.
Old Town & Mallory Square
This is the heart of Key West serving not only as the town center but also as island history and cultural hub.
It is, therefore, a major attraction to tourists. A place to experience even if you decide to stay somewhere else in Key West or the Florida Keys.
There is a lot to see here including the iconic Southernmost House and the Custom House Museum of History.
Duval Street is where you will find the action, with plenty of restaurants and bars, very busy towards Mallory Square, less so on the south side, close to the beach.
At sunset, Mallory Square is the place to be for the best view and for a drink. It’s a popular and well-known hub for visitors to the island.
Key West Historic Seaport
Strictly speaking, Key West History Seaport is a part of the Old Town District.
However, it has a more laid-back vibe and its own set of attractions.
The most important of this is the sunset view offered by the numerous waterside restaurants.
Beach on the southern shore
This is home to Key West’s best beaches including South Beach and Smathers Beach.
This makes it perfect if you are looking exclusively for some fun in the sun and sand.
It is also home to a few really nice resorts that offer you a chance to stay as close to the water as possible.
And, after all, you are only a 5 minutes taxi ride from the old town
This is the newer-looking neighborhood on Key West and is located on the east end of the Island and north of the Airport.
In terms of attractions, you have a few options including the Cozumel Park for the family with kids. This is a terrific free playground with water features as well.
Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens are just 500m away from New Town, on Stock Island. Follow the Heritage Trail and you will be there in no time; turn left after the bridge connecting the two islands.
New Town has also the biggest shopping centers.
This is a small and colorful neighborhood in the southern part of Key West probably best known for being home to the Key West Light House Museum.
It’s a nice boutique village, perfect for a walk and wandering around. You will even experience the unusual free-roaming chickens.
It is important to note that there are basically no accommodation options for you here. Bahama Village is also famous for a few nice restaurants and bars.
It is best to plan your stay elsewhere and just pay this quaint little village a visit.
10 thoughts on “Best places to stay in Key West [BEST AREAS for beach and old town, couples or families]”
Just used this post as a reference guide to book a 40 year anniversary trip for my parents to Key West. Seeing as I’ve never been, this was super helpful! Thank you!
No worries. So glad it was useful
Best area for divers?
I suggest the Historic Port area, that is where most of the diving trips start from. Easy in the morning to walk there. Also the Old Town (close to Mallory Square) is fine. Any other area would mean that you need a taxi in the morning to get to the boat, or a longer walk.