It was time for a little weekend getaway. So what do you do, if you are staying in Miami Beach, currently at “The Confidante“? Yeah, you take a road trip down to the Florida Keys to Key West. The southernmost place of the continental United States. This was a completely spontaneous decision. On late Friday afternoon, I checked out of my hotel in Miami Beach and hit the road south towards the Keys. Getting out of Miami was a nightmare. Traffic was so bad and it was slow-moving almost all the way down to Homestead. After being in traffic for almost 2 hours, I finally hit Highway one, which will end down in Key West. The drive to the Keys is awesome, I can do it over and over again. I got to see a nice sunset while still driving. Unfortunately no good spot for sunset pictures, at least none that I knew of. After sunset, I continued my drive and arrived at the Marriott Beachside Hotel just a few minutes before 9 p.m. Finding the hotel was no problem. The big sign on the street made it easy to find the entrance to the property.
After pulling up to the main entrance of the hotel, I walked into the lobby to check-in. I was the only one in the lobby beside the front desk clerk. She asked for my information and while checking my info, she told me I got upgraded to a Presidential Suite. Originally I booked the cheapest room they had, which is a Standard Guest Room with a King Bed. My reason for coming here was to explore the area, but a room upgrade is always a nice gift. While she checked, I asked if they have an “ocean view” room available and I got another upgrade to a Presidential Suite with Ocean view instead of a Resort view. Normally that would be an extra charge, but the weekend was pretty slow and it seems they had plenty of rooms available for my 2-night stay. That made me very happy and put a smile on my face. Now you think oh my gosh – a Presidential Suite. Well at this property every suite is called “Presidential Suite”. Even more interesting is, that there are 92 Standard Guest Rooms and 127 (Presidential) Suites. So basically it was not that big of a deal, at least I thought so, as I knew that they call all their suites “Presidential”.
After I got my key cards for my room, the front desk clerk explained the layout of the property to me, gave me my parking pass (On-site parking: $19.50/day
Valet parking: $29.50/day) and described the easiest way to my building and where to park. The property actually has multiple buildings and my room was located in Building 5, one of the oceanfront buildings. I hopped in my car and tried to remember the instructions, they sounded easy enough. But I made a wrong turn and ended up at the neighboring Hyatt property. After a quick turn around, I was back on track and found the place she described me to go right away. During the daytime it’s easy to find and once you know where to go, its no issue either. Just me as a newbie at this place and after already a 5-hour drive, I was tired enough.
1 Bedroom Presidential Suite (Room 521A)
1 King, Bathrooms: 1.5, Gulf-view, Whirlpool, Balcony
Fortunately, I got lucky enough to find a parking spot right in front of the elevator. I grabbed my bags and called the elevator. You have to use your room key to make the elevator work. I exited on the second floor, which would be actually on the 3rd floor. The ground level is for parking only and the first floor is one level up, the second floor two floors up and you can guess where the third floor is, yes one more floor up from the ground. My reservation had a note that I would like to get a high floor. But heck, I rather have a second-floor gulf view, than a third-floor pool view or garden view. The next day I noticed that all the rooms on the first floor of the buildings along the ocean had a private staircase down to the beach from their balcony. That’s a nice feature. On the other side, most of the rooms on the third floor in all of the buildings had a staircase up to the roof to a private sundeck. This is nice as well, especially if you have a room in Building 1 or 2, which are the oceanfront buildings. Finding my room was easy. There are signs everywhere guiding you in the right direction.
As I got to my room (521), I opened the door and basically stood in a small foyer. In front and to the right of me more doors with a keycard reader. One was labeled 521A and the other one 521B. This is their way of having an adjoining room. You basically share the same main entrance and have basically two full rooms. You can leave the actual room doors open and just have the one main entrance to both rooms closed. In my case, the adjoining room was occupied by another party. It was dark when I got into my room, but oh boy. What a huge surprise. What I saw when I opened the door was jaw-dropping. I didn’t expect anything like that.
You walk in and you can see the huge living area in front of you and just before that is the dining room area with a big dining table on the left and a full kitchen on the right. The kitchen is fully equipped with all the appliances and dishes you need to prepare your own meals. A huge refrigerator with freezer and ice maker helps you stay cool in Key West. The kitchen has granite countertops and of course, has a coffee/tea maker. All the dishes, silverware, and necessary cooking utensils are stored in the closets around the kitchen. Right before the kitchen is a guest bathroom on the left and in the closet to the right is a full washer and dryer combo. Yes, a full-size washer and dryer. I never have seen that in a hotel room. Usually, the hotel has a laundry facility with multiple washer and dryers but this was awesome. This property is more geared towards an extended stay than a short weekend getaway. You can cook, do your laundry, heck this can be called a full apartment. I know people who live in smaller apartments and this is a hotel room. Now we are just talking about the size, we haven’t talked about the view yet.
The living area has a corner sofa and a big flatscreen TV mounted on the wall in front of it. Balcony access is also provided in the living room area. The balcony had two comfortable chairs with footrests. Perfect to sit outside and soak up the beauty of this place. From here you have also a great view of the sunset. For some reason, the sliding door leading to the balcony wouldn’t lock. So if someone would make it on the balcony, he could get right into your suite. I wasn’t too worried about that, as I was basically located on the third floor and I had no staircase leading to the beach like the suite below me.
From the living room area, you have another door leading towards the master bedroom. Sizewise this one is huge as well and has plenty of space to store your stuff. The King Bed is in the middle of the room with nightstands on either side. In front of the bed is another flatscreen TV. This one was smaller than the one in the living room. Seems they exchanged it because the set-top box was just kinda tugged in on top and behind the TV. Not very professional, but maybe a temporary replacement. At least I hope so. The bedroom has a closet which has a safe in it. An umbrella is also stored in the closet, which can come in very handy with Florida’s quickly changing weather conditions.
Another door leads from the Master Bedroom to the Master Bathroom. The bathroom has a marble Jacuzzi tub on one side of the room and a double sink on the other side. At the end is another door, which is where the toilet is located. Step in the small room with the toilet and close the door and you will find a shower tugged in right behind it. The shower had a glass front with a glass door.
This suite is amazing. I really need to come here for a longer stay to better enjoy this place.
The suite layout you see here is very close to what my suite looked like. I edited this one by flipping it the right way to show the layout of my room. The original is on Marriott’s website and can be found here. Some details on the layout are off, as this one shows a staircase on the balcony leading up to a private sundeck. Mine didn’t have a staircase at all but I had two chairs on my balcony. Anyway, it’s a great guideline to give you a better idea of the layout.
If you want you can check the layouts for their other suites as well. This reminds me of shopping for apartments, rather than for a hotel room. It’s great that Marriott provides these layouts and detailed information. However, I booked my stay on the app and I didn’t do too much research. But I am glad I stayed here.
This property definitely focuses on its oceanfront location. In the relatively small lobby area is a concierge that can assist you to find activities either on-site or in the Key West area. The Marriott Beachside Hotel offers a lot of activities by itself, like a 1.5-2 hour long Jetski tour, Kayak rental, and much more. The concierge can give you detailed information or just take on of the fliers from the concierge desk, which describes a lot of the highlights either on-site or in the area. As you walk down towards the Town N Tavern Restaurant you can find a small chill-out area next to the front desk with a few very comfortable seating options.
The restrooms are located just before you enter the restaurant to your left. On the left is also a small workstation dedicated to print boarding passes only. On the other side of the hallway are two more workstations that can be freely used to look up stuff and print. It’s amazing that hotels still offer business centers. I barely ever see people using them, besides printing boarding passes or itineraries. There is also a small gift shop right next to the front desk.
After that is the Tavern N Town Restaurant. More about that in the Dining section below.
The complimentary shuttle to Downtown Key West will run on top of the hour from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day. This is a great and stress-free way to get to downtown Key West. The shuttle makes two stops on Duval Street, the party street of Key West. Most of the bars are located along Duval Street. The first stop is near the Mile 0 Marker of Highway 1. Take a picture of you and your party at the “End of the Road”. The second stop is near the southernmost point of the continental United States. This is a very famous and busy spot. During the day people line up here sometimes for hours just to get a photo in front of the marker. The marker became also one of the most famous landmarks of Key West. You will see it on stickers, signs, T-Shirts, and much more. If you want to get your photo there without waiting, come here very early as the crowds are not here yet. Another great advantage of the shuttle is to avoid the sometimes expensive but also very restricted parking in Downtown. You are already paying for your parking spot at the hotel, why paying twice?
One of the main features of the Marriott Beachside Hotel is the huge heated outdoor pool. There is usually a pool attendant on-site which provides you with fresh towels and other pool toys. Great if you bring kids with you. The pool is located centrally between all of the buildings and has a partial ocean view between Buildings 1 and 5. This area between the two buildings is filled with nice and fine sand and is dubbed as the tanning beach. There are a bunch of beach loungers on the beach area between the buildings and a few more right on the beach itself. Unfortunately, the hotel has no swimming beach. You could still access the ocean from here, but the ground has some rocks and is not ideal to be used as a swimming area.
From here you can see the marina to your right. That’s right, the hotel has its own marina with 16 slips. Bring your boat and dock it at the marina. The marina is a great place to go out on the dock and watch the sunset. After sunset, there are fish lights right underneath the dock which attracts fish to hang out right there and makes it easy to watch.
There is a small and short pier you can walk out on in front of Building 1. This is another way to soak up some sun during the day or watch the sunset. On the east end of Building 1 is the rental counter for all the water sports activities. Everything from kayaks to jet skis can be rented here.
On the ground floor of the same building, you will find the Fitness Center. It’s rather small but provides all the necessary workout equipment you would need for a normal workout. The small windows allow you to view the gulf and waterfront. A yoga area is located inside the fitness center.
The onsite restaurant Tavern N Town is located just off the Grand Lobby of the Marriott Beachside Hotel. Tavern N Town is open for Breakfast and Dinner. The breakfast buffet here is $20,95 per person which I saved thanks to my elite status with Marriott Rewards. During my check-in, I received a voucher for every day of my stay.
Talk to the host outside the restaurant to get seated and enjoy breakfast in a luxurious ambiance. The full American Breakfast Buffet offers everything you would expect. After you got your table, the server will take care of you and provide you with coffee and juices of your choice. A big surprise was the breakfast happy hour following the principle “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.”
I decided to stay with coffee and orange juice and enjoy the amazing breakfast buffet and omelet station instead. For a freshly made omelet or waffle fill out the little paper by the omelet station and keep the right part of it. Place it on your table and your waiter will bring the omelet or waffles to your table. You might need to let him know if the place is busy. Breakfast is a real treat here and service is great. The staff is super friendly and introduces themselves. A really welcoming atmosphere.
Of course, I had to try their dinner menu as well here. One night I had a steak and the other night the salmon. Both dishes were excellent and the steak was actually medium as ordered. The fish was amazing as well and I added some additional sides to each order. This is one of the best hotel restaurants I have been too and I was very positively surprised.
During my stay, there was a special offer from the restaurant. If you buy any of the main entrees, you could decide between a free breakfast voucher for one person or 2,500 Marriott Rewards Points. Since I already had my vouchers, I went off course with the extra rewards points.
In case you don’t feel like going to the restaurant, you can, of course, order room service for breakfast as well for the rest of the day until 11 p.m. at night every day.
While you relax at the pool you can order drinks and small snacks right pool-side at the Blue Bar. Hang out at the bar for some great drinks or enjoy it in your chair.
Conclusion: Awesome! This is an amazing hotel and surprised me in pretty much every category you can imagine. The double-upgrade was amazing and the room was just like a dream. I didn’t even mind that the hotel was not located in the old Key West near Duval Street. It can get very loud there when they have special events going on. The hotel’s location was perfect, nice, and tranquil. For me, the biggest throwback was that there is no actual swimming beach. In the name of the hotel is “Beachside”, but that’s the only thing it really is. It is located right on the beach. However, if you read “beachside”, you expect an ocean with a beach. Otherwise, you could choose a hotel in the center of the island. On the other side, they offer many water-activities right at the hotel. If you are in desperate need of a beach, Smathers Beach is a very short drive away from the hotel on Key West. Parking is free along the street near Smathers Beach. Or take the complimentary shuttle to Downtown and walk to one of the many beaches. Fort Zachary Taylor also has a great beach area, but it is a state park with entrance fees. It really depends on what you are looking for. The hotel is so nice, you want to spend all the time in the hotel. It’s almost a two “fancy” experience for a weekend getaway. So again, it really depends on what you plan to do. But no matter what. If you need a hotel in Key West and you think if you should stay here or not? The answer is easy: YES.
When I checked other hotels on Key West, this hotel can definitely compete with others and offered lower rates than similar hotels in Downtown. You pay for the location but with the complimentary shuttle bus, the location is not a question anymore. It also depends on your group size. For a bigger group, this might be a better and cheaper alternative.
The only thing I really regret is that I only stayed there for two nights. Other than that I can’t complain and I would see my experience here is second to none.
Have you stayed here? What was your experience?
Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel
- Huge Pool
- Tanning Beach
- Many Activities offered
- Complimentary Shuttle Service to Downtown Key West
- Parking Fee
- No Complimentary Breakfast (some Exceptions)
- No Swimming Beach
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.