Are you ready to discover unique parts of Florida? Key West is calling you with its most beautiful tropical island vibe!
It is no surprise that famous American author Ernest Hemingway fell in love with this beautiful island and spent a decade in Key West. I am sure that you will have a great time too by discovering beautiful beaches, amazing seafood restaurants, strolling in beautiful historic buildings and doing water sports activities.
This island offers many activities as well as great accommodation options for all kinds of travelers and I meticulously searched for the best ones for you to have a perfect holiday. In this article on where to stay in Key West, I will talk about the 5 best neighborhoods to stay in with the highlights of the area and give hotels from luxury to budget plus Airbnbs in each area.
Key West is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the USA preferred by many travelers, so, I highly recommend you to make a booking in advance for your favorite place as it will help you to get better deals and I don’t think you would want to miss your favorite hotel. Most of the hotels have a free cancellation policy, so do not worry if you change your mind!
So travelers, let’s start to discover the Florida Keys!
If you are in a hurry
Here are the best places to stay in Key West from luxury to budget. They all have great reviews and great locations!
Santa Maria Suites
Best luxury hotel
Duval Street Apartment
An Airbnb with amazing reviews
Best value for money
Blue Marlin Motel
Best affordable accommodation in the center
Here is a map of Key West with all the 5 areas I will be talking about in this travel guide, so you can easily visualize them:
1. Duval Street – where to stay in Key West for the first time
Duval Street in Key West is the most popular street on the island and has an incredibly colorful vibe. Located at the center of the Old Town, this district is within walking distance to Downtown Key West as well. Offering many shops, bars, restaurants, and museums and its proximity to main attractions makes Duval Street a perfect area to stay in Key West for first-timers.
You can easily discover Duval Street on foot but if you don’t feel like walking, you may earn some time by taking The Duval Loop free shuttle which runs on the main street. Start your sightseeing by going to Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and continue your stroll to Historic Seaport while checking out the beautiful cafes and quirky shops on the way.
If you are into nightlife, you will want to check out popular bars in Duval Street at night. It offers one of the best night scenes in Key West. Doesn’t it already sound exciting?
Here you will find many accommodation options for all budgets. Since it is a popular and touristy district I highly recommend you make a booking in advance. I am going to give the top 4 accommodations to stay in Key West but if you want more options you can check out the best Airbnbs in Key West as well. Also, if you are planning to continue your trip in Miami you might wanna read where to stay in Miami!
This glamorous 4 star, Key West hotel located on Duval Street offers a fabulous fitness center, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a poolside bar where guests can enjoy tropical cocktails under the sun. Santa Maria Suites boasts spacious rooms with pool views plus, South Beach and Higgs Beach are within walking distance too!
Other accommodation options in Duval Street
Things to do in Duval Street
- Have a drink and food at Sloppy Joe’s which is a bar listed on the National Register of Historic Places of America in Old Towm
- Have a sightseeing tour with the famous Conch Tour Train
- Join a Duval Street pub crawl and discover the island’s nightlife
- Enjoy live music with locals at Green Parrot Bar
- See the Oldest House & Gardens in Key West
- Go to the Hellings House Museums
- Have a drink at Garden of Eden – a popular clothing-optional bar
- Visit art galleries Wyland Gallery, LIK Fine Art, and Island Style Gallery in the Old Town
2. Historic Seaport – the best area for water sports
Set by the marina in the Old Town, the Historic Seaport offers scenic views and water sport activities such as sailing, fishing, parasailing, snorkeling, and boat tours. You will love the Historic seaport town if you’re into water sports and I am sure you will have so much fun going on sailing adventures around the area.
Apart from water activities, you will have a chance to eat the best seafood here. Enjoy a sunset stroll by the waterfront and pick a nice restaurant with a beautiful view to have a delicious meal. Another fun alternative is to join a dinner cruise where you will have your dinner on a boat while enjoying some live music. Doesn’t that just sound so idyllic? If you are a water lover and looking for another new vacation destination, I highly recommend Panama City for more sea adventures.
The Historic Seaport offers many nice boutiques and art as well so you should definantly spare some time to discover those unique shops, museums, and galleries. You won’t have difficulty finding nice accommodation here and as always, I’ve already picked the best ones for you! As these places are the best ones, they tend to fill up so fast so do not forget to make a reservation in advance!
Simonton Court Inn is one of the best hotels in Key West. This nice hotel offers 4 outdoor swimming pools, spacious rooms with a balcony, free wifi, and on-site parking. Smathers Beach is just a few minutes drive. Travelers can enjoy the nice large garden and also rent a bike from the hotel, plus family-friendly rooms are available too!
Other accommodation options in Historic Seaport
Things to do in the Historic Seaport
- Visit the Sails To Rails Museum at Flagler Station
- Join a food tasting and cultural walking tour to try some local cuisines
- Enjoy a sunset stroll at the marina
- Join a sunset cruise tour with live music
- Have good craft beer and seafood snacks at Waterfront Brewery
- Try water sport activities like parasailing, snorkeling, or jet skiing
- Visit some museums like the Dry Tortugas National Park Museum and the Turtle Cannery Museum
- Set Sail on the Schooner Appledore
3. Smathers Beach & New Town – where to stay in Key West for beaches
When you say Key West, of course, sun and beach are the first words that come into your mind and you are totally right! There are several beautiful beaches in Key West but the largest and most beautiful one in Key West is Smathers Beach.
Smathers Beach is 2 miles (3 km) long beach with white sand and offers beach activities like volleyball and water sports. According to rumors, the sand of the beach is brought from the Bahamas! You can easily reach the beach from the city center with a 15 minutes drive to the southeast part of the island. Don’t forget to take your beach essentials with you!
Whilst all the areas I have talked about previously have been located in the downtown/old town area, Smathers Beach is located in the New Town – the eastern part of Keywest. This is the more residential part of the keys where you will find contemporary houses, waterfront hotels, and modern shops.
In this area, you will be able to find great accommodation options from luxury resorts to budget Airbnbs.
The Capitana is one of the best hotels in New Town. Guests can enjoy a fabulous breakfast in the hotel garden and relax in modern rooms with great decor. The nice hotel has a very convenient location to main attractions and beaches. Family-friendly rooms are available too.
Other options in Smathers Beach and New Town
Things to do in Smathers Beach and New Town
- Relax on Smathers Beach
- Hire a jet ski to cruise the seas
- Take a walk in Little Hamaca
- Go kayaking in the Mangroves
- Head to the Old town to check out the action
4. Bahama Village – if you are looking for local experiences
Bahama Village is located in the southern part of the island and a 15 minutes walk from the town center. It is a nice and less touristy neighborhood where you will be able to find more local experiences. The name of the neighborhood comes from the city’s connection to the Bahamas and here you will also see the Southernmost point.
Bahama Village is a very fun neighborhood with its flea market, public swimming pool, and authentic cuisine. Foodies will love the food scene in Bahama Village so if you are looking for a local vibe, you should definitely stay in Bahama Village. Here also you will be able to find less pricey hotels compared to other parts of the island.
Orchid Key Inn is a unique resort at the heart of the city. This beautiful hotel features a very good breakfast, a heated swimming pool, and spacious rooms. There are also suites with a spa bath and good coffee machines. Guests can enjoy happy hours at the resort with tropical cocktails and wines and the main attractions are just a few minutes walk.
Other accommodation options in Bahama Village
Things to do in Bahama Village
- Go shopping at Bahama Village Market
- Visit the Tennessee Williams Key West exhibit
- Head to Smathers Beach in New Town for swimming and sunbathing
- Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum which is not only a museum but where Ernest Hemingway lived for ten years
- Have a walk to Southernmost Point of Continental US
- Enjoy a delicious meal at iconic restaurant Blue Heaven
5. Mallory Square – where to stay in Key West for Families
Facing the Gulf of Mexico, Mallory Square is located on the waterfront of the historic Old Town and at the end of Duval Street. Thanks to its central location and its offering of great activities, it is one of the most popular areas of Key West and a great place to stay for families.
In Mallory Street, you will find many great bars and restaurants with an excellent view. The main landmarks you should see in this neighborhood are the Key West Aquarium and the Key West Shipwreck Museum. At sunset time the place you have to be is Mallory Dock. Many people gather here to watch amazing sunsets and also see the street performers, acrobats, and musicians. What more could you want?
I have no doubt that you will have a great time in Mallory Square with your families and this neighborhood offers a great selection of accommodations too. Let’s check out the best places to stay in Key West:
With beautiful views overlooking the Gulf of Mexico from nearly every corner of this luxurious hotel in Key West, it might be hard to drag yourself away from the luxurious sunbeds by the pool. I highly recommend you do though to take advantage of the onsite spa that offers a range of services as well as their other activities like fishing, jet skis, and glass-bottom boat tours!
Other accommodation options in Mallory Square
Things to do in Mallory Square
- Check out the quirky shops and cafes at Mallory Square
- Pat a shark at Key West Aquarium
- Have a day trip to Stock island
- Be a pirate at the Key West Shipwreck Museum
- Enjoy dinner at Sunset Pier
- Visit Truman Little White House
- Try some spirits at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
- Get a suntan at Simonton Beach
- Visit Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and learn about the maritime history
- See the Key West Museum of Art & History and Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture
|👑 Luxury price:||$500|
|🏨 Mid Range:||$300|
|💰 Accommodation prices:||High|
|📍 Best Area:||Duval Street|
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:||Santa Maria Suites|
|👛 Best budget hotel:||Blue Marlin Motel|
Frequently asked questions about Key West
🏡 What is the best location to stay in Key West?
🗺️ What is the best area to stay in the Florida Keys?
Southwestern parts of Florida Key that make up the Old Town are the best area where you will find great places to stay and good restaurants and bars. Key West is the most popular destination for visitors to the keys.
💰 Is it expensive to stay in Key West?
Due to its location and high tourist demand Key West is an expensive city. Just to give you an idea, you should approximately budget around $300+ per day on average including accommodation.
⏱️ How many days should you stay in Key West?
To enjoy beaches, restaurants and the main attractions in Key West I would recommend you to stay at least 3 or 4 days.
🗓️ What is the best month to go to Key West?
Thanks to great weather and low humidity, March is the peak season for Key West. If you want to save on hotel prices you can visit Key West between June and November.
It is time for me to say goodbye to you, travelers. I hope that this blog post helped you to find your ideal place to stay in Key West and you have already started the countdown for your trip. In this post, I talked about the best areas to stay in Key West with hotels from luxury to budget as well as Airbnbs in each neighborhood.
As I mentioned before, the famous Duval Street in the Old Town is the best neighborhood to stay in for first-timers but if you like a hotel in a different district more, go ahead and book it as the areas are very close to each other on the island. I guarantee that you will have no problem enjoying this city!
To wrap up, here are the best 2 hotels in Key West where I would definitely recommend you to choose. They both have good locations and great reviews too!
- Santa Maria Suites – One of the best luxury hotels located in Duval Street, Old Town
- Capitana Key West – Located in a popular neighborhood of the island, this resort has great facilities
Key West Florida is one of the most popular destinations in the United States so, in order not to miss your perfect hotel don’t forget to make a reservation now!
If you have any other suggestions or questions about Key West, a neighborhood or Florida please leave a comment below. I’ll be happy to leave a reply to them!
Have great vacation in the sun travelers,