From Luxury Spas To Victorian Spreads, 10 Very Different Key West Escapes


By Andrew Belonsky

The Conch Republic can be anything you imagine.

6. The Mermaid and The Alligator: You'd be hard pressed to find accommodations this welcoming or eccentric anywhere else on the island. Thematic suites help set the tone — the Treetop Suite's particularly bewitching, and the Caribbean Queen room lives up to its name — while the outdoor pavilion guarantees inter-guest mingling, especially over a complimentary glass of wine in the evenings. Should you choose to stay indoors, the gay-owned Mermaid's living room and the flat coat retrievers roaming will welcome you with open arms, or paws, and the pool and whirlpool are waiting with their own embrace. Plus, it's within three blocks of Duval Street, which only sweetens the deal. In addition to the thematic rooms, The Mermaid and the Alligator (pictured) also has off-site houses available. (Rates vary from about $180 to around $320. Call for further details.)

7. Tranquility Bay: If you're heading down south with friends and are willing to stay on Marathon, an island slightly closer to the mainland, look into renting one of the beach houses at the luxurious Tranquility Bay. Being further away from the relative hustle of Key West, Tranquility Bay has some space to spread out: guests can stroll about either 12 well-manicured or along the resort's private shoreline before taking a dip in one of its two pools, one of which is adults only. If you want to cook, the rentals have kitchens, but, again, this is vacation, why not just enjoy the resort's onsite kayaking, snorkeling and jetskiing before turning yourself over to Tranquility Bay's award-winning Buttefly Cafe and in-room masseurs? (Contact resort for rate details, and watch out for a $100 late check-out fee.)

8. Andrew's Inn: Small and uncomplicated with open, colorful rooms, the no frills Andrew's Inn is a great isolated and quiet base camp for your various day trips to the beach and beyond, but it's also accommodating enough that you could quite comfortably stick around to take a dip in their modest pool or lounging in their tropical garden. If you'd rather your own space, look into renting one of Andrew's private cottages. (During peak season, rooms start at $199, but off-peak's only about $130, which is a pretty good deal.)

9. Pier House Resort and Spa: A staple for over four decades, this lavish but approachable 5-star resort sits at the intersection of Key West's two main attractions, Duval Street and the Gulf, upon which Pier House has a small private beach. You know, should you get bored of the garden-shaded pool, three restaurants, spa services and the Pier House's enviable Old Town location. Try one of the Caribbean-themed rooms for added effect. (Prices depend on time of visit and accommodations. Call for details.)

10. Old Town Manor: If you want to be in the center of it all, check into Old Town Manor on Key West's relatively bustling Duval Street. A compound of 19th century homes centered around a garden teeming with rare flowers and tropical scents, Old Town Manor's not only a comfortable stay — shared verandas, four-poster beds and unique furnishings give the light-soaked rooms an especially familial —but is steeped in Key West's history, and carefree spirit. Though only steps away from some of Key West's best bars and restaurants, no one will blame you if you prefer to sit back on the front porch and enjoy a balmy night making new friends, as men and women have done for generations. The adjacent Rose Lane villas also has condo units available should you want to bring along some pals. (Rooms are about $155-255, depending on time of year, naturally.)

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