In the nineties, Fort Lauderdale calmly established a reputation as one of the nicest cities to visit in Florida. Word got around, and now visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to hotels. Choose from resorts near family-friendly Hollywood Beach, suites by top designers, and rooms with amazing Intracoastal Waterway views. Your Florida getaway just got even more gorgeous.
For everything you could possibly need: The Diplomat Beach Resort
This massive and newly-renovated Hollywood Beach hotel has a thousand rooms. But thanks to great service, plenty of space and wonderful amenities, you won’t be lost in the crowd.
The lowdown… You’ll have difficulty deciding between a day on the beach or a day at the pool at The Diplomat. Whilst the beach is an oasis of shallow, warm water and pillow-soft sand, the hotel’s swimming area is famously fabulous. Two massive pools overlap in spectacular fashion, with one sitting like a bridge over the other (it needs to be seen to be believed). If a few lengths have whet your appetite, you have another difficult choice ahead: there are ten on-site restaurants. One stands out: Monkitail, for its shareable Japanese plates and its evening entertainment. The restaurant’s karaoke bar is a sleek affair with private booths, where you can serenade your friends without startling any strangers.
Insider’s tip… All the rooms are massive, bright and modern, with rainfall showers and separate baths. But if you want a balcony, then book a Deluxe or Grand Deluxe room.
For a luxury hotel: W Fort Lauderdale
The elegant, swooping lines of the W Fort Lauderdale should give you a hint of the glamour within.
The lowdown… Embark on a flight of pure fancy the moment you step inside the W Fort Lauderdale’s fourth floor lobby. This modern five-star hotel is fancy and fun – so make sure you come prepared for party vibes during the weekend. Hone in on the newly-renovated pool area on the fifth floor, which sits like a glamorous landing strip above the beach and has a revealing glass bottom. For dinner, make reservations at Steak 954. Watch jellyfish pulsing across a glass aquarium in the middle of the restaurant as you eat your steak. It's surf and turf – but not as we know it.
Insider’s tip… The hotel has two pools. Head to ‘WET West’. It’s quieter than the main WET pool and you can commandeer the hot tub.
For dinner and a show: B Ocean Resort
The famous performing mermaids at the Wreck Bar aren’t the only entrancing attraction at the B Ocean Resort.
The lowdown… B Ocean Resort is a large, Art Deco-style hotel with direct beach access at the southern end of Fort Lauderdale. The rooms have massive view-hungry windows. Enjoy the two pools, or flop onto a beach sun lounger and order post-siesta food and drinks from the roaming staff. Local celebrity chef David Morales runs the sunken schooner-chic Wreck Bar, but his flagship kitchen is at Naked Crab, the hotel’s restaurant. Don’t hesitate to order the magnificent three-tier seafood tower – it’s a shellfish extravaganza.
Insider’s tip… To watch the mermaids, get to the Wreck Bar early on Friday and Saturday nights. Take note: the early showing is family-friendly, whilst the 9:30pm sitting is decidedly more ‘burlesque’.
Surf not up on the beach? Don't worry, Margaritaville has it covered. On Saturdays, the FlowRider® at the pool area has DJ sessions whilst you ride.Book a stay
For an all-round good time: Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
The facilities at this large hotel, plus its resort-like vibe, mean you’ll have few reasons to leave the premises.
The lowdown… A massive, lagoon-style pool should be your first port of call once you’ve settled into the chic, newly-renovated rooms at the Marriott. The on-site restaurants have received deserved praise, too. Popular dining destination Ocean 3030 serves creative seafood dishes. You're in good hands: the restaurant is run by a chef that triumphed on 2011’s season of TV show Chopped. The Sea Level pool bar is a more relaxed daytime hangout with plenty of cocktails. You can’t go wrong with a mango mojito.
Insider’s tip… If you’ve got kids, head to the private beach at the front of the hotel, where they can body board in the Atlantic surf. The hotel’s Surf Club for Kids also has plenty of fun activities – no bored boarders here.
Book a stay at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
Just for fun: Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort
Enjoy a swig of freshly-squeezed Florida fun at Margaritaville. Don’t leave without having a margarita or three.
The lowdown… Set on family-friendly Hollywood Beach just south of Fort Lauderdale, Jimmy Buffett-owned Margaritaville is one big, fun beach house. What else would you expect from the laidback singer? Song lyrics are stencilled over everything, and you can salivate over a whopping burger in the signature Margaritaville restaurant. Thankfully, the theme is tropical (think parrot murals and whale-tail taps) without being cheesy. Let’s face it, a bit of colour is refreshing if you’re used to Miami-style minimalism. There are three pools – and a ‘FlowRider’ wave machine.
Insider’s tip… This is a great hotel if you love live music. Not only are there live bands at the iconic ‘Five o Clock Somewhere’ bar, but the hotel also organises performances on the charming public bandstand outside the hotel.
For a beautiful beach: Pelican Grand Beach Resort
This boutique hotel has a surprise up its sleeve: its own lazy river.
The lowdown… Like the B Ocean Resort, the Pelican Grand is right on Fort Lauderdale’s beach, a perk that it fully incorporates for its guests. First off, its fantastic veranda is lined with rocking chairs that practically nod with approval at the ocean views. Those same vistas can be enjoyed whilst you’re dining at Ocean 2000, the hotel’s seafood restaurant. Outside you’ll find a lovely zero-entry pool as well as a little lazy river – it’s the only one in the city. The old-timey ice cream parlour is a great treat: order a massive sundae and reward yourself for not falling asleep on your lilo.
Insider’s tip… Make a beeline to the veranda to bag your spot in a rocking chair. The view is the best way to start your stay.
For family fun: Doubletree Resort by Hilton Hollywood Beach
This Hollywood Beach hotel offers all the trimmings and newly-renovated rooms and suites with plenty of space to fit the whole family.
The lowdown… Another Hollywood Beach hotel, the Doubletree is one block away from the coast, and rooms have views of the Intracoastal Waterway. This hotel was recently renovated and the generously-proportioned rooms are now even airier and lighter. Every room comes with a balcony and big windows. Sit inside or out and drink in the surroundings. Downstairs in the grounds, you’ll find the palm-clad pool area is especially attractive. Nick one of the deckchairs at the end of the property, which backs onto the waterway. When you wave at puttering motorboats, everyone will wave back.
Insider’s tip… Every guest to a Doubletree hotel gets a warm cookie at check-in – so come hungry.
Book a stay at the Doubletree Resort by Hilton Hollywood Beach
For before or after your cruise: Pier 66 Hotel and Marina
Part of the marina and with a popular local restaurant attached, Pier 66 is well-connected and perfect for captains and cruisers.
The lowdown… Step onto the jetty after your cruise for a warm welcome at Pier 66. This hotel has presided over the marina since the 1950s – it’s the go-to hotel for shaking off those sea legs. There are three pools, and the pool area is fitted out with a fleet of cabanas. If you want to explore town, the water taxi stop is right outside. If you’d rather hit the beach, hop on the Sun Trolley and trundle on down. Locals love Pelican Landing, the hotel’s restaurant. You’ll see why once you’ve bagged your seat overlooking the fancy marina boats. Expect live music at the end of the week.
Insider’s tip… Consider booking a tower room – these higher rooms have lovely, lofty views of the Intracoastal Waterway.
For designer spaces: Hyde Resort and Residences
Set on Hollywood Beach, this stylish all-suite hotel has good views as well as good looks. Enjoy two beautiful infinity pools.
The lowdown… It’s a design heaven in your suite at Hyde Resort. Pick one, two or three rooms depending on your party. All come with wraparound balconies, massive windows and proper kitchens. The young and trendy will enjoy Brazilian designer Debora Aguiar’s carefully crafted spaces – organic and eco-friendly, but without a hemp rug in sight. Families will love Hollywood Beach, which is near facilities and shops, and safe for adventurous children. The two infinity pools at the hotel are particularly special – situated on a breezy rooftop pool deck, their edges lap against perfect ocean views.
Insider’s tip… Head to the fitness centre for more inspiring views over the Atlantic from the treadmill – keep heading to that horizon!
For great value: Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort
Just north of Fort Lauderdale, this beachfront hotel is a great place to experience the amazing Gold Coast without paying over the odds.
The lowdown… A small pool, legions of sun loungers and a tiki bar handily situated right next to the jacuzzi – Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort will ensure you have a comfortable stay. This good three-star hotel is situated slightly north of Fort Lauderdale. Open top shuttles can take you to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, the idyllic town up the coast, or you can walk there in 20 minutes. Relax on your balcony with a morning coffee before heading to the beach or pool area. For an extra charge you can also play mini-golf on site.
Insider’s tip… Aside from the Ocean Sky restaurant there are plenty of places to eat in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Try Blue Moon Fish Company for buffet brunch; on Sunday there are bottomless mimosas.