St Pete and Clearwater beach hotels for every traveller


Eloise Barker

Title photography by Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort. ©Hyatt

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Updated February 2019

There’s one thing that all these St Pete and Clearwater hotels have in common: the magnificent beach. Life here revolves around it – from your morning jog and mid-day paddle to your sunset celebration on the pier and then s’mores around the fire pit. Stay at one of our carefully-selected hotels and the sun, sand and wonderful people will keep a silly grin stuck on your face all holiday long.

Introducing St Pete and Clearwater

Clearwater and St Petersburg are twin cities on Tampa Bay. With their liberal vibes and sunny climes, they attract a mix of eager Florida holidaymakers. Clearwater Beach is oft-cited as one of the best beaches in Florida – if not the States – and St Pete beach isn’t far behind. St Petersburg earned its name during a coin toss between the two founders, but you won’t be taking any gambles by visiting here. This fantastic city wins hearts year after year. It also hosts Florida’s biggest Pride Festival in summer, and its fantastic Dalí Museum houses the biggest collection of the Surrealist’s art outside of Europe.

The clue is in the name: Sandpearl Resort is right on the sand – and it's one of the best Clearwater Beach hotels.

For a great beach: Sandpearl Resort

In an area that’s full of beachside hotels, Sandpearl really does have one of the best locations.

The lowdown: The clue is in the name: Sandpearl Resort is right on the sand – and it's one of the best Clearwater Beach hotels. With such a beautiful stretch of private beach to call its own, it’s no wonder that the resort has an environmental conscience: it’s eco-friendly and every activity revels in the natural surroundings and stunning location. Along the Gulf Coast, every sunset in these beautiful environs is an event. At Sandpearl, an old bell is rung the moment the sun disappears below the horizon. Afterwards, there’s no better spot to spend the evening than the tiki bar right on the beach. Like all hotels worth their salt in Clearwater, there’s a firepit on the sand next to the bar where you can roast marshmallows and prepare an evening feast of s’mores. Later on, if you find yourself in the hotel’s swanky Caretta Lounge, be sure to order the signature Sandpearl cocktail, with rum, fresh orange juice and a splash of lime.

Insider’s tip… Look out for ‘dive in’ movies in the zero-entry pool, which are available seasonally. Just don’t watch Jaws.

Book a stay at Sandpearl Resort

  • Pool and beach at the Sandpearl Resort. © 2018 Sandpearl Resort.

    Blue lagoon

    The attractive zero-entry pool at Sandpearl Resort will entice even timid paddlers for a dip. It's climate controlled: perfectly refreshing all year. Look out for 'dive in' movies on certain nights.£977 pp

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For families: Sirata Beach Resort

The lowdown: You’ll find great value at the three-star Sirata Beach Resort on St Pete Beach. Having undergone renovations in 2018, it’s looking fresh-faced and light on its feet. There are three pools and a splash area for kids. Plus, you couldn’t really be closer to the beach – and this sandy stretch is as lovely as anywhere on the coast. There are three places to eat at Sirata, including Rum Runners, which is right on the beach and has a fire pit (any hotel worth its salt in Florida ought to have a good fire pit). You can also dine at the classy Compass Grille, when you want to put on a shirt. The resort fee gives you access to bikes and parking – as well as discounts on water sports. Once you’ve returned from a jaunt on a jetski, the real water sports begin: back at the hotel pool there are belly flop competitions – for the brave and foolhardy.

Insider’s tip… Harry’s Bar by the hotel pool might have been recently renovated, but it remains a longstanding local favourite. There’s usually live music playing and you can grab a stool to watch a local talent strum along to the sunset.

Book Sirata Beach Resort

  • Guest room at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Clearwater Beach S-Harbourside. © 2018 IHG.

    Family time

    Stay at the Holiday Inn Hotel, a good base for all the family. Hang out together at the nearby Indian Rocks Beach.

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  • Night view of the pool and hotel, The Don CeSar. © The Don CeSar.
  • A dessert worth sharing at the Opal Sands Resort. © 2018 Opal Sands Resort.

    Two spoons, please

    Tuck in to a dessert for two at Sea Guini, the restaurant at Opal Sands Resort.

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For glitz and glamour: Opal Sands

A stylish hotel with great attention to detail, Opal Sands has thought of everything – so you don’t have to.

The lowdown: You can’t miss this cylindrical, glass-fronted hotel on the end of Clearwater Beach. Unsurprisingly, all those windows mean a whole lot of great views – even from the gym. And you can keep gazing across glorious vistas as you wade into the zero-entry pool, reach for your cocktail alongside the hot tub, or drag your friends onto your room’s Gulf-front balcony for sunset. From the higher floors the sight is even more spectacular, and you can take it all in from your balcony rocking chair. Each floor has a ‘guest pantry’ with snacks, fruit and ice that’s all freely available. For something more… substantial, order a Beachside Mary at the Sandbar – this spin on a Bloody Mary is crowned with the most restorative of hangover cures: a cube of cheese, a stuffed olive… and a colossal shrimp. With its sophisticated atmosphere, its spa, and proximity to the beach, Opal Sands is a great place to enjoy a glamorous holiday.

Insider’s tip… The hotel shuttles guests to and from their local restaurant reservations in a glamorous Rolls Royce – completely free of charge. Just book with the concierge.

For an elegant stay: Don CeSar

Still in the game 90 years after opening, the Don CeSar Hotel attracts fans of Old Florida luxury.

The lowdown: Dominating St Pete’s beach front, the Don CeSar is a beautiful old five-star hotel with an eye-catching design: it’s flamingo-bright façade has earnt it the nickname the ‘Pink Palace’ and it has a longstanding, glamorous reputation. Opened in 1928, the hotel has seen so much action over the years that it now conducts daily history tours. Celebrating its 90th birthday at the start of 2018, ‘The Don’ really is the grandfather of the area. There’s nothing old fashioned about its spa, though – it’s state of the art from top to toe and uses delicious ingredients like crushed coconut shells, paprika and peach stones. For a more active start to the day, grab one of the hotel’s charming pink and white bikes for a spin down the seafront, or seek out Captain Jamie to commandeer your own jet ski.

Insider’s tip… Staying a bit longer? Book the Beach House Suites. Equally pink, but with a bit more space, the accommodation at Don CeSar’s sister property comes with kitchenettes, and full access to facilities at the Don CeSar.

Book a stay at Don CeSar

For budget travellers: Holiday Inn and Suites Harbourside

Easy and convenient, the Holiday Inn and Suites rests near peaceful Indian Rocks Beach.

The lowdown: Your family can stick to a budget if they stay at the Holiday Inn at Indian Rocks Beach. South of Clearwater, this famously quiet area is full to the brim with old Florida charm and independent eateries. You only need walk five minutes across the road to get to Indian Rocks Beach, where the sand is every bit as white and fine as Clearwater’s. Facilities at the hotel are basic and cheerful. There’s a cute indoor mini golf course and a games room. If you stay here, you’ll also get a discount to the adjacent waterpark. Splash Harbour Water Park is small and sweet. There are a few slides and a lazy river – perfect for a low-effort afternoon with the kids.

Insider’s tip… This hotel is set on the famous Intracoastal Waterway. Sit outside and watch passing boats cruise this quiet route down through southern Florida.

Book a stay at Holiday Inn and Suites Harbourside

For sporty travellers: Postcard Inn on the Beach

Fun and young, this boutique hotel is great for a laid-back, surfer-style stay.

The lowdown: For those who want the classic US motel experience… without actually staying in a motel, stay at Postcard Inn on the Beach. ‘PCI’ has transformed an old motor hotel into somewhere fun and fresh. It’s now a three-star boutique with driftwood decoration and surfboards on the walls everywhere. The sporty theme continues in the facilities: an Olympic-sized pool, bike rental, and two gyms – one for cardio and one for weights. The Boathouse Kitchen & Bar, under chef Eric, is responsible for serving up choice portions of seafood; and the beach bar is famous for lavishing over-the-top Bloody Marys and potent Rum Runners upon its patrons. Guestrooms are comfortable and cute, with photography from St Pete’s artists on the walls and vintage lamps on the dressing tables. On the off-chance of a rainy morning, the lobby has a huge bookcase of books and board games – a nice touch if you’re waiting for a taxi.

Insider’s tip… After a day on the water, the hotel’s rustic beach bar is the place to be – extremely popular with the locals, it’s lively and laid back (no need to put on a shirt). There are the usual burgers and fries on the menu, but also delicious vegetarian choices. Order the buffalo cauliflower.

Book a stay at Postcard Inn on the Beach