Celebration Florida

20 Unique Hotels in Florida to Visit in 2020

Planning a Florida vacation this year? You’re not alone!

According to a Visit Florida report, more than 127 million guests came to visit in 2018, and the number grows each year. That’s not a huge surprise. With 67,000 square miles of pristine beaches, farmland, islands, marshes, lakes, rivers and yes, the best theme parks in the world, Florida has a lot to offer visitors.

Chances are good if you travel at all, at some point, your journey will bring you here to the Sunshine State. And then you’ll be on the hunt for the best hotels in Florida! 

Celebration Florida

Choosing The Best Hotels in Florida

Florida pretty much has it going on, so how do you even choose where to go or where to stay when planning a Florida vacation? Not a day goes by when I don’t get questions on Instagram and here on the blog about where to stay in Florida.

What most folks don’t understand before they come: FLORIDA IS HUGE! I’ve lived here on and off my whole life and still haven’t seen everything. My Florida bucket list is ever-growing! So the key to visiting Florida successfully is to take your time and come back again and again. To really do Disney, you need a week. To really do Universal, another week. The Keys? Another week. Miami? All the best beaches in Florida? You know where I’m going with this. You should just move here.

I’m kidding. 

A day here and a day there is not enough to really experience the best of Florida. 

Angie Orth in Jacksonville

To help you plan, I figured why not put my favorite hotels in Florida in one easy spot to share with all of you, because as of February 2019, we have 439,277 hotel and motel rooms and 4,583 properties. As you can imagine, not all are created equal and it’s not always easy to separate the amazing experiences from the average ones. If you’re going to come all this way, I want you to fall in love with your Florida accommodations – beachfront, lakefront or next to a Volcano – every bit as much as you love the beach, the fishing, the diving or the roller coasters.

Be advised: I’ve stayed at every single one of these Florida hotels at some point in my lifetime, some as part of editorial trips, some for marketing campaigns, some while working on PR projects and some on the rare vacation. These are my top pics from hundreds of nights in Florida hotels, chosen with care to help you plan!

Also note, I’ll be adding to this list as I encounter even more of Florida’s coolest hotels this year, so even if you’re not planning a Florida road trip right now, bookmark this article or Pin it for later!

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Where to Stay in Florida: A List of 20 Amazing Hotels. And yes, I've stayed in all of these Florida hotels over the years! Whether you're looking for beachfront, near the theme parks or a romantic getaway... I've got them all covered!

Where to Stay in Florida: A List of 20 Amazing Hotels. And yes, I've stayed in all of these Florida hotels over the years! Whether you're looking for beachfront, near the theme parks or a romantic getaway... I've got them all covered!

 

NORTH FLORIDA HOTELS

Let’s start with my home turf! We don’t have nearly as many unique accommodations to choose from compared to say, Orlando or Miami, but we have some real gems on the First Coast.

Pro Tip: North Florida’s beaches are more rugged and rather less turquoise than some of our southern neighbors, however what they lack in water clarity they make up for in peace, quiet and significantly smaller crowds and traffic.

Casa Monica

95 Cordova St, St. Augustine, FL 32084

Let’s start at the beginning – the oldest European settlement in North America, lovely St. Augustine. The Casa Monica is part of the Autograph Collection and definitely a jewel in the crown. Built in 1888, the hotel features Moorish Revival/Spanish Baroque-style architecture and design and has hosted dignitaries like the King and Queen of Spain and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. If you’re looking to live like royalty the Old City, the Casa Monica is the place to do it.

Check out my post on where to stay in St. Augustine for more options.

Check prices & availability here 

One Ocean Resort

1 Ocean Blvd, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

One Ocean has a lot going for it – world class restaurant Azurea, soothing decor and Jacksonville’s only oceanfront spa. But what sets this hotel apart from all the rest is the unparalleled service, from the valet to your personal docent who looks after your every need. You don’t have to park your car and make your way to a check-in line for a credit card exchange and run-down of amenities either. At One Ocean, you roll up, your valet presents a room key and you’re done. Go straight to your cozy room overlooking the Atlantic.

One Ocean Resort & Spa, jacksonville Florida

You have the option to interact with a docent before you arrive, so you can have a customized minibar awaiting with snacks of your choice. It’s my favorite place in town for a luxurious staycation and one of the top spots I recommend to folks who come to visit. 

Check prices & availability here

Casa Marina

691 First Street North, Jacksonville Beach

Did you know Jacksonville used to be Florida’s version of Hollywood? In the Golden Age, jazz was king and silent film studios attracted big names like Jean Harlow, Al Capone and John D. Rockefeller to our balmy beaches in the winter. Opened in 1925, Casa Marina was the grandest ticket in town, but now it’s the only remaining property from Jacksonville’s brief time as a celeb hotspot.

Today it’s a beachfront boutique with 23 bedrooms and parlor suites, renovated in Spanish-Mediterranean architecture and reopened in 1991. 

Check prices & availability here

Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island

4750 Amelia Island Pkwy, Amelia Island, FL 32034

I cannot overstate how much I love this resort! It’s a luxurious but understated escape in the middle of windswept sand dunes and twisted coastal pines. It’s possible that Salt, the Ritz-Carlton’s onsite restaurant, is my favorite in all of North Florida. THE STEAK, you guys! I’m obsessed.

Reflections from the Road - Ritz Carlton Amelia Island-min

But there’s something I like even more than the steak… and you won’t be surprised to know it’s the spa. When you visit, definitely plan at least a full day to indulge in treatments and the private spa pool area.

Check prices & availability here

 

HOTELS IN THE PANHANDLE

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Looking for a gorgeous beachfront resort on the Gulf of Mexico? Rick and I recently celebrated our anniversary with a Florida road trip to the Hilton Sandestin and absolutely could not get over the Gulf Coast sunsets from our balcony. Between the fiery sunsets, the calm emerald water and pure white sand, we were in Floridian heaven. If you haven’t been to the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, my goodness – book a flight! They’re stunning any time of year, and perfect for sandcastle building, stand-up paddleboarding or just vegging with in a chair with a good book. 

The Hilton Sandestin is a big favorite of families due to the cute, kid-sized bunk beds in the Deluxe Suites. With indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, the property is a safe bet even on the rare rainy day. For those traveling for romantic purposes like we were, a super relaxing couples Ocean Wave massage at Serenity by the Sea Spa was just the ticket. I personally loved the anti-gravity chairs in the back of the ladies lounge.

Check prices & availability here

CENTRAL FLORIDA HOTELS

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

6550 Adventure Way, Orlando, FL 32819

A beach in Orlando? Yes, and it’s right next to an erupting volcano!

Cabana Bay has a fun, colorful 50s/60s retro theme and is right next door to Volcano Bay Water Theme Park. If your priority is waterpark-centric, it’s an ideal base. It’s one of the most affordable of Universal’s onsite properties, but it’s still super comfortable and convenient. For families, there are suites that sleep up to six in a room with a kitchenette and separate living room. For anyone traveling with 4+, Cabana Bay is a great choice!

Cabana Bay Beach Resort-min

As with all the Universal Orlando hotels, the property itself is a playground. You could stay at the hotel all day and have just as much fun as you would at the parks themselves — and you should absolutely factor that in! Enjoy the two pools, lazy river, waterslides, bowling alley and more. While there is no water taxi service at Cabana Bay, there are super easy and free buses or you can cross over to Sapphire Falls to pick up a water taxi there. Buses drop off at the main entrance to CityWalk, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. It’s all so easy. For info on ALL the hotels at Universal Orlando, check out my post: 7 Reasons to Stay at Universal’s Onsite Hotels.

Check prices & availability here

Reunion Resort

7593 Gathering Dr, Kissimmee, FL 34747

Last year, we stayed at Reunion Resort just up the road from Disney. Depending on what kind of trip you’re on (big family fun, couples getaway, etc.), Reunion has an impressive selection of 1-13 bedroom homes in additional to a traditional hotel to suit every group.

REunion Kissimmee Waterpark

Plus, even in a huge villa, you get all the fun of a fully equipped resort – playgrounds for the kids, a water park with grown-up swings at the tiki bar, a rooftop restaurant with views of the nightly Disney fireworks and a golf course. Read more about things to do in Kissimmee and our stay at Reunion.

Check prices & availability here

JW Marriott Grand Lakes

4040 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32837

For as swanky and upscale as this property is, what with its luxurious spa and top notch restaurants, it also has a very unexpected outdoorsy side. We took a sunrise golf cart eco-tour of the property and found out that this area is actually the edge of the Florida Everglades. Wildlife abounds and shockingly, so do enormous bass in the lake. You can take fly fishing lessons with the best guide in central Florida, drink cocktails in the lazy river or try falconry school. (Perfect for little wizards excited about Hogwarts!)

There’s also a free shuttle to the theme parks, so you don’t have to worry about parking if Disney or Universal are in your plans. 

Check prices & availability here

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

1600 Seven Seas Drive, Orlando, FL 32830

Did you know there are 25 themed hotels on Disney property with more than 30,000 rooms? That’s just an incredible number! I could write a book on Disney’s different resorts and it’s impossible to pick just one that’s the best, but I do have a solid favorite with a special place in my heart – Disney’s Polynesian Village. Partly because all things Hawaiian put an actual, literal grin on my face, and partly because we’ve been going to Ohana for years as a special family treat, the Polynesian is my go-to spot. 

It’s one of the most convenient properties because it’s on the Monorail route, making super easy to get to Magic Kingdom and around the enormous resort. It’s one of the original resorts at Walt Disney World, and it really captures the feeling of being in the South Pacific… if Mickey Mouse lived there with all his friends.

And it’s the only hotel in Florida with overwater bungalows featuring full kitchens and private plunge pools. Full disclosure: they’re over the Seven Seas Lagoon and not the actual South Pacific, but they’re still quite nice. 

Check prices & availability here

Castle Hotel

8629 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

Need a hotel near Universal? The Castle Hotel is a treasure hidden in plain sight! How I missed this lovely spot in my 10,000 visits to Orlando, I’ll never know. It’s right there on International Drive, a cute boutique between T-shirt shops and neon signs touting outlet malls. 

48 Hours in Orlando Itinerary - The Jet Sisters - The Castle Hotel

If you’re going to be checking out multiple theme parks (vs. just doing Disney, Universal or SeaWorld, in which case staying on site is ideal), the Autograph Collection’s Castle Hotel could not be better situated. It’s walking distance to the ICON 360 complex and the Convention Center, and so close you could almost touch the new Universal Orlando complex. Read more about our tips on visiting Orlando.

Check prices & availability here

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

1114 Cayman Way, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

The quickest way to get on island time in Central Florida! Now, don’t get confused as many visitors do. Orlando is NOT on the water, living smack in the center of the state. But never fear – Disney has you covered with the closest thing to a beachfront property in Orlando.

The Caribbean Beach Resort is seemingly cut from paradise and dropped in the heart of Walt Disney World Resort, featuring pirate-themed rooms for the kids and colonial architecture spread out over six villages. There’s also an old Spanish-style citadel with slides and water cannons. A great spot to get a taste of the Caribbean and world-class attractions in one location.

Check prices & availability here

 

SOUTH / SOUTHWEST FLORIDA HOTELS

When I tell folks I meet around the world that I’m from Florida, they automatically assume I mean Miami. Miami is so impossibly chic – the high rises, the art deco, the yachts, the turquoise water, the skin-tight outfits and never-ending parade of good-looking, very tan people. Anyone from the Sunshine State can tell you, North Florida and South Florida are only in the same category because that’s how the lines were drawn in 1845. I’m always flattered anytime someone thinks I could hack it in a place with so much fashion sense and sex appeal.

Note: Eventually I’ll break this section into two, but I have to visit more hotels first! 

Fontainebleau Miami Beach

4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Talk about luxury hotels in Florida! You wanna really do it up big in Miami? You have to stay at the historic Fontainebleau!

It’s a Miami icon, originally constructed by world famous architect Morris Lapidus in 1954. It’s been restored to its former glory complete with Ai Wei Wei chandeliers, bowtie tile floors and the most energetic pool parties you can imagine. 

Fontainebleau Miami Beach - The Jet Sisters - Hotels in Florida

It is my personal dream to stay in the 5-bedroom Sorrento Penthouse one of these days. It’s got two floors, 10,000 square feet, private pool and hot tub and more amenities than all the other hotels on this list combined. Read more about our adventure at the Fontainebleau from a few years back. 

Check prices & availability here

The Gates Hotel South Beach

2360 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

We stayed here on the way back from our honeymoon in The Bahamas and loved it. Great location in the heart of South Beach – though not on the actual beach, if that’s important to you. It was within walking distance to everything we wanted to do and a pretty quick ride to the airport. Was a nice spot (and so much better than an airport hotel) for a layover night on the way to or from somewhere else. 

Check prices & availability here

South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island

5400 Plantation Rd, Captiva, FL 33924

A sweet escape! The South Seas Island Resort spans two miles of shell-sprinkled beach on the Gulf of Mexico. At the north end of the resort you’ll find the party: two pools, a marina, tennis courts, restaurants and a poolside bar. On the opposite end, another pool, Starbucks, a restaurant and bike rentals. In between the two bookends is a windy road speckled with all manner of Floridian critters and long stretches of perfect beaches.

Beachfront Hotels in Florida

I love how rustic and relaxing South Seas is, but there’s plenty to do if you’re feeling froggy. Check out parasailing, beach yoga and sunset cruising to start. Read more about our last visit to Captiva Island here. 

Check prices & availability here

 

FLORIDA KEYS HOTELS

I say it often, but it bears repeating: we are so lucky as Floridians to have The Florida Keys just around the corner! They’re easy to get to while still feeling like a whole other country at times. Yes, it’s still the US, but it feels so different. The air is saltier, enormous iguanas lounge along the highway and there are marinas, key lime pie and Hemingway references everywhere you look.

Planning a visit to the Florida Keys? I’m so excited for you!

Hawks Cay Resort

61 Hawks Cay Blvd, Duck Key, FL 33050

The Florida Keys are just about the closest you can get to the Caribbean without a passport. Halfway down the island chain is Duck Cay, the laid-back home to sprawling Hawks Cay Resort, one of the absolute best spots to stay in the Keys. 

Waterfront Hotels in Florida

After a recent $50 million renovation of the 60-acre property, the place is perfect for families of any size, with 250 multiple-bedroom villas and 177 regular guest rooms. Many villas have their own pools, and there’s a quiet adults-only pool, a kids club and a saltwater lagoon with free kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. You can book all your excursions, from sunset cruises to fishing charters, right onsite, so it’s basically a one-stop shop. Read all about our last family trip to the Florida Keys. 

Check prices & availability here

Cheeca Lodge & Spa

81801 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036

Cheeca Lodge is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Keys and certainly a top choice on Islamorada, where palm trees sway and the turquoise water is like nowhere else. Once the sun goes down, lights illuminate the water underneath the longest pier in the Keys and you can watch little fish frolic while heat lightning flashes on the horizon. 

Cheeca Lodge Islamorada - Hotels in Florida

In the saltwater lagoon, bioluminescent creatures blink under the surface and the waves gently lap the shore. There are 214 rooms to choose from, with ocean, lagoon or golf course views, and many rooms have private hot tubs on the terrace. It’s an altogether perfectly relaxing place to spend a night… or a week. 

Don’t miss the hot lava shell massage, one of my favorite massages I’ve ever had!

Check prices & availability here

The Laureate Key West

3444 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040

We absolutely loved the The Laureate Key West! Reimagined since Hurricane Irma, it’s now an all-suite property featuring crisp, clean, ocean-themed decor. We had three ample bedrooms, two balconies, three bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. It was beyond perfect for our group of six + one pup. 
 
The Laureate Key West - Cool Hotels in Florida
 
And you cannot beat the location! It’s a super easy drive or Uber over to Duval Street, but far away enough from the main crowds.
Tip: The Laureate is pet friendly, providing beds and water bowls for the four-legged family members.

The pool area was small but in a place like Key West, where you’re often out exploring and spending time on the water anyhow, it was perfect. And, there were tons of poolside amenities like games, towels and complimentary coconut water.

Check prices & availability here 

Parrot Key Hotel & Villas

2801 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040

Stark white picket fences, bright blue Adirondack chairs and peaceful balconies come standard at Parrot Key. Surrounded by the turquoise sea, secluded swimming pools and art installations, two and three bedroom villas make this centrally located property an ideal spot for a family or group.

While there’s not really a beach, there’s plenty of sandy lounging real estate, four saltwater swimming pools and easy access to the rest of the island where you might find a place to dip in the ocean/gulf. Parrot Key Resort is only about a 10 minute drive all major attractions.

Check prices & availability here 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of coolest, unique, epic, favorite hotels in Florida! Did your favorite make the list? If not, share below and I’ll check it out for a future update to this story!

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  • Avatar
    January 16, 2020

    Thank you for listing these great hotels in Florida! We’re planning a family trip there this year!

  • Avatar
    January 16, 2020

    I been to Cabana Bay, they really got beautiful rooms… though its time I visit Laureate Key West… its look interesting 🙂
    Jared James recently posted..Bonafide SS127 Review: Take Your Fishing To New Level in 2020My Profile

  • Avatar
    January 20, 2020

    It is true, Florida has many great hotels up and down the coasts. Your photos are fabulous. Thanks for the informational post.

  • Avatar
    January 22, 2020

    Hi there,
    Great list and many I’ve not tried! I live in Florida and I write about it extensively. Here is a couple for you to consider next time you are here. 1. Streamsong Resort. It’s a golf mecca but even if you don’t golf it’s a must. When you see it you’ll know what I mean – this place is like modern Scottland in Central Florida. 2. Westgate River Ranch Resort – one of my all-time favorites! Here you can attend a real rodeo, glamp in a teepee and so on – it’s not to be missed. Happy enjoying Florida! Nikki

  • Avatar
    January 27, 2020

    We’re still digging out from a major blizzard here so I’m dreaming of a Florida vacation. Cabana Bay looks so fun! That one would definitely make my short list.
    Melissa recently posted..Why Do People Stand Up As Soon As the Plane Lands?My Profile

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    January 31, 2020

    Don’t go to the beach, we’ll bring the beach to you said Walt Disney 🙂 Well maybe not but he was the top of innovation. Of course referring to the Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. One of my favorite places.
    Alex C recently posted..5 Best Places to Visit in Moncton for the Business TravelerMy Profile

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    February 22, 2020

    The poly is on my bucket list now that I had dinner there. It’s so cute!
    Alexa recently posted..Totally Tubular Time At Disneyland’s 80’s NiteMy Profile

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    March 15, 2020

    I’ve only been to like four of these … so I’d better get to work! What are you up to post-COVID-19 pandemic? Traveling your home state with me? =)
    Kristin recently posted..Paint It Female: We’re Celebrating the 19th Amendment with Walls for Women!My Profile

  • Avatar
    May 07, 2020

    Wow I have never seen a hotel with a waterslide and lazy rivers, Florida has some neat hotels to stay at. Thanks for sharing!
    Jemma recently posted..Sidney Spit Landscape Photography PlanningMy Profile

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