The westernmost island in the Florida Keys, Key West is one of Florida’s most popular travel destinations. And with its acclaim among visitors, choosing where to stay in Key West can be challenging.
For travellers, the best hotels in Key West sit within its city centre. Although compact, central Key West comprises a range of areas, each with its own vibe. Low-key neighbourhoods like the Key West Historic District and Bahama Village are ideal to dig into the island’s history. Other districts like Duval Street and the Historic Seaport buzz day and night. Wherever you choose, you’ll never be far from Key West’s most charming moments.
Ready to launch your Key West accommodation search? Find the perfect hotel with this complete guide to the best places to stay in Key West.
Best places to stay in Key West
Unlike in Florida’s bigger cities, nailing down where to stay in Key West isn’t about location; it’s about availability. Although there’s a wide inventory of accommodations in Key West, the island’s mega popularity means you’ll need to book well ahead. This holds especially true during the winter tourism high season.
At just 7.2 square miles, Key West is compact. No matter where you spend the night, you’ll be within walking distance of most of the top tourist attractions in Key West.
Even so, the island is home to an array of unique neighbourhoods. Each district shows off a different facet of the USA’s Southernmost city. Within blocks, you can move from a chilled-out Caribbean island vibe to a wild tequila-swigging party town.
The best areas to stay in Key West are:
Key West Historic District / Old Town
✔ Best area to stay in Key West for first-time visitors
First time on Florida Keys’ favourite island? Set your sights on the Key West Historic District. Also referred to as Old Town, this U.S. Historic District encompasses Key West’s main historical sites. And with over 187 of them hidden throughout the area, there’s plenty to explore!
The Historic District blankets nearly the entire western third of the island. Although often labelled as a single entity in guidebooks, the preservation district is a collection of distinct areas. Many of the top neighbourhoods to stay in Key West fall within the boundaries of Old Town.
Wherever you stay within Old Town, you’re never far from all the action. Walking north to south, coast to coast as it were, only takes about a half-hour. Along the way, you’ll hit up several of Key West’s main attractions.
In the district’s southern fringes, check out the Southernmost Point of the Continental US. Practice patience as you line up for your obligatory selfie with the colourful buoy.
Beach lovers won’t be disappointed either. On the western edge of the Historic District lies Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. It’s a wonderful detour for both history buffs and beach bums. Check out its pre-Civil War fortress before taking to its waters. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park dazzles with one of the best beaches in Key West.
There’s a wide selection of accommodations in the Key West Historic District. From budget to luxury, all travel styles are covered. With Key West’s massive popularity, expect lodging prices to be higher than in most cities in the United States.
Recommended hotels in the Historic District
Located on the area’s eastern edge, this classy guesthouse offers some of the district’s best value. Rooms are spacious and bright. Cool down from the hot Florida sun in the outdoor pool. Or spend time chilling in the garden and on the lovely terrace. Hotel guests will also enjoy a continental breakfast.
One of the district’s most popular hotels, Old Town Manor delivers a fantastic accommodation experience. The rooms in this boutique hotel are colourful and well-appointed. Upgrade to the hotel’s higher-end suites to enjoy a private balcony or patio.
For a romantic getaway, few properties fit the bill better than The Marquesa Hotel. Dating back to 1884, this historic hotel is the perfect choice for couples. Besides its relaxing rooms, you’ll enjoy facilities like two outdoor pools, a terrace, and a restaurant & bar.
Relax in style in the centre of Old Town with a night at the Almond Tree Inn. At this lovely boutique hotel, you’ll revel in its chill-out agenda. Between dips in the outdoor pool or hot tub, stroll through its lush gardens. Or pull up a lounger to work on your tan on the sun deck. The hotel also offers a complimentary happy hour and daily continental breakfast.
✔ Best place to stay in Key West for food & nightlife
Surging through the heart of Old Town, Duval Street is Key West’s main downtown drag. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, Duval Street runs the entire length of the island, north to south.
Duval Street hosts a string of historical buildings, hiding boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. The latter two, of course, represent the street’s main allure.
At night, Duval Street buzzes with energy as its historical bars & pubs fill. If you’re looking to experience Key West’s energy, Duval Street is the place to do it.
For the classic Key West nightlife experience, pop into Sloppy Joe’s Bar. Opened in 1933, Sloppy Joe’s is the quintessential Florida Keys restaurant bar for American pub grub & drinks.
Although there are plenty of hotels here, expect to pay a premium price to stay in or around Duval Street.
Recommended hotels on Duval Street
Travelling as a couple? You’ll love spending your Florida Keys vacation at Duval Gardens. This adult-only bed and breakfast charms guests with its Caribbean island vibe. Enjoy a dip in the small heated pool after a day of exploring the area’s art galleries.
Looking for a low-key stay along Key West’s main avenue? Snag a room at Duval House. For its central location, this 3-star hotel is surprisingly quiet and laid-back. Savour relaxation on the superb sun terrace and in the outdoor pool. Reservations include a daily continental breakfast.
One of the top properties along the strip, Orchid Key Inn features colourful rooms and modern amenities. Take advantage of the wonderful outdoor space, including a heated swimming pool, for the full experience. The boutique-style inn offers a complimentary breakfast. You’ll also relish in a daily happy hour with wine and snacks.
✔ Best neighbourhood to stay in Key West for sunsets & seaside pleasures
Idolize ocean breezes and beautiful sunsets? Lay your head down near the Historic Seaport. The seaside area sits on its northern shores along the Gulf of Mexico.
Radiating from the marina, the Historic Seaport is home to a barrage of restaurants and shops. By day and night, it’s a wonderful area to stroll around.
Even if you’re only spending a day in Key West, carve out time to check out Mallory Square. Located on the western edge of the seaport, Mallory Square is one of the city’s most famous gathering spots.
Every evening, the square explodes with street performers. They dazzle & entertain onlookers who gather nightly for the square’s famous sunset celebrations.
For a more comfortable sunset-viewing experience, head to one of the patios around the port. El Meson De Pepe’s Restaurant & Bar or Bistro 245 are excellent restaurants to enjoy good food & drinks to dramatic Gulf of Mexico views. Top off the evening with a key lime dessert from nearby Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.
With its prime location, you won’t find many cheap hotels surrounding the Key West Historic Seaport. The average price per night lands between mid-range and luxury.
Recommended hotels around Historic Seaport
Give your romantic getaway wings at Knowles House B&B. This adult-only Key West hotel occupies a winsome 1800s conch house. The house features bright & airy rooms with soothing pastel tones. Cool down with a swim in the shade of palm trees at the year-round outdoor pool.
Located in the heart of the Key West Historic Seaport, Seaport Inn is one of the city’s top mid-range picks. Splurge on a suite to unwind on a private balcony with pool & garden views. The Key West Aquarium and Mallory Square are a quick walk from the property.
Overlooking the water, Ocean Key Resort & Spa is one of the top Key West resorts. At this 4-star hotel, you’ll revel in luxurious spa treatments like massages and facials. Upgrade to a larger suite to enjoy a private balcony with views over the gulf and Sunset Key. Mallory Square and Sunset Pier are a stone’s throw away from the resort.
✔ Recommended area to stay in Key West for Caribbean charms
Key West comes by its moniker “Gateway to the Caribbean” honestly. Need proof? Spend your Florida Keys vacation hanging out in the Bahama Village.
Wedged between Fort Zachary Taylor and downtown, Bahama Village is one of the city’s most interesting quarters. The neighbourhood is so charming it even attracted attention from America’s most well-known author.
Literary legend Ernest Hemingway spent some of his most productive years in the Bahama Village. Literature fans can pay their respects to “Papa” at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Wandering around the house’s garden, you may even spot one of the six-toed cats, descending from Hemingway’s own felines.
To taste Bahama Village’s Caribbean-inspired flavours fuel up for a day with a breakfast at Blue Heaven. The famous restaurant serves unique American-Caribbean fusion, including tropical pancakes.
For history buffs, there’s more to Bahama Village than admiring its historical residences. Exercise your quads with an 88-step climb to the top of the Key West Lighthouse. From the top of the 65-foot lighthouse, you’ll marvel at dramatic views of the city and the sea.
There’s a mix of accommodation options around Bahama Village. Most properties resemble small guesthouses and inns rather than flashy hotels or resorts.
Recommended hotels in Bahama Village
No guesthouse captures the vibe of Bahama Village better than Caribbean House. With their lively colours, its rooms will energize you for a day of sightseeing. Unlike many other Key West hotels, this boutique guesthouse doesn’t charge resort fees.
Squeeze the most out of your stay in the Bahama Village at Coco Plum Inn. The hotel’s cheerful rooms are both comfortable and spacious. Bask in its excellent amenities, including a heated swimming pool and a made-to-order breakfast.
Get the Key West beach resort experience in the heart of the city at Kimpton Lighthouse Hotel. The rooms & suites at this luxury boutique hotel are impeccably designed. They show off an unmistakable contemporary Caribbean vibe. End the day sipping on refreshing tropical cocktails at the on-site pool bar.
✔ Recommended district to stay in Key West for beach lovers
Need more seaside pleasures? Spend your nights in the Casa Marina neighbourhood. Located at the southern edge of the city centre, Casa Marina is the perfect place to stay to enjoy the island’s Atlantic Ocean coastline.
Most famously, Casa Marina is home to the Southernmost Point in the United States. Sprouting around the buoy, you’ll find a flood of restaurants, cafes, bars, and boutique hotels.
To marvel at the island’s finest sunrises, head east of Casa Marina to Higgs Beach. Beside its Atlantic Ocean seafront, Higgs Beach is also home to the 1860s-era African Refugee Cemetery. The memorial is the only burial ground of its kind in the United States.
Like other areas in the centre, the most popular hotels around Casa Marina lean towards mid-range & luxury travellers. Budget travellers will need to look elsewhere. (And hope for a little luck.)
Recommended hotels in Casa Marina
While hardly a budget hotel, the Avalon B&B offers some of the best value around Casa Marina. Its rooms are spacious and charming, featuring canopy net beds and modern furnishings. The 3-star hotel is steps from the Atlantic seashore and the Southernmost Point in the US.
A garden-like yard greets you as you hobble up to the charming Southernmost Point Guest House. Unlike many of the best hotels in Key West, the inn offers family-friendly lodgings. It’s a great choice for families visiting Key West. Upgrade to a balcony room for beautiful views towards the water.
For ocean-loving couples, nothing beats the adults-only H20 Suites. This popular Key West hotel delivers luxurious spacious suites, mere blocks from the ocean. To cool down, revel in the outdoor rooftop pool. Or, if you can fit it in your travel budget, splurge on a superior suite to enjoy your own private pool.
Other areas to stay in Key West
- New Town: Got an early morning arrival or late-night departure? Consider spending the night in New Town. The New Town area sits to the east of the Gallery District, north of Key West International Airport.
- Smathers Beach: If you’re looking for quieter seaside charms, check out Smathers Beach. At about a half-mile long, Smathers Beach is the city’s largest public beach. The seafront area is particularly lively during Florida’s famous spring break weeks.