Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
With sandy Atlantic coasts and plenty of Florida sunshine to spare, Fort Lauderdale earned its reputation as the party mecca of America back in the 80s. Today, this scene is still alive and well, but is tempered by a rise in luxury condos and marina developments that attract a more sophisticated crowd. Numerous upscale shopping malls, top-notch dining establishments and robust nightlife spots consistently attract crowds of both local vacationers and international tourists. Of course, beautiful beaches, sparkling blue waters and a balmy tropical climate remain enticing, with water-based diversions — like paragliding, jet skiing, game fishing charters and scuba diving expeditions— always on offer. Naturally, the hotel industry maintains a strong presence catering to crowds of visitors who flock to Fort Lauderdale's sunny shores. Below, some of the premier properties to be found among the canals of the ‘Venice of America’.
Best Overall: The Atlantic Hotel & Spa
Located in the heart of the Fort Lauderdale beach zone, the imposing Atlantic Hotel & Spa sets the standard for luxury in this oceanside city. The hotel's spacious suites feature comfortable living spaces and a color palette of blue and cream which complements views of the sandy beaches and sea from large balcony windows. Rooms come fully equipped with functional kitchenettes and large marble bathrooms with beautiful showers and bathtubs. The stylish restaurant lounge delivers fresh seafood and hearty Italian fare in a softly-lit interior replete with cozy leather couches, as well as a scenic alfresco dining terrace overlooking the courtyard pool. The fifth-floor terrace features a marbled pool bar that serves refreshing cocktails and light snacks. The Spa Atlantis provides a full range of massage therapies, rejuvenating treatments and luxurious pampering services as well as saunas and steamy relaxation areas.
Best Budget: The Drift Hotel
The quiet, secluded Drift Hotel creates an oasis of calm and tranquillity in the heart of the entertainment and nightlife of Fort Lauderdale's strip. This boutique hotel gives off a homey air with plush beds, coffee machines, fridges, air conditioning and tasty complimentary snacks. Guests are kept exceedingly comfortable in bright rooms done up in minimalist décor. Venetian blind-covered windows face a charming courtyard filled with shady tropical foliage. Although there is no hotel pool, guests can relax on the sun lounges and beach towels provided free of charge, and Fort Lauderdale beach is just a short walk from the hotel. With rates starting well under $100 per night, this hotel provides marvelous value with style and comfort in a highly desirable location.
Best Boutique: The Pillars Hotel
Situated on the waters of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway, this tiny 18-room boutique combines classic colonial architecture with elements of 1930s Art Déco design. Open, minimalist rooms are comfortably furnished in a soft pastel color scheme with large windows opening onto furnished balconies. The hotel pool is set within a picturesque courtyard with an abundance of swaying palms and bright tropical flowers. The exclusive Secret Garden dining club offers fine dining; fresh local ingredients are used to create modern cuisine heavily influenced by Chef Hammi’s traditional Moroccan heritage. The elegant dining room offers an intimate atmosphere while the outdoor terrace provides diners with unparalleled views of yachts sailing by. With an extensive international wine selection and spectacular sunset views — you really can't ask for more.
Best for Families: Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club
Located on a 500-foot private beach, the Lago Mar Beach Resort provides a wealth of amenities and activities to cater to couples and families alike. A tropical ambiance permeates the entire resort, from the graceful lagoon-style pool — surrounded by lush tropical foliage — to the wooden furniture and 70s vintage floral quilt covers in the rooms. Beach volleyball, mini-golf and an oversized chess board are on hand to provide fun family activities, and kiddos can enjoy the playground while parents relax under shady palms on poolside lounges. A hotel concierge is available to arrange sightseeing tours, water sports such as kayaking, jet skiing and scuba diving, and visits to the nearby Butterfly World and Flamingo Gardens. At the Acquario restaurant, which delivers modern American bistro fare, kids eat for free. Post-dinner, follow up your meal with delicious ice cream sundaes at the Soda Shop or enjoy a drink in the sophisticated wine cellar lounge.
Best for Romance: Pelican Grand Beach Resort
Situated on a secluded stretch of the Fort Lauderdale strip — far from the hustle and bustle of the busy entertainment district — the Pelican Grand Beach Resort provides an ideal spot for a romantic weekend away. Elegant guest suites boast wrought-iron beds, love seat sofa lounges and minimalist driftwood décor. French doors open onto private balconies where couples can choose to dine thanks to 24/7 in-room dinner service. A boutique spa offers relaxing Swedish massages in a scenic rooftop setting. In the beachside courtyard, a stylish zero-entry pool overlooks the lounges and umbrellas of the private beach. There is also a gently flowing river circuit that winds guests on inflatable tubes past palms trees and grassy banks. Ocean2000 restaurant specializes in gourmet small-plate fare and features an intimate alfresco dining patio with unobstructed ocean views while the attached lounge and bar serves quality cocktails under gentle lamp lighting.
Best Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton
From the moment Ritz-Carlton guests arrive — and take in the sweeping lines of the nautically-inspired hotel building and the sumptuously marbled lobby — they're greeted by opulence. Tastefully restrained Art Deco décor continues in the large open suites where lavish marble and mother-of-pearl bathrooms feature modern amenities coupled with soft bathrobes and premium bath products. Impeccable poolside service awaits guests around the oval infinity pool which has soft deck lounges and secluded cabanas. The spacious fitness center houses the latest in cardiovascular, weight and resistance equipment with views across the intercoastal highway, and the luxurious spa center has marbled massage rooms, wooden Swedish saunas and sea salt detox treatments. The Prohibition-themed Burlock Coast provides a combined restaurant/bar experience where plates of swordfish steak, fresh oysters and filet mignon meet an impressive range of aged whiskeys, rich wines and exquisitely-mixed cocktails.
Best for Singles: W Fort Lauderdale
In a town known for its hard-partying atmosphere, the W Fort Lauderdale stands out as much for its lively poolside action and energetic nightlife as it does for its stylish design. The hotel's reputation has been cultivated thanks to an enviable location, open minimalist room design and excellent service that consistently places it in the top ranks of beachside hotels. The large main pool provides a social atmosphere, with glass sides and live DJ sets pumping up the energy levels. The more secluded intercoastal pool courtyard provides a relaxed place to soak in the infinity hot tub and enjoy refreshing cocktails available from the pool bar service. The glamorous lounge bar dazzles with shiny chrome and mirrors, a signature 20-foot bar and glimpses of swimmers through portholes facing the pool. Meanwhile, three restaurants also provide tasty Mexican fare, sizzling steaks and delectable sushi.
Best Business: The Sonesta
Less than 25 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the graceful curves of The Sonesta ensure that all guests enjoy expansive views of Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from their private furnished balconies. Inside, rooms are comfortably minimalist with a clean white color scheme lending a light, airy feel. Rooms come equipped with functional work desks, large flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffee makers and mini-fridge, while an in-room dining menu is also available to satisfy mid-work hunger pangs. The Sonesta has eight well-equipped meeting rooms, with the penthouse level offering floor-to-ceiling views. The outdoor terrace provides alfresco conference opportunities, while the lobby and pool bars provide a more informal location to conduct business. The lounges and cabanas surrounding the pool offer a relaxing environment to enjoy the warm Florida sun and a modern fitness center and soothing spa services are available to keep guests fit, active and refreshed.
Best Hostel: The Hotel Deauville
The Hotel Deauville combines the privacy and calm of a boutique hotel with the fun social atmosphere of a hostel. Its dormitories and private rooms are situated around a sunny central courtyard. Guests can hang out in the communal lounge, barbeque area or in-ground pool where volleyball games provide the opportunity to mingle with other like-minded budget travelers. Free Wi-Fi and well-equipped kitchens keep guests comfortable while minimizing expenditures, and the secure location and free valuables lockers offer peace of mind when out and about in Fort Lauderdale. Friendly and informative hostel staff can help arrange a multitude of activities in the area, and they are always on hand to recommend the best places to eat, drink and have fun.