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Travelers in the mood for pure vacation bliss and a taste of old Florida will adore St. Pete Beach, a laid-back town strung along the western coast, just outside of St. Petersburg. Prepare to be instantly charmed by the area’s sugary-white sand, aqua-blue waters, unassuming galleries and shops, local seafood joints, and retro-style surf shacks lined up for miles along the main drag. In a state that boasts more than its fair share of beach getaway spots, sunkissed St. Pete stands out for its quaintness and its decidedly mellow vibes. Here’s where to stay during your travels.
Best Overall: The Don CeSar
The bright pink Don Cesar Hotel is the creme de la creme of St. Pete Beach lodging, no question about it. This landmark historic hotel, which pretty much dominates the sand dunes, has over 270 rooms, four restaurants, four retail shops, and two bars, plus all the luxury amenities you could possibly imagine.
At the legendary Don CeSar, guests can enjoy pampering at the Spa Oceana that overlooks the glittering Gulf, sip cocktails on the tranquil rooftop garden, or take a dip in the ocean, which is just a few steps away. Families can also opt to send their children to Camp CeSar, a day camp for kids ages 4 to 12 years old with fun activities like beach crafts, sand castle contests, and pool games. Accommodations here are as luxurious as you would expect — every room and suite is tastefully decorated in soothing earth tones and comes equipped with Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, embroidered cotton robes, and plush linens. In addition to all those thoughtful amenities, guests should know to expect a superior level of service.
Best Budget: Postcard Inn on the Beach
The Postcard Inn is a welcome dose of style and charm, at half the price of other St. Pete Beach hotels of its caliber. Situated directly on the beach, the funky hotel features 196 uniquely designed guest rooms done up in bright jewel tones, intricate wood accents, and surfer-chic art. In-room amenities include cable TV, Wi-Fi access, hairdryers, safes, phones with voicemail, coffee makers, irons, and mini-fridges. The sunny courtyard is always packed with people taking advantage of the bocce ball and tennis courts, movies on the sun deck, shady hammock groves, and communal fire pit. Guests can also opt to relax by the palm-tree-edged pool or indulge in a delicious Caribbean-style meal at the on-site restaurant, the Boathouse Kitchen & Bar, where dishes include classic beach delicacies like pan-seared diver scallops and conch fritters, as well as inventive fare like ahi tuna corn dogs. Wash it all down with one of the hotel’s signature smoke-infused drinks while you watch the sun sink below the pinkish-orange ocean horizon.
Best Boutique: Inn on the Beach
Located in peaceful Pass-a-Grille, the popular Inn on the Beach is the perfect choice for those seeking an intimate oceanside experience. The inn has 12 bright, spacious rooms, all of which are lovingly outfitted with crisp white linens, cheerful pops of color, and elegant amenities, including daily coffee service from a local roaster, beach towels and chairs, sleek cotton linens, expanded cable TV, beach cruiser bikes, a mini-cooler, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, and luxury bath products. A deluxe complimentary breakfast is served in the sunlit courtyard every Saturday and Sunday, and select rooms come with a private balcony and kitchenette.
Each room boasts a stand-out feature of some sort: The Gulfstream has a wraparound balcony with stunning views of the Gulf, the Sea Loft is essentially an open-plan apartment with cathedral ceilings, and the Clementine is aglow with natural light, thanks to the room’s west- and south-facing windows. The Inn at the Beach has amassed several awards over the years, from Yahoo Travel, CNN Travel, TripAdvisor and others, due to the property’s rustic beauty and singular charm.
Best for Families: Plaza Beach Hotel Beachfront Resort
Families adore the Plaza Beach Hotel Beachfront Resort for its spacious rooms, lengthy list of amenities, and proximity to fun activities like boogie boarding, parasailing, paddleboarding, aqua biking, and kayaking. In fact, the Plaza Beach was recently named the best hotel in St. Pete Beach in honor of the city’s 60th anniversary.
The quaint, 39-suite property, nestled right on a private beach, has tons of family-friendly amenities: a sizeable heated outdoor pool overlooking the ocean, a state-of-the-art fitness center, an arcade room, shuffleboard, mini-golf, corn-hole toss, and even human-sized chess. The Plaza Beach’s accommodations are all roomy suites with full kitchens, so families with multiple kiddos will undoubtedly relish having the extra space. Everything — all the best grocery stores, restaurants, and shops in St. Pete — is within walking distance of the hotel, which means that traveling families don’t have to go far to eat a meal, do some souvenir shopping, or pick up snacks for a day at the beach.
Best for Romance: Island’s End Resort
Couples craving oceanside privacy should look no further than Island’s End Resort. The collection of cozy cottages is tucked away in Pass-a-Grille, on the south end of the beach, and the grounds, with their towering oak trees and teak deck chairs, are beyond inviting. Plus, the property is just a short walk away from the beach.
During your stay at Island’s End, you and your loved one can go for leisurely morning swims, lounge on the private beach, go ocean kayaking, and walk along the weathered fishing pier at sunset. The resort offers a variety of one-bedroom cottages for rent, which come equipped with all the amenities you could ever need: microwave, fridge, in-room safe, TV, phone, hairdryer, coffee maker, and a full kitchen. Grills are also available if you want to throw your own beach barbecue for two, and the resort is located near major local attractions like the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum and Pass-a-Grille Beach.
Best for Luxury: The Hotel Zamora
Well-run and ultra-stylish, the Hotel Zamora is your best bet if you prefer upscale service and decor over everything else. Situated on idyllic Gulf Boulevard, this 50-room luxury boutique hotel is a chic, Mediterranean-style palace with white-washed walls and stunning Romanesque features. Sprawling suites overlook the Gulf and the Intracoastal Waterway, and amenities include a 360-degree rooftop (don’t miss the rooftop yoga classes), a 24-hour exercise room, high-tech meeting rooms, a five-slip marina, and a giant swimming pool, complete with plush chairs, loungers, poolside cabanas and beautiful views of the shimmering ocean.
Beach-bound guests can take advantage of the hotel’s extra-special perks which include sun lounger, umbrella, and daybed-for-two rentals, and truly tasty Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine can be found at the on-site restaurant, Castile. Rooms are appropriately elegant and feature walk-in spa showers, soaking tubs, comfortable workspaces, and spacious balconies, plus all the basic amenities.
Best for Nightlife: Avalon Hotel
For those in the mood to mingle and get a taste of local nightlife, the Avalon Hotel is downtown St. Pete’s hippest place to lay your head. Travelers come from near and far to stay at the buzzed-about Avalon. The Art Deco-inspired hotel, with its sleek use of neon colors and retro interiors, is a true fixture on the nighttime scene.
Guests of the Avalon also have access to neighboring sister property The Hollander, which has an outdoor pool and cabanas, a restaurant with over 20 craft brews on tap, a coffee shop, free rides around the downtown area, and live entertainment on the weekends. Rooms at the Avalon have either king- or queen-sized beds, private bathrooms, and all the expected amenities, though apartment-style suites are also available if you need more space. Though it's a hub of activity itself, the Avalon is also just a short walk away from all the restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area. And, if you party too hard, don’t worry — complimentary coffee and biscotti cookies await you in the morning.
Best for Business: Hampton Inn and Suites St. Petersburg Downtown
Ideal for business travelers, the Hampton Inn and Suites St. Petersburg Downtown is located in the heart of downtown St. Pete, amidst all the best shops, galleries, and restaurants, though hotel guests are also just minutes away from the beach. Guests staying at the Hampton Inn and Suites on business have access to a full-scale business center and meeting rooms, providing the perfect space for your work function or event.
Bright, airy rooms offer all the home-away-from-home conveniences you need while traveling for work, including fast Wi-Fi, 25-inch flat-screen TVs, coffee makers, large desks, plush towels and bedding, irons, microwaves, and mini-fridges; king-size rooms are more spacious, for those that want to have extra space to kick back and relax after the day’s done. The Hampton Inn and Suites St. Petersburg Downtown also offers daily free breakfast, coffee, and tea, which provides the perfect morning fuel so that you can get a jumpstart on the workday.
Best B&B: Watergarden Inn at the Bay
The Watergarden Inn at the Bay is one of the most beloved bed-and-breakfasts in the area, for good reason — this quaint, 14-room B&B offers truly lovely accommodations and provides guests with an intimate refuge away from the hustle and bustle of central St. Pete. Rooms range from cozy queens to palatial two-bedroom suites, and all have private baths, in-room Keurig coffee makers, flat-screen TVs, and other basic amenities. Apart from those similarities, each room at the Watergarden boasts its own unique touches: the Sailboat Suite has a giant carved king bed and double whirlpool tub with shower, the secluded Lighthouse Suite offers a separate sitting area with a wet bar and the Sunrise Room features a huge draped soaking tub and soothing views of the pool and garden area. A yummy buffet breakfast is served each morning, and on-site parking is free for guests.