In a nutshell:
High-end island vibes mixing luxury amenities with laid-back tropical cool
Price point: $$$
At the head of Key West’s iconic Duval Street, Ocean Key Resort is a laid-back peachy-yellow four-storey hotel that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike some of the sterile, cookie-cutter hotels around, the place is bursting with character and unique design touches, and feels like a lived-in waterfront retreat.
While Duval Street can be wild, the waterfront-facing rooms allow for undisturbed sleep. The occasional passing tiki hut-shaped party boat serves as a reminder to jump out of bed and explore available water activities (more on that later).
With a stylish-but-compact pool area surrounded by cabanas, and lots of lively nightlife right on the doorstep, it’s a solid couples getaway at the southern tip of America.
Check-in was very quick, and our room was ready earlier than expected.
Key West is a beach resort and a lot of the action is out at sea, and the various activities that the hotel’s concierge could book were outlined.
Bed and bath:
From the closet daubed with toucans and pineapples, the carved wooden headboard that looked like an exotic palace, right down to the squish manatee plushy on the bed - this hotel is not the generic beige accommodation that some hotels offer up.
Our room, an Oceanfront Boutique Suite, had an unparalleled view out over the turquoise ocean of the Gulf of Mexico, with a private balcony that overlooked the Hot Tin Roof restaurant and pier below.
The room was airy and spacious, with a ceiling height of about 16-18ft in places.
The marble bathroom featured a whirlpool tub perched in front frosted glass French pocket doors that could be opened to catch a glimpse of the blue sky beyond the bedroom and balcony.
A well-stocked minibar was available. In regular times, it’d be refreshed daily, but during Covid that’s on request.
There are two TVs - one inside the closet at the end of the bed, and another facing the sofa and chair setup closer to the window.
Bathroom toiletries are hotel-branded Noble House products with an intense coconut mango scent - not my usual vibe but fits with the resort theme.
Food and drink:
The hotel’s restaurant is the Hot Tin Roof, and the dark wood accents didn’t quite match the bright island beach vibe of the rest of the hotel despite the tropical-themed wallpaper. However in contrast with the surrounding “no shirt, no shoes … no problem” environment of Duval street, the restaurant felt more upscale.
While there are some decadent large items on the menu - think 16oz lobster tail, yellowtail snapper and ribeye steak - it tends to lend itself to ordering a series of shareable small plates.
Our favorites included sweet and sour crispy Brussel sprouts, lobster mac and cheese, and the local specialty: key lime pie.
At the rear of the hotel is Sunset Pier, serving a full drinks and bar menu.
Room service breakfast can be ordered the night before with a menu card hung on the door handle stating a time window, and the food always arrived promptly. However, even when we forgot to hang our menu card one night and had to call in our order the next morning, service was super timely.
Pools, spas and public areas:
The pool itself looked pretty small for the size of the hotel, but it never felt overcrowded - or even crowded - and one server was enough to keep the table service drinks flowing everyone, along with serving up some assemble-it-yourself tacos.
The spa - called SpaTerre - offers a range of treatments. Examples include a wildflower-scented facial with scalp treatment which runs to $110 for 50 minutes, and an $85 60-minute pedicure which comes with a key lime-lemon margarita.
The fitness area has bikes, ellipticals, treadmills and cable crossover machines, plus a good selection of dumbbells and a patio stretching area.
Nuts and bolts
Room count: 100 deluxe guest rooms and suites
WiFi: High-speed internet access
Extra charges: Valet Parking is $35/overnight + tax. The parking garage can only accommodate an SUV size vehicle or smaller - noting, heavy duty trucks and trailers are not permitted due to limited space.
Disability access: Please see all accessibility offerings, HERE. Guests can also request further special accommodation needs by calling the hotel at (305) 809-8072.
Best thing: The overall unique vibe. It’s becoming more rare to stay in a place with a unique identity, and Ocean Key Resort has plenty of personality.
Worst thing: The pool is great and while we stayed on a weekday in the middle of Covid and found the small pool area to be perfectly adequate, there are some reports online of crowding at peak times.
Perfect for: Couple who want to be right at the center of the Key West action.
Not right for: Families with young children, or couples who want a more tranquil location away from the crowds.
Instagram from: Your balcony. The view is incredible.
Room rate: From $1,300
Visit OceanKey.com to book