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The 10 best hotels in Florida

The top hotels in Florida range from bang-for-your-buck practicality to sprawling beachfront luxury

Contributor: Lola Christina Alao
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Regardless of what the tourists tell you, Florida is about more than just its beaches and swamps. A sprawling state divided into starkly different metros – from party-all-night Miami and Mickey Mouse-clad Orlando, to its quiet Gulf side and rural Jacksonville – Florida is a mecca of art, food, diversity, sports, views, history and yes, beaches. And just like its sundry neighborhoods, so, too, is the Sunshine State packed with hotels that reflect everything it has to offer. Here are our favorite hotels in east coast America’s most southern peninsula.

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Best Hotels in Florida

1. The Setai, Miami Beach

Luxury knows no bounds at The Setai, Miami Beach, which feels more like a haute Asian country club than a Collins Avenue hotel. There’s a $30,000/night penthouse with a rooftop pool and grand piano, a four-star Indian-fusion restaurant, a spa, 500-rose bouquets changed out nightly, a pearl-topped bar, a Zen pond with a Buddha statue, and three infinity pools set at 75, 85 and 95 degrees. The touches of Asia are real, too: lobby shops are arranged like a Shanghai mall, entrance tiles are taken from dilapidated Asian temples and every room looks like a shrine to Indonesia.

2. Casa Monica Resort & Spa

This 1888 property was originally owned by railroad mogul Henry Flagler, who’s responsible for developing most of Florida, though what he left behind feels a lot less like the Sunshine state and a lot more like southern Spain – here are Moorish columns, arches and chandeliers (all hand-stenciled or handcrafted), there ornate iron tables, wrought iron balconies, turrets, gold throne chairs, and even fountains of blue Spanish tiles. The European trend continues in the rooms, which feature heavy furnishings, quilted velvet headboards and shimmery curtains which, when pulled back, look out on the oldest European settlement still in operation in the US, St Augustine itself. 

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3. Faena Miami Beach

We’re calling it: the Faena Miami Beach is Florida’s #1 for interior design, a surreal, Oz-like world of teals, reds, animal prints, floor-to-ceiling ocean views, and lobby murals and gold pillars so tall that the entrance is called ‘the Cathedral.’ Sure, rooms are special, with eye-popping Catherine Martin carpets, Ann Sacks tiles and sleek tables modeled on those in Alan Faena’s own house(s), but there’s so much more; the beachfront $6m Damien Hirst statue of a gold wooly mammoth, the 1950s Parisian cabaret theater, the Museum of Ice Cream, award-winning restaurants by Francis Mallmann and Paul Qui, the Tierra Healing Spa… Oh my, as Dorothy might say.

4. Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village

This huge resort might just be one of the most family friendly places to stay in within Florida. It's one of many deluxe hotels at Walt Disney World, but it’s certainly the most unique. Staying here is kind of like being at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You’re surrounded by all sorts of wild African animals, including giraffes, zebras and the like. The resort is inspired by the traditional “kraal,” a horseshoe-curved design with stunning views of four savannas where you can spot over 200 animals and birds. Sounds like paradise, right? The animal theme continues on into the rooms, with African inspired decor and earthy brown tones. They fit between two and eight guests, so they’re perfect for families of just about any size.

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5. Anna Maria Beach Resort

A hotel where you can pretty much wake up and walk straight into perfect white sands and crashing waves is our idea of heaven. But the hotel has so much more to offer than its location too. Their brand new cabanas right by the pool (which is the largest pool on the island) are the definition of luxury with five towels, a couch, a mini-fridge, a safe, a fan, and a flat-screen TV. The hot tub is also a great relaxation spot. Rooms are perfect for anything from a romantic holiday to a family break, with each room offering a mix of beautiful beach and resort views, and featuring a private patio or balcony.

6. The Miami Beach EDITION

You don’t just stay at The Miami Beach EDITION, you eat and play there, too. This mid-Beach condo-hotel is another Miami Beach Ian Schrager masterpiece, this time with two Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants, 70,000 square feet of beach, two swimming pools, and an underground nightclub called Basement, with an electric bowling alley and ice-skating rink. Citrus and herbal scents are pumped throughout the property, which is decked in white marble, natural woods and green palms, juxtaposing see-and-be-seen Miami with the respite you actually want your vacation to be.

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7. The Goodtime Hotel

This newly built hotel by musician Pharrell Williams and entrepreneur David Grutman is the entertainment hotspot. With regular poolside DJ events, karaoke and comedy nights, yoga classes and happy hours, you’ll forget what it’s like to feel boredom. The space channels a reimagined art deco aesthetic; expect pastel colours, wicker furniture and playful leopard-print fabrics. And the rooms offer space-saving storage and essential black out shades, as well as pretty bay views. Look out for offers on their website, so you can save some of your hard earned cash and spend more money on fun holiday related stuff.

8. Moxy Miami South Beach

Now staying in South Beach may not be cheap, but here us out, you’d be right in the heart of all the action staying here so you’ll soon see the benefits. Not only is Moxy Miami just a four minute walk from the beach, you’re also close to Miami’s hottest nightlife. Also based in the historic Art Deco District, Moxy Miami is just a few minutes walk from the Art Deco Welcome Center, the meeting point for the walking tour of the Art Deco Cultural District (a tour not to be missed). And there’s plenty you can do without even leaving the hotel too; with Bar Moxy, which greets guests with a cocktail as you arrive; and Serena’s, an open-air Mexican style restaurant overlooking South Beach.

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9. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Ever thought of having your own island? Stay at Little Palm Island and see what it’s like. Barely two hours south of Miami, this property is a whole private island. It’s only accessible by boat or seaplane, and has 30 romantic suites (all thatched-roof bungalows named for each guest), a pool, a spa and a torchlit restaurant in the sand. For total seclusion, there’s little-to-no wi-fi and no phone service, telephones, TVs or clocks; but there are lots of friendly Key deer, fire pits, hammocks, island views and massage tables right in the ocean. Another thing there’s none of? Children.

10. The Saint Hotel

Describing itself as a boutique haven, The Saint Hotel is a breath of fresh air. Modern yet retro, the rooms are decked out with plush beauty rest mattresses with linen fabrics and contemporary decor. St Pete Beach is known for its artsiness, and this hotel definitely reflects that. You’ll find nature inspired touches dotted around making you feel like you could be in Bali rather than Florida. As for the food, their restaurant 82 Degrees is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner where you can enjoy craft cocktail-sipping, fine wine tasting, local beer distilling, alfresco dining options and more. Plus, you’re nearby to some fun attractions like The Dali Museum for all your cultural needs.

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