Before the city’s warehouse district became the cooler, fresher, less posh version of Miami’s Wynwood, Fort Lauderdale was already highly regarded for its 23 miles of beaches and historical sights. Now, with the added bonus of great things to do like art walks, breweries and restaurants that might bring you into this Broward County city, you’re going to need a place to sleep when you visit. Luckily, there’s a great variety to choose from, in both number and style.
From immaculate waterfront views and historical properties to burlesque mermaid shows and the freshest seafood you could ask for, Fort Lauderdale has a winning mix of hotels, inns and boutique spaces that should provide something for everyone, whatever your needs and budget. Here are our top picks from the range on offer.
The 10 Best Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Bright white rocking chairs line up along the Victorian-style veranda overlooking the ocean at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort. This waterfront property wins guests over with its Old Florida charm, private beach and pool and – everyone’s favorite – the only lazy river in Fort Lauderdale. The tubing ride wraps around the outdoor area, with gentle currents pushing riders through the water, and drinks brought to them as they float along. The resort sits right along the Atlantic Ocean and out of the 156 rooms, 106 are oceanfront suites with balconies. For a sweet treat, visit The Emporium, an ice cream parlor located in the lobby.
Between the private beach and the mermaids, B Ocean Resort is definitely one of the more unusual places to stay in the city. This upscale, newly renovated resort is hard to miss from the street – given that the building itself is shaped like a ship. Originally opened as the Yankee Clipper resort in 1956, the iconic hotel that Marilyn Monroe once stayed at has been renovated and cleaned up to create a bright white, minimalist, upmarket space, but more unique than the resort’s decor and shape is its entertainment. Inside the Wreck Bar, a restaurant that sits within the lobby, visitors can watch a lunchtime mermaid show as they eat fresh seafood; after hours things gets a bit raunchier, with the 21-and-over crowd being treated to an underwater burlesque show.
Saluting Old Florida, the Riverside Hotel was built in 1936 and remains the only hotel on Las Olas Boulevard, the go-to downtown destination for nightclubs, trendy restaurants and boutique clothing. So, no worrying about driving or worse, parking, and combined with prices that can be as low as $139, a stay in one of this vintage gem’s 200+ simple, comfortable rooms seems a no-brainer. There are a number of multiple highly-regarded eateries in-house too, including Boathouse and Indigo, and if you arrive before your check-in or have time to kill after you check-out, request a pool pass and chill out by the heated outdoor pool while you wait.
Pouring $55m into building renovations never looked so good – at the W you can take in a beachfront view from your stunning suite decorated to resemble an abstract trip along a sailboat. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies with views of the Atlantic and Intracoastal Waterway might be enough to make you want to stay in, but do venture out to the luxury hotel’s Living Room lounge, Bliss Spa, or pool. And bring Fido; W Fort Lauderdale is dog-friendly (up to 45 pounds), and offers furry guests a specially curated Bark Box with goodies, as well as a pet menu.
With Amber Rose, Stormtrooper and Super Mario stickers in the lobby, chalkboards and fun murals in the guest rooms and cornhole, air hockey and foosball, Plunge Beach Hotel knows its audience – millennials. Need more proof? The on-site gastropub and coffee shop. The trendy beachside hotel appeals to ‘adventurers who crave an escape from soulless hotels and scheduled experiences’ to ‘bring their besties’, and implores its guests to lay in a hammock, borrow a hotel bicycle and devour the homemade chips and salsa that come with orders from its beach bar, Backflip. Oh, and there’s live reggae music every weekend.
This small, Art Deco-style hotel opened in 2000 and has been winning guests over ever since as a wedding venue – maybe for guests who popped the question at the hotel’s romantic and intimate Secret Garden restaurant — it’s only open to hotel guests or members, guaranteeing an added layer of privacy. Crisp white linens and serene decor evoke the feel of a comfortable beach house, and additional highlights include the complimentary welcome drink upon arrival, the Intracoastal Waterway views and the water taxi.
Tucked away within one of the city’s oldest and sweetest residential neighborhoods, Victoria Park Hotel is a modest boutique hotel experience. The quaint, budget-friendly space is walking distance from the Galleria Mall as well as the beach, but it’s the bright marine-styled suites, all pretty blues and whites (as well as more sober but affordable standard rooms) and homey touches like frozen grapes by the pool, complimentary coffee and board-game cupboard, that will end up gaining your affection.
Between its ritzy outdoor landscaping, ocean views and a Nespresso machine in every room, the Elita is a gorgeous, modern property located on Fort Lauderdale beach. The hotel opened in 2016 and was designed by Blanche Garcia – an interior designer known for her work on the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. The result is a small, intimate hotel with sleek, pretty interiors that draw on the style of mid-century modern in a muted, 21st-century way. It makes for a great alternative to some of the larger hotel chains within the area.
Complete with a dreamy view of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Manhattan Tower Apartment Hotel lives up to the ‘apartment’ part of its name, as it’s exclusively equipped with apartment spaces featuring full kitchens and large living rooms, making it the perfect place for an affordable extended stay. The aesthetic in these spaces is mid-century modern, and views from their floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies are perfect for boat-watching – if the bobbing vessels make you want to get out on the waves yourself, the hotel offers a water-taxi service.
The Ocean Manor was one of the city’s first luxury high-rise hotels built along Fort Lauderdale Beach, and, at the grand old age of 60-something may be a little dated, but large rooms are filled with light and sea views, and the hotel can boast something no others on Fort Lauderdale beach has – a full-service tiki bar (set on a private beach, natch). Yes, there’s a hearty, marinara-rich Italian restaurant on the property too, but really, the Bamboo Beach Club and Tiki Bar has to be the place to hang. Book directly through the hotel and you get a complimentary drink too.