Saturday, June 23, 2012

Casa Marina hotel

The Casa Marina hotel is the most historic, opulent, well appointed, grandest and prettiest hotel in Key West.  

If you want a hotel with a big private beach, and sea views are important to you, then Casa Marina can't be beaten.

However, on the flip side: it is a chain hotel (Waldorf Astoria, part of the Hilton group), as you would expect it's far from cheap, and most importantly it's miles away from anything else in Key West.

Starting with the good stuff in more detail.  It's the poshest and oldest hotel in Key West.  Just look at how good it look in my pics and video....

Dark wood floors in the sexy reception area at Casa Marina hotel in Key West

The entrance which is at the rear of the hotel is ugly! But the front side, the sea side.... just look at this next picture....
The walk way from the hotel to the private beach is beautiful.  It's like you're in Cannes in the south of France!
The single best thing about Casa Marina is its beach.  Counter-intuitively, there are few beaches in KW, and its incredibly rare to get a seaside hotel, even more rare to get a beach in the hotel.  Casa Marina's got them.  A long (for Key West) 200 metre, private, fenced off, beach; with ocean views to the horizon.

Yes, this is the private hotel beach of the Casa Marina from the very end, the White Street pier end.  It's not that quiet down the other end of the beach, nearer the hotel itself.
This is the half of the beach on one side of the hotel pier. The previous pic was taken on the far right hand side of this pic.
So, now you need to know the downsides.

I am assuming you already know that this place is expensive - with annoying daily 'service charges' as well (it's a Hilton at heart) and the beach bar is a rip off.  And I'm assume you know that the rooms are ok but small.  You can get much better value elsewhere.

The main downside is the location - it's a few miles away from Key West ground zero at Duval and Front Street.  It's a 30 minute brisk walk, which will cause you severe sweating in summer. In fact, there is really nothing AT ALL near this hotel - a restaurant or two (including xxx) - it really is in splendid isolation.

Realistically, to avoid walking, you'd need a taxi or to drive your car.  There is a large car park in the hotel so that is not an issue but one of the joys of Key West as a vacation destination is its compact nature and the fact that you can do everything by foot.  But not if you stay here.  You'd need some transport - a lot of taxis or a car.

So would I recommend it?

Yes.  For some people, but not me!  I would not stay here.

The beach is great.  I DO like to come here, as a visitor not hotel resident, for sunset and stand on the pier (drink in hand) watching the sun go down.

If the beach and the sea view is really important to you and you really want to relax in the sun rather than see a lot of Key West then this is worth considering.  It's a good hotel and definitely makes my shortlist of 2 (if I were ever to stay in a hotel in Key West, and not a guest house).

But this is a chain hotel with a chain hotel culture.  You could as well be in South Beach or south California or anywhere with a big Hilton!

If you really want to get a feel for Key West and want to see a lot of the town - this is not the place to stay.  

Also staying in a hotel does not seem right in Key West.  It's far more fun, and social, to stay in a guest house.  Or a small, non chain, hotel.

So if you don't stay here do what I do and come for a drink at sunset! Here's some more pictures of me doing that....

View from the beach bar at Casa Marina

View of the horizon at sun set from the pier of the Casa Marina hotel

Other Key West things you might like on my site....

Key West hotels - hints, tips and recommendations

Things to do in Key West - best of list, with lots of pictures and reviews