Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pier House Resort Key West

Pier House hotel and private beach
The Pier House Resort hotel is currently the best luxury hotel in Key West with its fantastic rooms, top ocean views and private beach as the real clinchers putting it slightly above the other contenders. It's a luxury, expensive, four star hotel (there are no 5 star hotels in Key West) located just off Duval Street. If you can afford their very expensive magnificent ocean view rooms I highly recommend the Pier House. Beware the city facing and garden facing rooms with car lot or dark garden views - these really are not as good and I would not stay in one.

Here's a bit more detail on why Pier House is the best:
  • Ocean View Rooms. This hotel has the very best ocean view rooms on Key West: the Dockside Suites. It also has the largest number of most direct view (i.e. totally non-obscured) ocean view rooms of any hotel. You will pay the price, but take a look at the picture below and tell me this room doesn't look brilliant. In December 2014, this room is $530 per night, excl taxes and resort charges etc.
The Dockside Suites at the Pier House Resort in Key West - floating on the water with nothing between you and the ocean
  • Its private beach. 5 of the big 6 have attempted some "beach" / sand feature - several man made. They are all small, including Pier House. The biggest (apart from Casa Marina - see below) is Pier House.
The small beach area at Pier House resort. It's private, for hotel guests only. Beach bar to the left of the picture.
  • The resort's size. It's Key West, a small finite sized island so nothing is going to be large. But Pier House occupies the largest area and feels less crammed in than the others.
All the different bars and restaurants at the Pier House Resort
  • The bars. It's almost a real resort with three, quite different in nature bars, 2 of them on the water. One a posh cocktail bar with piano. I like them.
However, a word of warning. The ocean view rooms are great. But there are many rooms with city / Duval Street view / car lot view which are bad. And also many which face into the lush, small, tropical garden in the middle of the resort. This might sound ok but the vegetation is mature in this garden so the view of the ocean is zero and it's quite dark. See below for pictures of this issue.

Other options

For luxury or high end, you have 5 other choices. I have written a guide to Key West hotels - click here

If you are looking for a little more economy, I have written a post here on cheap Key West hotels and guesthouses

When is the best time to visit Key West?

Picture tour of Pier House hotel

Here's many pictures of Pier House, all taken by me.
The Chart Bar entrance, Pier House resort.  I've never been in, as I didn't like the look of the place and they allow smoking in here!
The other thing the Pier House is known for is the Chart Bar, hangout in the old days of the rich and famous.  However, every time I passed by in the last few years it's been smoky, stinking and full of rowdy looking drunks.  Don't get me wrong, I like drunks but not the overly rowdy type.  I prefer the Piano bar at the end of the pier/"beach" in the hotel - and it has views of the ocean.

Piano bar in the Pier House Resort.  Good view.  

Dockside Suites from below - The best rooms at the Pier House resort in Key West, overlooking the ocean

It's all change at the Pier House Resort and Caribbean spa hotel, the best hotel in Key West.  It was announced in May 2013 that the property has been bought by the Ashford Hospitality Trust for $90m in cash.  So what does this mean for this popular and excellent Key West hotel?

Well the new owner, Ashford Trust, is a real estate investment company so they have an interest in making sure the property continues to be run well.  The day to day management will be by Remington Lodging, which already runs 4 other top hotels in Key West.  They are a capable management company.

However, all the staff were apparently fired as part of the sale process. There will be a job fair to hire many of them back.  I only know a few of the staff at the hotel but they are fantastic and make the place notable. 

Not much will change I expect.  The staff will be hired back.  The property is already priced as a premium and so it's unlikely prices for the 142 room hotel will increase.  The hotel itself is in good sate of repair after a recent $12m refit.  

What we really need it a really eccentric hotel with bags of character.  But we just seem to be getting more corporate places in Key West as part of Key West's transformation to away from the ramshackle good old days and to normalization - which I have written about before.  But now I need to stop;  I'm sounding like a conch!

I have written a guide to Key West hotels - click here

When is the best time to visit Key West?

Here are the Lanai rooms in the background....

..and here is the view you get from the Lanai rooms

The Harbour rooms at the Pier House - they look good and total 100% view of the ocean

Harbour rooms
View from the Harbour Rooms towards the restaurant and bar and Dockside suites at the Pier House resort. The private hotel beach in the front

The pool at the Pier House. Modest, so it must get very busy peak season

View of the ocean through the tropical garden - ie, no view!

The Traditional Room, quaintly named, view of the car park at the Pier House hotel. Not good.

Pier House resort reception. Large car park and at $20 per day very good value for Key West

The Harbour View Cafe and cocktail bar at the Pier House resort. Jazz and live music some nights.
Wine Gallery Piano bar at Pier House hotel. Good bar and cocktails.

The Harbour rooms at Pier House

I have written a guide to Key West hotels - click here

When is the best time to visit Key West?

All vacations, and blog posts, come to an end