There’s something to be said for small and intimate when it comes to vacationing. When the bigger hotels and resorts aren’t available, or you want to escape the crowds, Greater Fort Lauderdale has bragging rights to numerous boutique hotels that cater to every need and vacation style. Often, these gems are where you’ll find the authentic Fort Lauderdale and the people who’ve seen where it’s been and what it’s become.
Checking in to a boutique hotel doesn’t mean giving up the idyllic views Fort Lauderdale is known for; many of these smaller hotels sit directly on the sand or are within easy walking distance of the beach and main attractions. A smaller room count often means more personalized service, more peaceful moments for reading and relaxing, cooking instead of dining out, and an easier time finding a lounger by the pool. Here’s a quick look at some of the small yet mighty boutique choices.
One of Fort Lauderdale’s hidden gems is The Pillars Hotel, a place where the word ‘boutique’ doesn’t mean sacrificing sophistication. Primely perched on the Intracoastal Waterway, yet a block from all the action of Fort Lauderdale beach, it’s as if you’ve been whisked away to someone’s grand home or a posh European inn. Guests are treated to excellent service and can retreat to elegant rooms including five suites and even a popular room with its own poolside cabana. Treat yourself to al fresco dining at The Secret Garden restaurant, which is only open to hotel guests and local dining club members and offers dinner and a magnificent show as the luxury yachts power by the hotel. Another perk is a private whistle-stop for the Water Taxi.
Locals-in-the-know like to staycation at the Sun Tower Hotel & Suites, a boutique hotel situated directly on Fort Lauderdale beach. Rooms are recently renovated with a modern-coastal aesthetic, and guests can spread out in an oversized king suite, or spring for a deluxe suite with a kitchenette and private patio. The biggest draw: all 23 guest rooms present the glorious ocean views that visitors covet; linger on your private balcony to soak up those vistas, especially at sunrise. Alternate days between the beach and the tranquil garden-side pool or take off on one of the hotel’s gratis paddle boards or kayaks. Mingle with locals who’ve stopped at popular Sandbar Grill for breakfast, lunch or cocktails served with ocean breezes.
Those with artsy or eclectic taste should book a stay at the Manhattan Tower Apartment Hotel, which has a fascinating backstory and is immediately recognized by its striking iron tower and staircase. The mid-century modern architectural masterpiece was originally built as a corporate retreat for the largest GM dealer in New York in 1952; now it’s reimagined as a tranquil, apartment hotel. Guests can choose from studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens and should book early to snag a room with coveted water views. Wander the grounds where you’ll always notice something different from a new fountain or piece of art; and since it’s primely poised on the Intracoastal, lounge on the expansive deck to watch the parade of boats.
It’s easy to be drawn in by the happy turquoise-and-white hues of Driftwood Beach Club in colorful Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, where you may be tempted to never leave the sparkling pool, the largest in the area. Other amenities include two gas barbeque grills, a jacuzzi, a large garden patio, and an outdoor big-screen TV for guests to gather around to watch a big game. More low-key seaside vibes can be found at beachy-chic Plunge Beach Resort, a true toes-in-the-sand experience. Some rooms are fitted with kitchenettes and dining rooms for those who’d like to cook in place, and dogs of certain sizes are allowed. The proximity of both boutique hotels makes it easy to snorkel from the village’s shore or catch a brilliant sunset from Anglins Fishing Pier.
“Cottagecore” may be a new buzz term, but in Pompano Beach, it’s been a thing since the 1940s thanks to the Cottages By The Ocean. (Quick fact: The historic complex contained the first resort cottages when everything else was pineapple fields.) As soon as guests pass under the entrance archway, they’ll instantly feel at peace. Each of the renovated Key West-style studio and one-bedroom cottages boasts a full kitchen and expansive screened-in porches, ideal for quiet reading and sunbathing. When you’re ready to escape the quiet of the property’s lush gardens, you’re within walking distance to the beach and an area popping with new restaurants like Lucky Fish tiki bar and Beach House Pompano, and the new fishing pier. Another charming property near it all in Pompano Beach is the Bahama Beach Club, a six-unit complex with one-bedrooms and studios equipped with full kitchens and a tranquil pool.
For something completely different, escape to Royal Flamingo Villas in quiet Hillsboro Beach where it’s easy to slip into a vacation state of mind in one of their 40 individual villa homes. It’s like having your own beach house, with one and two-bedrooms, a living and dining area, and private patios. The property offers seclusion and a 300-foot private beach exclusive to guests for sunbathing and playing in the surf. Have a picnic under a thatched-roof tiki hut or barbeque on an outdoor grill. In nearby Deerfield Beach, the Carriage House Resort will charm you with its intimate, two-story Georgian colonial building and its prime location, just 120 steps to the sand.
Location is everything at the Hollywood Sands Resort, which is situated on the popular pedestrian promenade Hollywood Oceanfront Broadwalk. This small resort offers condo-style living with eat-in kitchens, living rooms, and balconies meant for sipping coffee while gazing at the ocean. Since you’re steps away from the Broadwalk, there’s no excuse not to take a long walk or jog on the popular beachfront path, take a dip in the ocean, and then retreat to your room for an afternoon cocktail on the balcony.
Next time you’re looking for an escape, don’t overlook the small boutique hotels, they offer big reasons to stay.