The first settlers arrived in Key West in 1521 and a fishing village and garrison were established as Florida was becoming a Spanish territory. The original Spanish word for the area is Cayo Hueso, which means “bone cay.” The island earned the nickname due to the littered bones of the previous inhabitants who had been using Key West as a communal graveyard. Despite the island's grisly history, it's now cherished as one of the premier vacation destinations in Florida, offering a Caribbean-style getaway without the need for a passport.
Today, you can wander around Key West and discover prime shopping opportunities on Duval Street, street performances in Mallory Square, and a variety of historic museums and nature conservatories to keep you busy for the duration of your stay. Whatever your reason for traveling to Key West, it's important to find the right accommodation that allows you to enjoy everything the island has to offer.
When to Visit Key West, FL
In terms of weather, there isn't a bad time to visit Key West. Temperatures are pleasant year-round, although summer is the island's rainy season. If you're willing to bring an umbrella and brave the showers, you can take advantage of discounted room rates from June to August. Expect temperatures to hover around the high 80s and low 90s.
Bargain hunters may also want to consider visiting from September to November. Fall is Key West's hurricane season, but most tourists simply head for higher ground if a storm approaches. Hotel rates are slashed due to the increased chances of hurricanes, but you can snag some unbelievable deals if you're up for the adventure. You'll also be here for popular fall events, including Key West Brewfest and Fantasy Fest Carnival.
Peak tourist season in Key West is in the wintertime from December to February. This is when travelers are trading northern snow showers for an ocean view and mid-70-degree temps. Winter is also a popular time because hurricane season is over, and several popular events take place, such as the Key West Food & Wine Festival. If you're looking to save money on your room, however, winter is the worst time to travel. Hotel rates are high and Key West is crowded, especially during the holidays.
Overall, the best time to visit Key West is in the early spring between March and May. Key West enjoys climbing temperatures and clear skies that make it the perfect time of year for an ocean getaway. Hotel rates are low and the island itself is too isolated for spring breakers. Plus, you'll get a chance to experience several festivals, including ConchFest, Conch Republic Independence Celebration, and Taste of Key West.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Key West, FL:
Key West, FL: Prices by Star Rating Class
Below are 3 charts illustrating avg. nightly cost trends by star rating class in Key West, FL. Browse these illustrations to calculate the cheapest months to book a room in Key West for upcoming travels.
Luxury Hotel Options in Key West, FL
4 Star Average Prices: $279.62
Upscale accommodations abound in Key West. Ocean Key Resort & Spa overlooking Sunset Pier at Duval Street is among the island's most prestigious hotels. This classic island-inspired resort is within walking distance of shops, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the historic Sloppy Joe's bar, and the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Guest rooms are brightly decorated and boast whirlpool tubs, flat-screen televisions, free WiFi, and balconies. In addition to a full-service spa, the property also features a poolside lounge, hot tub, outdoor pool, valet parking, and an on-site boutique and restaurant.
Pier House Resort & Spa is another great option for anyone wanting to splurge on Duval Street accommodations. Located a minute's walk from Mallory Square, Pier House Resort & Spa is an elegant resort that extends over the water on wooden piles. Its refined rooms offer coffee makers, complimentary WiFi, rainfall showers, and fridges. Upgrading to a suite will get you a wet bar, and some suites offer a whirlpool bath and kitchen. One of the best things about this luxury resort is the private beach, which also boasts a hot tub and heated outdoor pool. You won't even have to go far for some great eats, as there is a beachside bar and grill and Caribbean-style café on-site.
If you're hoping to score the private beach perk, you'll also want to consider Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. This upscale accommodation is within walking distance of Duval Street and boasts Mediterranean-style rooms with ocean or city views. All rooms feature mini-fridges, Nespresso machines, and iPod docking stations. Enjoy upscale amenities like an on-site spa, steakhouse, two oceanfront pools, water activities, a casual beachside restaurant, and a kids' club.
Affordable Hotel Options in Key West, FL
3 Star Average Prices: $228.38
Finding an affordable hotel option in Key West can be difficult, but you just need to know where to look. Seashell Motel & Key West Hostel is a smart dorm-style option in the heart of Old Town. Here you can experience the laid-back atmosphere of Key West surrounded by island-inspired charm and hospitality that won't break the bank. Plus, the hostel's convenient downtown location is just three blocks from Duval Street. If you don't feel comfortable bunking with strangers, Seashell Motel & Key West Hostel offers private motel rooms that provide you with up to two double beds, mini-fridges, cable TV, en suite bathrooms, free WiFi, free limited parking, and coin-operated laundry facilities.
If you're willing to pay a little more, another budget-friendly option is The Inn at Key West. Overlooking the gulf, this tropically furnished three-star accommodation is located a short drive from Key West Golf Club and Smathers Beach. Rooms feature patios or balconies, coffee makers, premium channels, complimentary WiFi, and blackout drapes. There's even an outdoor pool with a waterfall, hot tub, poolside tiki bar, and lush gardens.
2 Star Average Prices: $203.54
Which Key West hotels have real discounts?
Staying in Key West can get expensive, which is why it's a smart idea to be on the lookout for discounts. Seniors can take advantage of AARP discounts throughout Key West. In fact, many hotels offer AARP members 10 percent off their best available rates. Best Western Key Ambassador Resort Inn extends that same discount not only to AARP members, but also to members of the AAA Auto Club, COSTCO, and military, including veterans. Some accommodations will even discount your stay based on the type of credit card you use. Best Western Key Ambassador Resort Inn, for instance, provides a discount to guests using a Harley Davidson card. If you're unsure what types of discounts your preferred accommodation provides, be sure to contact them prior to booking.
It's also a good idea to check on extended stay discounts. These vary by property, but you may be able to stay two nights and get the third night at half price, or stay ten nights and get one free.
Another discount to look for is a Key West Express discount. Accommodations like Bayside Inn & Suites offer this type of discount when you make advanced reservations and book boat transportation. It's simply a smart way to save money on ferry costs while you're sightseeing.
Best Value Options in Key West, FL
Key West offers many mid-range accommodations that give you plenty of bang for your buck. Azul Key West is an adult-only bed and breakfast that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers bright, minimalist rooms with free parking, complimentary WiFi throughout the property, a welcome fruit basket, and beach towels.
Courtyard Key West Waterfront near the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is another great option. This contemporary accommodation offers living room-style social spaces, an on-site American restaurant with Starbucks coffee, a meeting room, business center, private beach, hot tub, and tiki bar.
Other mid-range hotel options in Key West include DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Key – Key West, Fairfield Inn & Suites Key West, and Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel.
An Insider’s Guide to Key West, FL
There's more to Key West than the side seen by tourists and cruise passengers. Key West is actually a combination of tropical island and small-town America, offering a vibrant culture all its own that's worth exploring as the locals do. If you're hoping to break from the masses during your stay here, skip the chain coffee houses and enjoy a café con leche at a Latino supermarket or coffee window. For some of the best snorkeling around, head to Fort Jefferson on the ferry or a 45-minute sea plane flight. If you can't live without your morning jog, run along the Old Seven Mile Bridge and you might spot some spotted eagle rays in the water below.
While Key West is known more for its coral reefs than its beaches, if you're missing out on lounging on sand, pay the small admission fee to get into Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. It boasts a beautiful beach with plenty of spots for fishing and snorkeling.
No matter your travel style, Key West offers a little something for everyone. Start planning your trip today!
A visit to Key West Recapped
Closer to the Cuban borders than to Florida's mainland, Key West often appears tenuously and partly attached to the rest of the United States. Its 30,000 islanders are famous for their laid-back lifestyle and tolerant attitudes, which often seem adrift in the panoramic combination of seas and skies. The area has been heavily revamped for the millions of tourists that visit per year. The streets are now barely recognizable; the mile-long pavements of Duval Street and Old Town's main promenade have been revitalized. Guests can take their time to explore the exotic blooms, tall skinny palms, and gnarled banyans that threaten to hide the city's faded wooden houses. If you're one of the million tourists, head to the museums first. The Wreckers Museum is the Oldest House in Key West, with displays of cargo obtained from sunken vessels and photographs of the area's heroes. Guests can also explore the tourist shops at Mallory Square, have a conch fritter and key lime pie, or visit the Bahamian Village, and find themselves similarly adrift and torn among the choices. In Key West, taking time is key.
'What difference does it make if I make it through this ordeal or not? I have lived my life, quite well to be honest, and I have no regrets. This beautiful stretch of Atlantic as far as my eyes can see is heaven enough for me.' - Ernest Hemingway, a long-time resident of Key West, FL
Key West is one of the best cities in the state of Florida for tourism and other travel related endeavours. Located at a short distance of about 150 km from Miami, Key West is accessible by road quite easily from most parts of the country.
In the recent past, Key West has become one of the most prominent and the busiest tourist hubs in Florida. On an average, the number of tourists visiting Key West in last five years or so has hovered around 2 to 3 million per year. Tourism is the single largest source of revenue for the city of Key West, and that's precisely why the hospitality industry has thrived in Key West.
If you are thinking of visiting Key West in near future, this quick guide to hotels in Key West should come in handy for you to plan your trip accordingly.
Budget Accommodation in Key West
As mentioned earlier, much of the revenue generated in the city of Key West directly comes from tourism on other peripheral businesses. That's why, tourists do not find it difficult to locate cheap hotels in a city like Key West, as turning down potential revenue generators is not at all sensible for a city dependent so heavily on tourism.
There are, at present, over 60 budget hotels in Key West that tourists can rely on to make the most of their trip, while saving some cash in the process.
Among these, Eden House is probably the best known among tourists. It is most famous for its beachfront location and authentic local as well as international food. The Ibis also operates no fewer than five budget hotel establishments here in Key West, with Ibis Central being the most prominent among them.
Living in Key West Luxury
The chief purpose that most tourists have behind visiting a city like Key West is not to see sights but to unwind and relax, in a bid to isolate themselves from the troubles of daily routines.
Luxury hotel and resort establishments provide the best chance for the tourists to do so. Key West boasts of a number of luxury resorts that regularly attract a steady stream of tourists.
Among them, Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa seems to be the most popular choice. Other Key West hotels in this segment include the Westin Key West and Key West Resort and Marina, The Reach run by Waldorf Astoria, and Noble house resort.
Tourists who do not combine well with the feel of artificial comforts of a hotel can resort to independent and boutique choices.
The latest trend among tourists has seen the popularity of holiday rentals go upwards quite sharply. Holiday rentals provide a great alternative to cheap prices of budget options and garish luxury of resorts and spas.
The chief advantage of holiday rentals and other short-term rentals is the fact that these options provide the much needed flexibility to tourists as opposed to the rigid setup of various hotel and resort units.
Top Things to Do in Key West
Even though Key West is best known for its beaches, there are quite a few other things that tourists can think of indulging themselves in.
The topmost ranking activity to do in Key West has to be a visit to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Loaded with the most exotic species of butterflies a trip to this conservatory can be a perfect way of educating children in wildlife conservation.
Dry Tortugas National Park also provides a great opportunity for the tourists to do some outdoorsy stuff. Literary enthusiasts can head to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum that is located just outside the outskirts of the city. Similarly, history buffs can visit the beautifully cherished Harry Truman Little White House. It is the actual residence of Harry Truman, now converted into a memorial library.
If you're fishing expert or a fishing enthusiast, you can take one of the many fishing tours that regularly leave Key West ports. The best part about fishing in Key West is that the perfect blend of warm and cold currents of Atlantic create a number of natural breeding grounds for fish that many schools of fishes are regularly drawn towards, making it easier for fishermen to fish.
Hotels Near Key West Airport
The Key West airport is an international airport that is kept moderately busy by direct international flights, chiefly from Europe, and a high concentration of various domestic flights.
The airport is located just about 3 km from the city centre of Key West, making obsolete the need to find Key West hotels near this airport.
However, tourists who, for the sake of convenience, want to lodge at a hotel in the immediate vicinity of the airport, have no much in way of options than to rely of cheap motels in the area.
When Should I Ideally Visit Key West?
As knowledgeable tourists would know, Florida weather is quite forgiving throughout the year, as long as you are accustomed to long daylight hours and bright sunshine. Considering this aspect, it would not be out of place to say that the best time to visit Key West, thus, is any time of the month (as long as you can manage).
One thing to be noted with emphasis here is that the only time of the year that you might be better off avoiding while making plans to visit Key West is March and April. As spring breakers descend down on Key West in flocks of intimidating strengths, most resorts, even cheap hotels, suddenly go two or three notches higher up in price, making it difficult to manage your trip, in terms of budget.