REVIEW: Amara Cay Resort, Florida Keys
By Helen Wright
- Location Along Highway 1, almost exactly halfway between Miami and Key West
- Bed comfiness 7/10
- Pool Not huge, but nice for a few days
- WIFI Strong & fast - Included in the resort fee ($28)
- Parking Included in the resort fee ($28)
- Best thing? Spacious rooms & nice decor
- The all-important plug by the bed? Yes!
To get to Key West, most people fly to Miami and then drive through the Florida keys. The road to Key West, the southernmost island in the Florida Keys, is one of the USA’s most scenic drives – 150 miles of almost dead straight road that takes an overseas highway to join the islands.
To do this drive, which takes around 3.5 hours, without stopping along the way would be a travesty. Breaking up your trip with a hotel stay is a great idea and conveniently, the Amara Cay is almost directly between Miami and Key West – making it the ideal rest stop.
I have to say, I was very surprised and really impressed with this hotel which is listed on some websites as a 2*, but on most as a 3*. I was expecting clean, comfortable and conveniently sat along the main road – more of a modern motel than hotel. Instead I was greeted by an elegant open-plan lobby/bar, decorated in classic Florida-meets-Bahamas cool: plantation shutters, swinging chairs and a breezy sunlight-flooded design.
My room was HUGE! Absolutely massive. It had a small kitchen with a large breakfast bar. Funky coffee machine, fridge, all the usual bits and bobs… The main room was open plan, looking across a large space which really only had a sofa, coffee table, TV and lamp in it. It was actually a bit *too* big for me, since I was staying alone, but it would be ideal for families as it has lots of space for kids to play. Or, alternatively if I’d needed a dance floor for a one-gal disco I would have been good to go. The room is actually a suite, so the bedroom and bathroom are separate with the standard US two-double beds. I was impressed with the toiletries from luxury French brand, Luxe. The living room leads onto a nice balcony which overlooks the pool and beach. It was really, really nice. Perhaps a bit more furniture in the main room and it would have been perfect.
The hotel has a casual restaurant, Oltremare, which mixes classic Italian with modern seafood, freshly caught from the adjacent sea. Even though I’m not usually keen on eating in hotels, this felt more like a trendy clubhouse than a hotel eatery and the food here was some of the best I had during my trip. The menu has lots of interesting twists but the classic burger and chip combo was also great. After-hours there is a quiet, well stocked bar and friendly staff.
I’m sad to say, I didn’t use the pool or the beach (there was a huge storm the night I stayed!) but they were there and looked fine. There is also a jetty on which you can stand and contemplate life and/or converse with local fisherman. If you’re up early, this side of the highway is the one for sunrises and, despite the storm (or because of it) the view was spectacular.
Genuinely, for the price, location and for really exceeding expectations I couldn’t fault this this hotel. I really thought it was excellent and I would recommend it to anyone needing a place to stay in the middle keys. It’s fab!
Watch Helen’s travel vlog from the Florida Keys here