Fort Lauderdale hotels come with water views aplenty—but there’s so much more to a local stay.

Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale

Hotels and resorts in Greater Fort Lauderdale, a region that stretches from Deerfield Beach south to Hallandale Beach, have a predictable seaside swagger: see-through swimming pools, dreamy beach clubs, waterview rooms. But some house an extra bit of soul, expressed through strong community ties, forward-thinking design and gastronomy, and one-of-a-kind amenities. Here, a look at nine of the best hotels and resorts in Greater Fort Lauderdale promising more than what you see.

Dining al fresco at the Ritz’s Burlock restaurant.

Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale

The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale

Honoring Fort Lauderdale’s status as “yachting capital of the world,” this tiered, 24-story hotel is modeled after an art deco ocean liner and retains a “Nautical Concierge” tasked with connecting guests to the local boating lifestyle. Flagship restaurant Burlock Coast is rooted in Prohibition-era tales of rum-running and serves dishes using locally procured seafood and produce. Executive chef Paula DaSilva, whose career spans 22 years in South Florida (plus a season of Hell’s Kitchen), commits to sustainability and regional partnerships on her menus, which include cocktails with hard-to-find Florida rums and the day’s best Atlantic catch, be it red snapper or mackerel.

The Conrad Fort Lauderdale, part of the Hilton family, is all suites and high-quality amenities.

Courtesy of Conrad Fort Lauderdale

Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach

Each unit at this all-suite oceanfront resort features a furnished balcony (or terrace) and galley kitchen, making it a great choice for multigenerational travel and longer stays. The resort also impresses with its strong support for small local businesses. Isola, a natural vegan skincare line made in Miami, is used in the spa; baked goods from Zak the Baker and cold-press good stuff from Juicera headline the breakfast menu. The flagship restaurant is run by uber-talented executive chef Taek Lee (aka Chef Taka), who, after decades in the business, opened his namesake Takato in October 2020. In executing his dream project of a vibe-heavy, Japanese Korean fusion restaurant, Taka poached top colleagues and close friends from other top city Asian restaurants (Zuma, Makoto, and Kura to name a few) and found a winning recipe for success.

The Dalmar is as chic a stay as they come in Fort Lauderdale.

Courtesy of The Dalmar

The Dalmar

Downtown is awash with buzzy micro-neighborhoods like the artisan-heavy Flagler Village and edgy FATVillage, Fort Lauderdale’s answer to Miami’s street art-and-gallery-heavy Wynwood. For creative types looking to get in on the hype, the Dalmar offers a prime location in Flagler Village, sleek midcentury modern–inspired guest rooms and two of the neighborhood’s coolest tenants: Rose’s Coffee Bar, a small one-off café with specialty coffees (try the cold brew), cold pressed juices, housemade pastries, and tropical outdoor seating; and Sparrow rooftop bar, a 25th-floor stunner with vintage style (plus neon trim) showcasing the best views and mixology in town.

You, too, can stay inside a glass guitar.

Courtesy of the Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock

The Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood

Yes, it’s a Hard Rock, but hear us out: The world’s first-ever guitar hotel is like nothing else before it; at 450 feet tall, the shapely, all-glass marvel defies architectural norms and dazzles nightly with multisensory light and musical performances. But this $1.5-billion inhabitable instrument is just one component of the greater Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood complex, a destination with a larger-than-life Vegas-style personality and an equally big heart. In 10 years, the property contributed nearly $16 million in sponsorships and donations to local charities (Pantry of Broward and Feeding South Florida among them) and cancer awareness.

Pineapple Point is a two-acre estate that feels like home.

Courtesy of Pineapple Point

Pineapple Point

Fort Lauderdale prides itself as a welcoming destination for the LGBT+ traveler and has the specialty lodging to prove it. The city has more than a dozen gay guesthouses and resorts, specifically those catering exclusively to men. None is more swish than Pineapple Point, an exquisitely landscaped two-acre estate located in an upscale residential area dotted with multistory villas, tropical cottages, myriad hot tubs, clothing optional pool areas, hammocks, and gardens. Service here is also tops, with several staff dedicated solely to providing the optimal guest experience.

Once night comes, B Ocean Resort has views indoors and out. Don’t miss the mermaid burlesque show.

Courtesy of B Ocean Resort

B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale

Dating to 1956 and undergoing several facelifts over the decades, this refreshed historic beachfront resort keeps relevant with an approachable vibe (and price point, with rooms from $137 in low season) while maintaining a kitsch factor that celebrates Fort Lauderdale of yore. Namely, B’s Wreck Bar is home to an adults-only, underwater mermaid show—a got-to-see-it-to-believe-it performance of aqua burlesque—visible through the bar’s portholes, which peer into a swimming pool theater. Another eye-catching aspect of B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale is the original artwork on display throughout, most of which centers on nature, all of which is available for purchase (with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program).

From the verandah to the lazy river, Pelican Beach Resort practically begs visitors to unwind on their next trip.

Courtesy of Pelican Beach Resort

Pelican Grand Beach Resort

This family-friendly resort is one of a select few that’s directly on the beach, translating to some excellent, unobstructed views. The ambience evokes Old Florida (hello, lazy river and ice cream parlor) while keeping things contemporary through newly renovated seaside-inspired suites (dressed in coral and gold and adorned with ocean artwork) and a rooftop spa facing the Atlantic. A big draw for families is the kids’ program run by Funky Fish Ocean Camp. Geared toward kids ages 4–17, the full-day care (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) organizes snorkeling, boogie boarding, skimboarding, and hands-on lessons in marine conservation (which includes playing with lots of fun sea critters).

Royal Blues is the first and only Relais & Château hotel in Florida.

Courtesy of Royal Blues Hotel

Royal Blues Hotel

In the quiet surf town of Deerfield Beach, at the northern tip of Greater Fort Lauderdale, is this under-the-radar, 12-room charmer, the one and only Relais & Châteaux hotel in all of Florida. The arts-driven hotel is a passion project by major Hollywood film and Broadway producer Edward Walson (of Blue Jasmine and Tony-nominated An American in Paris fame), who vacationed in Deerfield as a kid and wanted to bring a touch of modern seaside opulence to a destination he feels is still a delightful throwback to 1960s Americana. As is the standard with the Relais & Châteaux collection, expect elevated cuisine with Instagram-worthy plating, matched by extraordinary flavor combinations.

Coming soon!

AC Hotel Fort Lauderdale Sawgrass Mills/Sunrise

Fort Lauderdale’s Sunrise suburb gets its first hotel opening in 15 years in March 2021, part of an arts-forward brand under the Marriott umbrella. Gallery-style lobby art has been curated in partnership with Art Serve, a local nonprofit arts incubator, while the colorful installations of the AC Bar & Lounge shine courtesy of local artist Jennifer Haley. Guest room design has clean lines, earth tones: a bit Scandi, simple and elegant. Atop the hotel, a rooftop bar and lounge provide front-row seats to the sunset; just outside, you’ll find the largest outlet mall in the United States, Sawgrass Mills (with its miles-long assembly of 350+ major brand stores, including Tumi and Patagonia), and beyond that, the serene Florida Everglades.

>>Next: The AFAR Guide to Fort Lauderdale

Paul Rubio Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.