FIVE PALMS -- EXCEPTIONAL
Alexander's (1118 Fleming St.; 800-654-9919 or 305-294-9919; 305-295-0357; www.alexanderskeywest.com or www.foremostgayhotels.com; $115-$365) Alexander's is a charming, high-end guesthouse in a gorgeously renovated Victorian mansion on the outskirts of Old Town. Rooms are spotless, nicely decorated and very comfortable. Gay-owned and -operated, Alexander's is increasingly popular with gay couples (both male and female) and groups of gay men and women traveling together. The pool area is pretty, and some rooms have porches that face the street. Multiple decks provide ample sun-exposure opportunities as well as lovely views of surrounding buildings and gardens, and the in-ground jacuzzi. A beautifully decorated and very private apartment is a nice choice for long stays (albeit an expensive one). Quiches and other freshly baked goods are staples of the continental breakfast; tea and lemonade are available throughout the day and a top-shelf happy hour is offered poolside. Other highly rated guesthouses often turn to Alexander's when they have to send overflow guests elsewhere.
• Location: North; rooms: 17; nude sunbathing: permitted; sexual temperature: low; clientele: GM/L; meals: ECB/C
Big Ruby's Guesthouse (409 Appelrouth Lane; 800-477-7829 or 305-296-2323, fax 305-296-0281; www.bigrubys.com or www.foremostgayhotels.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; $165-$549) Light, airy rooms are nicely decorated, scrupulously clean and very comfortable. Rooms in the older building are renovated and more charming but smaller. There are expansive sundecks, a gym, an in-ground Jacuzzi, and a tropical outdoor shower area. An apartment sleeps four with full kitchen. The location just off Duval Street is right in the middle of everything, but the extensive and exotic landscaping and tall fence help to create a sense of secluded tranquility even as the throngs march just steps away. Tasty, made-to-order hot breakfasts and evening cocktails by the pool encourage no-pressure socializing. Enjoy complementary dinner parties during special event weekends and a mimosa weekend brunch. The crowd seems younger and fun and always ready for cocktail hour. Many fiercely loyal guests have been returning for years, and Ruby's is often fully booked far in advance. Service is incredibly attentive and top-notch.
• Location: Old Town; rooms: 22; nude sunbathing: permitted; sexual temperature: moderate; clientele: EG/90%M; meals: FB/C
Heron House Court (formerly Fleur de Key; 412 Frances St.; 800-932-9119 or 305-296-4719; $109-$349) Heron House Court offers some of the nicest units in town. Extra little touches abound: lots of big plush towels, iced tea by the pool, an extensive library of books, travel guides and videos ... a formula for comfort that works. The sincerely friendly (but unobtrusive) staff provides for guests' every whim. These knowledgeable locals are also available to provide first-time visitors an excellent orientation to the island -- including its many hidden charms. The pool is small but pretty and the large spa is in a separate area. Located on the edge of Old Town, a six-block walk from the Duval Street masses ... a plus for some, a drawback for others. New owners purchased the Heron House and this property in 2005 and have spruced it up, adding a pleasant outdoor area with wicker chairs and an awning and retiling rooms. Although once exclusively gay, the guesthouse now takes an all-welcome approach. The gay clientele is mostly couples.
• Location: North; rooms: 16; nude sunbathing: permitted; sexual temperature: low; clientele: mixed; meals: ECB/C
Marquesa Hotel (600 Fleming St.; 800-869-4631 or 305-292-1919; fax 305-294-2121; $175-$430) The finest accommodations in Key West and certainly one of the best small deluxe hotels in the South. Travel+Leisure's 2006 poll ranked it number one in Florida. Even standard rooms will take your breath away. The surroundings are elegant, but the atmosphere is relaxed. The largely gay staff remains unflappable even under busy conditions and provides refined but friendly service. The hotel has a loyal gay following, but it is possible you could be the only family there. Guests (often including families with children 12 and older) are decidedly upscale. The adjoining Caf? Marquesa has quickly risen to the top of the local dining scene...a great special-occasion spot.
• Location: Old Town; rooms: 27; nude sunbathing: no; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 80% straight; meals: CB
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
Key West: Introduction
Key West: Where to Eat
Key West: Where to Play/Meet
Key West: What to See and Do