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Pensacola, the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle is steeped in history. It has the distinction of being the site of the first Spanish settlement within the continental United States. That’s one reason why it wears the moniker ‘The City of Five Flags.’ It’s interesting history aside, Pensacola is a popular seaside escape, especially with students during spring break. As such, you’ll find a wide range of hotels in Pensacola, FL to suit all budgets.
The city is a few miles from the Alabama border so if you do decide to take a detour and explore some of the best places in Alabama, it won’t be too much of a drive. The Southern influence is evident in some aspects of this Florida city. However, the greater influence is from its past. You’ll find an interesting Spanish-style downtown with historic buildings and engaging museums. While Pensacola Beach is the biggest draw for visitors, you’ll also find entertaining family fun parks.
Where to Stay in Pensacola, FL
If you’re in Pensacola for a sunny vacation then you’ll obviously head out to Pensacola Beach. The sugar-white beaches and crystal clear waters of this barrier island offer a wide range of experiences. Some of the best hotels in Pensacola, FL are on the beach. There are also plenty of beach restaurants and water-based activities to keep you busy here.
Pensacola’s downtown area on the other hand is where you’ll find its history. From the Historic Pensacola Village to the T.T. Wentworth Florida State Museum, there is a lot to explore in downtown. The area is seeing a renewal of sorts with explosive growth. New hotels and quaint shops are blossoming everywhere.
Uptown is where Pensacola International Airport and Pensacola State College are located. Its a melting pot of flavors with a wide range of restaurants. The area is also the hub of shopping and entertainment.
Given that Pensacola Beach is one of the top beach destinations in the United States, most of the best hotels in Pensacola, FL are found in this area. Whatever your reasons for visiting the city, you’ll find a wide range of hotels to suit all kinds of budgets.
Best Western Hotel Beachside Resort
A few steps from the sands of the Gulf of Mexico waters you’ll find the Best Western Hotel Beachside Resort. With its exceptional location and wide range of amenities, combined with a competitive rate, this is one of the more popular hotels in Pensacola, FL on the beach. While there are plenty of restaurants and other water-based attractions nearby, the other Pensacola attractions such as Gulf Islands National Seashore and downtown are a short drive away.
You can look forward to spacious guest rooms which are tastefully decorated in warm, earth tones with light pastel accents. There is outside seating in all rooms that open onto a balcony or deck. Rooms have comfortable queen or king beds and a wide range of amenities. Guests also enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast each morning.
The hotel has a popular seasonal Fish Heads Restaurant & Bar plus two outdoor pools and a splash pad. Fire pits and hammocks poolside complete the relaxing picture.
For someone looking for affordable accommodation on Pensacola Beach, the Hampton Inn is one of the best hotels in Pensacola, FL in the affordable segment. Located right on the beach amidst some of the whitest sand, it’s a great place to make memories. The hotel is within walking distance from the best restaurants and activities in the beachside town. It’s also a short drive from here to the other Pensacola attractions.
While the basic guest rooms are modest with standard amenities, the suites are more upscale with full kitchens. Many rooms have private balconies that look out onto the Gulf of Mexico. Most rooms have been renovated and feature a much brighter space. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast each morning. You won’t find a restaurant on site but there’s a modest seasonal Tiki Bar.
There are two beachfront pools with loungers and chairs and a small fitness center. Guests can also unwind at the beach with service from Lazy Days. Business travelers can also use the conference and banquet facilities.
Holiday Inn Express
The newly renovated Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach is one of the best hotels in Pensacola, FL for someone looking for a tranquil stay. Since the hotel is located in a largely residential area with an underdeveloped beach on either side, it’s more peaceful. The public beach is a short walk or bike ride away. Downtown Pensacola is eight miles from here while Fort Pickens National Seashore is a few miles from the hotel.
All guest rooms have beach views with floor to ceiling windows and private balconies. You’ll find free high-speed internet in all rooms plus several other amenities, including a work desk. Bathrooms have bathtubs and a separate vanity area. Whilst guests can enjoy a full complimentary breakfast every morning and complimentary coffee in the lobby, there’s no onsite restaurant. However, off-site restaurant delivery is available. An outdoor pool and fitness center are also available for guests.
Springhill Suites by Marriott
Beachfront hotels in Pensacola, FL are in adequate supply with something to suit all budgets. Springhill Suites by Marriott is one of the newer hotels in the area. If you’re with kids you may want to visit the 50-acre Gulf Breeze zoo which is only 3.5 miles from the hotel. The Pensacola Bay Center where you can enjoy some great entertainment is also nearby.
Some spacious suites offer stunning views of the water but not all come with a view. You’ll find comfortable furnishings and kitchen amenities in all rooms plus ergonomic workstations. Included with the room rate is a complimentary, buffet breakfast.
There’s no onsite restaurant but there are plenty of dining options nearby. You can pick up some quick bites from the convenience store. If you don’t feel like a day out at the beach you can relax at the outdoor swimming pools. There are three outdoor pools which include a children’s pool and a whirlpool. You’ll also find a well-equipped fitness center to work off those extra vacation calories!
Hilton Pensacola Beach
Overlooking the stunning emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico you’ll find the beachfront Hilton Pensacola Beach. The luxurious hotel is a 20-minute drive from the historic downtown area and over half an hour from the Naval Aviation Museum. However, there are plenty of restaurants and shops in the vicinity to interest you if you feel like venturing out.
Like many of the hotels in Pensacola, FL on the beach the Hilton offers uninterrupted views of the gulf from the guest rooms. Guest rooms feature large private balconies and floor to ceiling windows plus the usual amenities that you would expect in a luxury hotel. You can choose from spacious King and Queen rooms or larger suites with separate living areas.
Not surprisingly, the resort is big on amenities, featuring two heated outdoor pools with cabanas and lounges as well as an indoor swimming pool and a fitness center. Dining options include H20 A Cajun Asian Grill where you can enjoy freshly prepared favorites at this beach view restaurant and bar. Latitudes Beach Bar is located on the pool deck and offers plenty of outdoor seating. You can enjoy delicious wraps and other favorites and also treat your kids to a special menu. For grab and go options the Butler’s Pantry is open from seven in the morning.
Pensacola Grand Hotel – Historic Downtown
Not everyone who visits Pensacola is here for the beach, so if you’re looking for a good hotel in the downtown area, the Pensacola Grand Hotel is a good option. At this location, you’re just minutes away from shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. If you’re interested in heading out to the beach, it’s less than a fifteen-minute drive from here.
This historic hotel stands on the site of the Louisville and Nashville passenger depot that was constructed in 1912. Almost 70 years later the depot was purchased by developers who restored it and also added a 15 story glass tower. An impressive collection of period antique furniture was also added to the public areas of the hotel. Old style furnishings are evident in the guest rooms that feature floor to ceiling windows. Suites are large and come with extra perks such as a sleeper sofa in a spacious parlor. The hotel also has two-story suites with a spiral staircase to the king-size bedroom.
In tune with its history, you’ll find the ground floor restaurant, 1912, The Restaurant. It’s popular with locals and guests for its Fried Green Tomato BLT and Grand Central Salad. Cavu Club is another interesting venue with a dance floor and an incredible collection of Naval Aviation photography and memorabilia.
Other amenities that you can look forward to at the Pensacola Grand Hotel are an exercise room, 24-hour fitness center, business center, and outdoor pool. There’s also a new Wellness Center, complete with healthy snacks, infused water, and fruit.
Courtyard by Marriott Pensacola Downtown
Offering you the best of both worlds, the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Pensacola is one of the most convenient hotels in Pensacola, FL in terms of location. Sitting on Escambia Bay, the hotel puts you in proximity to many attractions of the area including Pensacola Beach and Naval Aviation Museum. Another advantage of this location is its proximity to many popular restaurants such as the Pensacola Fish House and Another Broken Egg.
If you prefer dining in, the hotel has its onsite restaurant The Bistro that serves freshly prepared American food. Guests can also enjoy a full American breakfast for an additional fee. Spacious guest rooms combine comfort and functionality with a wide range of amenities. You can choose from various categories of rooms that feature queen or king-sized beds. Other amenities at the hotel include a fitness center and outdoor pool and whirlpool.
Holiday Inn Resort
When it comes to hotels in Pensacola Florida that are on the beach, you’re quite spoiled for choice. Holiday Inn Resort is one of those great hotels on Pensacola Beach with a prime beachfront. An elevated wooden walkway gives you direct access to the sand and sea. If you’re hoping to explore the attractions of downtown or the historical sites it’s a long drive. However, the restaurants and nightlife of Pensacola Beach are within walking distance.
The hotel exudes a fun vibe right from its front desk to the pool deck. Spacious guest rooms feature a simple but attractive decor. You’ll find standard amenities in all rooms but the suites facing the Gulf of Mexico have stunning views. Families can also opt for colorful Kidsuites that are decked with bunk beds, bean bags, and gaming centers.
A standout of the hotel is definitely the outdoor pool with cascading waterfalls, a 250-foot seasonally heated Lazy River, and two hot tubs. The beachfront restaurant, Riptides Sports Grill & Tiki Bar has a wide selection of menu items to keep you satisfied. On weekends you can enjoy live music on the pool deck while you warm yourself by the firepit. Guests can also enjoy the seasonal Dive Inn movies that are hosted poolside after sunset. For those that are particular about their fitness regime, you’ll find a well-equipped fitness center.
Margaritaville Beach Hotel
If your dream vacation is sipping a margarita on a tropical island, the Margaritaville Beach Hotel is a great place to fulfill those dreams. The elegance and amenities found at this gulf-front property make it one of the best hotels in Pensacola, FL on the beach. Although the hotel is located on a quiet stretch of Pensacola Beach, you’ll find a trolley stop just outside the hotel if you want to explore the area. There are also a few restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
Like most of the hotels of this brand, the Margaritaville Beach Hotel is inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffet. Featuring ‘barefoot elegance,’ the tastefully decorated guest rooms are bright and comfortable with a wide range of amenities. All rooms come with furnished balconies either facing the bay or the gulf front. 24 Corner King Executive rooms feature wrap-around balconies and deep garden tubs. Guests also receive two complimentary LandShark Beer vouchers.
The outdoor pool features comfortable lounge chairs, shady umbrellas, and a Tiki Bar with food and drinks. The Frank & Lola Love Pensacola cafe, named after a Jimmy song also has a full-service bar and a delicious menu. The LandShark Landing Beach Bar which is open seasonally from March through November offers snacks, beverages, hammocks, volleyball, and a fire pit. Alternatively, you can choose to dine in the comfort of your room, by ordering room service.
Guests can avail of a massage from an experienced licensed therapist or sign up for one of the adventure activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and more. If you plan to hang out at the beach, you’ll need to rent a beach chair or umbrella, which can be billed to your room. Bikes are also available for hire.
Surf & Sand Hotel
One of the best affordable hotels in Pensacola, FL is the Surf & Sand Hotel on Santa Rosa Island. The hotel is located on the edge of Little Sabine Bay just across the street from Pensacola Beach. It’s an easy walk to the bars and restaurants from this pet-friendly hotel.
The hotel features a bright, cheerful decor with tropical prints and marine-inspired color palettes. This decor extends to the guest rooms which also have wooden floors. Spacious guest rooms overlook the pool deck or the bay and some look out onto the city. You’ll find plenty of amenities in the rooms for a comfortable stay.
For a hotel that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet, there are a surprisingly high number of amenities. You begin the day with a good, free breakfast and can move on to enjoy other free amenities like paddleboards, kayaks, and beach cruisers across the street. When you’re tired of the beach you can relax at the outdoor pool that overlooks the bay or enjoy some indoor games. Business travelers can also use the facilities of the business center.
Portofino Island Resort & Spa
Portofino Island Resort & Spa offers visitors the ultimate beach holiday. With its mix of hotel-style rentals and full-ownership condos, it’s one of the largest luxury hotels in Pensacola, FL. The massive property sits between the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shore of Santa Rosa Sound on 28 acres of Pensacola Beach. Guests can use the resort-wide tram service to get around or hike a bicycle. Alternatively, you could take the catamaran to the Portofino Boardwalk to enjoy local dining, shopping, and entertainment. The resort also has a limousine bus service for exploring the island or nearby downtown.
Stunning accommodations amidst an equally mesmerizing waterfront location make this property a true standout. To get the most out of the hotel choose to stay in the two-and three-bedroom ‘Sky Homes.’ All these homes are located on the fifth floor and above, with each room providing a stunning water view. Fully-equipped kitchens and private water-view balconies are also part of these accommodations. The five Mediterranean-inspired towers have their own exclusive outdoor pool and whirlpool spa.
With a property this size, it’s only natural that you’ll find multiple dining options on-site. Coastal, the resort’s signature restaurant serves up locally-sourced seafood and premium cuts with a wide wine and cocktail list. Portofino al Fresco, the open-air dining venue features the Chef’s take on classic original dishes as well as casual favorites. There’s also Pizza Portofino within the al Fresco restaurant and Cobalt Bar where you can enjoy light refreshments and specialty cocktails. For other food options, you can visit The Market at Portifino or check out the Dine-In Delivery.
You’ll also find a state of the art fitness center and a full spa which you can enjoy poolside. If this isn’t enough, head out to the sea for some adventure sports or play a round of golf or tennis onsite.
Recommended Restaurants / Bars in Pensacola, FL:
- Another Broken Egg Cafe – This popular cafe on East Gregory Street in downtown is a great place for breakfast classics, lunchtime favorites, and memorable brunch dishes.
- McGuire’s Irish Pub – Not too far from the Courtyard Marriott hotel downtown you’ll find this great steak house and pub. Renowned for its great atmosphere and New York Irish Saloon theme, this place should definitely make it to your list of things to do here.
- The Grand Marlin of Pensacola Beach – Featuring the main dining area with a shucked to order oyster bar the restaurant is highly popular for its fresh seafood and setting. Overlooking the Santa Rosa Sound, you won’t only enjoy delicious seafood but also a great ambiance.
Recommended Activities In Pensacola, FL:
- Gulf Breeze Zoo – Families with children will enjoy a visit to the award-winning Gulf Breeze zoo. It may not be as spread out as the largest zoos in the world, but with over 800 animals from all over the world, the zoo is a good stopover from the beach.
- Historic Pensacola Village – Experience the rich heritage of America’s first multi-year European settlement at this beautiful historic site. It features 28 beautifully restored buildings and four museums.
- National Naval Aviation Museum – One of the most visited museums in the state of Florida, this aviation museum is also touted as the largest Naval Aviation museum in the world. Over 150 beautifully restored aircraft are on display inside and outside the museum’s 37-acre grounds.