Nice hotel at the beach: Try the W, the Hilton, the Ritz Carlton, the Atlantic. Marriott Beach Place is fine inside the units that I've seen but the elevator entry and the Beachplace retail in my humble opinion take several stars off what I would describe as a nice place. You basically enter thru a Hooters; the place is like a continual Mardi Gras (well not really but you get the idea).
Downtown Las Olas nice restaurants/bars: YOLO, Johnny V (best of the lot), Grille 401, Timpano's. Walk up and down the commercial strip (3rd Avenue to 15th Avenue) and peek in several.
I agree with Chesterb2000 the Beach Place would put me off the Marriott too. There have been reports of thefts from vehicles in the underground parking garage there too. I would pick somewhere else.
My wife and I stayed two nights at the Bahia Mar last month and thought it was nice. We were in an Ocean View room in the Tower, with a nice view of Port Everglades. Several times we were able to watch ships maneuvering in the channel as they departed on cruises. The hotel was very close to the Water Taxi stop at the Bahia Mar Marina, and you can purchase tickets at the nearby Bahia Cabana (cash only!). The walkway over the A1A was nice to have, and there were a lot of things to do in nearby South Beach Park.
The biggest negatives to me were the on-site restaurant (Breezes) which we only had breakfast at once (expensive and food was not that great) and the daily cost for parking (although most hotels in the area seem to charge for that). The room itself was very nice and we would definitely stay there again.
Hilton or Bahia Mar Doubletree would be my picks, definitely a big no to Beach Place for all the reasons given above- .It's one of my least favorite hotels on the beach. Hilton is a short walk to Water Taxi but such a lovely place it's worth it while Bahia Mar is certainly less elaborate ( Hilton is all suite) but would work too and is closer to WT. If you pick Bahia Mar upgrade your room- some of the lowest priced ones are in an "annex" and are not at all nice. Marriott Courtyard would work too- very convenient to Beach Place's Water Taxi stop and nicer than Beach Place.
Bahia Mar is in no way a 4-star property (more like maybe 3 star) and Lulu was right when she said to upgrade! If you didn't want to be on or near the beach, I'd suggest the Riverside Hotel. It's on Las Olas Blvd. and is a real gem! With a number of great restaurants within walking distance, and a water taxi stop behind the hotel, it can be an ideal location!
Otherwise, for 4+ star on the beach, your choices are Westin Beach Resort, The W, Hilton Beach Resort, The Atlantic, and Harbor Beach Marriott, a two-block walk to WT and the 3 1/2 star Courtyard by Marriott.
We recently had the same question and decided to stay at The Pillars. We typically stay at larger, beachfront properties and like the idea of staying at a smaller property on the Intracoastal. The Pillars is also on the water taxi route and appears to have a good restaurant. We're looking forward to our stay and are anxious to try the restaurants recommended above.
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