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Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

New York
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Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

My husband & I are heading to Key West for our last vacation sans baby. I will be almost 7 months pregnant during our trip so we are looking mainly to relax and enjoy the sun, eat some good food, play in the water a bit (unfortunately no diving/snorkeling this trip) etc., obviously not to drink/party (at least not me!) Friends who go to KW all the time stay at the Pier House and really love it; it looks beautiful and has a small beach so I figured it would be perfect and booked it immediately. Having done some more research, I realize that although the Pier House property itself seems enclosed/quiet (and near great restaurants), that we will maybe not want to be on the busy end on Duval as our home base, especially since a lot of the popular restaurants, esp for breakfast (Blue Heaven, Banana Cafe, Salute etc.) and "larger" beaches are on the other end. Also not sure if we necessarily need to be close to Mallory Sq, touristy stuff, etc. I shouldn't have a problem at that point walking 20-30 min to/from sites but may not be as mobile as I usually am! (Don't mind taking cabs if need be but would rather not have to depend on them for more than dinner). Might SMOTB be a better choice for us for this particular trip? Or will we be fine at Pier House?

Thanks in advance for the advice and for reading this long post!

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Pjk
New Jersey
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for Key West
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1. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

You will probably not spend a lot of time at the bigger beaches if you stay at SMOTB, if any time at all. And while the Banana Cafe and Blue Heaven might be a haul from the Pier House, there is always Two Friends just across Front Street, the Rooftop Cafe, and the Pier House itself for breakfast.

And instead of Mallory for a sunset, you can simply walk across Duval for the sunset pier at the Ocean Key. If your concern is about walking the Pier House is for you.

Pjk

Pjk
New Jersey
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for Key West
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117 reviews
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2. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

And I 2bl checked my map. Blue Heaven is eqi-distant between the two hotels. Seven blocks up or down Duval, depending on where you start, then three blocks over on Petronia.

Pjk

New York
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3. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

Thanks...this helps! Just trying to get oriented...can be hard to tell from maps how far things really are on foot (have done a lot of research so far but haven't used Google maps to figure out distances yet!).

My main concern was walking but also how noisy/crowded the area near Pier House is. Although it seems like Pier House itself is quiet and it won't take long/much effort to get off the beaten path, even staying near the busy part of Duval.

New York
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4. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

Also - and this is off the original topic - but after spending a lot of time perusing this forum, it seems that you are the resident Pier House expert, PJK:

We usually stay in condos on the beach or small properties right on the water so I booked a Harbor View room so we could see/hear the water from our room (I know its not the ocean side of KW but fine with us!), even though we obviously won't spend that much time in the room with so much to do on Key West...but I also need more rest than usual so I figured it we may get more use out of the room than normal - and more likely to hang out on the balcony than enjoy happy hour! :(

Is it worth it to pay the considerable extra $ for the view or better to do a Lanai room? Also will we still have privacy with a Harbor View room (it will be on an upper floor)?

Kansas City
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598 posts
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5. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

I don't care much about the view from my room, except I like the water views from the HarborView rooms. A lot of water views are boring with just vast stretches of blue during the day, and total black at night. But the views from the HarborView rooms are different with the two islands out there and plenty of activity on the water. Even at night the lights from all over reflect on the water. Personally I think the price difference is well worth it.

SDT
Key West
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for Key West
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6. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

The view is worth the money for me, but it depends what matters to you. You can save the money and still walk over to the small beach, but I like a private balcony. Pier House is more convenient for walking to the harbor, but either location is good.

I prefer the southernmost side of the island since it is quieter and away from the most rowdy bars. I also think the new rooms at southernmost on the beach are nicer then The Pier House. The Ocean Front rooms in the new section of SMOB are some of the nicest on the island, but both resorts are very nice.

Western...
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7. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

I think the view from the southernmost side is nicer then the gulf view. We alway plan a breakfast at SM beach cafe and afternoon drinks at Louie's after deck.

PJ

Key West, Florida
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1,510 posts
35 reviews
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8. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

"I prefer the southernmost side of the island since it is quieter and away from the most rowdy bars."

Agree. We don't go to Lower Duval often, but when we have an event where we need to, we are reminded of how much we hate it. IMO, Lower Duval is trashy and can be downright scary after midnight.

Hamilton, New Jersey
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431 posts
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9. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

We have always stayed on the lower end of Duval and the last several trips we have been staying at the Pier House. We love it. We do not find it trashy or scary AT ALL. It isa tourist destination and if I lived in Key West, I would not spend much time in that area either. So I would say, for a visitor, don't go by Donna's remarks (After all she is the self proclaimned "Miss Priss") :-). I'm not trying to be negative here Donna LOL. It is more busy than the other end but most of the times throughout the year it is not too busy at all. It all depends on the direction you walk. Go straight up Simonton Street for a nice quiet walk if you like. Both ends of Duval bring a completely different experience. We love them both. It just depends on what you are looking for in a vacation. That is the beauty and charm of KW, it's diversity.

Key West, Florida
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10. Re: Pier House vs SMOTB (or, Lower vs Upper Duval)

Rdb, no offense taken, we each like what we like :) Besides, just like with restaurant disagreements...if we all liked the exact same things, we'd NEVER get in anywhere! Keeping tons of people at the lower end means we get to enjoy a quieter upper end ;D