Last Updated on September 18, 2022
When looking for the best place to stay in Key West, it can be a little overwhelming! And I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty expensive. Especially if looking for Key West beachfront hotels, there aren’t a lot of choices for those travelling on a budget. I was also doing a Florida Keys road trip, so parking was also a big requirement of mine. In the end, I found that the best value hotel was the Ibis Bay Beach Resort. I was very happy with my decision!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission on purchases made after clicking the link, at no extra cost to you. For more information visit the Privacy & Disclosure Policy.
Ibis Bay Beach Resort Review
When you look for Ibis Bay Beach Resort reviews, they are literally on two opposite ends of the scale. Some people love it, some people hate it. As mentioned, although it is one of the cheaper hotel options in Key West. It is still very expensive in comparison to what you could get for the same money in a different location in the US.
The Ibis Bay Beach Resort is a motel style resort dating back to 1956. It’s bright, colourful and retro looking. Personally I loved it. Some of the Ibis Bay Beach Resort reviews say you are better off staying at a chain hotel. I agree that the level of amenities in the rooms probably are on a par of those at a cheap chain hotel. But there are some unique features and it definitely has more character than a standard chain hotel.
On arrival, guests park outside the reception area. Here you’ll find the check in desk and a small store stocking essentials and gifts. There’s also a ‘Fun Desk’ which can help with booking tours and rentals (the clear bottom kayaks are popular).
Originally I had booked a ‘Garden Hammock Room’. I had put in the request section of the booking that I was staying for my 30th birthday. (Things like this can be checked when they ask for your ID!). Because they had availability, I received a free upgrade to one of the ‘Beachfront Rooms’. For me, the beachfront room became one of my favourite parts of my stay!
In true motel style, the beachfront rooms had FREE parking directly outside the room door. Once we were parked up, we didn’t touch the car again during our stay. The hotel is located around 2.5 miles from Downtown Key West. So it is a little further away from the ‘action’ but on the other hand the hotel is literally just as you get onto Key West island. This is handy as you then don’t have to worry about navigating around in the busier areas. And parking is FREE!
The beachfront room itself is quite basic. It had a queen bed, TV, mini fridge, bathroom toiletries and colourful sarongs that you can use during your stay. WiFi doesn’t work very well in the rooms, but it does say that it’s mostly for use in the reception area.
I know WiFi is pretty much as expectation of hotel stays these days, but as a frequent traveller it’s surprising how many hotels still only offer free WiFi in the public areas. You also have to consider that when older hotels were built there wasn’t necessarily loads plug sockets next to beds etc. There are outlets, you just may need to unplug things like the lamps, to use them.
Beach Deck & Hammocks
A common complaint while reading Ibis Bay Beach Resort reviews, was that the rooms had sand in them. Honestly this makes me laugh. The rooms are advertised as having a beach DECK. If you’re looking for Key West beachfront hotels, you literally can’t get closer to the beach! You go 2 steps out of the room and you are on the beach.
If there wasn’t sand in my room on arrival, I can guarantee that within 5 minutes it was me bringing the sand into the room. It’s kind of expected when you have a room DIRECTLY on the beach.
As mentioned, I loved how close it was to the beach. Yes, the beach is a bit of a man-made beach. Key West’s geography means that the island is mostly rock, with many of the beaches having to import the sand from the Miami area. But it was a good enough beach for me. The deck had patio furniture and hammocks. One of my highlights was waking up, stepping out of my door and getting straight into my beach hammock. I found it very peaceful!
Those not staying in a beachfront room can still access the beach area. There are sun loungers that can be used by all guests. Just obviously respect that the hammocks and chairs directly in front of the rooms are for the guests staying in that room. You wouldn’t want a stranger sat right on your doorstep!
Around the hotel there are other areas with swinging hammock chairs, where people are free to relax.
Outdoor Swimming Pool
Along with the beach, the Ibis Bay Beach Resort has a large outdoor pool. This area has more sun loungers with umbrellas and has access to the bar. It is surrounded by a safety fence too.
Free Shuttle Bus
One reason I didn’t mind staying a little further out is that the Ibis Bay Beach Resort offer a free shuttle bus to the Downtown area. There are two drop off and pick up locations. It does operate on a first come first severed basis and we also tipped $1 each time we used the service. The shuttle runs from 8am until 10pm.
We found that the final pick ups at night from Downtown were VERY busy. It’s best to walk to the first pick up point, just to guarantee you’ll get a spot. If the bus is full by the time it reaches the 2nd pick up, the driver has no choice but to just carry on. Alternatively it takes around an hour to walk to Duval Street and the main road is VERY busy.
The hotel is located opposite the business district with the big chain stores such as TJ Maxx and Kmart. There’s a gas station, a couple of chain restaurants and coffee shops.
A unique feature of the Ibis Bay Beach Resort is the wildlife around the motel. There are various species of bird, iguanas, a talking macaw parrot and tortoises. The tortoise feeding takes place at 11am.
The Stoned Crab
The Stoned Crab restaurant and bar is located in the grounds of the Ibis Bay Beach Resort. Guests staying at the hotel get a free continental buffet breakfast included in the room rate. It’s a typical ‘hotel breakfast’ of things like: bagels, cereals, waffles, fruit, yoghurts. There’s inside seating or an outside deck area where you can sit next to the water.
Lunch & Dinner/Bar
For both guests and non guests, The Stoned Crab is open for lunch and dinner, as well as having a bar. The bar serve a range of cocktails, beer and wine. Some products on offer come from the Islamorada Brewery and Distillery, another Florida Keys business.
With a name like The Stoned Crab, of course the lunch and dinner menus are heavily seafood focused. With stone crab dishes and Key West lobster and shrimp making up the majority of the menu. Dinners are expensive, with many dishes costing upwards of $50. But the food is fresh and mostly locally sourced. The restaurant even has 2 private fishing boats! Lunch and brunch are a little more reasonably priced.
Another cool experience is the shark feeding that takes place on the dock outside The Stoned Crab. At 1pm and 5pm they feed the school of nurse sharks that live under the boardwalk. There’s a short talk about the nurse sharks, they even all have names! During my visit we were asked if any of us would like to feed them. We were handed salad tongs with a piece of fish to feed one of the sharks!
Nurse sharks have quite poor vision. They rely on vibrations and movements. When feeding them, you are encouraged to almost tap them on the nose so they know that there is food in front of them! For the most part nurse sharks are harmless to humans. I actually swum with nurse sharks in Belize!
A good way to save money is to travel in the off season. I visited Key West in December, between hurricane season finishing and the winter peak starting. It was still warm enough to go snorkelling and spend some time at one of the Key West beaches. I also benefitted from cheaper hotel rates. Literally the following week the price of the Ibis Beach Beach Resort almost tripled in price. This is not uncommon with the other hotels in the area.
Despite the price, the Ibis Beach Beach Resort is considered one of the lower star rated hotels in Key West. If this price point is too high in comparison to the star rating, an alternative would be to stay on one of the other islands and then travel in. Keep in mind that you then may need to pay for car parking while in Key West.
Book a Stay at the Ibis Bay Beach Resort in Key West
Click the button below to check rates and availability for the Ibis Bay Beach Resort in Key West Florida!