by Terry Ward
Most families who make the pilgrimage to St. Augustine stay at one of the handful of hotels near the old town or along the feeder roads branching off I-95. But you can just as easily make a true beach vacation out of your time here with a stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine-Vilano Beach, which opened in 2007. It’s located about 2.5 miles from the old town, along a residential stretch of coastline in chilled-out Vilano Beach.
The first thing to know is that you’re not directly on the ocean here — the Hampton Inn is located across a relatively quiet two-lane road from the long wide beach, and you’ll have to cross the hotel’s parking lot, then traverse the two traffic lanes to reach the sand. The beach itself is typical of east coast Florida, with relatively calm waves most of the year and plenty of room to spread out your beach towel (although very little shade to hide from Florida’s omnipresent sun).
A grocery store, restaurants and the pier are all easily walkable within a few blocks of the hotel, and the historic old town is just a 10-minute drive across the bridge (best reached by car).
If your heart desires a family vacation that mixes beach time, attractions and a good dose of historic interest, too, this Hampton Inn makes for a very appealing and affordable base.
Our Editor Loves
- Two-minute walk to beach
- Close to St. Augustine's attractions
- Free breakfast
- Horse Back Riding
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
This property follows Hampton Inn's classic model, with extra comfy "Clean and Fresh Hampton Beds" and complimentary W-Fi throughout.
With 94 guestrooms and suites spread between the hotel's three floors (ask for an ocean-facing room on the third floor for the hotel's best views), there's a room or suite option for nearly every group, and every room comes with a sink, mini-fridge, coffee maker and microwave so you can easily fix and serve simple meals.
All rooms, though slightly dated, are carpeted and have dark wood furniture and bright paintings on pale yellow walls. Bathrooms are tiled and have granite countertops, along with shower-in-tub combos and nightlights, a nice touch. All balconies are furnished with comfortable chairs and side tables, and there's a desk and plenty of outlets available in each unit.
City and Ocean View Guest Rooms
Standard City View Guest Rooms offer a choice of two queen beds or one king bed and the possibility of a double sofa bed to accommodate additional guests in the king rooms only. You can upgrade from there to a room with a balcony or patio, but it will cost you a bit more. Rooms with a king bed, sofa bed and balcony with views of the ocean are available, too, and can sleep up to four.
For extra room for your crew, consider upgrading to one of the hotel's apartment-like suites or studios. King studios have a separate sofa bed in an expanded living area (though no separation between sleeping and living spaces).
For a roomier option, consider the Mini Suites, which have a king bed, sofa bed, and your choice of a balcony with an ocean view or no balcony at all for a cheaper rate.
For the most privacy if you're traveling as a family, opt for the One-Bedroom Suite, which has two balconies, a king bed in a room that can be closed off, and room for a rollaway in the living room, as well as a kitchenette (no stove or oven, but a full refrigerator and freezer) and a large dining room table. The bathroom has a shower, as well as a whirlpool tub, which is a nice perk if you're bathing more than one kid at a time.
Because there are only a few options for connecting rooms, the hotel is not able to guarantee connecting rooms in advance. Cribs and Pack 'N Plays are available upon request at no charge.
by Robin F
Quick getaway. Disappointed in the service and condition of the hotel. It needs some updating. On a positive note.. the complimentary breakfast was very good, and the room was very quiet. Hotel was very conveniently located.
We had a very nice couples weekend retreat at the beach. The only issue we had was that we were wishing the hotel was closer to the sand and the parking lot got in the way of our view. Other than that, we had a great stay at the Hampton Inn in Vilano Beach!
Beach & Pool
When you're not off exploring downtown St. Augustine, just across the bridge from the hotel, it's all about beach and pool fun at the Hampton Inn.
The public beach, located just across the street, is particularly good for skim boarding with long swaths of shallow water that just beg the kids to throw out a board and give it a go. And at low tide, there are large shallow tidal pools that make for a perfect natural baby pool for the toddlers in your entourage.
Tip 1: Shark teeth are commonly found on this stretch of beach, and starting a hunt is a good way to get everyone occupied with a group activity when they're not playing in the water.
Tip 2: While the hotel does not rent beach chairs for guests, it's worth asking at the front desk if previous guests have left behind any umbrellas or loungers in case you've forgotten to bring your own (there are usually some toys to play with, too).
The hotel's large pool is surrounded by ample chairs and umbrellas, as well as a thatched roof tiki bar that's occasionally open on weekends. Sadly, the pool isn't heated.
The pool is about 6 feet at its deepest point, and there isn't a lifeguard on duty. In addition to the pool, there's a large hot tub that's heated year-round. Children younger than 12 should be accompanied by adults if they enter the hot tub, as a courtesy to other guests.fam
The Hampton Inn's free breakfast is the only meal offered. A spread of cereals, fruit, juices, bagels and pastries is always rounded out by a few hot items that may include scrambled eggs, bacon or pancakes. Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. If you plan to be on the move in the morning, you can request an On the Run breakfast bag -- it's stocked with bottled water, yogurt, juice, granola bars and the like, and is available Monday through Friday only, at no extra charge.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
A coin laundry machine is available for guest use on the third floor, and it costs $1 to wash and $1 to dry. Detergent is available for purchase at the front desk.
There's a small gym with cardio equipment and weights just off the lobby for guests to use. It's open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.
A small shop off the lobby sells things like sunscreen, beer and wine, ice creams, chips and other basic snacks. A Publix grocery store is a five-minute walk from the hotel.
An onsite business center can send faxes for you ($5 per page) and make photocopies ($1 per page).
There's an ATM in the hotel lobby that has a $2 service charge for withdrawals.
The Art of Smart Timing
Spring break brings larger crowds to St. Augustine and this hotel as well, and the property operates near capacity during February and March. The summer months are also quite busy, with many Floridians staying in the state for vacation, so consider booking in advance if you plan to travel at this time of year. October and November are lovely months to visit, as crowds are down and the beach is less crowded, but still fairly warm and always beautiful. April and May are equally agreeable.
Jacksonville's International Airport, about 50 miles north of St. Augustine, is the closest major airport to the hotel. Count on a drive of about an hour to reach it. There aren't any airport shuttle services operated by the hotel and most guests rent their own cars during their stay. About an hour's drive south of St. Augustine is Daytona Beach International Airport, another option for flying in to the area. And two hours to the east (125 miles) is Orlando International Airport, where you'll find the most options for connecting airlines from across the country and around the world, as well as every car rental option under the sun.
If you sign up for a trolley tour of St. Augustine, you can be picked up at the hotel for no additional charge, which makes seeing the area easy. You'll still want a car to get around the area though, and self-parking is free at the hotel.
For Mom and Dad
Start things off with a locally brewed beer in the heart of the historic district at A1A Ale Works, a lively restaurant with a good mix of tourists and locals. For dinner, head to the funky neighborhood on Anastasia Island for the Gypsy Cab Company, a long-standing, local-favorite restaurant with excellent shrimp and Italian-inspired dishes. For live music in a very local setting, head to the rooftop of the San Sebastian Winery on weekend afternoons for live jazz and blues, and follow up with some wine tasting in the cellars.