by Terry Ward
Fans of the Hampton Inn chain will find a lot to love at this Key Largo property, where a small manmade beach fronting Florida Bay is frequently visited by the area’s friendly manatees. The Hampton Inn Key Largo Manatee Bay opened in 2010 and the property was completely renovated with a fresh Florida look that includes paddle fans in the spacious guestrooms and lots of beautiful tropical foliage to add more green to the well-kept grounds.
Spend your days kayaking off the hotel’s small beach or splashing in the nice pool, and use the hotel as an ideal base, too, for exploring points near Miami (an hour’s drive away) or elsewhere in the upper Florida Keys, with a myriad marine-themed attractions on tap. The hotel is just down the road from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where you can set out on daily snorkeling trips to see some of the most beautiful reefs in the Northern Hemisphere or pose for an iconic underwater photo with the Christ of the Abyss statue.
As is the case at all Hampton Inn hotels, breakfast is free for guests, and the copious buffet makes it easy to start your day right and set out the door exploring.
The hotel’s staff get particularly high marks for their helpfulness and welcoming attitude, and you’ll meet many repeat guests who come back to this property year after year, thanks to the warm hospitality and friendly room rates.
As long as a beachfront hotel isn’t your main focus in Key Largo (the hotel’s stretch of sand is admittedly small and the shallow water not the most inviting for swimming), you’ll find the Hampton Inn makes a great base for enjoying all that Key Largo and the surrounding islands and areas have to offer.
Our Editor Loves
- Seeing iguanas and manatees around the property
- Waterfront location and small manmade beach
- Onsite kayak rentals
- 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 free Wi-Fi throughout the property. The Hampton Inn's 100 rooms are spread among the two-story building and are only standard guestrooms -- there are no suites here. Kitchenettes with a mini-fridge, microwave and granite countertop wet bar with coffee making facilities are standard in all of the rooms. And there's a desk in every room for working, with plenty of outlets for charging devices.
All rooms on the second floor of the building have balconies overlooking over the pool or the landscaped area facing the parking lot, and rooms on the ground floor have patios with similar views. Only a few rooms have actual water views of Florida Bay, so specify in advance if you wish to book those. Patio furniture for each room consists of a couple of chairs and a small table, making it inviting enough to sit outside.
The rooms were all renovated in 2010, and the look is very appealing with paddle ceiling fans, light colors and other tropical touches that remind you you're in Florida, without being gaudy. Rooms are carpeted, with tile only in the bathrooms. Flat-screen TV's with free premium cable channels are standard throughout. And the bathrooms all have glass panels that stretch from floor to ceiling (instead of a shower curtain), another nice modern touch, but it does make for water escaping and mini floods if you're not attentive, so you'll want to keep an eye on the kids while they're showering.
One King Bed Room
These guestrooms come with one king bed and a sofa bed, sleeping a total of four. All of the standard amenities can be found in these units and balconies with views of the pool are available.
Two Full Bed Room
These guestrooms have two full beds and room for a rollaway ($20 per night). While you could put two people in each of the full beds (note that these are full beds and not double beds), it may be a little cramped. This room can sleep a total of five and balconies with views of the pool area are available.
Connecting rooms are not guaranteed in advance and to have any chance of being given connecting rooms on arrival, you'll need to book a king room and a room with two full beds, as these are the only configurations that connect.
Cribs are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and are free of charge.
The price was reasonable and it beat our expectations for a Key Largo hotel, that was not a luxury hotel. Very nice and perfect for us! Staff was friendly and attentive, rooms and bed were comfortable and the location was good for the snorkeling trips.
Clean, helpful staff, well located, great restaurants around especially the most authentic Mexican homemade cuisine east of the Mississippi (at Florida City, Fl.). Easy access, good shopping, Florida City is the gateway to the US Caribbean.
Beach & Pool
Family activities center on the swimming pool and small beach at this property, which buts a narrow slice of Florida Bay with a westward-facing manmade beach that's small but suitable for swimming (more like wading -- it's shallow) and an ideal spot to soak up sunset views.
The hotel's large rectangular pool, surrounded by palm trees and other lush greenery, is open from sunrise to sunset daily, and guests are provided with pool towels free of charge. Nearby is a small manmade beach where the kids can have fun playing in the sand and stalking the shallows for crabs and bait fish. The Keys (and this Hampton Inn, too) are a wildlife wonderland and manatees are often spotted by the sea wall here. You also have a fairly good chance of spotting dolphins frolicking offshore. And kids also delight at seeing a handful of huge iguanas, non-native animals running rampant in South Florida, sunning themselves around the property.
The hotel has several kayaks for rent on the beach, too, and paddling into the nearby canals scouting for manatees and into Florida Bay is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon (be sure not to touch or harass them -- there's a major fine for such behavior). Double kayaks rent for $25 per hour or $55 for four hours, and singles are $20 per hour or $45 for four hours. Lifejackets are on hand for your use and the kayaks can be rented between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The hotel is less than one mile to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where twice-daily boat tours set out for snorkeling trips to the colorful coral reefs just offshore -- the must-do attraction of any visit to Key Largo.
The hotel's free daily breakfast is the only meal offered at the property. 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. Kids will love the waffle maker, too. Breakfast is served in a dining room off the lobby from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily.
Later in the day, grab a lounge chair and a fruity drink from the tiki bar near the pool -- it's open from 3 p.m. to sunset daily.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
A coin laundry machine is available for guest use. It costs $1 to wash and $1 to dry, per load, and you can buy detergent at the front desk for $2.
The hotel's small gym, on the first floor, has cardio and weight equipment and is open daily from 7 a.m. until midnight.
The Art of Smart Timing
Key Largo has pleasant weather year-round and as such, it's a popular place to visit during any season. Peak season falls between Christmas and spring break (through late March) and this is when you'll find the hotel operating at maximum capacity and the pool and beach at their most packed. June to August is a popular time for in-state tourists, too, and can also be busy. Shoulder season, in October and just before Thanksgiving in November, is a great time to visit as temperatures have cooled and things are generally less crowded. Keep in mind that September and October coincide with peak hurricane season in these parts, and there's a chance a storm could threaten to rain out your fun.
It takes about an hour to reach the Hampton Inn Key Largo Manatee Bay from Miami's International Airport, the closest major airport to the property. The hotel does not offer transport to and from the airport, so you'll probably want to rent a car for your stay, also for the benefit of exploring your surroundings a bit once you've arrived in the Keys. Another option for flying in is Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, about 90 minutes from Key Largo. All of the major car rental companies are located at both airports, and you can also rent cars once you get to Key Largo.
If you've rented a car, self-parking is free for guests in a lighted outdoor parking lot with 24-hour security.
For Mom and Dad
If your kids are old enough to look after themselves, there's some fun to be had. A short walk up the street (less than half a mile) from the Hampton Inn is The Fish House, a longtime favorite Key Largo seafood restaurant where you can dig into such fab Florida dishes as spiny lobster, stone crabs, grouper and snapper. And to mingle with locals at a fun bar after, cross the street again to D-Hooker Sports Bar & Grill, where the talk is always about what's biting or who's playing.