by Terry Ward
The hotel’s location, toward the northern end of Fort Lauderdale Beach and surrounded by residential areas and a few other big-name hotels, makes it somewhat removed from the more crowded central beach area to the south, near Beach Place and Las Olas Boulevard. That said, the Hilton is still close enough to walk to the heart of the beach action and nearby cafes, restaurants and bars. While not officially oceanfront (you have to walk across two lanes of traffic on A1A to reach the beach from the hotel), this is still very much a beach hotel, where leisure activities focus on relaxing on the sand and pool deck. When you’re hanging out with your family on the sixth floor pool deck, you’ll have direct views of the ocean. And just across the street on the beach, city vendors rent beach chairs and umbrellas on the sand, where you can set up for the day, albeit for a hefty price for rentals (bring your own beach chairs to save money, if at all possible). There’s another Hilton in town on the marina, but this oceanfront Hilton is the most popular with families, particularly those on pre or post-cruise stops; it’s so close to Port Everglades the debarkation point for many Caribbean cruises.
A bonus is service — the hotel’s staff is consistently praised for going above and beyond to help guests makes the most of their stay. If you’re looking for a classic Florida beach vacation at a hotel that provides all the amenities and then some, the Hilton is a great choice.
Our Editor Loves
- Condo-style suites with full kitchens
- Rooftop pool overlooking the ocean
- Close to trolley and water taxi stops
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Hilton's 374 studios and suites range from fairly standard hotel rooms (called studios) with a king bed, queen bed or two queens, to full condo-style suites with one, two and three bedrooms (with the same number of bathrooms, too) that feel more like your own beachfront apartment. The lowest category of rooms are the Intracoastal Waterway Deluxe rooms, which face the opposite direction of the beach and have no balconies or kitchenettes. It's well worth upgrading to the suite category of rooms, since all suites have kitchenettes with a microwave, mini-fridge and two-burner stovetop, as well as balconies with semi or full ocean views. Studios have either two queen beds or a king bed, with room for a rollaway. And when you upgrade to the king junior suites, you get a room with a king bed, as well as a queen sleeper sofa in a separate living room area.
Several of the room categories include connecting room options. You can request King Studios that connect to a room with two queen beds, or connect a Queen Studio to a queen suite that also comes with an extra queen sofa bed (the latter configuration sleeps 10 people between the two rooms).
The swankiest option at the hotel is the Penthouse. Located on the 25th floor, with sweeping ocean views, it has three bedrooms (two rooms with king beds and another room with two queen beds) and sleeps eight people. The penthouse also has a full kitchen, complete with stainless steel appliances and a four-burner stovetop and oven, along with a full-sized refrigerator, freezer, and all the necessary pots, pans and utensils for cooking in-room meals.
All of the studios and suites at the Hilton are individually owned, and while the dÃ©cor differs slightly from suite to suite, you can count on sleek and modern furnishings, crisp white luxury hotel linens and bathrooms with rainhead showers and separate soaking tubs (some of the tubs are oversized and with jets, in the larger suites). All rooms and suites have coffee makers loaded with supplies, flat-screen TV's, in-room movies, desk space and alarm clock/stereo systems with MP3 connectivity.
Cribs and Pack 'n Plays can be delivered to your room with advance notice.
by Anthony C
We upgraded to an oceanfront suite and it was the best decision we made for our one-night stay. What a view and what a room! Everything at the hotel was classy and well done, from the lobby to the pool, beach service, restaurant/bar, spa, and fitness center. This hotel has the rare extra touches that you only possibly see at 5-star hotels--lobby reps handing out waters if you're walking out or in, fitness center/spa receptionist pouring you cups of gatorade after your workout, even the reservation manager calling us the day before asking if there was anything special we needed for arrival. Quite the experience we had thanks to their team at the Hilton Ft Lauderdale and we look forward to coming back!
This was the best staff that I have ever seen at a hotel. Excellent service and smiling faces everywhere even at the bars and restaurants. It definitely deserves 5 stars! The room was nice and clean with prompt maid service.
Families often divide their days between the Hilton's sixth floor swimming pool -- an infinity-edged pool, lined with lounge chairs that can get pretty crowded during the prime daytime hours -- and the beach, just across the street.
There's no official kids camp or game room at the hotel, but when there are a few kids present (and depending on the weather), the staff gather the little ones for free kids' activities by the pool. They might include arts and crafts sessions, cookie decorating, water games, face painting or the chance to tie-dye a T-shirt. Kids' toys, such as boogie boards and pool noodles, are available for free to use while you're at the pool. Down on the beach, you're pretty much on your own when it comes to beach toys (you'll find some for purchase -- snorkeling sets, innertubes and the like -- at the hotel's ground floor gift shop). And a city-run kiosk on the beach rents lounge chairs and umbrellas for a hefty $44 (two chairs and an umbrella) for the day. If you're planning to stick around the hotel longer than a day or two, it makes sense to bring your own chairs from home or head to a local Target or Wal-Mart to buy a few for the week.
Just across the street from the hotel, lining the beach, is a really nice walkway that's perfect for a family stroll or, if you're so inclined, a long bike ride (the concierge can arrange rental bikes to be delivered by an outside vendor). This beachfront promenade stretches for over seven uninterrupted miles (no sidewalks to jump on and off or traffic lights to traverse) along A1A and is a prime place to pedal.
The hotel's most casual dining option, and a place you're sure to hit up many a time when snack attacks ensue, is a European-style eatery located on the ground floor, which is accessed from the hotel's lobby and the oceanfront street outside. It's called Le Marche Gourmet Market and it makes a great quick stop for your Starbucks coffee fix, made-to-order paninis and cold sandwiches, all ready to be carted off to the beach. It also serves as your answer to the all-important midday or post-dinner gelato fix. There's indoor and outdoor seating here, and other appealing menu items include pizzas ($8 to $10), quiches, pastries, fruit and other grab-and-go items that come in handy in a hunger pinch. At the rear of the shop, you'll find things like milk by the liter, juices and other supplies, useful when you need to restock your fridge but don't want to make the two-mile trek to the nearest Publix.
Also on the ground floor of the hotel is a rather swanky restaurant called S3 (open for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m.), that has become a real Fort Lauderdale hot spot, thanks to its huge covered streetfront terrace located right across from the beach and big couch-style booths inside (be careful, the restaurant's floors are a sleek material that's very slippery). There's a sushi bar and some great grilled seafood on the menu at S3, and kid's menu items include pizzas, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, mac and cheese cooked in a wood-fire oven and grilled cheese, all for around $7.
For more traditional hotel dining, head to the sixth floor pool deck for the casual indoor and outdoor restaurant Ilios, open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. For breakfast (6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.), kids can do the buffet for $12 (it's $27 for adults) and feast on a range of cereals, egg dishes, pancakes and the like, or order a la carte instead. Lunch (11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and dinner (5 p.m. to 11 p.m.) options include a "favorites" menu that's priced between $5 and $9 and includes things like spaghetti, chicken fingers, mac and cheese, and a "healthy options" menu, which ranges between $7 and $14 and includes items like organic chicken soup, pizzas with whole wheat crusts and grilled grouper with steam veggies. If you're a sushi fan, there's a great sushi bar at Ilios, too, and it's good to know that the kids have their own options while you're tucking into the sashimi and edamame.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wireless Internet costs $14.95 for a 24-hour period and works in the rooms, suites and all public areas.
There are no public laundry facilities at the hotel, but dry cleaning service is available. There are coin-operated machines a little over a mile from the property.
Parking at the hotel is valet only and costs $32.95 per day, and includes unlimited in-and-out privileges.
The concierge can suggest several local babysitting agencies to guests, but for liability reasons, does not arrange services first hand.
DVD players are not available at the hotel, but you can pay on a per-movie basis for in-room videos accessed through the entertainment system (there are plenty of good kids' options).
A good 24-hour gym is free for guest use and is located right across from Ilios restaurant, on the sixth floor.
The nearest water taxi stop is about a 15-minute walk from the hotel on Cortez Street. It's a good way to explore the area and ogle the mansions and yachts lining the canals
The Q Shop, on the hotel's ground floor, sells things like sunscreen, basic medicines, bathing suits, water shoes for kids, masks, snorkels, batteries and first aid items.
The hotel's spa, Spa Q, has a great range of aromatherapy, massage and facial treatments, and also offers manis and pedis at reduced rates for kids between the ages of 3 and 12.
The Art of Smart Timing
Fort Lauderdale is a year-round destination with extremely agreeable weather. And while the summer months do get hot, ocean breezes keep things quite comfortable when you're not cooling off in the water, or afloat in the hotel's pool. Prices and crowds are at a premium during the busiest times, around Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. But don't let Spring Break, another busy time (basically the entire month of March), scare you off. Fort Lauderdale still has a rowdy party scene, and while a few revelers use their parents' Honor points to stay at the Hilton, it's still a primarily family- and couple-oriented scene.
Some of the most pleasant times of the year to visit are during the shoulder season months of late April into May, before school gets out for the summer, and also in October. Keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June through November in Florida. And during the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat show, held in late October, the whole town is an absolute zoo.
Fort Lauderdale is located about 40 minutes north of Miami by car. There's an international airport in Fort Lauderdale (15 minutes from the hotel) that's serviced by most major airlines, as well as budget carrier Spirit Airlines, which has a hub in Fort Lauderdale. You can also consider flying into Miami ($90 to $100 taxi ride) or Palm Beach International Airport ($120 taxi fare).
All of the major car rental companies have outposts at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and it makes sense to rent a car during your stay if you plan to venture beyond Las Olas Boulevard and the main drag along the beach. If you're content to stay within that area, you'll be fine grabbing a taxi from the airport and using the water taxi and trolley system to get around once you arrive at the hotel. Count on paying $28 for a taxi from the airport to the hotel, and about $8 from the hotel to Las Olas Boulevard.
For Mom and Dad
Fort Lauderdale is a fun town that buzzes nearly every night of the week, particularly along Las Olas Boulevard, the main shopping and restaurant drag that stretches west from where it intersects the beach, along a pretty, palm-lined road. If you're visiting on a Sunday, make a fun lunch date out of a visit to the gourmet farmers market on Las Olas Boulevard, where fresh guacamole is pounded before your eyes and, during snowcrab season (from mid-October to mid-May), you can order cold delicious claws with sweet mustard sauce to snack on -- all right there.
If you feel comfortable doing so, book a babysitter for the night through one of the companies suggested by the hotel reception, and plan an evening out with just the two of you. Start with a drink at the Elbo Room, a dive bar across from the beach that's a real Fort Lauderdale institution. There's usually live music, and classic beach people-watching is guaranteed. Alternatively, Bimini Boatyard is a fancier spot for a cocktail, where you can watch the yachts passing through the adjacent canal.
Then move things upscale by heading to one of the many atmospheric restaurants along Las Olas Boulevard. Chima Brazilian Steak House is a stylish rodizio restaurant that churns out piled-high platters of churrascaria meats and sizzling seafood. And YOLO is a full-on entertainment complex that includes a swanky club and cool lounge, in addition to its excellent restaurant, which serves tasty seafood like Sichuan calamari, fresh wahoo and grouper.