Worth the Trip: Ocean Key Resort & Spa

ocean key
The Sunset Pier at Ocean Key Resort & Spa. Photos by Sammy Todd Dyess

Make the trek south to sunset land when happy days are here again

After the longest year in history, we suspect people are going to break loose sometime in 2021 when the COVID horror begins to subside.

And there is no better place for your post-pandemic liberation than Ocean Key Resort & Spa in Key West. One would expect a Noble House resort to be more rarefied than Ocean Key; this resort is far more down-to-earth and relaxed, with a whimsical tropical vibe, a view of Mallory Square and a Gulffront pier that is decked out in bright tables with umbrellas, for optimal sunset viewing.

The address is Zero Duval Street—apropos for the fact that this is, in fact, ground zero for bar crawls, shopping and all kinds of diversions, from excursions to the Dry Tortugas to a jaunty little spin on the Conch Train just down the block. Wherever your day tripping takes you, when the clock strikes 5 or 6, it’s best to be back at the Mother Ship, where you can watch the sunset via a bird’s-eye view of Mallory Square or a table on the Sunset Pier for libations and seafood bites.

The whole sunset connection is one of the major draws for Ocean Key; 100 well-appointed rooms and suites with balconies are trained on the moment (if not the elusive green flash) which can be followed by an excellent dinner at Hot Tin Roof, the hotel’s signature restaurant and a very fine one indeed.

Hot Tin Roof, its name inspired by former Key West resident and great playwright Tennessee Williams, has a relatively compact menu, which nonetheless covers all the bases. Local favorites are a mainstay, from Key West pink shrimp to seared local grouper and Key lime pie, but a subtle Cuban flavor is threaded throughout, with grilled bread, grilled churrasco, whole snapper. Produce is local, and every dish we tried was well wrought, flavorful, masterful in its simplicity. Hot Tin Roof may be the single best reason to stay here.

Another fine amenity at Ocean Key is Liquid, its clubby pool bar, which evokes chic beachside spots in Miami. You can even reserve the venue for your own private VIP experience, complete with Veuve Cliquot station and butler-passed hors d’oeuvres.

There is a yummy spa at Ocean Key and a well-appointed boutique, but once again, this resort hotel is about more than itself; it offers access to great water views, is in the center of everything Key West and may be the perfect staging ground for celebration of all things 2021.

OCEAN KEY RESORT & SPA; 0 Duval St., Key West, FL; 305/809-8072; https://www.oceankey.com/

This story is from the March 2021 of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.