Updated: May 21, 2015
Best Key West Hotels - Crowne Plaza La Concha Key West HotelReview of recent stay at Crowne Plaza La Concha in Key West:
We visited the Florida Keys in March, 2009. Part of our trip included 2 nights in Key West, where we stayed at the Crowne Plaza La Concha (pronounced "law CONE-chaw", for those who get confused between CONK and CONCH). In terms of location, Duval Street in Key West is like the Bourbon Street of New Orleans. It's where all the action is, with lots of bars, restaurants, and clubs, which are often loud and busy well into the early morning hours. When picking a hotel in Key West, the best place to be is fairly close to Duval and fairly close to the waterfront area -- the Crowne Plaza meets both these criteria being on Duval and just 5 blocks from the water. The hotel was built in 1926, and at 7 stories high, it offers one of the best viewpoints in Key West from its outdoor bar and patio on the rooftop (see photos below). Some other popular hotels in Key West include the Santa Maria Suites, the Ocean Key Resort and Spa, the Hyatt Windward Pointe, the Casa Marina Resort (Waldorf-Astoria collection), Hyatt Key West Resort, and the Parrot Key Beach House. One shock people experience when travelling the Keys is that Key West lodging is quite a bit more expensive than at the other Keys. Many of the nice hotels are $250-$500 per night, and it's hard to find much for less than $150 during the busy months. There are also many bread and breakfast style lodging choices in Key West if that is your thing, but we really just needed a hotel as a base of operations in a good central location -- and based on the reviews we read, we chose the Crowne Plaza.
Crowne Plaza La Concha Key West Map - Driving DirectionsThe first step is getting there and getting your bearings. The map below shows the location of the Crowne Plaza La Concha (at 430 Duval Street, the blue marker in the middle). It's at the corner of Fleming and Duval, just a few blocks down from the waterfront. The main entrance to the parking area is right in the middle of Duval between Eaton and Fleming. You can exit out of the parking area onto either Fleming to the south or Whitehead to the west. The blue marker at the upper left is Mallory Square, the main place to be at sunset. You can walk there in 5 minutes from La Concha. There are 2 ways to get to the hotel when you drive into Key West. Hwy 1 (the main road through the Keys) splits as it enters Key West. You can then:
- 1. Veer to the left onto 1A which goes past the airport on the south side of the island, and along the way makes a few more jogs left (follow the 1A signs) and you'll eventually cross Duval St. Make a right up Duval and continue about 12-13 blocks to the hotel.
- 2. When 1 splits, veer right and follow 5/1 (also called Truman and N. Roosevelt) along the northside of the island. Truman also eventually runs into Duval -- make a right on Duval and follow 5-6 blocks to the hotel.
View Crowne Plaza La Concha - Key West Hotel in a larger map
Key West Hotels - La ConchaThe official website for the Crowne Plaza in Key West is LaConchaKeyWest.com. The hotel is kind of shaped like a U, so in the center of the hotel there is an outdoor swimming pool in that open area on the 2nd floor, and a variety of terraces and patios in ascending levels around the pool, also in that center area of the "U". The photo to the right shows the view looking down from the roof into the interior pool plaza. So even though it is located on a busy street, the pool and outdoor patio areas feel private and away from it all. There is a bar there next to the pool as well.
In terms of location, this hotel is hard to beat. Let's start with the #1 complaint. The rooms along Duval can be loud late at night in this party town (and that goes for all the hotels along Duval). OK, this is a given. When you get to your room, there are ear plugs and a CD with sleep-friendly sounds to help drown out the noise. Part of being in Key West is this party atmosphere -- if you don't like it, make sure you get a room away from Duval or choose another hotel a few blocks from Duval. Not everyone complains about the noise, but enough do that you should be forewarned. We stayed on the 3rd floor facing the parking lot (opposite side of Duval) and never heard a sound, we slept like babies.
The other complaint is cost. Yes, this nice hotel is more expensive than other Key motels, as are all the other of similar quality. Key West is a busy tourist town, and nice hotels earn top dollars -- that's just a fact. So yes, the rooms are pricey (depending on time of year), yes the rooms are loud on the Duval St. side, but this is a great hotel. How much are rooms at the Key West Crowne Plaza La Concha? In the summer, you can get King rooms for as little as $160 and rooms with 2 Queens for up to $225. During the high season (ie, avoiding the hot humid summer and hurricane season), single King rooms start around $360 with 2 beds around $420. In March, we paid $279 for our room (2 Queens), which included an AAA discount.
Let's start with the hotel itself. We had an early morning arrival for an 8AM boat tour. We got there at 7:15, ran in and got a pass for the parking lot, dropped off the car, and headed for our boat. Very convenient, very hospitable. True, you pay $20 per day for parking on top of the room rate, but parking can be scarce in this town, and it was worth it for us. So we got back later in the afternoon and formally checked in. The lobby was large and elegant, check-in was fast and smooth. We went up to the 3rd floor (the hallways are kind of mazy) and entered our room -- very much in line with what you expect from Crowne Plaza properties. Two queen beds (tons of pillows, nice beds), flat screen TV, bathrooms lined in marble. True, we had a view of the parking lot, but it was a QUIET view and perfect for our needs. On this trip, we weren't trying to stay at the finest Florida hotels, as the Keys are known for their laid-back vibe. But most of the other hotels we visited along the way were just so-so -- the Crowne Plaza was by far the nicest spot we stayed. There is a Starbucks downstairs and a restaurant (Jack's Seafood Shack, Grouper Sandwich was tasty). There are lots of open spaces on the terraces around the pool area. Overall, we were very happy and recommend this hotel without hesitation.
Best Key West Rooftop Bar - The TopOne well-known highlight of the hotel is found up in the sky. If you take the elevator to the top (7th) floor of the wing facing Duval, you end up at "The Top", which is their rooftop bar. Interestingly enough, La Concha fell into disrepair in the decades before the 1980s -- at that time, ONLY the rooftop bar was open. Subsequent renovations delivered a pristine hotel property, and The Top Bar has remained opened throughout it all. The first picture at right shows the scene as you walk out of the indoor portion of the bar out onto the patio. Duval Street is down to the right there, and we're looking towards the water. The next shot is looking OVER the edge down onto Duval.
When it gets close to sunset, those not crowding Mallory Square seem to be crowding La Concha's roof. We made an early visit, and when we took the elevator down to street level, there must have been 40 people standing in line waiting to go up the elevator. It wasn't actually that crowded on top when we were there, but it certainly seemed popular. The views from the roof are great -- you can see all of Key West spread out before you and you can take in the view up and down Duval Street from a new perspective.
Here's a link to a live webcam from La Concha rooftop - check in for an East Coast sunset and enjoy the view.
On TripAdvisor.com, the Crowne Plaza La Concha rates 4 out of 5 by 179 independent consumer reviews, with lots of positive comments and reviews. Unless you are planning an oceanfront hotel in Key West, I think the Crowne Plaza La Concha Hotel is a near-perfect location for your Key West vacation.