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There are times, in Key West, when one tires of one’s yacht, and one needs a stately, boutique-style hotel – particularly after a night of bacchanalian excess on shore. A view of one’s yacht is also preferred.
Sipping a stiff gin and tonic on the balcony at The Marker Key West, the luxe new 96-room hotel in historic Old Town, I fantasized about owning one of the million-dollar vessels bobbing in the harbour. But I was already sitting in the lap of luxury. The Marker is the first newly built hotel in Key West’s Old Town in 20 years, with three pools (one reserved for adults), a soaker tub in every room and a fresh, modern design.
Elegantly nestled between Old Town’s stately colonial-Caribbean neighbourhood and the spectacular marina, The Marker is walking distance from most of Key West’s main attractions, including the plethora of restaurants and watering holes around Duval Street and tour operators offering every water sport known to man.
The rooms are spacious, airy and minimalist, with private balconies overlooking expertly landscaped gardens, the marina and the open ocean just beyond those yachts. Bathrooms are huge by any hotel’s standard, with both a walk-in shower and a soaker tub to wash off the salt after a day spent on the ocean. Like a well-maintained captain’s home, subtle touches of coastal culture add character, from whimsical black cat statues to oil paintings of tropical foliage in lush greens and flamingo pinks.
Eat in or eat out?
The Marker’s restaurant, Cero Bodega, is an easy choice, but Key West’s burgeoning culinary scene is not to be missed. A five-minute taxi ride will take you to Louie’s Backyard, a four-star American-Caribbean restaurant built into a century home. The backyard deck’s oceanside tables offer an excellent view of Key West’s magical sunset. Just steps from the hotel, keep the party going at The Other Side, a 1920s-era lounge inside the historic Porter mansion. The bar offers craft cocktails, including a $250 (U.S.) Royal Daiquiri, which, the owner claims, includes Black Tot rum from the last remaining stock of the original British Royal Navy’s reserves. If you’re up (or still up) the next morning, stumble over to Blue Heaven, where the lobster eggs Benedict will cure even the worst of hangovers.
I usually skip the mini-bar, but The Marker’s in-room offering stands out. Mickeys of premium spirits are provided at reasonable prices, and each room has a cutting board and fresh lime so you can prepare a real drink. Locally made key lime jelly beans, moisturizers and sunscreen from Key West Aloe, key lime-flavoured peanuts and potato chips and even a “pleasure gel” round out an interesting array of choices, all at a nominal cost.
If I could change one thing
After a day on the water and a night of boozy antics, the next morning I needed breakfast in bed (and possibly a Bloody Mary). The Marker doesn’t offer room service, and although you can get breakfast to go from the restaurant, it’s hard to imagine a luxury hotel without an in-room dining option. I’m not roughing it on the yacht, after all.
The Marker Key West, 200 William St., Key West, Fla., themarkerkeywest.com, 96 rooms from $229 (U.S.) a night in low season.
The writer was a guest of the resort.