by Eric Barton & Jessica Giles | April 24, 2023

10 Boutique Hotels Around Florida You Should Book For Your Next Weekend Getaway

From North to South, here are the hottest Sunshine State indie hotels offering an authentic Florida stay.


The best trips are the ones that change us. The ones where the culture we touch and the locals who touch us renew our spirit and inspire us with ideas that linger long after we return home. The vacations where every meal, moment and memory leave a lasting mark that we talk about with friends and family for years to come. Finding those truly authentic travel experiences can feel impossible without an inside connection. And while the Sunshine State has no shortage of beautiful, award-winning resorts and hotels, few of them stand out as ones that offer stays emblematic of the cities where they stand. No matter where you find yourself in Florida, we’ve rounded up some of the best independent hotels. And since every slice of the state has its own distinct personality, you can be sure that no two properties are the same. From historic inns nestled in Panhandle fishing towns to European villages in the heart of Miami—and a variety of hotel types and towns in between—these 10 retreats are replete with individuality and ready to inspire.


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The Gibson Inn 


Rich in history and rooted in place, this storied boutique hotel in the heart of Apalachicola is the perfect retreat for those in search of authentic Old Florida charm. Since the moment siblings Steven Etchen and Katharine Etchen Couillard purchased The Gibson Inn in August 2018, they set out to create a hideaway steeped in the area’s history as a port city and longtime oyster-harvesting hub. This ode to its origins begins in the lobby, which is wrapped in original native heart pine walls,
decorated with double Chesterfield leather sofas and anchored by a sweeping staircase. The Etchens used a photograph of the original lobby from when the Gibson first opened in 1907 to replicate the layout, and then infused it with their own modern touches, such as the custom Gibson Inn wallpaper above the oyster shell quartz check-in desk. Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of this Panhandle property is that each room has its own personality. Retire to the Captain’s Room, appointed with nautical decor and a luxe clawfoot bathtub or sleep in a Signature Deluxe room on a king-size bed beneath a sprawling roseate spoonbill mural. The hotel’s draw lies truly in the details, such as gallery walls featuring Old Florida art and artifacts; the five-star service at the on-site restaurant, Franklin Café; and the inn’s Bentley, which is available to chauffeur guests around the Forgotten Coast. Having spent their childhood summers playing on the porch of the old Gibson Inn, the Etchen siblings feel a sense of pride in helping to usher this Apalachicola gem into the 21st century. “To actually see it come to life on a daily basis has been really gratifying,” Steven Etchen says. In spring 2024, Gibson guests will have even more space to unwind with the addition of 24 rooms, a fitness center, a corner cafe, a spa and a long-awaited pool as the centerpiece of the courtyard.

The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens consists of nine 18th-century homes. Photography courtesy of The Collector Inn.

The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens 

St. Augustine

The Collector, as it might sound, is a collection of sorts. Situated in the heart of St. Augustine, the luxury property brings together nine late 18th-century homes encompassing 30 rooms. The homes, formerly preserved as part of the Dow Museum of Historic Houses, are now providing a trip into the history of the town. Many of the structures were built with coquina, limestone rock harvested from the ocean and emblazoned with imprints of shells, which was made famous at St. Augustine’s Fort Matanzas. The entire adults-only property feels a bit like a village of its own and spans an entire city block. From there, meander the historic district’s maze of shops and eateries. If eating out isn’t your thing, each of the homes are outfitted with kitchenettes and selected suites offer shared verandas overlooking the property’s old-world courtyard where afternoon happy hour unfolds. Grab a drink from The Well bar and relax in the walled gardens while you soak up the charm of Florida’s oldest city.

The Pearl earned four stars from the Forbes Travel Guide. Photography courtesy of The Pearl.

The Pearl 

Rosemary Beach

In the John Steinbeck classic The Pearl, a massive jewel brings hope of untold wealth that upends a native village. In Rosemary Beach, the arrival of The Pearl brought an entirely different kind of attention to the otherwise sleepy Panhandle beach town: a jewel of its own that keeps earning accolades. The Pearl looks almost like a European downtown, with its four-story clock tower, steeples, dormers and balconies shaded by black-and-white striped awnings. A night’s stay affords access to a private beach, the hotel’s spa, and amenities such as golf and kayaking at related properties through the hotel’s parent company, the St. Joe Company. All of it is enough for the 55-room property to earn four stars from the Forbes Travel Guide, and the wine list at its restaurant, Havana Beach Bar & Grill, to receive an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

Hotel Palms is full of artwork by local makers. Photography by Jessie Preza.

Hotel Palms

Atlantic Beach

Situated in the heart of Atlantic Beach in Northeast Florida, Hotel Palms is a one-of-a-kind, 11-room boutique hotel emanating a laid-back style equally appealing to surfers and skaters as it is to contemporary art collectors. Owned and operated by Greg and Julie Schwartzenberger along with Greg’s sister, Stevan Brown, the property was once a popular motor court motel, built in 1947. After several decades, a complete renovation and rebranding, Hotel Palms now modishly welcomes discerning travelers with its small-town charm and urban cool, making it a cultural hub for both locals and visitors to Atlantic Beach. Much more than a place to unwind at the end of a beach day, Hotel Palms is an unorthodox art gallery. Julie cultivates the hotel’s interior design, while Greg builds relationships with cutting-edge artists, whose work is featured inside and outside the hotel (think: modern geometric murals). Throughout the year, the trio hosts multiple events featuring independent makers and artists, including its annual Art Camp, a weeklong residence for 10 artists from across the nation.


Hotel Haya 


Named after the stogie giant Ignacio Haya, who opened the first cigar factory in Ybor City, Hotel Haya represents a resurgence of one of Tampa’s most beloved neighborhoods. Just as Ybor City was a melting pot for Italian, Spanish and Cuban immigrants in the early 1800s, this modern sanctuary blends these three influences through its cuisine and design, which features clean lines, decadent gold accents and an abundance of windows to let in the light. Each of the 178 rooms, which range from suites overlooking bustling Seventh Avenue to standard rooms with a pool view, shine with Ybor touches such as handblown round lamps by artists from the nearby Morean Glass Studio, custom catchall trays by local ceramicist Kari Kinder and abstract maps depicting landmarks from Haya’s life created by Kristin Texeira. The ultra-Ybor experience goes deeper than decor, and culinary concepts inside Hotel Haya have attracted a fan base of their own. Start the morning at Café Quiquiriquí with a cafe con leche and a pastelito to power a day of exploring the surrounding neighborhood or simply sink into one of Hotel Haya’s cabanas and order an endless stream of poolside cocktails. Once the sun sets, dine at Flor Fina, the hotel’s main restaurant, for a taste of coastal cuisine and a Painkiller served in a peacock glass (although a chicken glass might be more fitting considering the throngs of wild roosters and hens roaming Ybor City). Hotel Haya brings an air of urban elegance accented by a deft touch of local flavor to this historic Tampa district. It’s a balancing act they’ve accomplished by using the talents of longtime natives at every turn, from the architectural plans to the interior design.

Ette Hotel embodies a clean-living ethos, from the rooms to the dining options. Photography courtesy of Ette Hotel.

Ette Hotel


If holistic hospitality is what you’re looking for, Ette Hotel delivers on its clean-living ethos. This latest addition to the Sunshine State’s boutique scene opened in spring 2022. The chic hotel’s organic luxury unfolds from the lobby to the guest rooms to the spa, with a neutral palate, elevated by rich textures and luxe materials such as Italian marble throughout the property. Situated a short distance from the Disney theme parks, Ette Hotel offers an antidote to the mass-market excess of other nearby accommodations. Led by Michelin-starred Chef Akira Back, Ette’s multiple dining concepts include Salt & the Cellar, with a Mediterranean-Asian fusion menu, and LIPA, a rooftop destination turning out new-world Asian haute cuisine along with knockout mocktails from the zero-alcohol bar. Don’t let Ette’s sober situation turn you off to its earthy elegance, as the hotel allows guests to BYOB, even providing a personal thermos bag for toting libations from the pool to the patio. 


The Colony Hotel 

Palm Beach

On an island where the well-to-do live in homes as big as grand hotels, you’d think visitors would have their pick of suites and guest houses. But it’s The Colony Hotel that serves as the true guest house on the island, a place for a visiting cousin or business partner or where that old pal from prep school will spend the summer living the life of a Great Gatsby character. The Colony turns 76 this year, and to celebrate, the owners referred to old photos and vintage postcards to help guide a renovation of the 89 rooms, making sure the place keeps its unapologetically pink sense of Palm Beach style. Mimi McMakin of Kemble Interiors incorporated pinks and teals, Flamingo-themed wallpaper, patterned curtains, wicker and bamboo to create charming rooms that look like the background of a vintage family photo—if the family’s last name happens to be, say, Rockefeller. Over the years, this style has attracted the likes of Judy Garland, John F. Kennedy and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor—and maybe also, on your next holiday, you.

The rooftop lounge area at Esme. Photography by Jen Castro.


Miami Beach

In 1926, the Miami News wrote of the Esmé: “In all the world, no place so quaint.” Nearly a century later, it just might still be true. Esmé sits at the end of South Beach’s storied Española Way and feels, on its own, like a little Spanish Village, complete with a European-like alleyway running through the center. Built in 1925, the property has kept its art deco charm, including an outdoor bar shaded by a bamboo roof. There are quaint mail slots behind the check-in counter where you can, and should, ask if you have any messages, and second-floor balconies look out onto the pedestrian-only boulevard below. Down that long alleyway cutting through the property, there’s a speakeasy bar that serves as the waiting space for Sushi | Bar, an intimate omakase serving up some of the city’s most original bites of nigiri. The rooms are stylishly designed, each one uniquely themed in dark greens or reds, with wicker furniture, sconces and rich drapery giving them the feel of a guest room for a 1920s seaside getaway. The property includes Casa Matanza, a stand-alone guest house across Drexel Avenue that once served as Al Capone’s underground gambling den. The property describes itself as a former “colony for artists and outcasts” and “a transportive village where the past informs your future”—descriptions that feel fitting even today.

The Mayfair House Hotel & Garden has a disco glam aesthetic. Photography by Will Pryce.

Mayfair House Hotel & Garden

Coconut Grove

When historic hotels in Florida reopen after major renovations, they typically have the same style: the Spanish-Mediterranean revival that became popular just when Henry Flagler was laying his railroad tracks down the east side of the state. Mayfair House offers an entirely different bit of nostalgia, a throwback to a glamorous ’60s era Florida. It’s not mid-century modern as much as it is disco glam. That vibe is captured in a mustard couch that matches an amoeba-shaped coffee table; a big semicircle tufted headboard that seems stolen from a Nixon-era Disney resort; gold-edged mirrors; walnut-looking room dividers; and a thousand other details that all seem like a Hollywood prop designer was hard at work. The hotel, with its Gaudí-like facade, opens up into a center courtyard full of fountains and foliage, a look that continues up, every balcony above covered in enough plants to fill a botanical garden. The renovation to the 1985 building by New York-based interior design studio Goodrich cost $50 million, and it’s now a gem in the very-hot-at-the-moment Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove. There are clawfoot tubs in the bathrooms and balconies with their own little gardens featuring outdoor showers. The restaurant group Lost Boy & Co. took over the Mayfair Grill restaurant on the bottom floor and the rooftop bar with views of the Miami skyline. Across every inch of it, from the distinct, very tiny lobby to the platform in the center of the courtyard where a jazz band plays on the weekends, it reads of a different era. If you go, be sure to pack your platform shoes.

Palm Beach is home to the second location of White Elephant; the first is in Nantucket. Photography by Chi-Thien Nguyen/Elkus Manfredi Architects.

White Elephant 

Palm Beach

There’s a common backstory in Palm Beach. It begins in New England, where years as a socialite and association with the old-monied power structure led to the kind of wealth that allowed the addition of a home along the Florida seashore. It’s the exact story of White Elephant, which began life in Nantucket in the 1920s as the dream of socialite Elizabeth T. Ludwig. In 2018, White Elephant owners bought the Bradley Park Hotel on the northwest side of Palm Beach’s business district and began a two-year renovation on the historic property. Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects was brought in to handle the delicate renovation to a building that began its life in 1924 as a private casino for E.R. Bradley and other city founders. The result is a property defined by a neutral color palette and Mediterranean vibes pulled straight out of historic photos of Palm Beach, full of hardwoods and Carrara marble and woven rugs. The hotel’s 32 rooms include two penthouse suites on the fourth floor with private rooftop terraces that offer breezy coastal views. The restaurant, Lola 41, came south from Nantucket, and if its largely Asian-inspired menu doesn’t cut it, there’s a fleet of BMW 7 Series cars for hotel guests to drive themselves, or be chauffeured, elsewhere. The property has been lauded often: The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach extolled its renovation. Starting at about $1,000 a night during the high season (and twice that for a weekend night), it’s not the most expensive hotel on Palm Beach, but it just might be the property that’s most true to the island’s history.