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Where to Stay in Sarasota, Florida in 2024: 5 Best Areas for First-Time Visitors

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Sarasota, Florida, is a place that often gets overlooked by tourists in favor of Orlando and Miami. The city is set on the Gulf of Mexico, featuring sprawling white sand beaches and panoramic sea views. If you come here, you’ll enjoy a fabulous beach vacation without the crowds of more popular Florida cities. 

Sarasota is a good destination for travelers who want to engage in adventures when they’re not on the beach or just spend their evenings golfing. With luxury resorts, excellent restaurants, and plenty of shops throughout the town, you’ll want for nothing in Sarasota.

This guide to the best Sarasota hotels will help you decide where to stay in the city. From the affordable hotels near the airport to resorts on the beaches at Siesta Key, here’s everything you need to know about choosing the best hotels in Sarasota! 

Best Areas to stay in Sarasota

Why You Should Listen To Us

Take my advice because I spend way too much time looking at hotel reviews online. This means that I’ve done the tedious job of researching every single accommodation mentioned here and making sure that it meets my very high standards. Dave and Deb stayed in Sarasota recently and want to share everything they’ve learned. 

Where To Stay in Sarasota, Florida

The best area of Sarasota to base yourself really depends on your reason for visiting. If you’re going on a beach vacation, then the best place to stay will be one of the islands with many miles of sandy beach. But if you’re going there for a city break, you’ll want to be more centrally located for easier access to tourist attractions. 

In any case, I’ve come up with a detailed overview of Sarasota’s best neighborhoods and their top hotels. So, let’s get into all the best areas of the city for a first trip! 

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Where We Stayed

Dave and Deb stayed at the Art Ovation Autograph Collection hotel in Downtown Sarasota. They liked the spacious and clean rooms, but the rooftop pool and bar were the most impressive features of this hotel. The views from the pool are phenomenal, making it hard to leave the hotel and go out and explore. 

Downtown Sarasota: Our Recommendation 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Downtown

Downtown Sarasota is a central city neighborhood great for first-time visitors. It’s full of touristy things to do, including museums, historic landmarks, and plenty of shops. Stay here for easy walking access to some of the best attractions in central Sarasota and lovely waterfront views. 

This neighborhood is home to some of Sarasota’s oldest buildings but also tall condominiums and luxury hotels. It’s a good place to stay for travelers who want to explore the classic Sarasota attractions and don’t mind traveling for a while to reach the beach. 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Downtown Market

Pros and Cons of Downtown Sarasota

Pros 

  • Walking distance to popular attractions 
  • Many shops and restaurants 
  • Lots of high-end hotels 

Cons

  • Few beaches 
  • Busy area 
  • Pricey hotels

Highlights of Staying in Downtown Sarasota 

Downtown Sarasota is the best part of the city for landmarks and tourist attractions. Come here if you want to see the city’s oldest buildings, tour its best museums, and discover all the most famous Sarasota attractions. 

  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is one of the city’s best attractions. The waterfront gardens feature tropical plants, ponds, and interesting sculptures. Every season, the garden has different decorations, and my favorite are the ones installed at Christmas time. 
  • Go for a short evening stroll through Downtown Sarasota, and you’ll notice the Sarasota Opera House. The building dates from 1926 when it was a theater. A night at the opera is a great way to end one day of your vacation, but even just walking past the building is enough to admire its beauty. 
  • Head to Bayfront Park to enjoy panoramic views, weird statues, fountains, and casual walking trails. A playground for kids is available at the park, as well as a cozy bar and grill. Enjoy a delicious dinner while watching the sunset from one of the best scenic spots in Sarasota.  
  • A walking tour of the historic Downtown Sarasota is the top pastime during vacations here. This is the oldest part of the city, with pretty buildings, scenic views, and lovely public parks. Sign up for a guided tour to explore the streets on your own, popping into the shops and restaurants that catch your eye. 

Best Places to Stay in Downtown Sarasota

Downtown Sarasota offers mostly high-end and luxury hotels. It’s great for travelers who want to stay in upscale accommodations and have easy walking access to popular tourist attractions. But if you’re looking for affordable hotels, you might need to look elsewhere because this central city area is not cheap. 

Embassy Suites By Hilton Sarasota

Embassy Suites By Hilton Sarasota is a four-star hotel in the city center. It features clean and roomy suites, which all have a bedroom and separate living quarters. Every room is equipped with a TV, desk, and an ensuite bathroom, so you can feel at home in the hotel. 

Guests staying at this Hilton Hotel have access to a fitness center and a heated outdoor pool with spectacular views of the Sarasota skyline. Book a suite with a view of the Sarasota Bay to enjoy ocean vistas from the comfort of your bed. Those rooms go for $600, while a standard room without ocean views is priced at approximately $550. 

The Sarasota Modern

The Sarasota Modern is a nice mid-range hotel in central Sarasota. It boasts spacious rooms with contemporary furniture and pretty views of the city from the private balconies. I will say that the hotel rooms are just a little too beige for my liking, but hey – at least it’s much harder to hide stains when everything is so light in color. 

Every room has a coffee maker, an ensuite bathroom, and a flat-screen TV. Guests all have access to free WiFi and can make use of the outdoor pool with loungers, cabanas, and a bar. With a nightly rate of approximately $620 (with breakfast), this is one of the best four-star hotels in this neighborhood. 

The Westin Sarasota

The Westin Sarasota is a three-star hotel in the historic city district. But just because it has three stars doesn’t mean it’s cheap or even mid-range. This is almost a luxury hotel, with a spectacular rooftop pool that offers one of the best views in the city. 

Next to the pool is a bar where you can enjoy evening cocktails along with views of the Sarasota skyline. The rooms are spacious and clean, with modern furnishings. Guests can also access the fitness center and spa and rent bicycles for free. A night at this hotel starts at $750. 

Siesta Key: Best Beaches In Sarasota 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key is home to some of the best beaches in the United States, making it a top destination for people who want to enjoy a beach vacation especially since many resorts are right there on the beach with private access for guests. 

In addition to the vast stretches of white sand, this lovely island also boasts a buzzing central district with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Downtown Sarasota is just 15 minutes away by car, so you won’t be far from the city’s attractions. 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Siesta Key Homes

Pros and Cons of Siesta Key Beach

Pros

  • One of Florida’s best beaches
  • Lots of shops and restaurants 
  • Good resort hotels

Cons

  • Far from Downtown Sarasota 
  • Few tourist attractions on the island 

Highlights of Staying in Siesta Key

Siesta Key isn’t home to many tourist attractions, but it makes up for that with the city’s best beach. 

  • Siesta Key Beach is the highlight of most stays at Siesta Key. The white sandy beach is one of the largest in Sarasota, and it’s open to everyone. It features a beach pavilion, a playground for kids, and beach volleyball courts. Some areas of the beach are reserved for hotel guests, but most of it is open to the general public. 
  • Head to Siesta Key Village for coffee in the morning or ice cream in the evening. This bustling district is the island’s hotspot for shops, restaurants, and cafes. The tree-lined Ocean Boulevard is perfect for casual evening strolls. 
  • Attend the Siesta Key Drum Circle. Every Sunday night, musicians and dancers go to Siesta Beach to play music and dance. The event brings together both tourists and locals, and it’s a very fun way of ending a day in Sarasota, not to mention it takes place on one of the city’s best beaches.  

Best Hotels in Siesta Key

Siesta Key has a ton of condo complexes and hotel resorts on the beach. If you want to be just steps away from the water, you’ll love staying on this island. 

Tropical Beach Resorts

Book a suite at the Tropical Beach Resorts if you’re looking for budget accommodation in Siesta Key. The three-star hotel has a nightly rate of $350, which is a good deal for this part of Sarasota, especially for a hotel that’s just five minutes from the beach. 

The hotel rooms are on the smaller side and feature somewhat outdated furniture. But every room has a private bathroom, and everything is pristinely clean, which is the important thing. If I can save at least $200 per night just because the kitchen cabinets need updating, I’m closing one eye and taking that deal. 

Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites

Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites is a good mid-range option in the northern part of the island. It’s on Ocean Boulevard, so you’re just a short walk from Siesta Key Village. If you walk in the other direction, it will take you just a couple of minutes to get to the beach. 

The hotel has two stars, but it looks and feels like a three-star hotel. 

The rooms are small but equipped with everything you could need, including a kitchenette and a private bathroom. There’s also an outdoor pool with loungers, which you access the moment you step outside the room. 

The Residences on Siesta Key Beach

The Residences on Siesta Key Beach is one of the best hotels for families and groups. Each unit is a private apartment that can accommodate up to eight people. There’s a dishwasher, a full-sized kitchen, and a private bathroom in each of the suites. Most apartments have two bedrooms and are suitable for six guests, but bigger units are also available. 

This is a Hyatt residence hotel, so it’s got many more amenities worth mentioning. Guests can take advantage of the outdoor pool, the fitness center, the hot tubs, and outdoor lounge areas. A night at this hotel starts at approximately $965, which is more than reasonable for six adults. 

Whitfield & Sapphire Shores: Best For Cheap Hotels

Where to Stay in Sarasota Whitfield-Sapphire Shores

Whitfield and Sapphire Shores are two neighborhoods near the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. If you’re in town only for a short time, stay here for convenient access to the airport and the beaches. 

Sapphire Shores includes miles of sandy beaches and many excellent resorts. Choose this part of Sarasota if you’re in town for just a couple of days and want to spend most of your time lounging on the beach. But opt for Whitfield if you’re looking for affordable hotels and easy walking access to popular museums and attractions. 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Whitfield-Sapphire Shores Ringling Circus Museum

Pros and Cons of Staying at Whitfield & Sapphire Shores

Pros

  • Affordable hotels
  • Many tourist attractions 
  • Easy beach access 

Cons

  • Far from the Keys and Downtown
  • No luxury hotels

Highlights of Staying in Whitfield & Sapphire Shores

Whitfield & Sapphire Shores are home to some of Sarasota’s best museums. The Ringling complex is one of the most popular attractions in town, featuring a museum, gardens, and the home of the former circus icon. 

  • Sarasota Jungle Gardens is an animal park with sprawling gardens in Sarasota Bay. Flamingos and other wildlife native to the region roam the grounds freely. The park features beautiful landscaping with many tropical plants and flowers. 
  • Established by the circus legend John Ringling, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is one of the most popular museums in Sarasota. It’s set in a pink Renaissance palace and features 31 galleries. The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and other art mediums from ancient art to contemporary times. 
  • I’m a bit of a car buff, so I always look for unique car museums in every city I visit. Sarasota Classic Car Museum is exactly what I was looking for in Florida, and I loved every second of it. Featuring classic cars, old-timers, and some of the earliest cars ever manufactured, the museum is perfect for car lovers of all ages. 

Best Places To Stay In Whitfield & Sapphire Shores

Stay at Sapphire Shores or Whitfield for excellent hotels with lower nightly rates. Most hotels here are at least half the price of those in the downtown while offering easy beach access and plenty of things to do in your spare time.  

Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota Bradenton Airport

Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota Bradenton Airport is a nice three-star hotel with an affordable nightly rate. If you’re in Sarasota for a short time and you want to stay close to the airport, the Mariott is a really good option. 

The hotel has an outdoor pool, free WiFi, and spacious family rooms. The nightly rate starts at around $300 for three guests, which is a pretty good deal for Sarasota. Also, this hotel is just a five-minute walk from the Classic Car Museum and another ten minutes from the Ringling Art Museum. 

Ramada by Wyndham Sarasota Waterfront

Ramada by Wyndham Sarasota Waterfront is an affordable two-star hotel in Whitefield. Don’t confuse it with the Days Inn by Wyndham Sarasota Bay – that hotel is in a different location, and it offers a significantly worse service than this one. 

The waterfront Sarasota hotel features an outdoor pool that overlooks the marina. Near the hotel is the Sara Bay Country Golf Club, making this a great option for any golfers in town. The hotel rooms are clean and spacious, with a starting nightly rate of around $240 for two travelers. Breakfast is included in that price point. 

Hilton Garden Inn Sarasota-Bradenton Airport

The Hilton Garden Inn is a nice three-star hotel near the airport. It’s got an outdoor pool, spacious rooms, and a fitness center. The rooms all feature an ensuite bathroom, as well as a TV and a desk area. 

A great thing about this hotel is that it offers a free shuttle to the airport. In fact, the shuttle service will take you anywhere in the 8-kilometer radius for free, allowing you to explore the neighborhood easily. 

Lido Key: Best For a Mix of Beaches and Tourist Attractions

Where to Stay in Sarasota Lido Key

Lido Key is the smallest of the keys off the shore of mainland Sarasota. It’s connected to Downtown Sarasota with a bridge, so you’re super close to all the tourist attractions. But you’re also just a couple of minutes away from a white sandy beach. 

Choose Lido Key if you want to experience a bit of everything in Sarasota. It’s got the beaches, the buzzing central area of St. Armands Circle with shops and restaurants, as well as vast public parks with hiking trails. 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Lido Key Beach

Pros and Cons of Lido Key 

Pros

  • Good for apartment stays
  • Close to landmarks in Downtown Sarasota
  • Great Beaches 

Cons

  • Not many tourist attractions on the island
  • Few hotels and resorts

Highlights of Staying in Lido Key

Lido Key is lacking in touristy landmarks but offers quite a few natural attractions. Plus, it’s super close to the Downtown. 

  • St. Armands Key is almost entirely encircled by Lido Key. It’s like the city center of this tiny island, connected with roads to both Lido Key and mainland Sarasota. At the center is the St. Armands Circle shopping mall, which is surrounded by restaurants and other shops. 
  • Lido Beach is the best thing about staying on Lido Key. The sandy beach is truly a small slice of paradise, perfect for relaxed vacations. Come here to swim, relax in the sand, and observe birds in the wild. 
  • South Lido County Park is set on the southern part of this tiny island. It offers hiking trails, kayaking, and bird-watching in the Hamsen Bayou. Beaches cover a smaller section of the park, but the rest is a more diverse natural habitat with plenty of wildlife. 

Best Places to Stay in Lido Key

Lido Key is one of the smaller islands off the coast of mainland Sarasota. It’s connected to Downtown Sarasota with a bridge, so it’s the best destination for tourists who want to be close to everything that matters in the city. 

Lido Beach Resort

Lido Beach Resort is a three-star beachfront resort with two outdoor pools. The hotel has its own private beach with a beach bar, a fitness center, and three hot tubs. For an easy-going vacation that consists of swimming and sunbathing, this is one of the best hotels in Sarasota. 

Also, Lido Key is the closest to the city center, so you can still easily access the popular tourist attractions in Downtown Sarasota for some fun in the evenings. A night at this hotel starts at approximately $350 for two or three people.  

Casa Limonada Boutique Motel

Casa Limonada Boutique Motel is a motel-style property. But instead of tiny rooms, every unit is a small apartment. This accommodation is a great option for families who prefer to stay in apartments and have access to a full kitchen. 

Despite being a two-star motel, this property is very highly rated by the guests. The rooms are all clean and modern, with comfortable and spacious beds. The nightly rate is approximately $300 for two adults, and the apartments can fit up to five guests. 

Holiday Inn Sarasota – Lido Beach

Holiday Inn Sarasota is a great option if you want to be super close to Lido Beach. Half of the hotel rooms have views of the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s one of the best views you’ll experience in Lido Key. 

One thing to note is this hotel is currently undergoing some much-needed renovations. It’s got an excellent location, and the amenities included in the stay were always good, but the rooms were seriously outdated, and the bathrooms were worn out. That shouldn’t be the case when they reopen for business! 

Longboat Key: Best For Families

Where to Stay in Sarasota Longboat Key

Longboat Key is the largest island off the coast of Sarasota, known for expansive sandy beaches, high-end resorts, and golf clubs. While there aren’t too many attractions in this part of Sarasota, travelers can stay busy by engaging in fun outdoor activities. 

Cycling, golfing, hiking, kayaking, and swimming are some of the top things to do at Longboat Key, but certainly not the only ones. Stay in this part of Sarasota if you want to have a chill vacation and enjoy the sun and sea. 

Where to Stay in Sarasota Longboat Key Driftwood

Pros and Cons of Longboat Key

Pros

  • Many hotel resorts
  • Multiple golf clubs 
  • Excellent public beaches 

Cons

  • Far from Sarasota Downtown
  • Few tourist attractions 

Highlights of Staying in Longboat Key

Longboat Key is great for outdoor adventures and sports since the activities here are best for active travelers. 

  • Golfing is one of the best ways to stay busy at Longboat Key. With multiple courses all over the island, there’s absolutely no shortage of opportunities for an afternoon of golf. Choose the course with the best views, and try not to be distracted by the scenic vista of the sea. 
  • Kayak rental is available at multiple places on Longboat Key. Explore the mangrove islands next to the Bayfront Park, and if you’re lucky enough, you might get to see dolphins. Most places that rent kayaks will also rent paddleboards, canoes, and other equipment. 
  • Visit the Joan M Durante Community Park for some family fun in the afternoon. Walking trails, piers, and playgrounds await at this public park, which sits near the center of the Longboat Key island. 
  • Charter a yacht and explore the Gulf of Mexico while enjoying ultimate privacy. Travel to other towns on the coast, or spend the day moored in the middle of the sea, swimming and having fun.  

Best Places to Stay in Longboat Key

Longboat Key offers plenty of condo complexes for tourists. If you prefer staying in private apartments, this is one of the best areas of Sarasota. Standard hotel resorts are also available, but they’re significantly more expensive than the apartments. 

Longboat Bay Club

Longboat Bay Club is one of the best options for families on the island. The property features private apartments that can accommodate up to six guests. It’s just a short walk from the beach. All the apartments feature two bedrooms, full-sized kitchens, and private bathrooms. 

A year-round outdoor pool is available for all guests to use. There’s also a playground for children on the grounds of the Longboat Bay Club. The nightly rate for apartments at this resort is around $500. When split among six adults, that comes down to approximately $60 per person, which is an absolute steal for Sarasota. 

Zota Beach Resort

Zota Beach Resort is a four-star resort hotel in the northern part of Longboat Key. It’s a modern resort with clean and contemporary rooms. Every hotel room has a desk, ensuite bathroom, and a flat-screen TV. The resort features a large outdoor pool that all guests can use. 

There’s also a fitness center, a business center, and even a private beach. A restaurant is available at the resort, but you should feel encouraged to leave the grounds and explore this lovely town. A night at this resort starts at $425 for two adults. 

Resort at Longboat Key Club

The Resort at Longboat Key Club is an excellent four-star hotel resort for travelers who like to be spoiled. Choose this resort if you like large rooms with comfortable beds, ensuite bathrooms, and a dishwasher in the room. With five on-site restaurants, you won’t even have to leave the resort area if you don’t want to. 

An outdoor pool and a private area of Longboat Key Beach are available for all guests. The average nightly rate for this resort is $650; it’s expensive, but you’ll hardly find anything cheaper with this high of a service level. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to Stay in Sarasota FAQs

Is It Better To Stay On Siesta Key Or Sarasota? 

Siesta Key is part of Sarasota, and it’s the better place to stay if you’re primarily interested in beaches. Stay in central Sarasota if you’re more into tourist attractions and popular landmarks. 

Which Is The Best Place To Stay In Sarasota? 

Downtown Sarasota is the best place to stay in the city of Sarasota. It’s the neighborhood with the most tourist attractions and landmarks. 

Which Are The Best Beach Resorts In Sarasota? 

The best beach resorts in Sarasota are Lido Beach Resort, The Residences on Siesta Key Beach, and the Resort at Longboat Key Club. Each resort is on a different island (Key) in Sarasota, Florida. 

What Are The Best Luxury Hotels In Sarasota?

The best luxury hotels in Sarasota are the Ritz-Carlton, Art Ovation Hotel, and the Sarasota Modern. All are in the city center (Downtown Sarasota).

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