I stayed here for 5 days in December 2012 before the "season" started, ie. before everyone offering housing/lodging in southern Florida begins charging 2-4 times more what they charge in the off-season. I stayed in the standard Queen room, which is the most basic room they have. It's located in the old Victorian house. Other rooms are located within a more modern-looking building. After seeing the high rating for this place on TripAdvisor, I was eager to try this clothing-optional getaway. But it is NOT a clothing-optional B&B. It's not even a B&B. I was rather disappointed for having shelled out so much money and having had such a lackluster experience. If I return to Key West, I will look elsewhere for lodging. Some notes on my experience there:
*"Clothing-Optional": The main selling point of this place is that it has a clothing-optional pool and spa. However, a large sign in the pool area states "Stand Up Cover Up." Meaning you can be in the pool naked, you can even lie down on a chair naked, but the second you stand up, you need to cover yourself. So much for a laid-back clothing-optional getaway. Secondly, the pool area gets zero direct sunlight, except for one corner that is just large enough for one lawn chair. The problem is that the neighboring property has massive trees that manage to block out the sunlight for the entire pool area. So much for erasing those tan lines.
*Spa: The spa is a nice feature, and it's nice to be able to take a late-night soak before going to sleep. However, the spa is heavily over-chlorinated. I had to take a 30-minute shower in my room afterwards to lessen the chlorine smell. It probably didn't help that the water pressure in my bathroom was weak. But despite all my scrubbing, I couldn't get rid of the smell. After a few days, I stopped using the spa. It just wasn't worth the effort I'd have to put in to getting rid of the chlorine smell afterwards.
*Old, Noisy Victorian House: For those who are into the old-charming-Victorian-house thing, this will be awesome for you. On an aesthetic level, I don't care either way. But what it does mean is that noise travels in this thing very, very easily. When people walk down the stairs on the other side of my door, you hear every clunk, clunk, clunk down the steps. The closing of doors manages to sound like slamming of doors. It's not much of a bother during typical waking hours, but at 6 AM, it's fairly annoying.
*Balcony/Patio Space: The standard queen room has no desk, nor table. So if you've got some tasty leftovers from some restaurant that you want to heat up and chow down on, you have to do it in bed, or else outside at the little plastic table and chairs located outside your door on the balcony. The outside setting is nice enough, and during my first few days there, there weren't many guests in the house, so it was fairly quiet and peaceful, and the tropical landscaping provides a lovely view. However, after dark, the mosquitoes come out to feast.
*Cockroach Visitation: The lush tropical garden on the property is accompanied by several critters. I mostly saw lizards and geckos darting around, but a cockroach visited me outside the door of my room one night. After poking around for a few minutes, it decided to go under the floor boards. It was only one, but it was just a little too close to my room for comfort.
*No Wifi, No Phone: There is no wifi in the rooms, at least in the Victorian house. In order to get a signal, you have to go to the pool area. And of course, the pool area has no plug outlets for laptops. The little welcome/explanation placard in the rooms also states that each room has a phone, but Pilot House has since eliminated the phones in the rooms. There is, however, a phone in the lobby of the Victorian house and one by the office that can make free local calls.
*Expensive Off-Street Parking: Parking costs an extra $20/day, which seems ridiculous considering how much the room costs already. It's in an uncovered lot on a side street that is located across the street from the back entrance of the hotel. But free on-street parking is available, and Daniel at the front desk was helpful in showing me where to find it. I was actually able to find street parking within 1.5 blocks of the hotel after less than a minute of driving.
*Decent Housekeeping: The housekeeping staff was friendly and the room was fairly clean. However, as the days went on, the floor began to slowly acquire an increasing amount of debris. I made a point of taking my shoes off when I enter the room to help keep it clean. I suspect that housekeeping was tracking in stuff with their shoes, and they weren't sweeping the floor as part of their housekeeping.
Unpleasant, Unprofessional Front Desk Woman: Daniel was at the front desk when I first checked in. While he was pleasant to deal with, he also seemed to improvise hotel policy at his discretion. The real unpleasant experience I had was with Virginia. I met her on my second day there and realized that I needed to avoid her as much as possible if I wanted to have a pleasant stay. This woman has the incredible ability to turn a perfectly normal conversation into a hostile and unpleasant one in the space of 5 seconds. I asked her the two questions I ask at every hotel I stay at: Do they offer a AAA discount? Do they offer a discount for staying several days? When the answer is no, every single staff person has given me a professional and polite response, usually something along the lines of "this is our lowest rate available." Instead, Virginia suddenly took on a belligerent tone and acted as if I should be grateful to be paying $150/night for a room that doesn't even have wifi access, parking, nor breakfast, all of which would be included in other establishments at that price. I couldn't believe this woman was in charge of "guest relations" because she clearly lacked the skill for it.
*Bike Rental: Key West is a bike-friendly place, and the hotel has a fleet of cruisers that they rent for $10/first day, $5/day for each day after. But to get this rate, you have to pay for all the days upfront. Otherwise, if you pay day to day, it's $10/day. Depending on how many days you stay, this could be a good deal. The cruisers aren't anything fancy. Just your ordinary awkward fixie bike without gears or hand brakes. But they do come with a handy basket and blinking lights so that you can bike around at night without worrying that you are invisible to car drivers. The bikes belong to, and are maintained by, BikeMan Bike Rentals.
*Location: The Pilot House is well-located in the downtown/Duval area of Key West. It's a block from the touristy Duval Street, which makes for an easy walk. But it also means that you might hear late-night ongoings if you've gone to bed early. By bike, it's an easy ride to Ft. Zachary, Mallory Square, and some great eateries outside of the immediate Duval tourist zone.
- Also Known As:
- Pilot House Guest House Hotel
- Pilot House Guest House Hotel Key West
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxurious accommodations in the historic Otto Mansion and pool side Cabana rooms. Full kitchens and kitchenettes available. Pool, spa and lush gardens surround the property tucked away in downtown Key West. ... more less