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“Rain or shine, a wonderful place to stay” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Island House

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Island House
Certificate of Excellence
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Rain or shine, a wonderful place to stay”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 28, 2012

I just returned from a long weekend at Island House that could have been a disaster, as Tropical Storm Isaac rolled into town a day and a half after I did. But it was one of the best vacations I've taken in a long time.

I had reserved a cheaper room with a shared bath but still felt like I was in an upscale hotel. The room was well appointed and the shared bathroom was elegant and always clean. Towels, sarongs and other amenities were always in abundant supply.

The Island House itself, once you get over the overwhelming gay vibe, is vast yet cozy and pretty much has almost everything you need. As the weather worsened I worried that being cooped up in the hotel would make me stir-crazy. But the atmosphere just fostered celebration and we partied and chatted, ate and drank, and even jumped in the pool during some of the torrential downpours. Locals constantly dropped by, freshening up the company, and the complimentary happy hour every day was always a high point.

Being a workout addict, their having a gym was an essential for me. Though small it was one of the most well-appointed I have ever experienced at a hotel.

The staff is very attentive, friendly and skilled. The cafe/bar staff, in particular, was excellent and while they were all great, standouts were Frank and Shawn. If I have one quibble, it is that the front desk staff was not always on its "A" game, and some things fell through the cracks. But none of it ever was major enough to spoil the good time I had and in many other instances they were extremely helpful and generous.

A note about my fellow guests: as this is a clothing-optional hotel, one might worry that it would be full of creepy guys that didn't respect personal boundaries. This was not the case. The clientele ran the gamut in age, body type and level of exhibitionism but all were friendly and respectful of each other. And I will just say that whenever I was looking for company of any kind, it was easy to secure.

Thank you Island House for a memorable vacation. I will have to start saving now so I can get there again soon.

Room Tip: As all the rooms are lovely, it depends on what you feel you need. If you want a private bath, get...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
10 Thank David P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Cheektowaga, New York, United States
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 17, 2012

On my first trip to Key West, I stayed at two resorts over 8 days. The first resort was Big Ruby's and the second was Island House. I did this for two reasons. First to save myself some money and second to experience two different places. Feel free to check out my "Big Ruby's" review once it's posted.

Upon arriving at Island House, I got there before the normal check-in time so my room wasn't ready. I greeted by Chris, a new employee who had only been there for about 6 weeks. He's a very friendly guy and easy to talk to and is actually a former employee of Big Ruby's. He locked up my suitcases and gave me a quick complete tour of the resort. I got a locker key and since I didn't have time to shower before leaving Big Ruby's, I took a quick shower in their "gang shower" located by the indoor jacuzzi. It is dimly lit and has several shower heads complete with soap and shampoo dispensers. Once I finished washing off, I was notified by another employee that there was a problem with my room but they had a solution.

Orginally I was going to stay in a KP1 ($299) room for two nights and then switch to a ESP1 ($189) room for one night. ***Please note prices do change per the week/month so those prices may not reflect what you will pay*** The problem was that the person in the room I was to be moved into decided to go on a boating trip and never checked out of the room. I was explained that they didn't really like to go packing up guests belongings in these types of situations. Apparently room switching is a common occurance in this resort. I was notified they had several room switches that day lol. So unfortunately I wasn't able to get into the room that I had reserved. But their solution made me happy. I got an upgraded room and discounted prices :)

My first night was switched to a EP1 room (orginally $209 but I got charged $109) and then I got the KP1 room for two nights (orginally $299 and I was charged $299 for one night and $189 for the second night) for a total savings of $210. Now that is what I call keeping the customer happy!


Rooms: I may have the room numbers mixed up. I remember the numbers but can't remember which number I stayed in first. If they are wrong, I'm sorry but I did include the classification of the room too.

EP1 - Room 217: Located on a narrow walkway by the tanning area there is not smoking area right out side the room. Instead the closest place to sit and smoke was at the tanning area. This room was actually pretty small in size compared to the room I had at Big Ruby's (for a cheaper amount). It was nice, the tv was pretty large, and the bed was very comfortable (probably the most comfortable thing I laid on in years.) The bathroom and shower were really small again compared to Big Ruby's "shared" bathroom. For the money they do charge for their rooms here, I did expect something bigger. This room seems to range in price from $209 - $279 thoughout the year. It does make me wonder how big a $99 room is. There was a fridge in there which I discovered someone had set to a very cold setting as it froze my drinks. Overall, it was a nice room but just not what I was expecting. This could've been less shocking had the resort put pics of their rooms on the website.

KP1 - Room 213: Located almost directly across from the video lounge, this room did have a table and chairs right outside which could be used for smoking. It also allowed you to watch to see who entered/exited the video lounge in case you wanted to try to plan a "chance encounter" with a specific guest. The room is considerably larger than the ESP1 but I still think it was slightly smaller than the room I had at Big Ruby's. The bathroom and shower were slightly bigger than the ESP1 and it had a bigger closet, nicer fridge, a desk and a one chair seating area. Same thing regarding the bed/tv applys to this room. Overall a better room than the ESP1 but then again, for the price I expected alot more. If I had to choose based upon price, I'd go with something cheaper next time.


Service/Staff: A professional staff but not everyone seemed pleasant. There were a few employees who while being nice just rubbed me the wrong way. I'm not saying that they were rude but they didn't seem like their main focus was on the guests. Others were very friendly and easy to talk to. The service at the bar was at times slower than I would expect considering they had at any given time 2-3 people behind the bar. I would've liked it if some servers made their way around the pool more often so people could order drinks without having to get out of the pool or off a lounge chair. I only saw this happen twice during my entire stay. That I guess would be my biggest complaint.

The people at the front desk were very friendly and helpful and even made a few jokes.

I really didn't get to experience the cleaning staff work as I only had one night where I stayed in the same room. Overall, the rooms were clean when I first came in. The one day where they did clean the room they forgot to take one of the towels on the floor and empty the trash can which did barely have anything in it but still it would be common practice in their line of work to automatically do that.


Food/Cafe: I only had one meal there which was a salad for lunch. It was basic. Everything was fresh and it tasted good but since it was just a salad, it wasn't anything special. So I can't really rate their cafe/food.


Sleep Quality: The beds are the softest things I have laid on in years as I said above. Perfect for sleeping.


Cleanliness: Again, the trash wasn't emptied and they forgot a towel when they cleaned my room. Ashtrays very seldom got emptied before they were almost half way full. Other than that, the place looked to be kept up to standards. The dirty towel bins were emptied regularly and there were always fresh clean towels on hand by the pool and the gang shower lockers.


Location: It's about a 12-15 minute walk to Duval Street. You can take a taxi but I wouldn't suggest it because why waste the money unless you have real problems walking. It's far enough away from the busy tourist section if you want peace and quite which would be a good thing if that's what you're looking for. For me, it was a little inconvenient since I was used to Big Ruby's location right off Duval.


Amenities: This is where the resort does shine compared to Big Ruby's.

1) Pool: The pool is quite large which on some days is very helpful considering it can get rather busy. There were times when the pool was very full. Most people just stand around and relax in the pool but it is large enough to do laps in if you so choose. It was always clean and clear.

2) Two jacuzzis, one indoor in a dimly light room and one outdoor kept semi private away from high traffic areas. I chose not to go in them because I was hot enough from the weather. But they looked nice.

3) Tanning area - Great tanning area. While at Big Ruby's I was covered in sweat in 10 minutes, Island House has fans and a misting system which combined with the breeze from being on the second floor, all keeps you cool to where you can stay there for hours. There is also a view of the pool from there so there's always something interesting to look at.

4) Video Lounge - Very dark place and different than I expected. You will constantly thoughout the day see people walk in and out of this place. More often than not, it seemed like it was the same people. They'd walk in, someone would soon follow. The first person (clearly not interested) would walk out and 10 minutes be back to see if anyone new showed up. So it is busy but it always seemed like it was the same people walking in and out. Still a plus when you do meet that right person in there.

Cafe/Bar: As mentioned above, I can't really comment on the cafe and the bar service seemed slow at times.

Happy Hour: Without someone to go around and serve you drinks pool side, I found myself getting two beers each time I went to the bar just so I could save myself a trip/time. Right at the beginning of happy hour alot of people mob the bar and it can take you a while to get served. I would be better if they just put out a cooler beer and let just the people who want special mixed drinks go to the bar during happy hour. Happy hour is 5:30p.m. - 7p.m. which also was a little off for me. I like it at Big Ruby's which was 5p.m.-6:30p.m. because that means I could eat an earlier dinner (after the free drinks) and then make it to a bar by 8:30p.m.


Other Guests and overall feel of the resort: The other guests ranged from a few in their early 20s to probably about 70s. The average age appeared to be about 40-45. Everyone seemed friendly but by the time I got there late in the week, it seemed like most people had already split off into groups of people. I felt a little uncomfortable just trying to break into a group to start mingling. The resort does have a cruisy feel to it but nothing is forced.


Value: Weighing the amenities vs the rooms the value is pretty good if you get one of the cheaper rooms. I personally wouldn't choose anything over the EP1 in the future unless necessary. The amenities in my opinion is what gives the place value for the money.


Overall, while I know I may of pointed out a good deal of negitives, I did like the property and the amenities. I won't repeat everything again but this place is worth a visit. My biggest complaints I think would be the room size for the cost and the fact that they don't have someone serving you drinks in/around the pool.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
13 Thank John L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
18 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 13, 2012

The staff was very professional and polite. Very helpful in making suggestions on where to dine or ordering a cab, etc. The rooms were very neat and well maintained. Although at times it was hard to get hot water to run and the water pressure is always low in Key West. Parking was a bit of a problem with just a few spaces for guests so you had to hunt for public spaces on the street. This is typical situation in Key West as far as parking. The bar and cafe prices were competitive. The food was good. The service and bar staff were excellent. The free happy hour was a big hit and the staff kept the drinks coming. The location was a little far from any of the tourist sites to visit easily. You had to walk about 6 blocks to Duval Street. The neighborhood was quiet and safe late at night. Rooms around the pool were noisy because the bar was open all night. Most of the hotel guests were in their late 30s to 60s. About half couples and the rest singles. Guests were very friendly and approachable. Their really isn't any reason to leave the property with a pool, cafe, bar, gym, sauna, etc. The week we were there the guests in and around the pool were a little too much. If you are looking for a more modest quiet subdue laid back place then you might be a little disappointed with the Island House. If you are looking for a cruisey type of place where there is a lot of shall I say "entertainment" going around for you to participate in or observe then this is the place for you.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Whatever0134678
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
leeds
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 12, 2012

Stayed in Island House for 5 nights! This is without doubt one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. The facilities are amazing, the rooms exceptional and the staff are outstanding! I made the most amazing new friends here which I will keep in touch with for a long time to come! After staying here, feel totally relaxed and chilled out and can't wait to come back again!

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank ge0rdie45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 7, 2012

Stayed at Island House for only 1 night which was to be honest far too short! Next visit we will definitely stay a little bit longer. Despite the rather high price tag, we had an amazing time at Island House, met new friends, enjoyed the Sunday afternoon pool party and all other facilities! We found the B&B very well maintained and the rooms, despite being on small side very luxurious.
We met some interesting people here and think this is probably one of the nicest things we have taken away from this B&B. If you are looking for a place to be yourself, relax, have fun, enjoy meeting new friends, then this is the place for you!
They offer a wide range of snacks and meals throughout the day and have a great drinks selection 24/7!
We will definitely return to the Island House.

Room Tip: Make sure to go and see the sunset at the end of Duval Street, just amazing!
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Anglo1Belge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clearwater, Florida
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2012

I had been to Key West several times, but my last visit in May,I stayed at Island House. From the moment I stepped foot thru the door til the time 5 days later I left, I felt special. The staff at Island House is very accomidating and seemed like if you started to throw something away in trash someone was standing there waiting to empty the trash for you!!!! Never stayed in a finer nor cleaner place!!!! And I have stayed in alot of 5 stars and Island House had them beat. My experience was so great, I am already planning another trip this year and hoping 2. And I will be staying from now on at the Island House. They have proven to me their desire to make your visit the most pleasurable possible. THANK YOU GUYS!!!!

Room Tip: I stayed in one of the smaller rooms with shared bath, but never knew there were anyone else using i...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Rodney M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 6, 2012

Island House is a fun and relaxing place to stay while in steamy Key West (we went in late June). The staff, especially at the front desk, is knowledgeable, friendly and very helpful. The property itself has a lovely courtyard with a pool, the bar and restaurant and is the focal point of the Inn. Two jacuzzis, a steam room, a sauna, a workout room and a video room all add to the excellent assets of the property. The rooms themselves are not big, but our poolside room was a wonderful home away from home during our week stay. We had some rough weather as some other visitors here mentioned, but even during the rains we had fun. Eventually the sun came out and the week climaxed (lol) with the Sunday pool party which was a blast. I would say that despite the expensive rooms (if you are a single visitor a small room gives you all access to the property and is a place to sleep and play but is much cheaper) it would be a top choice for a Key West visit. Have fun but be prepared to sweat...Key West in the summer makes Maryland seem cool!

Room Tip: If you want to have more peace and quiet pick a room that is not poolside. If you want to be where...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank EricinMD32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Island House

Property: Island House
Address: 1129 Fleming St, Key West, FL 33040-6997
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Florida > Florida Keys > Key West
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 19 Specialty Lodging in Key West
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 39
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Imagine.... a place where everyone is gay.... where it’s easy to make friends.... where you can really be yourself.... where you can enjoy yourself 24 hours a day..... in a secure locked compound, safe from the outside world...... where a friendly and capable all-male staff are on hand to make sure you enjoy your vacation...... in a tropical paradise. Well that place is waiting for you. It’s called Island House in Key West. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Island House Hotel Key West
Island House Key West

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