No atrium, no giant bar in the center, and only three stories high. Funky light fixtures and bold sculptures. A hip restaurant that would be the talk of the town in most beach resort areas. The Embassy Suites Saint Augustine Resort is nothing like the brand’s city hotels.
Embassy Suites only has 14 resorts in its portfolio and this one on St. Augustine Beach is the newest, opened at the end of 2018. It’s really on the beach first of all, in a stunning location next to a protected park reserve, so nothing will ever get built to the left of it as you look out at the Atlantic Ocean. The developers behind this resort have some serious credibility as well: they’re the team behind Nobu and Eden Roc hotels. So if the Embassy Suites brand conjures up certain staid images in your mind, put all that aside for this beach resort.
This well-designed property is full of light, thanks to extensive window walls, providing views from the lobby out to the ocean. With artistic fixtures, contemporary furniture, and smiling staffers, the welcome is bright both figuratively and literally when you walk in. At many beach resorts, the lobby is just a glorified check-in area that you pass through and then avoid. At this Embassy Suites St. Augustine Beach though, the extensive lounging areas and work spaces with outlets make this a space that’s inviting and useful. With a bar around the corner and a provisions store near check-in, you won’t go hungry or thirsty either.
That provisions store also bucks the chain hotel trend. Kudos are warranted for the great sense of place and local support. The store stocks a lot of regional products, like liquor from St. Augustine Distillery, bottles from San Sebastian Winery, chocolates from legendary local company Whetstones, and other goodies that are made in the area.
The main attractions are outside though, of course, with a gleaming wide beach and a gorgeous pool complex. The beach area is set up with lounge chairs for guests and you can order drinks from here between dips in the water. The Atlantic side of Florida gets much larger waves than the Gulf side, so you can borrow a boogie board from the activities center here by the pool and ride some big ones to shore. Or just work on your tan while watching the surfers close to the nearby fishing pier.
If you want a break from the sand, the swimming pool here is huge, with a full bar at one end and wait staffers bringing food orders to your chair if you’d like. Near here is an artificial turf area with games to play, like cornhole and giant Connect 4. Regularly scheduled activities are happening each day in the water, on land, or at the gym. The resort also has bikes you can rent for up to two hours at a time, great for riding to other restaurants or other sections of the beach without worrying about parking. There’s a good fitness center here with an array of equipment.
The most beloved parts of the Embassy Suites brand are still in place: the daily complimentary happy hour and the all-suites room concept.
Just as you’ve had about enough of being out in the sun, it’s time to head to the bar for a couple of free beers, glasses of wine, or cocktails. It’s all low-end hooch you probably wouldn’t order on purpose, but it’s a good chance to socialize with other guests in the air conditioning or under an umbrella on a nice patio. There are always a few snacks or hot appetizers to nibble on as well during the reception.
One of the best reasons to stay at any Embassy Suites is the room set-up and the Embassy Suites Saint Augustine Beach gives you plenty of room to spread out. The typical layout is a full bedroom with furnished balcony, a kitchenette, and a full living room area with another large TV, a sofa bed, and a full work desk. In between is a bathroom with good counter space and a combo tub. This being a new build, you won’t have to crawl around looking for outlets and the Wi-Fi works well.
There are supposedly 17 room categories at this resort, but most of those are slight variations on the ocean view. There are some two-bedroom suites for larger families though, including ones with bunk beds for the kids. Corner suites have two balconies and more space, while King Studio Suites get ride of the wall between the bedroom and living room to let in more natural light to the latter.
Breakfast is included in the rates, with a wide array of items on the buffet tables, plus an omelet station where you can get items cooked to order. At night the dining space turns into Harvest & Reel, an open-kitchen restaurant that focuses on fresh seafood and farm-to-table fare. It lived up to the promise when we had dinner there, with good fried calamari, and heirloom tomato salad, and a tasty grilled fish platter.
When you want to get out and about, this beach resort is only a 10-minute drive to historic Saint Augustine, so if you come for a typical three days, you can have two on the beach and spend one sightseeing.
Of all the St. Augustine beach hotels, this one has the biggest pool, the newest rooms, and the most empty beach next to it since it adjoins a state park off-limits to developers. It’s a far cry from the city hotels the chain is best known for.
Rates at the Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach run $189 to $509 plus a mandatory $22 resort fee that ought to just be in the published rates in the first place. Then add another $26 per day for valet parking if, like most guests, you drive here. Check rates at the official Hilton website or at Hotels.com.
Review and photos by Hotel Scoop editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the Embassy Suites by Hilton for purposes of review. As always, all opinions are his own.