Most accommodations in Daytona Beach are either on or near the beach or in the area surrounding the Daytona International Speedway. And while the lodging scene has yet to be completely overtaken by international chains, many of the locally owned spots tend to be scrappy run-down motels from the ’60s and ’70s; the guest rooms are cheap, but charming they’re definitely not. There are, however, quite a few unique places to stay in the area.
Like many other buildings on the north Atlantic coast of Florida, the Coquina Inn B&B (544 S. Palmetto Ave., 800/805-7533, www.coquinainn.com, from $99 d) was built from a concrete fashioned out of sand and coquina shells, but the unique construction of this 1912 building isn’t the only thing that sets it apart from other lodgings in the area. The pet-friendly inn is located in Daytona’s tiny Historic District on the mainland, just a block away from the Halifax River and about halfway between the Speedway and the beach.
Nestled on a quiet tree-lined residential street, the Coquina is a hodgepodge of Victorian-era antiques and wicker furnishings with only four guest rooms. Guests are treated to friendly personal attention, and though the small outdoor spa and the cozy indoor dining room can’t compete with the multiple pools and buzzing activity at many of Daytona’s larger hotels, it’s clear the owners didn’t intend it to.
It’s on the beach; it’s big; it’s a resort, but somehow Sun Viking Lodge (2411 S. Atlantic Ave., 800/815-2846, www.sunviking.com, from $89 d) manages to have a personality. Maybe it’s the giant Viking ship carved into the front of the hotel or the 60-foot waterslide, but the Sun Viking evokes an attitude of fun that’s all too often missing from vacation spots. It is not the most modern or most luxurious, but many of the Sun Viking’s guest rooms have full kitchens, and all oceanfront guest rooms have balconies. The large outdoor pool and sundeck look out onto a wide stretch of beach. The Sun Viking is quite a good value for families.
The Bahama House (2001 S. Atlantic Ave., 800/571-2001, www.daytonabahamahouse.com, from $119 d) is another family-friendly resort spot with large guest rooms, all with balconies and most with kitchens, that are clean, comfortable, and well-maintained. Splurge for the reasonably priced king efficiencies; the ocean view, pull-out queen sleeper sofa, Jacuzzi tub and ample space only runs a few dollars more per night.
Further up the ladder is the Plaza Resort & Spa (600 N. Atlantic Ave., 386/255-4741, from $159 d), which aims to be the standard-bearer for upscale lodging in Daytona. With almost 350 guest rooms, the size of the hotel means it’s far from an intimate experience, and its location in the heart of the tourist district and proximity to the Convention Center guarantee a near-constant hum of activity. With a history that stretches back to the late 19th century and its first incarnation as the Clarendon Hotel, the modern-day Plaza still retains much of its original architectural charm, although renovations to its public areas have given them a McMansion feel that’s more plastic than classic. Rooms are spacious and very well appointed, with classy understated wood furnishings and modern amenities like flat-screen televisions.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Skyway Motel (906 S. Atlantic Ave., 386/252-7377, skywaydaytona.com, from $30 d), a decent old-school motel with cheap rates and clean guest rooms. Across the street from the beach and family-owned, the Skyway caters mostly to bikers, but travelers on a budget would do well to check out this no-frills option.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition