Recently we went looking for an economical stay on Florida’s Gulf coast. That’s when we found Bentley’s Boutique Hotel. A hotel at such a reasonable pricepoint always is a bit of a gamble. But when we got there – we found Bentley’s to be just right.
For instance, Bentley’s is in the center of what’s termed The Culture Coast. It’s an easy ride north to Sarasota and just as easy south down to Olde Englewood. That means we had our choice of beaches all the way up from Manasota to Siesta Key (actually, we’re fans of Nokomis Beach).
There are walking beaches, swimming beaches, diving beaches plus opportunities for finding shells and shark’s teeth.
When it comes to shopping, we could motor up to Sarasota for a more metropolitan area, or down to Historic Venice for the fun and funky shops they have to offer.
Plus there are great little points of interest like Ideal Classic Cars, which is a great place to observe an astounding, revolving collection of vintage, classic and custom cars, trucks, vans and specialty vehicles.
And when it comes to cuisine, the opportunities are endless. But more on that later.
In addition to not being too far north or too far south, we found Bentley’s itself is just right. Billed as a “boutique hotel,” it’s not too big and not too small. It has all the amenities we needed for an extended stay. On the hotel grounds there’s the Osprey Beach restaurant, and they also feature a nice sized lounge.
The courtyard has a beautiful swimming pool – which was pretty well populated the weekend we were there. Moreover, it is ringed with chaise lounges and small cabanas, where families can sit and relax. We noted many parents enjoying the shade while keeping an eye on their children frolicking in the pool.
We thought one of the nicest touches was the berm of fine, white sand along the edge of the wooden deck. This gave youngsters a beach-like place to play – but it was positioned far enough across the deck to keep the sand out of the pool.
Bentley’s also has a lot of very nice, personal touches. There’s a small library at the end of the hall with a reading chair. The owners also set up a brace of tables across from the vending machines where we could stop and enjoy a quick snack.
The hallway has a domed ceiling, making it resemble a subway tunnel. So, each of the rooms has a name that reflects a different stop on the London Underground. For instance we saw Paddington, Nottinghill Gate, Putney Bridge, Shepard’s Bush and Piccadilly Circus among others. Our room was Tattenham Corner.
As far as we were concerned, the rooms also were just right. We booked a courtyard view, which had a small balcony. Just like the Vista in Tarpon Springs, this gave us a great place for our morning coffee. It also provided us with a lot of entertainment watching the kids in the water.
But even with all the activity, we were surprised at the quiet of our stay. Like I said, there were lots of kids and families – but there was not the accompanying noise. Owners did admonish some to keep their music down as the hours drifted on into the night.
As far as our room was concerned. We can report that our bed was just right. In fact, it was one of the most comfortable we have experienced in our travels. There was plenty of hot water for showers even later on in the morning and the place was spotless and inviting when we arrived (the housekeeping staff looked VERY busy during our stay.
Along with the aforementioned comfortable bed, we had all the regular comforts. There was a flat screen TV, a refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker. There was an iron and board – even a good sized safe for our valuables.
The bathroom was spacious and had a delightful walk-in shower.
In the past, the hotel had featured a continental breakfast – but due to the current situation they were limited to handing out prepackaged cereals, energy bars, fruit cups and the like.
But we didn’t care, inasmuch as there were at least three great breakfast places within a hop, skip and a jump from our parking spot. We first headed over to the Cafe Evergreen to enjoy their breakfast offering. We also discovered the Eggs-Traordinary Cafe which literally was three minutes away. The Breakfast Cottage – which made our 5-best list is minutes away as well.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it came to our dining opportunities. There are great seafood restaurants in the area, barbecue joints, steakhouses and more. We had the opportunity to eat at some of our old favorites – but we also discovered Nokomo’s Sunset Hut. What I thought would be a dive turned out a great vegetarian flatbread drizzled with an out of sight balsamic vinegar glaze.
Another great culinary opportunity for us was in Englewood, where we stopped at a place I’ve had my eye on for a while. Made in the Shade Ice Cream is the quintessential ice cream parlor where we had a great dessert. We give it five stars and watch out – that will be our next entry here.
Almost a Secret
To be honest, we struggled with the idea of blogging Bentley’s Boutique Hotel, inasmuch as we wanted to keep it to ourselves. But we dutifully will report that if you are looking for a great place to access all that the Culture Coast has to offer at an economical pricepoint, you can’t do much better than Bentley’s.
I know we’ll be back.