Some people have things like “see the northern lights” or “climb kilimanjaro” on their bucket lists…well, I have hotels on mine. A lot of them. Well bust out the Sharpie, because I just got to cross one off!
Recently during the travel lull just before Christmas, I finally made it to the Pearl on Rosemary Beach. Never heard of it? Well you’re missing out!
Located on Florida’s scenic 30a highway (stretching from Destin to Panama City beach along the panhandle), the Pearl is a AAA Four Diamond Hotel and was just named one of Conde Nast Traveler’s top 15 hotels in Florida.
You guys…it’s CUTE. It’s right in the middle of Rosemary Beach so I’ve been staring longingly at it for years. I’m constantly checking price calendars at high end places so when I found a window when the price dipped down to about half of what it normally is, I snapped at the chance.
The Pearl>>Rosemary Beach>>30a>>Florida Panhandle. Got that?
The Pearl is a boutique hotel in the heart of Rosemary Beach, an idyllic little beach “town” (lots of urban planning) on the Florida panhandle’s (now) famous scenic 30a highway.
The Pearl sits right in the middle of the town just steps away from the beach on Main Street which looks like a charming European street…cobblestones and all.
I would describe it as posh and sophisticated, but with a laidback Southern feel. With only 55 rooms, this boutique hotel may be small in size but it’s high on luxury. From the service to the rooms to the design of the common spaces, it’s on par with a mini size Ritz Carlton.
The facade from Main Street couldn’t be any more perfect (it’s part of what makes Rosemary Beach so iconic) and the lobby is small, but it’s sophisticated with several Chihuly-like pieces.
The service and the personal touches were pretty top notch. I stay at a fair amount of luxury properties and they do it up right here: a prosecco toast at check in, snappy valets, a welcome snack in the room of homemade pimento cheese and crackers, plenty of complimentary drinks in the room (including sodas and water), friendly staff, nightly turndown service with snacks, and a sweet present when we checked out.
Since I’d been to Rosemary Beach several times before, I had seen most of the common areas of the Pearl, but I was really hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed with the rooms. They were in the process of renovating all of the rooms when I stayed here (December 2021), and luckily I got a brand new room!
I’m not going to lie, when I walked into the room I audibly gasped. It was as nice as I was hoping it would be. The updated rooms are really lovely. They’re very crisp and classic with a warm color palette and a sense of laidback luxury that feels like a southern beach home.
The pool fits into the design of this place so well. It’s situated in a courtyard so a lot of the rooms and the rooftop bar look down into the pool. The black and white color palette of the hotel with the bright yellow umbrellas and the turquoise pool really pop and make it such a design feature.
We had one of the pool front rooms (there’s only 4 or 5) so our room opened out onto the pool and had its own chaise loungers. Since my stay was during December, it wasn’t really pool weather even though the pool was heated and there was a hot tub.
We ended up visiting during a little cold snap so we spent most of our time hopping between each little beach town along 30a to eat and shop and walk around, but the beaches along 30a are GORGEOUS and Rosemary Beach is no exception. The Pearl provides complimentary beach setup (2 chairs and an umbrella) right at the main access point on Rosemary Beach (about a minute walk from the hotel lobby).
You will not find finer, whiter sand anywhere in Florida and the water is usually the prettiest shade of turquoise. There isn’t much in the way of shells on the beach, but if you have a net you can usually find some small ones close to the shore break.
There’s only one restaurant on property…the Havana Beach Club. They’ve got a nice dining room and bar inside plus a quaint little balcony/porch where you can have breakfast and a rooftop bar. I’ve had breakfast here a couple of times and the food is always fantastic, although the service this time was pretty terrible. We were the only people in the restaurant, there were about 12 people working there and it was still a disaster, but hey the food was good! I think it was an isolated incident though, but this is definitely not an early morning place (nowhere in 30a is really). If you want snappy service first thing in the morning, head to the donut or coffee shop.
Also, not a huge deal but something to be aware of…the rooftop bar does NOT have a view of the ocean or “out” really at all. There’s a tiny section where you can see out, but most of it has a high wall around it and you look down into the pool. Not a deal breaker, but good to manage your expectations because most rooftop bars have pretty sweeping views.
Besides the Havana Beach Club, there are a handful of good restaurants in Rosemary Beach. Try La Crema (tapas and chocolate), Pescado (great rooftop views), and Cowgirl Kitchen (more casual).
The Rosemary Beach Racquet Club is a short walk down 30a and it’s one of the best places to play tennis on 30a. They’ve got a good pro shop, a viewing deck, and 8 clay courts with drills and clinics going on every day. Definitely make reservations in advance because this place is hopping.
I didn’t have time to check out the spa, but it looked pretty fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised by the price list. It wasn’t too far out of line with what I would expect to pay for similar treatments in my hometown.
I absolutely LOVED my stay here, and there’s honestly not much to complain about. I was really impressed with the service and the rooms and the place just couldn’t be any cuter.
If you’re looking for a luxury beach getaway in the Florida panhandle, this is your spot. You won’t find a better beach anywhere in Florida and the Pearl is hands down the most luxurious place you’ll find in the area.
But I do feel like since I visited when it was on the chillier side (high of 60 degrees most days) there were some things that I didn’t experience. Even with only 55 rooms, I think the pool area is probably on the small size, and I would imagine that it gets pretty crowded when it’s hot out. Also, a lot of the rooms face the pool so those could be pretty noisy. We had one of the pool front rooms which are located on the first floor down a hallway right off the lobby and it was fairly noisy and there weren’t even that many people in the hotel.
And while they have chairs and umbrella setup on the beach, they don’t have food and drink service so no one is going to be bringing you pina coladas while your toes are in the sand. But there is food and drink service (and the promise of complimentary snacks) at the pool.
Also, I don’t even think I’ve mentioned this yet, but this is an adults only hotel but it’s definitely not a party hotel (it’s not a party area). But it’s the perfect spot for a couples trip or a girls getaway.
If you can, I would definitely splurge for one of the ocean facing rooms (top two floors would be best). They’re probably the quietest rooms in the hotel, and it’s nice to be able to see the beach from the room.
Pricing & Booking
Let’s talk numbers. I mentioned that I jumped on a couple of nights when the price was quite a bit lower than normal. In the middle of December, I paid about $400/night (all taxes and fees included) and I felt like that was a very fair rate. Yes, it ended up being in the 60s, but it could have easily been 75 and sunny. That’s the Florida panhandle in the winter for you.
This place tops out around $750 in the summer (high season) if you book in advance, and thaaaaat’s a little much I think. This place is VERY quaint and charming with great service, but it’s not a resort and most of the rooms don’t face the ocean (it doesn’t actually sit on the ocean).
It’s a great place, but I’m always comparing everything to what else you could do for the money and in that price range you’re approaching Four Seasons level, and this isn’t that.
But hey, if it’s in the budget, it’s in the budget! But if that’s a deal breaker, definitely look for little pockets in the shoulder season (late spring and early fall) where the price is less but the weather still feels like summer.
Check pricing and read reviews here.
More posts about the area:
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