To be near the beach, you pay a premium, whether you’re in Hawaii or the Amalfi Coast. But the eagle-eyed can sometimes spot a half-hidden, affordable jewel among all those five-star resorts with their butlers and colonnaded entrances. Here are seven great finds just a stone’s throw from the sand.
One of the sunken sitting areas at the Bali hotel, Rimba Jimbaran. (Photo: Drew Limsky)
Rimba Jimbaran - Bali
The Indonesian island of Bali is blessed with a stunning coastline, a lushly beautiful interior, and one of the highest concentrations of luxury resorts on the planet, including two Four Seasons hotels and two Amanresorts. But there’s quality and value to be found at every level: Witness Rimba, a sprawling year-old resort with 282 rooms on Kubu Beach. It’s almost impossible to find this kind of modern luxury chic anywhere other than Bali. Soaring spaces are fashioned from repurposed wood. Circular seating areas are sunken into mirrorlike water features. The swimming pools are almost comically vast. And some of the standard rooms — which go as low as $180, depending on the season — have wade-in access to semiprivate pools.
Sibonné Beach Hotel, in Turks & Caicos (Photo: Courtesy of Sibonné Beach Hotel)
Sibonné Beach Hotel - Turks and Caicos
Beachfront land is at such a premium in Providenciales (known as Provo locally) it’s hard to believe this modest, human-scale boutique hotel even exists. Smack on Grace Bay, which is famed for its white sands and turquoise waters, the 30-room gingerbread-style Sibonné enjoys the same setting as the Regent Palms down the road. But with rates starting at $110 off-season, you can splurge on one of the two premier oceanfront rooms (direct beach access), or the beach apartment.
The view from Rio’s Hotel Arpoador Inn (Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Arpoador Inn)
Hotel Arpoador Inn - Rio de Janeiro
This spectacularly located hotel with views of the breathtaking peaks of Corcovado and Sugarloaf is set on the border between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. With rates around $200, don’t expect fancy, but Wi-Fi and a buffet breakfast are complimentary. The neighborhood is quiet, and the only thing that separates the hotel from the sands of Rio is a charming cobblestone street and sidewalk cafe. If you pony up for a deluxe room, you’ll be wowed by the iconic views of Corcovado and Sugarloaf.
A terrace at Italy’s Casa Cosenza (Photo: Courtesy of Casa Cosenza)
Casa Cosenza - Positano, Italy
When people think of Positano, a jet-set village praised by John Steinbeck and featured in films such as “Only You” and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” they automatically think pricey. And with such storied hotels as Le Sirensuse and Il San Pietro di Positano, they wouldn’t be wrong. But I had the good fortune to discover the find of all finds: a $150-a-night jewel called Casa Cosenza. With its brightly tiled floors and cupola ceilings, it is charming and immaculate. Astounding private balconies have views of the pastel-colored town, the beach below, and the rugged lines of the Amalfi Coast toward Ravello. A couple of steep stairways lead to the beach from this 200-year-old residence.
Infinity pool at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, on the Big Island of Hawaii (Photo: Rocky A/Flickr)
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel - Big Island, Hawaii
On an island paradise replete with otherworldly lava fields, cool upcountry pastures, and land-of-the-lost valleys, everyone knows the Kohala Coast — especially Hapuna Beach and its neighbor, Mauna Kea — boasts some of the finest beaches (and beach resorts) in the state. But the value at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is outstanding. All 350 ample units have ocean-facing lanais, and the open-air common areas, oceanfront pool, and landscaping are all stunning. Though published prices are high, the hotel regularly appears on online travel sites such as Orbitz for much less (a recent search turned up a rate of $235). You’ll want to keep this one to yourself.
California’s Laguna Beach Vista Point (Photo: jcookfisher/Flickr)
La Casa del Camino - Laguna Beach, Calif.
Orange County lives up to its hype in two ways: Yes, it’s Riviera-gorgeous, and yes, it is one of the country’s most affluent (i.e., expensive) coastal pockets. At least three five-star resorts are within a few miles of Laguna’s sunny main beach: the Ritz-Carlton, the Montage, and the St. Regis. But the Rooftop Lounge at the affordable La Casa del Camino remains one of Laguna’s hottest tickets, where locals and savvy visitors know to arrive early to grab sunset seats and mojitos. Beyond this ocean-view watering hole, the 37-room La Casa del Camino has other selling points: It’s right off the beach, it has easy access to the center of town, and it features spruced-up rooms for as low as $250, even during the high season.
The lobby of the Betsy Hotel, in Miami Beach (Photo: Courtesy of the Betsy)
The Betsy - Miami Beach, Fla.
When owner Jonathan Plutzik sought to remake the former (and formerly out-of-place) Betsy Ross Hotel into a place embedded in the community, he went all-out. Now the 61-unit Betsy is as known for its philanthropy and cultural involvement as it is for its new look. During your stay, you might happen on a reading or symposium. The hotel even has a Writers in Residence program, providing visiting scribes a place of tranquility — the Writer’s Room — amid the hubbub of Ocean Drive. But they might be just as happy hanging out at the hotel’s outpost of BLT Steak, in the comfy lobby Salon, by the courtyard pool, or on the private roof deck. Prices start in the low-200s.
Based in New York and Miami Beach, Drew Limsky is the editor of Cadillac Magazine, the editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida, and a regular Yahoo contributor. His travel writing has appeared in Robb Report, The New York Times, Worth, National Geographic Traveler, and numerous other publications.