10 Best Affordable Beachfront Hotels
BT's summer-getaway challenge: to find 10 properties where you can go from your bed to the beach in five minutes or less—for under $150 per night.
St. Pete Beach, Fla.
Surfer chic and BBQ on a quiet coastline.
Not to be confused with St. Petersburg, six-mile-long St. Pete Beach is an island off the coast of Florida. With flour-fine white sand and shallow Gulf of Mexico waters, the coastline is graced with mellow swells that are excellent for beginner surfers learning to ride. When Stephen Hanson upgraded a 1950s motel into the Postcard Inn in 2009, he played off the local surf vibe: The 196 rooms feature a mix of vintage longboards, surfing-themed photo murals, retro light fixtures, and flea market finds, ensuring that no two are alike. As if the ocean weren't enough, the hotel has a beachfront pool, shady courtyard, and shuffleboard and volleyball courts. The Beachwood BBQ & Burger restaurant is notable for the gourmet spin it puts on grilled comfort food, with specials like smoked chicken glazed with apricot barbecue sauce and sprinkled with pickled jalapeños. 6300 Gulf Blvd., 800/237-8918, postcardinn.com, from $89.
Thalassa Seaside Resort & Suites
Blue skies and black sand on one of Greece's most enchanting islands.
Thalassa Seaside Resort & Suites is right on the shore in Santorini and draws both couples and families looking to relax. The 60 simply furnished, comfortable rooms, each with a private balcony or veranda, are housed within a postcard-perfect white exterior. Two pools, a beach bar, and a spa offer plenty to occupy your time on and off the sand, and the on-site restaurant's Mediterranean options range from steak frites to safridi (a local fish) and, of course, Greek salad. To get here, you could fly, but most of Thalassa's guests come via a five-hour, high-speed ferry from Athens to the port of Thira. From the port, it's worth renting a car if you'd like to explore farther afield—the brilliant blue water in the island's caldera (the result of an ancient volcanic explosion) is a popular stop, as is Port Athinios, where you can take a five-hour sunset tour on one of two replica 19th-century Greek schooners (from $45 per person). Episkopi Gonias, 011-30/22860-32688, thalassa-santorini.com, from $129, breakfast included.