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Ocean Key Resort
Zero Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040

Ocean Key Home Page.

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at The Ocean Key Resort, Key West, Florida in December, 2004.

Our Pictures

Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips


From what we saw, the accommodations at Ocean Key were beautiful. We stayed in a Caribbean Junior Suite. It was spacious and had more than enough room for the two of us.

There was a full kitchen with all appliances and a full-size refrigerator. There was a separate dining area and a living area.
The bedroom was large with an inviting king-size bed. There was a mirrored alcove in the bedroom that contained a double whirlpool. The bathroom was long and narrow (but serviceable) with two vanities, closet space, and a compartment for the toilet and shower.

The accommodations did indeed look like the representations on the website. The colors were bold and eclectic and the furnishings were rich and expensive. We had a large balcony that overlooked the water and the Sunset Pier (the resort’s own outdoor restaurant/bar that jutted out over the water). There were comfortable furnishings on the balcony and it was nice just to watch the boats go past. Our first night, we watched a boat parade with boats lit up with Christmas lights. We were also able to see sunsets from our balcony. We had been upgraded since the resort was doing some upgrading of their accommodations (we could see some construction equipment when we went to and from our room but it did not interrupt our stay at all). We found the accommodations to be spectacular yet comfortable and we would definitely stay there again.

Resort Amenities

The number one resort amenity we have to mention is the location! It doesn’t get any better than “Zero Duval.” Ocean Key is on a prime piece of real estate – right on the water yet at the top end of the main drag for all the craziness that is Key West. A spa opened at the resort a couple months after we visited, so we can’t provide any feedback on that. The resort’s pool is at a prime location – overlooking the water. It is heated, which was perfect when we visited in December (there were a couple chilly days). The pool was clean and there were numerous lounge chairs with extra thick cushions. Plenty of fresh beach towels are provided daily for guests. Food and drink service is provided from the Sunset Pier outdoor restaurant by very friendly servers. There is no lifeguard so it is recommended that children be closely watched. The resort pumped in a nice selection of adult/alternative music in the pool area which was the perfect accompaniment to the setting. There were few children under the age of 12 at the resort while we were there (the week before Christmas), which is understandable – there aren’t a lot of activities in Key West for children (it is really more of an adult playground).

Resort Food

The resort has two restaurants: Sunset Pier (a casual outdoor pool/restaurant) and Hot Tin Roof (more upscale). We did not eat at Hot Tin Roof. We did have some appetizers and drinks – both at Sunset Pier and while we were by the pool. The service was good, the food was slightly above average (typical bar food selections), and the drinks were good. One warning: the Sunset Pier things were quite pricey. Lori had a glass of white wine and selected one of the more upscale wines, and it cost $10 a glass. After that, we decided not to purchase wine by the glass at the resort. On our last morning, we had a room service breakfast (we put our selections outside the door the night before). The food was fresh, prepared as we requested, and delivered on time by a smiling server. It was obvious we were staying at an upscale resort, as the servers clearly concentrated on making sure the guests were having a good time.

Resort Bar/Lounge

Sunset Pier (the outside restaurant) had a hexagon-shaped covered bar (with plastic that could be rolled down to protect against the elements when necessary). We had a few drinks there and lunch one day. The bartenders are very friendly, there is music playing, TVs are available (we were focused on football games, since it was the end of the season). The drinks were good, but pricey.

Resort People/Service

Ocean Key truly shines in its service. When we arrived at the front door via taxi, we were smilingly greeted by personnel who helped us check in, then took us to our room, explaining where everything was and taking the time to show us around our suite. They didn’t seem to mind answering any questions. Every time we went through the lobby we were greeted with smiles. It is not a cheap place to stay, but you definitely get what you pay for. We have stayed at another Noble House property (Hotel Edgewater in Seattle, WA) and had a very good experience, so we had high hopes for this hotel. We were not disappointed.


In spite of a recent special on the Travel channel decrying on of Key West’s beaches as the top ten in the U.S., we don’t really believe people go to Key West for the beaches. (It’s just our own opinion.) We find Key West attractive for the following reasons: the weather, the laid-back atmosphere, the sunsets, the nightlife, the live music, and the cuisine (it had been 7 ½ years since we had been to Key West and this time around we found the fine dining we sorely missed in 1997). There is also great fishing if you are into that, as well as snorkeling and sunset cruises.


Bagatelle - 115 Duval Street, 305-296-6609
Bagatelle's Web Site
We ate dinner at Bagatelle on our first night in Key West. It is an inviting, rambling Victorian only about a block from where we stayed. We dined on the expansive balcony overlooking Duval and all of its activity. We would describe their food as Continental meets Caribbean – creative and fresh. They have interesting salads and a good cross-selection of entrees that will satisfy even the most discriminating of palates. Keith had a very nice filet and Lori enjoyed grilled shrimp. The sauces were fresh and interesting, and the service was superb. Even though it was a Saturday, then did not turn us away without a reservation (note that we did go early – around 6).

Mangia Mangia - Southard Street 305-294-2469
Mangia Mangia's Web Site
A friend who has a great appreciation for wine turned us onto Mangia Mangia. He explained it was off the beaten path (it was) and didn’t exactly look like an upscale restaurant (it didn’t from the outside) and it was more the sort of place the locals knew about (indeed). It bills itself as a pasta market and café. If you decide to visit this restaurant, do yourself a favor and starve yourself during the day so you can indulge without feeling guilty. Everything we tried was magnificent. Keith had an appetizer of a gratin of fresh grilled asparagus (Lori abstained courteously, not having a passion for asparagus, and Keith said it was fabulous). We split some wonderful bruschetta, which was a meal in itself. The restaurant offers different pasta selections daily with a multitude of sauces. The pasta was simply to die for – it was fresh and melted in your mouth. You can customize things so that there is something for everyone. Who doesn’t love good pasta with a creative sauce and perhaps a great protein? If the food itself weren’t enough to warrant a visit, the restaurant boasts one of the most complete wine lists on the island, and at decent prices. We ate in the courtyard and took our time savoring the food, the drink, and the splendid service and setting. We highly recommend this restaurant!

Alice's Key West Restaurant - 1114 Duval Street 305-292-5733
Alice's Web Site
Keith came across Alice’s when we were doing some research prior to our trip and thought it looked like an interesting place. We visited Alice’s on a Monday night, walking 11 blocks down Duval on a decidedly chilly late December evening. We got there before the restaurant opened at 6, but the bartender smiled, took our name, and served us drinks at the bar until a table was ready. If you do plan to dine at Alice’s (and we heartily recommend it), it’s a good idea to make a reservation. We believe we were only accommodated because we went so early. The place got packed very quickly. Alice herself is quite a character and circulates amongst the guests. We’ll describe her food as upscale, creative, yet comforting. We like spice, and we found plenty to like at Alice’s. Anticipating spice, we ordered a South African Sauvignon Blanc. They were out of the wine, but our server recommended an equally serviceable Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Keith had an artichoke appetizer and Lori enjoyed shrimp Rangoon. When it came to entrees, Keith had the stuffed pork chop (stuffed with gouda and sun-dried tomatoes) and some tasty garlic mashed potatoes. Lori enjoyed the macadamia coconut nut crusted shrimp. The décor is funky (as is the owner/chef). It is truly a dining experience, and we recommend Alice’s. Be sure to call ahead for a reservation.

Grand Cafe - 314 Duval Street 305-292-4740
Grand Cafe Web Site
We wandered off Duval and into the Grand Café after checking out what looked like a good menu. We had eaten a late lunch that day and didn’t want a huge dinner (although many of the choices looked excellent). It was a beautiful December evening with low humidity, and we enjoyed sitting at a table overlooking Duval. We ordered a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and sipped it along with our appetizers (shrimp cocktail for Lori and a salad for Keith). Grand Café makes their own thin crust pizzas, and we ordered the four-cheese pizza with basil and sausage. It went well with the crisp, chilled wine and we had fun watching the tourists.

A & B Lobster House - 700 Front Street 305-294-5880
A & B Lobster House's Web Site
We dined at A & B Lobster House on our last night in Key West. It is located on Front Street, near one of the major marinas on the island. We sat at a table on the expansive veranda around the Lobster House on the upper floor and enjoyed looking at the boats decked out in Christmas lights. Lori had the crab and artichoke gratin as an appetizer, and Keith had a Caesar salad. The bread was fresh, hot, and very good. This being a steak house, Keith had a filet mignon and Lori had the seared Key West jumbo shrimp. The food was good – not the best meal we had there, but we’d had some fairly fabulous dining experiences during our short time in Key West that were difficult to top. We didn’t have a reservation and went very early, but did experience a little of the snotty looks when we showed up without a reservation (there were plenty of empty tables surrounding us the entire time we were there so we didn’t understand where the attitude came from).

Margaritaville Cafe - 500 Duval Street 305-292-1435
Magaritaville Cafe's Web Site
What visit to Key West would be complete without a stop at Margaritaville? Besides, Lori is a total parrothead and always has to drop some bucks on shirts showing she was indeed there (not to mention flip flops that leave “Parrot” and “Head” imprints on the sand/snow after one walks on them). We had to have our requisite cheeseburger in paradise one day for lunch after we were out karaokeing way past our bedtime (their cheeseburgers really are quite good). No, Jimmy Buffett didn’t stop in.


Key West is known for its nightlife! The bars stay open until 4 a.m., so be sure to rest up first. There are far too many bars to mention here, but here is a selection of places we hit.

Two Friends Patio Restaurant - 512 Front Street 305-296-3124
Two Friends' Web Site
This place offers karaoke every night from 8-12, and we hogged the stage a couple different nights. The drinks weren’t as expensive here as they were at our resort and the bartenders were friendly. While we were there, we got to observe the phenomenon of cruise ship bar tours – for about 10 minutes, the bar would be inundated with drunken tourists wearing stickers saying “Hello, My Name Is” and waving ship coupons for their free drink. As soon as it happened, they were suddenly gone and everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief and got back down to serious karaoke business.

Hog's Breath Saloon - 400 Front Street 800-826-6969
Hog's Breath's Web Site
Hog’s Breath is a brewpub and mostly an outdoor bar. They have a wide variety of regular entertainers. We enjoyed Kevin Montgomery and bought his CD.

Bear Bottom Beach Club - – 218 Duval Street
Bear Bottom's Web Site
We had a lot of fun at this place. It’s a great shot-and-a-beer bar. We saw Matt Black, an absolutely incredible entertainer. He managed to play the piano with parts of his anatomy that…well, we weren’t sure how he could do that without ruining his family life. He was raucous yet very talented. Lori was thrilled that he played John Valby (aka Dr. Dirty) for her. People kept buying him shots and he decided to get rid of some of the shots by playing songs and asking trivia questions. After Lori got “Pablo Cruise” right, he quit the trivia thing, but made her do a toast before she could drink her shot.


It’s Key West, so it’s hot, right? Well, not if you’re there the week before Christmas (at least, that’s what we found out). The humidity was low – as we suspected – and so were the temperatures some of the time. On the chilliest day, it only went up into the 60s and went down into the high 40s at night. Of course, we had no clue, so we were running around in shorts and sweatshirts. Rest assured we still got our requisite middle-of-winter-and-we-were-in-the-Keys tans. Just because it’s chilly doesn’t mean you can’t get a sunburn. We did have some beautiful days with temperatures in the 70s, but it’s safe to say that at no time were we overheated.


Unless you are on the outer rim of the island, save yourself some money and hassle and walk everywhere (besides, it helps to burn off the calories you drink and eat while there). Remember your sun protection. Key West is casual – shorts are acceptable everywhere and even flip flops seem to be the choice of footwear. We learned quickly that the drinks outside of the resort are just as good and a heckuva lot cheaper. It’s Key West, so make sure you are well-rested before you go and check your liver at the door!