Because Jacksonville hasn't yet made it onto the hip list, there are no boutique hotels -- yet. Instead, you have a choice of either a too-cool-for-its- location Loft Jacksonville Airport ; a large chain hotel, a la Hilton or Omni; or a much cozier, more charming bed-and-breakfast.
The accommodations listed in this guide are arranged geographically, in and around downtown first, followed by the beach scene. The suburbs have dozens more options, especially along I-95. Many are clustered south of downtown in the Southpoint (exit 101, Turner Butler Blvd./Fla. 202) and Baymeadows (exit 101, Baymeadows Rd./Fla. 152) areas. These locales have a multitude of chain restaurants, and you can hop on the highways and zoom to the beach or downtown.
Rates in the downtown hotels are higher midweek, when rooms are in demand by business travelers. Beach accommodations are somewhat less expensive in the colder months from December to March.
Note: Hotel taxes in the area tack on an additional 13%!
Prudential Drive in the Southbank Riverwalk area is home to the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel (tel. 800/996-3426 or 904/396-5100), the Hampton Inn Central (tel. 800/426-7866 or 904/396-7770), and the all-suites Extended Stay America Downtown (www.extendedstay.com; tel. 800/398-7829 or 904/396-1777).
Loft Jacksonville Airport, 751 Skymarks Dr., Jacksonville (www.starwoodhotels.com; tel. 904/714-3800), the first of the W Hotel offshoots in Florida (the second is in Tallahassee), opened in August 2009 and features ultramodern decor, a hip lounge, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel is so very hip we think it belongs somewhere else -- say in downtown Jax. But we'll take what we can get.
At the Beaches
A dozen modest hotels line Jacksonville Beach's First Street, along the Atlantic. The Comfort Inn Oceanfront, 1515 N. First St., 2 blocks east of A1A (www.comfortinnjaxbeach.com; tel. 800/654-8776 or 904/241-2311; fax 904/249-3830), is one of the better values. Its rooms have balconies or screened patios, and guests can enjoy a large pool with four rock waterfalls and a palm-fringed deck, a secluded grotto whirlpool, an exercise room, a gift/sundries shop, and a multicourt sand volleyball park.
If you'd like to rent an old-fashioned cottage or a luxurious condominium in the affluent enclave of Ponte Vedra, contact Ponte Vedra Club Realty, 280 Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 (www.pvclubrealty.com; tel. 800/278-8171 or 904/285-6927; fax 904/285-5218). The company has more than 100 properties in its rental inventory, about 75% of them on the ocean. Its renters get a discount on use of facilities at the Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach, and at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.