Fodor's Expert Review Merlin Guesthouse

811 Simonton St., Key West, Florida 33040, USA See on Map

Consider yourself lucky if you get a reservation in one of their 20 rooms, updated in comfortable Keys-style. The property is quaint, lush with local flora, and steps from the everywhere you want to be in Key West.

Hooray! No resort fees at Merlin Guesthouse! And their onsite parking is only $10 a day.


Economy queen, king, or cottage? If you like large rooms, do not book economy queen. King and cottage are the way to go and will give you either a mini fridge (king) or full kitchen (cottage). Décor is minimalistic, all have hardwood flooring, plantation-style window blinds, and the bedside lamp bases have built-in outlets. Useful amenities include a flat screen, a Keurig machine, and sporadic Wi-Fi.

If you want to avoid street noise, ask for a room in the back of the property, like #22, a king suite.


Bright, clean, and contemporary. The bathroom will not disappoint (it might disappoint if you chose a queen economy). Some have floating vanities, marble or glass tops, and all have beautiful tile work. A mounted shower dispenser has full-size Eco-Boutique products (shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel).

YOU SHOULD KNOW Economy queen rooms have a louvered door for the bathroom, so nothing you do is private.


Just a small space to check in, get your key, and receive friendly info about what to see and do. The ceilings and floors are gorgeous, and the windows provide an intoxicating courtyard view.


There’s one heated pool in the center of the complex. It’s small with limited deck space and a only a few chaise loungers, but you get the feeling of privacy as you’re surrounded by guest units, foliage, and shade trees. The nice thing about this small pool is it has bench seating all around the inner perimeter, perfect for lounging in the water. Jordan the resort cat hangs out here most days.


No spa onsite.


No gym onsite.


Free continental breakfast is served 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. under the wooden pagoda, poolside. It’s a simple spread of locally made goodies including bagels, breads, croissant sandwiches, and fresh fruit and yogurt.

If you prefer a hot breakfast, walk right across the street to Deuce’s Off-The-Hook.


No bar on site.


Getting Around

You’ll be staying a short stroll from every attraction, and only two blocks from Duval Street. No need for a car. You can also rent a bike or call a cab. If you like living on the edge, rent a scooter. Just be mindful of the one-way streets and pre-occupied drivers (looking for a parking space).


Deuce’s Off-The-Hook (10-second walk) is literally right across the street and although it’s tiny, it’s excellent for every meal. Wait for a table, it’s worth it. Blue Heaven (6-minute walk) is where Hemingway used to box. Today, you’ll find great shrimp and grits, key lime pie, and roosters. For a magical and romantic evening, book a table at Better Than Sex (3-minute walk). This dessert restaurant is more than a sweet treat, it’s a total experience.


d’vine Wine Gallery (2-minute walk) is a serve-yourself wine bar inside The Gardens with over 35 bottles to choose from. Sunday evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. they feature live music. At Margaritaville (7-minute walk), you can get a cheeseburger in paradise along with your favorite flavor of margarita. Sloppy Joe’s (13-minute walk) is a must-do while in the Southernmost City.


Location, history, and the quiet rooms in the back of the property are our favorite things about Merlin Guesthouse. While there is not much to do onsite besides relax poolside and pet Jordan the cat, if you want to be near everything, look no further.

This is also one of the only kid-friendly guest houses, and in the off-season, it’s downright affordable. If you prefer cookie-cutter big resorts with upscale everything, then don’t book here. Quirkiness comes standard with historic properties, but so does charm.


Residential Area
Local Flavor


Phones: 305-296–3336;800-642–4753

What’s Nearby

People also liked

Rainbow Bend

$$ | 57784 Overseas Highway

With complimentary use of a motorized skiff, a hot sit-down breakfast,... Read More

Seashell Beach Resort

$$ | 57612 Overseas Highway

It’s got the word "resort" in the name, but really, this is a ten-room... Read More

Sea Dell Motel

$ | 5000 Overseas Highway

It’s not on the water and it doesn’t offer a view, but the location is... Read More

Coconut Beach Resort

$$ | 1500 Alberta Street

With its tin gabled roofs, white picket railings, and French doors tha... Read More

Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Windward Pointe

$$ | 3675 South Roosevelt Blvd

This rather sleepy property may not have a slew of activities like oth... Read More