Edited by: Juan Ruiz
& Keri Stooksbury
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In early January 2024, I visited the Hilton Pensacola Beach with my family of 5. While the temperature outside was cold for Florida standards, the service was warm, and we had a great stay at one of my family’s favorite hotels. While it was just a quick overnight rest stop on our way to Orlando, this beautiful beachfront hotel once again left us wanting to return soon.
My family loved the sun-soaked beach, delicious in-room breakfast, and fantastic balcony view. And since we were there in the winter, our room rate was an absolute bargain.
Read on to see more about what we enjoyed and what this Pensacola Beach gem has to offer guests.
Hilton Pensacola Beach is on the Florida Panhandle and sits on one of Florida’s best beaches with powdery white sands and crystal blue waters. A beachfront hotel, Hilton Pensacola Beach has excellent beach access, as you may expect from the name itself, so you don’t need to leave the property to enjoy a day in the sand.
The hotel is on Pensacola Beach’s main road, Via De Luna Drive, convenient to many local attractions, including shops and restaurants surrounding the hotel.
It was just a 7-minute drive to reach the otherworldly white sand dunes of Gulf Island National Seashore’s Fort Pickens area.
Fort Pickens and the Fort Pickens Discovery Center are about a 25-minute drive from the hotel and well worth a detour, even if all you do is take the scenic sandbar drive. If you have more time, we found the fort interesting to explore and take in sights, and the visitor center had excellent educational exhibits.
Visitors can see Pensacola’s annual air show featuring the Blue Angels, the Naval Aviation team based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. There are also Blue Angels practice flights at the National Naval Aviation Museum from March through November.
We drove to Hilton Pensacola Beach from our home near Houston. This was an overnight rest stop for us on our way to Orlando, and it took us a little under 9 hours to reach the property.
We’ve visited Hilton Pensacola Beach a few times, usually as a last-minute rest stop on Orlando road trips. The drive to and from Orlando and Houston is a long one, taking approximately 15 hours by car. I don’t love the long drive, but I keep getting convinced to drive instead of fly, partly because I like stops such as Pensacola and New Orleans along the way.
If you’re flying into Pensacola International Airport (PNS), the hotel is about 20 to 25 minutes away, depending on traffic. Hilton Pensacola Beach offers recommendations for airport shuttles and advises that you’ll pay between $40 to $70 for a taxi or Uber between the airport and the hotel.
While we usually try to see how far we can get and leave our options open for the night, I booked this night well ahead of time because we love visiting this property, and I knew it would be perfect for a visit to Gulf Islands National Seashore.
I like visiting this hotel in the off-season because even in January, we can enjoy the amenities and dip our toes in the ocean. We’ve only experienced beautiful sunny but chilly winter days on Pensacola Beach, though each time we visit, we vow to come back and enjoy it properly when it’s warm enough to swim.
We’ve only ever visited Hilton Pensacola Beach in the winter, so I’ve never paid more than $150 for a night at this property. The nightly rate for this stay was just $115. We could have easily paid the same rate or more at a lesser hotel closer to our route on I-10, but we went out of our way to stay here because it’s a lovely beachfront property with excellent off-season value.
Of course, there’s a reason we paid so little for our January stay: it was cold! Looking ahead to warmer days, you can expect to pay $300 or more per night for spring and summer stays at this property.
Due to my Hilton Honors Diamond elite status, our $15 parking fee was waived, but we got room service breakfast, so our bill for the night was $189 after my elite $30 food and beverage credit. I used my Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card to pay for the stay. This was my first Hilton stay in the new year, triggering the card’s quarterly $50 Hilton credit. With the credit applied, my final total for this stay was $139 — incredibly low for a beachfront stay with room service for 5.
Despite the extensive amenities, there was no resort fee.
I earned 1,664 Hilton Honors base points for this stay, another 1,664 for the 100% Diamond bonus, and 1,000 Diamond MyWay bonus points. Once my Hilton Surpass card statement closed, I earned another 1,992 points for a total of 6,320 points earned on this stay.
Considering we value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents per point, I got about $30 back in points value from this stay.Hot Tip:
The points cost is fairly reasonable at this hotel, as low as 32,000 points per night for a king bedroom.
We arrived in the evening to a full parking lot, so I left most of my family in the car at the entrance roundabout while I checked in.
The hotel has a covered drive where you can leave your car during check-in.
I was instantly impressed walking in the front door. This was our first visit since Hurricane Sally damaged the property in 2020. The lobby was noticeably renovated for the better, particularly the front desk. The stone front desk with wooden slat walls looked sharp, but we were mostly drawn to the huge screen behind the desk that featured captivating sea life scenes.
The front desk agent who checked me in was exceptionally friendly. She thanked me for my Diamond status, then took her time to explain all the details of my stay. Parking was free as a Diamond member, a surprise perk I only learned about at check-in. However, she advised me that the main parking lot was under renovation and we’d need to park at the conference center lot nearby.
Another major point she went over was my $30 food and beverage credit. She gave me menus for all of the dining options in the hotel, including a kids’ menu, as I’d brought my youngest along to help me check in.
The agent also looked for an available upgrade and found us a double queen room with a beach view. I was thrilled because I went all of 2023 as a Diamond member without an upgrade, but we started 2024 strong with a beautiful beach balcony sunrise, thanks to this upgrade.
As a Hilton Diamond member staying at a Hilton property, my elite benefits included:
The lobby was spacious and bright, with tall ceilings and some couch seating. There was a coffee shop and gift shop across from the front desk before reaching the main restaurant and exit to the beach.
We found themed Christmas trees throughout the lobby, including a Blue Angels beach ball tree at the front door.
Hilton Pensacola Beach has excellent amenities, including pristine beach access, an extensive pool area, bike rentals, and an art gallery. It’s a shame we’ve never had the time or appropriate weather to enjoy them fully on our quick overnight winter visits, but we appreciated having them nonetheless.
The outdoor pool area features a swimming pool with a hot tub and a splash pool with water fountains and a shallow entry for young children.
The main pool is fairly large and partially shaded, with multiple entry points and an island in the middle. While it doesn’t feature a swim-up bar, the bar is just steps away.
Right next to the pool is a heated whirlpool, which we saw guests using the night we arrived. It was tempting, but I don’t think I could stand the cold walk after getting out of the hot tub!
On the other side of the pool walkway was the splash pool, which featured beach entries and water fountains … a great spot for kids who aren’t big enough for the regular pool.
The outdoor pools are open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. No lifeguards are on duty, and children under 12 must have adult supervision.
Next to the splash pad was a shower, convenient for rinsing off before or after a dip in the pool or for getting sand off after a visit to the beach.
There are also a few cabanas available for rent. These are at the edge of the splash pool, so they’re great for families supervising kids.
We also found a few loungers near the splash pool.
Behind the splash pool was an army of loungers. While plentiful, these weren’t convenient to the main pool.
Beyond the loungers was a tent with lighting and several chairs nearby aimed at the beach view.
The pools at Hilton Pensacola Beach are nice, but the beach is the headliner. The soft, powdery sand looked like snow, and the water was perfectly clear and blue. This beach is worth a visit, even in the dead of winter, for its picturesque beauty.
Beach access is out the lobby’s back door, through the pool walkway, and then onto the boardwalk over the dune.
The boardwalk features a bench halfway so you can stop and remove your shoes before stepping on the sand.
From the hotel beach, you can see the Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier and a long stretch of white sandy beach.
The hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier, featuring fishing, sunset views, food, shopping, and the occasional Blue Angels flyover.
There’s a bit of a hike from the hotel to the water, but walking on the soft sand was not unpleasant. During the summer, I’m sure it’s nice to have a deep beachfront where you can find a spot to set up even when it’s busy. However, beach chair and umbrella rentals are only available from March to October.
The fitness center featured key card access for privacy and security.
I didn’t get many photos of the fitness center, as I wanted to respect the privacy of guests working out, but it seemed well-equipped.
There were a few types of bikes, ranging from Peloton to recumbent.
There were also a couple of elliptical machines and a few treadmills to round out the cardio machine selection.
Though we’ve visited before, I had no idea this indoor pool existed. Maybe next time we will bring swimsuits to enjoy it!
I was excited to see bikes available for rent at the front door. There’s not much space to bike around the property, as it’s mostly a pool, beach, and parking lot outdoors, but Pensacola Beach strikes me as a bike-friendly city.
I noticed wide sidewalks along Via De Luna, where the hotel is located, and saw many bicyclists within Gulf Islands National Seashore. I wish we’d had time to take a spin on this trip — another amenity I’ll have to enjoy on a future visit!
Rates to rent bikes are $8 per hour for a 2-hour minimum, $6 per hour for 4 hours, or $4 per hour for 8 hours. Helmets and locks are available complimentary inside the hotel.
Between the lobby and conference center is a small business center featuring a desk with a few chairs and computers on both sides. I can’t imagine this is a quiet place to work, but you could certainly take care of some quick business here.
The conference center with expansive meeting rooms is down a hallway across from the entrance and front desk. There is a separate entrance and parking lot for the conference center.
The Luna Fine Art Gallery is at the conference center. I didn’t explore enough to figure out what entry to the gallery entailed. Looking at the photos with art lining the hallway, I suspect the conference center hallway is the gallery — and we could have easily taken in some art appreciation on our way to the car had we realized it and walked that way.
Across from the fitness center is the guest laundry room.
Each of the 2 washers and 2 dryers charges $2.50 per load paid by debit or credit card, including tap-to-pay.
On the opposite side of the room is a chair with a small table and a large ice machine next to it.
Near the door is a wall-mounted table for folding clothes.
A set of restrooms and an ATM is in the same hallway as the fitness center and laundry room.
Our floor featured an ice machine and vending machines.
The vending machines on our floor had drinks and snacks available for purchase.
Across from the front desk is a gift shop open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The hours sign said the gift shop is seasonal, but it was open in January. The selection featured beach gear (including sunglasses, hats, coverups, and bags) and souvenirs such as shirts and jewelry.
Hilton Pensacola Beach usually has a small on-site parking garage available in addition to a surface lot.
During our stay, the garage and the first set of spaces on the surface lot were under maintenance.
I was instructed to park in the conference center parking nearby. It was packed, but we found a spot. The front desk agent said we could park in the Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn lots on either side if needed.
My booking indicated I would need to pay a $15 nightly parking fee, but the fee was waived for me as a Hilton Diamond member on this stay.
I booked a room with 2 queen beds and got an upgrade to a room of the same size with a view of the pool and beach. The hotel has spacious rooms, including rooms with bunk beds, which would be nice for a longer stay with kids.
Our room was good for our single-night rest stop, and we loved the balcony with a view.
The bedroom featured 2 queen beds with a connected wooden headboard and frame. The sheets were all white, and each bed had 4 fluffy pillows.
One of the beds was near the balcony and air conditioner with enough space on the side for a chair.
The other bed was close to the bathroom wall.
Traveling as a family of 5, I was relieved to find out our travel cot fit between the 2 beds. Another option was the space between the balcony and bed, but I thought being next to the air conditioner might be a problem. We also wanted to keep that space clear to enjoy the balcony while the kids slept. It was tight with 2 kids in a bed and a third in the cot, but everyone was comfortable!
A breakfast room service menu on one of the beds caught my eye as we settled in.
A shared nightstand was between the beds, featuring a deep drawer, lamps, an outlet, and an alarm clock.
The outlet featured regular and USB plugs.
The lamps showed signs of wear, with some tears in the shades.
The closet was behind a mirrored door to the right when we walked into the room and across from the bathroom door. A safe, hanging rack, luggage rack, and iron with ironing board were inside this closet.
Further into the room, past the closet, was the micro kitchen with a shelving unit containing a coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator. We found an outlet available on a shelf that was a great charging station for the kids to use.
The refrigerator was small, with spaces for drinks and a small freezer section at the top.
Across from the beds was a dresser and desk unit with a TV. The drawers in the unit were plenty large and would have been useful had we been staying more than a night. The TV wasn’t turned on before our arrival, which I appreciated. Even though it’s cool to walk into a greeting from the TV at other hotels, it’s a waste of energy.
The desk was next to the dresser and TV area, featuring an office chair, mirror, phone, remote, and lamp. A small table and a large floor lamp were at the end of the desk.
The desk had a shallow drawer and an outlet identical to the nightstand outlet with 2 regular plugs and 2 USB plugs.
The remote was inside a pouch. I think it was supposed to convey sanitation, but I’m unsure how. There was no indication the remote received any particular cleaning treatment. Or maybe we were supposed to press buttons through the pouch cover.
Between the TV and desk accessories was an ice bucket with 2 covered glasses.
There was a large circular mirror at the desk with a QR code. It took me to an information center for the hotel where I could access details about amenities, food, and more.
The bathroom was fairly unassuming, featuring a single sink and a shower/tub combo. The tile, caulking, and floor looked new.
The shower/tub combo had a curved shower curtain rod and a grip bar. We didn’t book or receive an accessible room, so I think the bar is a standard bathroom feature. The shower head was pretty small, as was the corner shelf, but the water was hot, and overall, it was fine.
Inside the shower were wall-mounted shampoo, conditioner, and body wash amenities by Crabtree & Evelyn.
The single sink had roomy counter space. Below the counter were extra towels, a hair dryer, and extra toilet paper.
A small water-resistant sign at the sink shared details of Hilton’s conservation efforts with suggestions for reusing bath towels and bed linens.
The sink area featured a wall-mounted body lotion from Crabtree & Evelyn.
Additional amenities included makeup remover towelettes, bar soap, and a shower cap.
We were upgraded to a room with a balcony and a view. Though the balcony was small, with just 2 chairs and a little round table, it made a big difference in our stay. We had additional in-room dining space on the balcony, and it was fun to sit out there and look at the pool and the ocean.
We arrived at night and noticed the pool area lit up.
The view was stunning in the morning as the sun came out and lit up the pool and beach to reveal blue water.
Hilton Pensacola Beach has numerous dining options, including the main restaurant Salt, Bonsai, a beach bar, a lobby coffee shop, and room service breakfast.
Salt is the main hotel restaurant and bar, open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It features breakfast (buffet or à la carte), lunch, and dinner. Salt’s menu leans heavily toward Mediterranean seafood, with Gulf shrimp, squid ink pasta, and octopus tentacle with tzatziki. Standards such as a burger and Caesar salad are available, too.
When considering breakfast options that could get us out the door and on the road to Orlando, an attendant told me about a Salt to-go option. He said the hotel manager frequently allows guests to take to-go boxes from Salt’s breakfast buffet, particularly guests with early morning airport transfers.
Salt’s bar is open until at least 10 p.m.
The front desk agent told me I could use my $30 food and beverage credit at any of the hotel’s restaurants or on in-room dining — just not the gift shop or vending machines.
Bonsai is on the hotel’s second floor, has a gulf view, and features elevated Japanese cuisine that mainly centers on sushi. It’s in a space that used to be an executive lounge, but this hotel no longer has a lounge. It has limited hours, open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
An advertisement in the hotel hallway offered a peek at the Bonsai menu.
Poolside is the Sal de Mar Beach Bar, with patio dining open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The menu features salads, small plates, sandwiches, tacos, and more. The drink menu is as long as the food menu, with daiquiris, margaritas, beer, and signature drinks such as the Shark Bait Bucket.
This lobby coffee shop features Starbucks coffee drinks, tea, and an extensive pastry case for grab-and-go dining. I considered using my food and beverage credit here because we probably could have done coffee and breakfast here for 5 around $30. The coffee shop is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
While we had numerous dining options, I went for an in-room breakfast. The menu looked good, and I loved the idea of having scheduled breakfast delivered to our room so that we could eat while getting ready and packing up on our way out the door.
We picked out our meals the night before — thankful to avoid early-morning decisions — along with a desired service time.
The menu has breakfast classics such as waffles, a build-your-own omelette, bacon, toast, eggs, breakfast potatoes, and French toast. We could choose any 30-minute delivery window between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. I chose 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and breakfast arrived promptly just after 8 a.m.
My husband got the 3-egg omelette with his choice of ingredients: tomatoes, sausage, and Swiss cheese. We ordered a side of bacon for the kids.
I got French toast for our 3 kids, which I correctly guessed would be large enough for them to share with an added side of bacon. With ample French toast, butter balls, and syrup, they each had a couple of slices of French toast and some bacon.
Everyone liked their breakfast, but no one enjoyed theirs as much as I did. I can’t resist smoked salmon — enough to overlook that it was the most expensive item on the menu — and I was delighted to open up the room service tray to find a huge salmon breakfast. I was not expecting basically an entire package of smoked salmon with various accouterments, much more than what was promised on the menu.
This room service breakfast came to $82.88, including taxes, fees, service charges, and tip. But my $30 food and beverage credit covered a portion of my final bill, so it was closer to $50 for breakfast when it was all said and done.
We always get great service at this hotel, but it was better than ever on this visit. From the front desk agent who welcomed me and my daughter to the attendant who suggested we could get our breakfast buffet to go, every staff member we encountered seemed concerned with helping us make the most of our short stay.
I booked this hotel expecting a great beach stopover on our road trip, and that’s exactly what we got.
We love the sunny, cool beach break to refresh us while we’re on the road on our way to Orlando from our home in the Houston area, and this hotel is a warm and welcoming spot we enjoy returning to.
My husband and I have decided to plan our next stay at the Hilton Pensacola Beach for a season with warmer weather. Alternatively, we might consider extending our stay by an extra night to fully experience all the amenities and activities that the hotel has to offer before continuing our journey.
For rates and fees for The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, click here.
Pets aren’t allowed at Hilton Pensacola Beach, but service animals are allowed.
The hotel is beachfront, directly on the beach with access via a boardwalk over the dune.
Check in is at 4 p.m. and checkout is by 11 a.m.
Self parking is $15 per night and valet is $25 per night. Diamond members get free self-parking.
Hilton Pensacola Beach has beachfront access, pools, dining, a fitness center, a laundry room, and more.
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