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Sanibel Island, Florida, is home to a number of stunning seaside resorts. This magical island is a sparkling gem along the western side of Florida. It has attracted tourists for over a hundred years. The oldest Sanibel Island beachfront hotel is the Island Inn, founded in 1895.
But wait, didn’t I say the Island Inn was new? I did. That’s because, over the last three years, the resort has undergone extensive remodeling and renovation as well as growth, with 49 rooms and seaside cottages to rent. And while they have been modernized, the Island Inn still remains an authentic old Florida feel and a fun family destination.
The Island Inn provided our stay in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
A True Seaside Resort
Founders Will and Harriett Matthews chose the site for their Sanibel Island beachfront hotel at the curve the island’s natural C shape, making one of the best places to collect shells. As Sanibel Island is one of the largest shell locations in the world, having a hotel in the best location on the island makes it an ideal place to collect shells.
Additionally, because of its 120+ year history, the Island Inn sits closer to the beach than many newer hotels built after beachfront regulations.
The property size is over 10 acres, and you can feel how spacious it is. Most of it is open to expansive white sand grounds, and just a short 2-minute walk to the beach.
Families would love having all this space for kids to roam and play, yet still, be close to their room when it’s time to change or relax.
And speaking of the rooms, every room, and cottage, and I do mean EVERY. SINGLE. ROOM. (with one exception) has an ocean view of the Sanibel Island beaches. I was able to take a tour and saw all types of rooms and their views. The exception is the Zeeryp Beach House, which I will go into below.
The hotel rooms and suites are divided between three buildings. The Kimball Lodge, the Starky Lodge, and the Matthew’s Lodge. Nearly all the rooms have a screened-in balcony and full-size kitchens, with only one style of a room having an efficiency kitchen.
As a family traveler, a kitchen is always a key feature when we travel and I’m happy to point out that when I say full-size kitchen, I mean it. A full-size refrigerator, oven, microwave, and most importantly coffee makers.
If you visit the interactive view of the Island Inn’s website, you’ll see where each style of room along with a detailed floor plan. This can be incredibly helpful if you’re planning a multi-family vacation.
This Sanibel Island Resort also boasts four cottages available to rent, one of which is split into two spacious rooms. Each cottage has a screened-in porch, a full kitchen, at least one king-size bed and two twins, a large bathroom, and a living area. We stayed in the Phister Gulfview Cottage and found it absolutely delightful. If you need more space, the Zeeryp Beach House holds up to 12 and sits just behind the Matthews Lodge. It’s still super close to the beach but affords a large family a little more privacy.
I love feeling as if we have a home on the beach when we stay in a beachfront cottage such as the Phister Cottage. I think my favorite part was the screened-in porch that allowed us to dump our sandy shoes and shells. In the evenings, we sat on the porch, listening to the waves, and played board games as a family.
Since we mentioned board games, that’s just one of the many amenities that make the Island Inn perfect for families. Our room was stocked with games and puzzles to keep us entertained. There was also a selection of games available to borrow in the lobby.
Additionally, the Island Inn offers:
- Kayak rentals
- Paddleboard Rentals
- Bike Rentals (Sanibel is a very bike-friendly island)
- Volleyball and tennis courts
- Outdoor grills
- Heated pool
- Complimentary light continental breakfast
- Sunset viewing deck
- Full-service award-winning restaurant
An additional benefit of staying at this Sanibel Island beachfront hotel is the complimentary guided shell walks hosted by the Shell Museum. Each morning, a knowledgeable marine naturalist guide from the Bailey Matthews Shell Museum holds a beach at the Island Inn. As guests of the Island Inn, your tour is free but you do need to sign up at the front desk. While shells are a big feature of the beach walk, it is just that, a walk along the beach and everything you’ll find there. You’ll learn what makes the Sanibel Island beaches the best place to collect shells, what type of shells you’ll see, info about the animals, and virtually anything you can think to ask.
Keep shells in mind when visiting the beach. If you need to know about other important considerations on the Florida Beaches, click here.
Overview of the Island Inn
If you’ve skipped to the bottom, here’s a quick recap of why I think Island Inn is the best Sanibel Island Beachfront Hotel.
- Steps to the best shell location on the island
- Authentic original Florida resort
- Recently upgraded and updated modern amenities
- Spacious resort and rooms
- Guided beach walks
- Kitchens in every room
If you’re looking for a family-friendly Sanibel Island beachfront hotel, the Island Inn is the place to be.