Choosing the best room at a beach resort

One of the most popular questions we get asked here is whether it’s worth it to pay more for a room with a better view. There’s no easy answer, of course, but we do have a few things for you to consider when making up your own mind. Every resort has a different view and every guest has different preferences, so it’s a very individual choice.

How much does the upgrade cost?

Obviously the first thing to check is just how much the rooms with better views cost. At one of the less expensive resorts on Jamaica you might find that a Garden View room will cost US$150 per night and an Ocean View room will be US$160 per night. In that case it’s a pretty easy decision, but what if the Ocean View is US$200 per night? Is it worth US$280 for the week to have a slightly nicer view?

If you are on the fence you are probably better off just booking the cheap room because there seems to be a pretty good chance that you’ll get upgraded upon arrival anyway. If there are a lot of empty view rooms the resorts will often pick guests to fill them up.

Figure out the difference in views if you can

Many resorts sit parallel to the beach, with half the rooms looking out over the sea and the other half looking at whatever is in the other direction. In some cases the other direction is a gorgeous swimming pool surrounded by a garden that could be just as nice as the ocean, but in other cases it’s a parking lot or other random buildings. Look at guest reviews and look at the hotel on a satellite map and you should be able to figure it out pretty quickly.

Beach views are much better facing the west

For those who grew up along the east coast of any land mass, you probably have seen very few incredible sunsets but if you wake up early you might see plenty of incredible sunrises. Well, for most of us on vacation, sunsets are much better than sunrises.

So let’s take Miami Beach as an east-facing example. Having an Ocean View room is great, but the sun rises at 6am and then shines directly into your eyes until around 11am, so many guests pull their blackout curtains until noon anyway.

Now, compare that to a west-facing resort in Negril, Jamaica. You won’t see the sun in the morning at all, but you will be able to see the shimmering sea out your window. After noon it does get pretty bright when facing west, but in the afternoon you are likely to be at the beach or pool anyway. Then when the sun starts setting around 6pm the sky gets golden and everything looks stunning. On Miami Beach it’s all shadows by 4pm, but in Negril it’s gorgeous until 7pm.

The bottom line is, paying for an ocean view room when facing west can be worth a lot, and when facing any other direction it’s a tough call depending on how much they charge.