South Padre Island Lodging - Where to Stay
It's Island Time - Where Do You Want to Stay?
Where you stay on South Padre Island all depends on budget and availability. There are standard low-end motels and places that are even below that. High-rises and finer hotels will top the list for anyone who expects more luxurious accommodations. For longer stays, there are weekly and monthly rentals at all price levels available, too! Booking an ocean view with private beach access is nice along with the price. Along the main boulevard, you'll have many options to suit your needs.
Below are a few listings, some suggestions and insider tips for staying and paying for lodging on South Padre Island. After checking out places to stay, hop on over to our South Padre Restaurant and Bar page for ideas on places to eat and drink.
We travel with a small dog (around 10 pounds), which impacts where we can stay. That usually means a motel-grade choice and a room that we hope will be on the first floor. Other than that, with our budget and the pooch, our expectations must remain rather low. Even at pet-friendly motels, nightly rates for dogs can be rather steep. We found the highest was $25 per night at one of the cheaper chain locations. However, because South Padre is a destination spot, you will find some of the finer hotels do also accommodate pets.
Our September 2012 trip to South Padre lasted just over three weeks, and we selected the Ramada Limited after much research. It had terrific off-season rates along with the best fees for dogs. While there were considerable drawbacks in room quality, we'd stay there again. You can read about that below.
At the end of November 2012, we chose a five-week rental across the bridge in Port Isabel at Long Island Village. The location was nice; we will not go back. More about that below, too.
Things To Know When Booking Accommodations On South Padre
Rates change - constantly. They go way up for Spring Break. They are still up for the high summer vacation season. Room prices drop drastically just after Labor Day. They still up go on weekends and some weekends are pricier than others, even in the high season. If there's a special event in town, rates go up. They also start to rise again when Winter Texans begin arriving around the end of December.
While the off-season is quiet during the week, watch out for weekends. Celebrants from the Valley and across the border start trickling in on Friday afternoon. Into the wee hours, you may hear voices, music, doors slamming and general commotion outside. Then, just as suddenly as this influx arrives, it goes away by Sunday.
You can always find great rates from dotcom booking companies, but it may be wise to call the hotel or its main 800 reservations number to make arrangements. Most boast at their web sites that they will meet any outside rate, but that may not be the case. You may, however, receive better service and perhaps even better accommodations by working with the hotel or corporation directly.
Easy beach access is wholly a subjective term. It may be two blocks away and still within walking distance, but crossing a busy street may be involved.
Hotels at the North End
Top: Holiday Inn Express
Middle Left: Hilton Garden Inn
Middle Right: La Quinta
At the north end of South Padre, you'll find several newer hotels mixed in with older facilities. Nearest to the convention center, they do require driving to reach the mid-section's restaurants and bars.
Why we did not stay at the Travelodge
We tried to book the Travelodge for September 2012. We'd find a room rate and their direct online system would then tell us it was no longer available (meaning, a higher rate was available). A phone call to the South Padre Travelodge was even more frustrating. The staff member on call could not or would not give us an average across all the nights we wanted to book (factoring in higher weekend rates). We gave up and looked elsewhere.
Hotels at the South End
Pictured: Schlitterbahn Beach Resort and Waterpark Entry
At the south end, you'll find high-rise condos and some of the nicer hotels. The Pearl tops our list in luxury accommodations, and it is also among the priciest. Adults and kids alike will love the newer Schlitterbahn Beach Resort. Complete with its popular water park and the Shrimp Haus Restaurant, it’s a great place for short or longer stays.
The Isla Grand is the refurbished Radisson, and is a delight to stay at or visit. (We stayed when it was the Radisson.) There’s a two-story section along the side that includes sliding door access directly by the pool and the beach. Around the lushly landscaped pool and the conveniently located Whiskey Shack, you'll feel like you're on a real vacation. Order their famously delicious Hammerhead cocktail, and you may very well be immobile in a hurry but it's worth every sip.
Hotels in the Middle on the Main Drag
Pictured above: Flamingo Inn, Days Inn, Island Inn
Pictured right: The Inn (formerly Howard Johnson's)
Are you seeing a trend in "island architecture" colors, yet?
These are among the older hotels and motels on the island. You'll also find a Motel 6 and a Super 8 with budget-friendly rates. It pays to read reviews at various travel sites to get a feel for what to expect. Clustered at the middle of the main boulevard, they're also close to many of the best choices in restaurants and bars.
If you're traveling with a pet, you should always factor those rates in as well. For instance, the Island Inn goes as low as $28.95 on weeknights in the off-season. But its listed pet rate is $25 per night.
Ramada Limited - A Full Review
We would stay at the Ramada Limited again. However, there are both pros and cons to consider with this motel. It is among the older facilities and interiors are somewhat run down. Here are our ratings (10 beings the best) and a few notes.
A/C - 10
Shower - 10
Sink - 2 (stopper had been removed)
Toilet - 8 (crumbling seat)
Maid Service - 9 (scheduling was a bit random; often ran really late)
Pool - 10
Parking - 10
Breakfast - 9
Ice Machines - 0 (bugs in ice; were mostly empty/turned off)
Wifi - 8 (access was unpredictable)
TV/Cable - 9
Amenities - 7 (coffeepot was a one-cupper; bring your own) (blowdryer was old with no power; bring your own)
Because it’s older, the Ramada Limited is built like a bunker with thick walls that help to really hide adjacent room noises. Generally, the room was clean and it smelled good. Room size was excellent; it had a loveseat, desk, king bed. Laundry facilities were good. Best nightly pet rates on the island.
It’s close to the beach. You can load up and hop over a block for public entry at any number of access points.
Plastic covers and electrical outlets were disintegrating. Security bolt on door was broken in half, although it still worked. Light bulbs felt greasy. In a remodel, they added larger bathroom doors, which barely cleared the toilet, making for tight quarters going in or out.
Room cards became in issue. We extended our stay and were issued new cards, although one of our old ones continued to work. Lost one card and received a replacement, which then made the second card not work. As a safety precaution, remove the Tyvek sleeve if it has your room number written on it.
After arriving home, we noticed an odd extra charge on our credit card statement. It was from the Ramada Limited with extra charges we had not been informed about. A call to the front desk, sort of explained in a not apples-to-apples way that these were add-on “protection” fees each time we used the credit card to extend our stay for extra days. The person I spoke with could only tell me a certain amount - not the entire amount - would be removed. (We didn’t book the entire three-plus weeks all at one time.) The clerk was abrupt, telling me to “let her finish talking,” and we decided to take a wait-and-see approach, which resulted in all charges being removed.
Please check back as we add more details on accommodations. Before booking any hotel or motel, do check the most recent reviews at popular online sites. Rates listed above are subject to change.
All photos are copyright Cindy Kennedy unless otherwise noted.