After my fantastic arrivals experience at Fort Lauderdale thanks to Global Entry, I was picked up at the airport by a friend and dropped off at the Hilton Doubletree, or to give it its full name “GALLERYone – a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel”. Which is quite a mouthful!
I picked it for a couple of reasons – mostly location. It was over the road from one of the larger malls in the area, the Galleria, which had an Apple Store (where I managed to resist temptation), plus a bunch of other stores. Given the dreadful GBP to USD exchange rate, I didn’t do too much shopping, but it was still convenient. It was also a twenty minute walk to the main beaches in Fort Lauderdale too, and I saw some free shuttles. Finally, it was a short Uber ride away from Wilton Manors, which is the gaybourhood in Fort Lauderdale where all of the clubs and bars are located. I did look at some of the other properties like the W or the Westin, but being on the beach were further away – this was a happy medium.
I actually arrived at the hotel a little before check-in time as the flight was early and there was little traffic, however the room was ready so was handed the keys and I made my way up to the 12th floor.
The room itself was huge and upon entering, there was a small kitchen area to the left as you walked in.
Carrying on and there was a large sitting room, with dining table, sofa and TV.
Moving through into the bedroom, there was a large king size bed. Annoyingly there weren’t really any convenient power sockets close to the bed, but made do with one round the back, unplugging the lamp.
The bathroom was a decent size, with all of the standard Hilton toiletries, and had a large walk-in shower which I much prefer to a bath, although it had a fixed shower head.
The view from the room was great however, looking both north and south along the beach and out to the sea.
The hotel also had a tiny gym which had a few cardio machines in and a few dumbbells – nothing really useful. The pool was outside and seemed quite small too.
Breakfast was included as a Hilton Diamond, and that included the full buffet, including hot items. That said, most of it seemed to be fairly low quality as I guess lots of people had it included in their rate. I also had to sign a cheque every morning for an amount (roughly $40) that would then come off my bill.
I was pretty surprised that they were holding Pride in February, but figured it was quite a good escape for a lot of people to get away from the cold weather in the North of the US. Plus the summer is getting very crowded with Pride events from nearly every major city, so having it at a different time of years means they stand out.
This was the first year that Fort Lauderdale have done a proper pride event and it definitely showed. On the Saturday, there was a parade down the beach front. I was struck by the fact that there weren’t really any stewards monitoring the spectators and crowding levels, although there was a relaxed and friendly police presence.
There was also a big dance party by the beach later on that evening. What was a slight challenge though was that all of the bars were up in Wilton Manors, so lots of people seemed to migrate over there after the parade to carry on the party. On the Sunday, back in Fort Lauderdale at the beach, there was a further party with a stage, some fairly terribly acts, plus a bunch of stalls selling things and with various corporate sponsors. Pretty standard pride stuff really.
In terms of the Hilton Doubletree, I think to describe the property as tired would perhaps be a little harsh – but it did seem a little worn and not in the best of repairs. That said, I was given a lovely room, and all of the staff were unfailingly helpful and friendly. The location was perfect for me, Diamond recognition was also good, although they were only able to give me an extra hour ‘late’ checkout from 11.00 to 12.00.
All of that said, it was a perfectly pleasant stay and I’d definitely come back to the hotel again, provided the rate was good.