Seeking a foodie getaway to a warm, beach destination? Along Alabama’s Gulf coast, food lovers will enjoy the abundant fresh seafood served with Southern hospitality. For your stay, I recommend the Island House Hotel Orange Beach located along the sugar-sand beach and just a short drive from local restaurants.
Disclosure: My three-night stay at Island House Hotel Orange Beach was hosted by Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. Also, this post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.
My Stay at Island House Hotel Orange Beach
Sipping my morning coffee and nibbling the walnut chocolate chip cookie I received when checking into the Island House Hotel Orange Beach, I sit on the balcony of my gulf-facing room. The sunshine warms my skin as a light ocean breeze simultaneously cools it, and a calmness one only feels when watching waves crash upon the shore washes over me.
After watching the waves from afar, I wander down to the beach. Following the wooden pathways from the hotel, I slip off my light-brown leather topsiders as I reach the path’s end, sinking my bare feet into the soft quartz sand.
Peering to my right, I spot a pier in the distance with beachfront hotel after beachfront hotel in between. For a moment, I consider walking there, but then I’m drawn to the water. It’s December 1, yet the water is pleasantly warm for wading in ankle-deep.
Only a few hours later, I’ll be flying away from this 70-degree paradise to freezing temperatures back home in Michigan. So, I soak it all in — the sunshine, the feeling of the sand as I walk along the beach, the water crashing over my toes, and the total relaxation I feel.
This moment to unwind and press reset on my mind is exactly what I wanted from my foodie beach escape.
When planning a beach getaway, I want to have time to relax with waterfront views, soft white sand, and delicious food and drink. Orange Beach and neighboring Gulf Shores along Alabama’s Gulf of Mexico coast certainly checked all of my boxes.
Located about 30 miles from the Pensacola, Florida, airport, the Island House Hotel Orange Beach is a convenient base for exploring and relaxing along Alabama’s gulf coast. Plus, it has all the convenient amenities and Hilton Honors perks of a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.
That is what I discovered when the local tourism board hosted my three-night stay at the Island House Hotel Orange Beach. I was visiting for the Alabama Beaches’ Foodie Fanguide in November 2017.
What’s a Foodie Fanguide, you ask? Basically, the Alabama Beaches’ social media followers voted on where I dined during my trip. They sent me to fantastic local restaurants! I was in foodie heaven, enjoying all the fresh gulf seafood I could — like at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina. It was such an unforgettable dining experience that I named Fisher’s one of the upscale restaurants where I recommend you dine.
Whether you plan to eat your way around Gulf Shores and Orange Beach like I did or just want to unwind on a beach, I recommend staying at the Island House Hotel. If you aren’t already convinced why you should reserve your room, read on for reasons why I would stay again at this beachfront hotel.
Gulf Views and White-Sand Beach Access
What is the best perk of staying at the Island House Hotel Orange Beach? The beach!
Located along Perdido Beach Boulevard, the hotel sits right on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Hotel guests have direct access to the softest white-sand beach on which I’ve ever walked. Imagine taking a barefoot stroll, letting warm waves splash your ankles, any time you want. You can while staying at the Island House Hotel.
Just follow one of the two wooden pathways connecting the hotel’s pool area to the sugar sand beach for romantic walks, morning jogs, relaxing sunbathing, or building sandcastles. There are also opportunities for water-sport enthusiasts to snorkel, windsurf, and paddleboard along the beach.
If you would rather see the beach than be on it, there is no shortage of beach views. Each of the rooms and suites has at least one balcony where you can sip your morning cup of coffee while looking out to beautiful gulf views. I never tired of peeking out my window or stepping onto my balcony to feel the sea breeze.
Pro Tip: When you check into Island House Hotel Orange Beach, be sure to ask if there are available rooms on the upper floors for the best vantage point. That brings me to …
Airy Rooms for a Comfortable Stay
Staying in a 700-sq-ft king corner guest room with three windows, my room seemed open and airy. There was plenty of space to move around and natural light filled the room during the day.
As a solo traveler, I had more than enough space for my suitcase and belongings. Therefore, I’d imagine a couple sharing the room would find the king corner suits their needs for a romantic getaway. Not only can the room comfortably accommodate two sets of luggage, but the bathroom also has a long countertop where two people could be getting ready at once.
The corner room is also available with two queen beds. It’s a comfortable option for a family with young kids, a group of friends, or a twosome who prefers separate beds!
The Island House Hotel Orange Beach offers the following room types and suites:
1 King, 2 Room Corner Suite
This 1,100 sq. ft. suite with two rooms has a larger private balcony with beach views. The bedroom has a king-size Sweet Dreams bed, private bathroom, work desk with an adjustable chair, and 42-inch HDTV. The living area has a queen-size sofa bed and a private bathroom. Each suite has a microwave in addition to all the standard room amenities. Great size for families who desire more space and privacy.
1 King, 2 Room Suite
The 1,000 sq. ft. suite includes two rooms — each with its own private balcony with beach views. The bedroom features a king-size Sweet Dreams bed and a private bathroom. The living area has a queen-size sofa bed and another bathroom. Each suite has a microwave in addition to all the standard room amenities. Great size for families who desire more space and privacy.
1 King Corner
This 700 sq. ft. room features a private beachfront balcony, one king-size Sweet Dreams bed, a work desk with an adjustable chair, and a reading chair. Great fit for couples on a romantic getaway to the beach.
2 Queens Corner
Also a 700 sq. ft. room, this setup features a private beachfront balcony, two queen-size Sweet Dreams beds, a work desk with an adjustable chair, and a reading chair. Perfect for a women’s weekend away or a family of four’s vacation.
1 King Bed
A 500 sq. ft. room that has a private beachfront balcony, one king-size Sweet Dreams bed, and a work desk with an adjustable chair. Best suited for solo travelers and couples.
2 Queen Beds
This 500 sq. ft. room features a private beachfront balcony, two queen-size Sweet Dreams beds, and a work desk with an adjustable chair. Comfortable for two adult travelers or a family with young children.
Island House Hotel also offers several types of accessible rooms including hearing-accessible rooms with one king or two queen beds, a king corner room with an accessible tub, and a king room with a roll-in shower.
Thoughtful Amenities and Features in All Rooms and Suites
Each room and suite is outfitted with the following amenities for your convenience and enjoyment:
- 42-inch HDTV with a clean remote
- Beachfront balcony with patio furniture
- Beach views
Overall Thoughts on Island House Hotel Rooms and Suites
When I visit Orange Beach again, would I reserve a king corner room? Absolutely. Since I usually travel solo and dine out for my meals, the king corner was the perfect setup for me. The room felt airy with plenty of space to work, lounge, and get ready for my day. Mostly, I loved sitting on my balcony with a cup of coffee, watching the waves crash onto the shore.
While the king corner was ideal for me, I’d also highly recommend the suites for families. During my stay, I got to see one of the interior suites. I thought its layout would work fabulously for a family of four. For example, families that want to spend their days on the beach or at the pool may want to eat breakfast and/or lunch in their room. The suites offer more kitchen space than the rooms and are also outfitted with microwaves. Another perk of the suites, parents would have more privacy with a separate bedroom and the kids on the pull-out sofa in the living room.
Overall, the Island House Hotel Orange Beach has rooms and suites to fit a variety of travelers’ needs. Best of all, they all have beach views from private balconies!
Heated Outdoor Pool for Year-Round Sunbathing
In addition to the beach, hotel guests can spend their day poolside. Had I been visiting with friends or family, I’m sure a solid portion of my day would have been spent at the heated outdoor pool.
Make sure you pack your swimsuit! Even in late November and early December, I’d have claimed one of the poolside lounge chairs and dove into a vacation read. By the way, if you haven’t yet read “The Vacationers” by Emma Straub, put it on your reading list for your next beach vacation.
More Convenient Features + Hilton Honors Perks
Finally, I recommend the Island House Hotel Orange Beach because it offers amenities that make stays more enjoyable and convenient. These are some of those amenities and services:
- Business needs — business center, meeting rooms, audio/visual equipment, fax, printer, complimentary printing, photocopying service
- For families with young children — high chairs, playpens, and cribs
- Hilton Honors Members — complimentary wifi, bottled water at check-in, earn or use points for your stay
- 24-Hour Pavilion Pantry Market — stocked with snacks, bottled drinks, over-the-counter medicines, toiletries, and sunscreen
- Fitness center
- Coin laundry
- Complimentary self-parking lot for easily coming and going as you please
- And, of course, the classic DoubleTree walnut and chocolate chip cookie received when checking in
Convenient Location for Exploring Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama
I’m sure many visitors will love the Island House Hotel’s beachfront location. I also found it extremely convenient for setting out to eat my way around Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. Take a look at the map to see all the fantastic dining within a short drive of the hotel!
Things to Do in Orange Beach & Gulf Shores
At The Wharf in Orange Beach
- Ride The Wharf Ferris Wheel
- Crack codes and solve puzzles to break out of an escape room
- Throw axes
- See a movie
- Play laser tag and arcade games
- Take the ultimate selfie in 50 “Instagrammable” scenes
- Watch the nightly laser light show
- Shop the boutiques for clothing and accessories, gifts, souvenirs, specialty spirits, tea, spices, wine, hot sauces, and more
- Eat oysters, beignets, pizza, tacos, or ice cream
- Sip coffee, frozen daiquiris, gourmet wine, or a self-serve beer
Sailing, Boat Charters & Cruises from Orange Beach
- Sunset Sailing Cruise — Step aboard a 52-foot catamaran and sail past ospreys, herons, and perhaps even alligators before watching the golden sunset over the waters of Orange Beach.
- Tiki Bar Sunset Cruise — Cruise along the shoreline on a floating tiki bar at sunset! This small-group activity accommodates up to six participants and would be fun for girls’ trips, birthday celebrations, and bachelor/bachelorette parties. If your group would rather float on this mobile tiki bar during the day, you can book a 3-hour excursion or a 1.5-hour tour.
- Private Fishing Excursion — Test your fishing skills by attempting to catch a variety of fish near the Gulf of Mexico on a private 6-hour charter for your family or group! Rods, reels, tackle, and your fishing license are included, and your captain will even clean and fillet your catch right on the boat for you to eat.
- Private Boat Charter — Want to customize your boating excursion? The experienced captain of Back Bay Charters can take your crew snorkeling, cruising for dolphin sightings or sunset viewing, through rivers and bays or onto the Gulf of Mexico, past lighthouses and coastal scenery, or to beaches and waterfront restaurants. It’s completely up to you!
Outdoor Recreation in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
- Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Hiking & Birding — In this nature preserve of nearly 7,000 acres of coastal lands, you can hike among sand dunes or over 4 miles of trails. Don’t forget your binoculars because you might eye a sea turtle or migratory songbirds along the way!
- Dolphin and Wildlife Kayaking Excursion — As you paddle along the waters of Gulf Shores, you might spot a bottlenose dolphin as you take in the serene coastal scenery on your guided morning kayak adventure.
- Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail — Walk, run, or pedal a bicycle along this well-maintained nature trail for views of alligators, ospreys, bald eagles, and more wildlife sightings!
- Parasailing from Gulf Shores — Soar above the water of the Alabama Gulf coastline on a thrilling parasail! In addition to parasailing, Ike’s Parasailing also offers banana boat rides, single and tandem kayak rentals, and stand-up paddleboard rentals.
Best Things to Do with Kids in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
- Adventure Island — Located in Orange Beach, this amusement park includes a putt-putt golf course where golfers walk through a volcano! Plus, there are go-karts, paddle boats, bumper boats, and arcade games.
- Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo — Feed a sloth, cuddle a lemur, get up close to a kangaroo, or see 118 species of animals during a day at this Southern Alabama zoo.
- Dolphin Cruise — On this kid-friendly cruise of 1.5-2 hours, keep your eyes open for dolphin and hermit crab sightings!
- Lulu’s Gulf Shores — Dine and play all in one place! At this fun family-friendly restaurant from Jimmy Buffett’s sister Lucy, indulge in Gulf coast seafood such as fresh or fried oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, fried blue crab claws, and grilled snapper. The restaurant also has dedicated food-allergy menus and will specially prepare these dishes to avoid cross-contamination. After your meal, kids can climb a ropes course, sit for a caricature portrait or henna tattoo, or play arcade games.
- Waterville USA — This 20-acre amusement park and waterpark features go-kart racing, mini-golf, arcade games, a surfing and boogie-boarding simulator, numerous waterslides, two water playgrounds, a 1/3-mile lazy river, and a 25,000-sq-ft wave pool with a three-feet-high wave every 15 minutes. It’s fun for all ages!
Money-Saving Tip: Families planning to visit multiple attractions in Southern Alabama can save money with an all-in-one attraction pass. You can choose to visit three or six of the following attractions: the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, the Wharf Ferris Wheel, Fort Morgan, Foley’s Railroad Museum & Model Train Exhibit, Historic Blakely State Park, and/or the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
Getting to Island House Hotel Orange Beach
If you are visiting Orange Beach from beyond a day’s drive, you have a couple options for flying into the region. As you can see on the above map, Jack Edwards National Airport is not far. Unfortunately, no commercial flights pass through that airport. So, unless you have a private plane or take a charter flight, your options are Mobile Regional Airport (MOB) about 72 miles away or Pensacola International Airport, about 30 miles away.
I recommend flying into Pensacola like I did. It took me less than an hour to drive to The Wharf, where I went to dinner at the Italian-inspired Villaggio Grille before checking into the hotel. If I were you, I would stop at the Flora-Bama Ole River Grill or The Gulf as you head to the hotel. Both waterfront restaurants are located along Perdido Beach Boulevard before you’ll reach Island House Hotel Orange Beach and offer delicious seafood and cocktails.
Do you need a car in Orange Beach?
I think having a rental car is the easiest way to get around Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. However, there are airport shuttles, and you could try to rely on Uber and local cabs to get around.
When I visited, I found renting a car provided me much more freedom to roam and explore as I pleased. As a Hertz Gold Rewards member, my rental process was a breeze. At some larger airports, Hertz Gold Rewards members can just pick up their keys from a board, skip the line, and head straight to their vehicle. However, at the Pensacola airport, you have to check in with the Hertz desk to get your rental car’s keys. Other car rental agencies at the airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, National, Payless Car Rental, and Thrifty.
Planning Your Stay at Island House Hotel Orange Beach
Now that you’ve learned how relaxing a stay at the Island House Hotel Orange Beach can be for a seafood-filled getaway, are you ready to book your next beach vacation there? If the answer is yes, I’ve compiled a few helpful resources for planning your trip to Orange Beach.
- Check availability for your travel dates at Island House Hotel Orange Beach
- Reserve your room
- Looking for more things to do in Orange Beach and nearby Gulf Shores? Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism’s website lists a lot of the area’s attractions.
Final Thoughts on Island House Hotel Orange Beach
In this post, I shared my favorite features of the Island House Hotel Orange Beach with you. What I truly love about this beachfront hotel is that every single room has beach views — and a private balcony for enjoying them. Plus, guests have direct access to the white-sand beach and a heated outdoor pool.
As a foodie traveler, I visited Orange Beach to dine at the area’s restaurants, and there are many tasty options only a short drive from this hotel.
Lastly, I truly enjoyed how the airy rooms made me feel like I was staying at a beachfront boutique hotel. Yet, I was actually earning Hilton Honors points and had all the convenient amenities of a DoubleTree hotel.
I would definitely stay here again, and I recommend you book Island House Hotel Orange Beach for your next beach vacation along Alabama’s Gulf of Mexico coast!
Save this post to your Orange Beach, Alabama, or other vacation planning board on Pinterest for future reference!
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I’m staying here right now and yes, it’s the most amazing place I have EVER stayed in my entire life! Relaxing? YES, this place is amazingly laid back, a total contrast of the places on larger tourist (trap) beaches! Beautiful? OH YES, to wake up to the ocean is just magical no matter where you are, let along being able to view it from our room, let alone a short walk and your ON the ocean watching the sunset / sunrise! Total perfection and I can tell you this! I don’t want to leave! I highly recommend this place. I think everyone should experience what I am experiencing right now! It is majestic!
The photo featuring the cookie — that’s great motivation to visit here! This does look like such a relaxing beach and pool. And I have Hilton points burning a hole in my pocket, too!
Cristina - Memories of the Pacific
The place looks amazing! I love how you narrated your experience, I felt like I was there enjoying it myself
Everything looks so clean and quiet here. I love going away but sometimes busy destinations make me more frazzled. This looks like a place I can go and relax.
Looks like a wonderful place to vacation. I love the beach! That’s why I continue to live in Orlando and love it 🙂
Wow, what a gorgeous view!! And that hotel looks so dreamy as well. I’ve never been to Alabama and honestly have never even thought about adding it to my travel list. But I may have to check it out!
What an amazing place to vacation. We are heading down south in the summer I will keep this in mind.
Wherever I May Roam (@melodytravels)
My daughter goes to Orange Beach a lot but I don’t think she has ever stayed here. I will have to pass this article along! She will love that it’s on the beach and has a heated pool. Thanks for this, Erin!
Kaila (The Wanderlust Celiac)
My favorite part would certainly be the view of the beach! Looks like an absolutely wonderful spot, and such a thoughtful review. 🙂
You had me at the welcome cookie! Looks like a fabulous place, I’ll check it out 🙂
You would definitely find me on the beach (especially with temperatures in the 70s). The rooms look huge. I’ve never stayed on the beach on this part of the Gulf Coast. It does look perfect.
Life with Larissa
Now you have me wanting to book a trip to Orange Beach ASAP! If I stayed at the Island House Hotel, which I definitely need to look into, you could find me on the beach and on that private balcony. I’m in love with how much natural light the room receives, as I love the sun rising to be my alarm clock when I’m on vacation!
I know exactly what you mean, Larissa. The sun woke me up each morning in Orange Beach, and I absolutely loved it. I would definitely recommend Orange Beach for a wintertime beach getaway. I just love beach vacations when it is cold where I live. 😉 But, for real, the sand is incredibly soft for walks along the beach, and all the food I had was delicious. I’ll be getting to that in my next post!
We’ve been trying to figure out a quick beach getaway for this year, and this might do the trick! I didn’t realize it was a Hilton, although as I wondered as soon as you mentioned the cookie. That’s a great plus, so we can earn and/or burn some points. Thanks for the review, Erin!
I love that this property is in the Hilton family. It’s not overtly obvious in the name or decor around the hotel, but you still get your DoubleTree cookie upon check in and, as you said, earn or burn some Hilton points with your stay. Perks all around! Plus, the food in the Orange Beach area is delicious, especially the seafood. Highly recommend for a beach vacation!