One of the hotels with the most ideal location in Fort Lauderdale is the Hilton Marina. But is it one of the best overall? After staying there almost a half-dozen times for various conferences, I can probably review this place with some authority.

Perhaps my first stay spoiled me for all those that followed. I went to the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) convention in 2015 and stayed in a larger and newer room in the tower building. The hotel also has two older wings on either side of the tower, common areas, a pool and a bar. My subsequent stays have only been in these decent, clean, dated rooms. I guess I’ve become a little spoiled.

So, just like any hotel, the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina has positives and negatives. But being a hotel that conference organizers often choose to host attendees, I would have thought that some improvements and remodeling would happen over the last eight years. My recent stay for the Cruise Planners convention would hopefully bear this out…and here’s what I found.

The Port Everglades cruise port is convenient to the hotel


As I said, this is arguably the best hotel to stay if you’re attending a conference at the Broward County Convention Center, just across the SE 17th Street underpass and bridge. Next door to the center is the Port Everglades cruise port. While both are within walking distance, the hotel provides shuttle services. This is often a welcome option, as the Florida heat and humidity can be brutal, even for a quarter-mile walk. Currently, construction is also happening at the convention area, which makes getting to the hotel difficult.

There are also places to eat just down the street if the hotel’s food options are limited. Another convenient activity is the water taxi, steps away on the Intracoastal Waterways. I did this one year, and seeing some incredible multi-million-dollar homes is fun. You can also stop and grab a drink or something to eat.

Our room at the Hilton Marina


Once again, I stayed in the east wing (also called the east villa) for the fourth time in five stays. While the two double rooms had a decorating refresh, it was comfortable but small and cramped. There is relatively limited storage space, with just three drawers in a dresser with shelving for a coffee maker on one side and a mini refrigerator on the other. Another slight annoyance was that there wasn’t any lotion or shower gel in the bathroom, and the shampoo and conditioner were in small travel-sized bottles.

If you’d like to stay in one of the newer rooms on the property, like in the towers, you’ll have to pay extra for that upgrade. With conference-goers like us, we can request this, but the standard rooms will be these older ones. At least there was a pleasant view overlooking the pool.


The hotel has a sizable conference area for meetings, and there has been a welcome remodel. Part of it also involves the hotel Mediterranean restaurant Olive & Sea, which I’ll mention later. But there have been some puzzling recent changes, like taking out the waterfront bar and restaurant. This was a popular gathering spot for guests.

I have never liked the fitness center at the Hilton Marina. It seemed more like an afterthought, sticking cardio equipment and weights into a small room with excessive condensation from the inside A/C and outside humidity. But they have now streamlined the place with newer free weights, fewer treadmills, a rower and a Peloton bike, which makes me happy.

Restaurants and food

At Olive & Sea, my convention roommate accompanied me for dinner. We ordered a mezze side of tabouli, pita bread and a pizza with beef kibbeh (ground meat, onions and grains), charred onions, roasted tomatoes and citrus labneh, a yogurt-based sauce. It was flavored with Middle Eastern spices and was delicious. The rest of the menu looked tempting, but these dishes were more than enough.

There is a market in the lobby that serves snack foods and drinks, specialty coffee beverages and pastries and desserts for anyone wanting a quick bite. However, it may be one of the only options for eating, as there aren’t many places within walking distance from the hotel.

My take: the Hilton Marina is a decent place to stay if you attend a convention center conference. You can’t beat the location. But while they’ve made some necessary changes to the place, they definitely need to make a few more and have more dining choices.