Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel

, Sarasota, United States
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Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel

, Sarasota
3 star

Rooms: 179

1540 Ben Franklin Drive - Sarasota - Florida - 34236 - United States Hotel Website | | 941 388 2181
435 Traveller

Reviews - Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel

Upgrade will never be forgotten!
Submitted by: Julie Hazlett in 29/03/05
  • Age Group: 41 - 50
  • From: United States
  • Traveller type: Adventurer
WOW I was a bit concerned reading some of the reviews before our trip. Goes to show
some people are never happy. My friend and I arrived March 23, we had requested a balcony and view. We were over joyed with
a lovely suite large balcony,bed, bathroom
living room and view. Pool area was very nice
and next to a private beach. All service was
very polite and efficient. Also, my big thing clean! St Armands is a quiet little area not much going on after 10:00 the hotel
did have a singer who was very good and friendly but nobody was in the lounge. For
a relaxing get away I would highly recommend
this spot. I have traveled all over US and Europe and this ranks up there with the best. Julie Hazlett

Historical Traveller Reviews of Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel


from A TripAdvisor Member
Stayed at the Helmsley 22-30 June 04 - had a top floor Gulf view room, definitely the best at the hotel and worth the extra money - waking up looking out to sea was superb! Be careful, some rooms look straight out over the car park. Hotel staff friendly and breakfast/dinner pretty good - nice complimentary bar snacks too, especially the fresh fruit. Perfectly situated right on the beach and relaxing in the two pools, open 'till 10pm, was wonderful. Really need a car to explore. St Armands good to visit but overpriced and very 'touristy' - lots of other places tucked away back over the causeway - make the most of the book in the hotel room and visit some of the noted restaurants. Would certainly return to the Helmsley and a Gulf view room.

Great Stay

from watchamush
Two glorious weeks in Sarasota. June10 - June 24. Although our room at the Helmsley Sandcastle was not overlooking the Gulf (what does one expect with package holidays) it was clean, well serviced and had good facilities. Fridge, coffee maker, clean and comfortable beds and an efficient air conditioning system. A hotel is being built next door but we were not disturbed by any noise. The bar and restaurant were ok but like most hotels throughout the world lacking any atmoshere. A must in the evening is to grab a deckchair and witness the sunset.
Almand circle, a 20 minute walk away has lots of restaurants and bars. If you want a good cheap breakfast without the frills I recommend the Deli next the Irish bar.
A bus service from outside the hotel takes you to the Circle or downtown Sarasota but a taxi is needed to return later in the evening. Prices similar to the UK. (almost everything else in Florida is much cheaper than UK)
A must is Ben and Jerry's ice cream parlour.

Great site shame about the rooms

from A TripAdvisor Member
We were horrified when we went to the first room (a standard) they offered us. We had had a similar room for a fraction of the cost on the beach at Venice Floriday three years before. After some complaining the hotel staff showed us three rooms and it was only the thought of the hastle in getting the money back from our booking agent that made us stay. We did have a good 3 days and it is like Europe, get your towel on the lounger by 9.00am to stake your claim! Walking back from St Armands Circle after Dinner as the sun sets across the sea is fantastic.
The staff were fine (good job otherwise it would be Fawlty Towers) but the decor is so tired, sometimes you would think that the last storm surge ran straight through the ground floor rooms in view of the amount of rot setting in. Pink does not wear well.
A great location nice people but overpriced.

Great Beach!

from A TripAdvisor Member
I've stayed at the Sandcastle for the last 20 years or so and it's always a nice place. It is an older hotel, but kept nice, and the staff is always nice and helpful. The beach is the nicest around, quiet, clean and the pool area and pool bar is very good.
The live entertainment at poolside left something to be desired, maybe consider hiring someone else for that job. Overall good experience and I will be back very soon.

Thanks for a great job!

What a wonderful find

from A TripAdvisor Member
First I will admit the hotel is dated especially compared to the huge new hotels being built beside it. The rooms were clean. The staff was very friendly and accomodating assisted with. Rooms poolside can be noisey as they have different things going on poolside in the evenings, including parties. Gulf side is beautiful. Yes you do share a balcony but it seemed I was never out on the balcony the same time as the other people. The beach area is wonderful and clean Had a wonderful weekend for a very reasonable price will definitly be back

Shabby Accommodation - not up to standard

from TinaandColin
I would also like to register my extreme disappointment at the quality of the accommodation provided to us for the second week of our Virgin holiday. The 'courtyard' room was simply not acceptable, it could only be described as ‘tatty’ and in need of modernisation, with metal barred doors providing a flavour of (at best) a 1970’s Butlins chalet. The carpets and furniture were dirty and stained, the walls ‘paper thin’ and the beds hard and uncomfortable. No alternative rooms were available at the hotel and the local Virgin office had closed for the night. In view of this we drove to two local hotels searching for alternative accommodation for that night. Due to it being a Friday night, neither had anything available at an acceptable price. Interestingly, reception staff at both hotels were not surprised at our reluctance to stay at the Helmsley making comments such as “that was a big mistake” and “we’ve had several people ask us the same thing in the last month”. Clearly, the Helmsley does not live up to its brochure representation.

Great Value Hotel

from A TripAdvisor Member
I want to share my family's vacation experience at
the Sandcastle because it seems to be very different from many other reviewers. We just spent
seven wonderful nights there during April school
vacation and we would return there again. I think
it's probably one of the BEST values for a beach-
front property anywhere (especially on the Gulf
Coast of FL). Where else can you have an unob-
structed oceanfront room with fabulous sunsets
every night for only $199.00? When I say "ocean-
front", I mean the sand and beach is literally right
below you! Yes, sharing the balcony with another
hotel guest is not ideal (our neighbors were rarely
there); however, there is no other hotel on Lido
Beach with rooms this close to the beach. I'd much
rather be closer to the beach on the 3rd floor at the
Sandcastle, than way up on the 10th floor in the
tower at the Radisson. As far as the quality of the
rooms goes, I have to disagree with some of the
reviewers. Perhaps we were lucky enough to stay
in one of the more recently decorated rooms because our carpet was clean with no stains and
there was no mildew or cobwebs...lucky us! There
are definitely some poorly located rooms at this
hotel, but you get what you pay for something. I
wouldn't consider staying here unless I got an oceanfront room in the big section of the hotel (the
wing areas with the courtyard look like they need
updating). The pool area is gorgeous and plenty
large enough (we stayed there during a kids' school
vacation week and we always got chairs by the pool
and on the beach). We found the staff in all depart-
ments to be very helpful and friendly! We ate a few
breakfasts at the poolside patio (enjoyed the con-
venience of not having to leave the hotel); and we
had several lunches for takeout to enjoy on the deck by the beach. The food was very good with
generous portions for the money. All in all it was a
great week for our family of four where we could
really relax at a beachfront hotel which offered just
about everything we needed. For all you critical
people out there, if you EXPECT a larger and more luxurious room then you should know that you will
have to spend more than $300/night to get it. As I
said at the beginning, the Sandcastle is probably
one of the few great values in all of Florida, con-
sidering its location and pool and beach areas. We
do hope to return someday (maybe without the
kiddos next time!!!!!).

In desperate need of a makeover

from SanibelBean
This hotel belongs on a reality make over show, a multimillion dollar make over show. We stayed for only one night on our way down to Sanibel Island. We were greeted at the front desk by a gentleman in an ill fitting polo shirt, in need of a shave. Not a good sign. Our room had soiled chairs, dirty worn mauve carpeting, a bathroom with mildew and cob webs. It was the first time I actually wore shoes, avoiding the carpet like a plague. It was a sad, depressing sight.

The pool area is ok, overcrowded with not enough lounges. People get out at 9 am to put a towel to reserve a seat. Even the lounges for the beach were completely gone by noon. There were 2 families at the pool that admitted that they were not even hotel guests!!!! They came to the pool bar with their kids and used the pool. No wonder it was crowded!

Avoid this one, we checked out and decided not to stay to use the pool, but continue on our way to Sanibel. Too bad we didn't read the posts here. Shame on this hotel chain. Buyer beware.

Way Over Priced

from A TripAdvisor Member
For the price I paid, I expected a much better room. We opted for a ocean front room with a balcony. The balcony, which we shared with the next room, was very small and uncomfortable. We never once enjoyed it.
The room looked like it hadn't been updated since the 60's. It was dreary and even dirty. The bathroom was tiny. The pool area and the beach were the high points. The beach is very nice. I really enjoyed the pool area, which is also very nice and clean.

I was sorry that I had decided to rent a room with an oceanfront balcony. I wished I had rented a cheaper room. I would have felt like I was getting what I paid for. I couldn't help but feel cheated. I would stay here again, in a cheaper room and only for the beach/pool area and because the area around it is very nice. But in any other surrounding, I would have left this hotel and went somewhere else. The room was just disappointing and a big rip off.

Never again!!

from A TripAdvisor Member
Our only experience with the Helmsley hotel chain was a stay at the Helmsley Palace in NYC. That is a great hotel so we were very excited to be staying at another Helmsley property on Lido Beach. What a dissapointment. The room was dated, dreary and dirty. The furniture was filthy and there were stains on the carpet. We had a room behind the carpark and were treated to car alarms throughout our stay. Our "balcony" was a narrow strip of concrete that we shared with our neighbors on either side of us. Speaking of our neighbors, we got to know them quite well as the walls were paper thin and we were privvy to all of their conversations, particularly the one at 3 am the night of our last stay. The beach itself was nice but I think it is incredibly chintzy to charge for beach chairs that have seen better days. As a matter of fact we got to the beach one day at 10:30 am and all the chairs were sold out. We were under the impression that the Helmsley name meant a higher level of quality than this...we will never be back at this hotel.

Top Local Tips for Sarasota

Wonderful food Eat at Cafe L'Europe in the circle - amazing AND Cafe on the Bay in Longboat Key seriously the best grouper I have had anywhere. Also for great cheap pizza and bruchetta visit Ciou Italia in Longboat Key also enjoy!

St. Armand's Circle St. Armands Circle is packed at night. If you can, take the first space you see rather than driving all the way through. Pedestrian's are everywhere. Don't bother with the Colonnade restaurant. It was awful!! It's an Italian place and the service was totally unacceptable.

Culture If you're a culture vulture then Sarasota has an abundance of museums and art events.


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  • Address: 1540 Ben Franklin Drive - Sarasota - Florida - 34236 - United States
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