After hitting the Bahamas over Christmas, I headed to Fort Lauderdale to visit my dad. I joke that my parents saw me more when I lived in the UK; I would come home for two weeks at Christmas and not the five days that I do now. The good news for me though is I don’t go on the huge shopping binges I used to. Example: Customs officer: “Excuse me, ma’am. But can you please explain why one of your suitcases is empty and the other suitcase has nothing in it but another suitcase?” Um, the answer was for a while there? I was getting $2.05 to the British pound. Now THOSE were good times. **wistful**
To subsidize my quick visit to Fort Lauderdale, I used Starwood points from my amazing Starwood American Express card and booked a night at the W Fort Lauderdale. This is good because after staying one night, I don’t think I’d stay here again.
Let’s start with the positives. The view from my room was pretty great. Fort Lauderdale is a city right on the ocean, with a great beachfront path for running and biking. That’s nice. Also nice, the Bliss bath products, but I decided afterwards that I didn’t really like the Bliss shampoo and conditioner. I did like the body butter and the face wash though.
Now on to the negatives. First thing, my cousin and I saw a hooker on the side of the road when we got off the expressway earlier that morning. She turned up at the hotel!! I know they can’t control their guests, but I was seriously standing there, looking at this woman and thinking, “Seriously? Isn’t it a little early to be hooking? And two days after Christmas? Come on.” (But as I’ve learned over time, the sex trade knows no time constraints, and I can tell you from experience that the holidays are the busiest time of the year. There are A LOT of lonely people out there.)
Then, the colors used in the hotel. Fort Lauderdale is a happy place. Colorful. This hotel was painted darker than battleship gray. This bothered me. Also, although my room in that picture looks nice, there was a bit of an IKEA feel to things that I can’t really explain. Also no free wifi and no slippers. And the slowest elevators in the world. In short, having stayed at many hotels in Fort Lauderdale over the years, I wouldn’t stay here again. Try the Hilton or The Ritz.
Now, to food…my dad took me to three different places while I was in Fort Lauderdale and while none of them are super-gourmet, two of the three might be worth a visit if you are ever in town and looking for something basic and local and not fussy.
Fort Lauderdale Ale House, 2861 N Federal Highway: Definitely a locals place, just because of its location on a busy commercial strip. This is an efficiently run sports bar with bar food to match. I had a grouper sandwich, sweet potato fries, and an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea). My dad swore that one of the cops from the TV Show “Cops” (The Broward County edition) was in the Ale House while we were there, but I have no idea. The Verdict: Perfectly acceptable, but probably not worth going out of your way.
The Lauderdale Grill, 1901 Cordova Road: The more I talked to our server/bartender here, the more I liked the place. They smoke their own meat on premises, and I enjoyed my 10 oz smoked prime rib. Also, the caesar salad I had to start was one of the best examples I’ve had since my repatriation, with just the right touch of creamy, salty, garlicky dressing. Lastly, we visited during happy hour so our drinks were half off! Can’t beat that! The Verdict: Good. Go during happy hour.
Quarterdeck, 1541 Cordova Road: I’ve been going to this place since I was a teenager, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. This time around, my dad and I split six of the biggest oysters I think I’ve ever had in my entire life. (They were the server’s recommendation. Our receipt said “Blu Point” but I know nothing else.) Our server was slow, but otherwise, my blackened grouper caesar salad was quite nice. (Sorry, when in South Florida, I’m a bit predictable with the grouper thing.) The Verdict: Good. Check their Web site first for specials, which can be quite a steal. My dad had a nice sandwich and side for $5.99, making up for the oyster purchase.
Random Fun Moment: While I was out to dinner with my dad, I saw on Twitter that my London blogging friend Mathilde (she, now of Paris) was in Fort Lauderdale! Where was she staying? Of course at The W! So we had a nice night catching up over champagne with her and her husband and their two friends. The world is a small place sometimes, for sure.