Where to Book a Stay in Aruba for a Local Experience

The Boardwalk is a former coconut plantation set in lush, tropical gardens
The Boardwalk is a former coconut plantation set in lush, tropical gardens | Courtesy of Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba / Expedia
Sara Darling

Turquoise seas, golden beaches and four species of turtle that nest here – reasons enough to visit Aruba. But if you want to combine a Caribbean escape with urban culture, then the capital, Oranjestad, is for you, with Dutch architecture and contemporary art galleries. To experience the island like a local, here’s our pick of where to stay in Aruba – book your stay with Culture Trip.

Getting to this Dutch-Caribbean island from the UK involves a plane change in Amsterdam, while nonstop flights from the US are plentiful, making Aruba a value-for-money alternative to Barbados, the Dominican Republic and other destinations in the West Indies.

1. Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba lounge with wood beam ceiling, plants and a chandelier
Courtesy of Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba / Expedia

Who said the Dutch couldn’t deliver a 24-carat Caribbean experience? The proof is the Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba – a slice of paradise from the moment you enter the driveway. Barefoot elegance is the sartorial code throughout this former coconut plantation, which pulls out the stops to satisfy all whims. With tropical gardens, 46 spacious casitas, a spa, two pools and the lazy possibilities of an overwater hammock, you’ll be forgiven for staying put. However, the inviting sands and sea at Palm Beach are footsteps away.

2. Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa

Resort

An outdoor pool at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa with palms, sunbeds and thatched cabanas.
Courtesy of Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa / Expedia

Something of a veteran, given its more than 50-year history, the 72-room Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa is a treasured institution on Aruba – an oceanfront oasis and holistic grail for wellness-conscious travellers. Check out the stunning Balinese-inflected spa, and chill further by taking complimentary pilates and yoga sessions. With four places to eat, foodies are in clover; don’t miss Aruban classics such as balchi di pisca (fishcakes made using the local catch) at Pega Pega Beach Bar & Grill before winding down with an open-air massage as the waves crash on the shore.

3. Aruba Ocean Villas

Villa

Wood-panelled living room with wicker roof at Aruba Ocean Villas
Courtesy of Aruba Ocean Villas / Expedia

In the sleepy fishermen’s village of Savaneta, Aruba Ocean Villas is so private that you feel as if you have the whole island to yourself. It’s home to the only overwater villas in Aruba – unique essays in extravagance, with flickering shoals your closest neighbours. Beach bungalows are also available, affording direct access to the white sands. Surrounded by the hypnotic transparency of the undulating Caribbean, this is a place to choose for some very special downtime with someone you love.

4. Coconut Inn

Inn, Hotel

The Coconut Inn outdoor pool with palms, sun loungers and thatched cabanas
Courtesy of Coconut Inn / Expedia

Taking its name from the lush grounds of coconut palms, this little 40-room bed and breakfast is a two-story affair with Caribbean hints in the verandas. Don’t expect interior swank; loud-patterned bedspreads, easy-mop tile floors and showers with curtains typify the product. Still, the owners are friendly, and the mood is relaxed. There are in-room kitchen appliances, but with bars and restaurants on the threshold of this high-rise area, you’ll likely be stepping out more often than not. During the day, borrow a kayak and head to the calm waters at Palm Beach.

5. Turibana Plaza

Apartment

Turibana Plaza pool area with palms and white sun loungers
Courtesy of Turibana Plaza / Expedia

Dispel notions of Crusoe-esque isolation – the blue-painted hulk of Turibana Plaza is about as desert-island-looking as a retail park. But who cares if what you need is a super-cheap base for a week in a modern, low-rise resort? Lying in happening Noord, in northern Aruba, the Turibana comprises 19 self-contained studio apartments with all the requisite domestic appliances. There’s a large pool for those lengths of exercise first thing each morning. Prefer a sea dip? Palm Beach and the main drag are barely a 10-minute drive away.

6. Yoyita Suites

Suite Hotel, Cottages

Yoyita Suites outdoor pool with palm trees in the background and sun loungers
Courtesy of Yoyita Suites / Booking.com

Looking for kid-free accommodation close to the heart of Palm Beach? Downhome, low-rise Yoyita Suites cuts the mustard, with its sedate whitewashed motel and bungalow looks and sun loungers surrounding a small blue outdoor pool (there’s an indoor one, too). While terraces aren’t entirely private, you can curtain yours off, and the interiors are cool oases of beige, soft furnishings, with smart little kitchens. You’re on the outskirts of town – a 15-minute walk to Palm Beach proper and a 25-minute stroll to Malmok Beach – but there’s plenty of parking space, which is a boon for car renters, coupled with the very affordable room rates.

7. Palazzio Palm Beach

Resort, Apartment

White-walled Palazzio Palm Beach room with tile floors, a wall-mounted TV and some modern art.
Courtesy of Palazzio Palm Beach / Expedia

The huge flamingo mural that welcomes you is a sign of the trendy vibe permeating the Palazzio Palm Beach resort. In the exclusive Bubali district of Noord, its self-contained apartments and studios belong to a local, new wave of casual accommodation for independent travellers needing only a no-frills base – you can stock up on groceries at the nearby Super Food Market Aruba. There’s a plunge pool, but the white sands and picture-postcard skyline of Eagle Beach are just a 20-minute walk from here.

8. Ladybugs Apartments

Apartment

Ladybugs Apartments bikes and palms in the garden alongside a small shed.
Courtesy of Ladybugs Apartments / Expedia

While the suites may be functional, the outbreaks of red decor are as uplifting as the friendly owners who welcome you with chilled coconut water for a relaxing stay. Relaxing is the operative word, as you’re in a residential area of Bubali, devoid of any party vibe (there’s no pool either). But the chilled-out suites are about a 15-minute walk to Eagle Beach and its photo-perfect fofoti trees, twisted by the winds. You’re also just a short drive from the social whirl of the capital, Oranjestad. Alternatively, grab one of the handy bikes to explore the stunning coastline.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out or guide to the best boutique hotels in Aruba, as well as the best resorts in Aruba – all bookable through Culture Trip.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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