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Sunset Beach Studios 2.5

Malmok, Aruba

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Across the street from the sea -- some rooms have water views
  • Walk to Malmok Beach in five minutes, Palm Beach in 10
  • Modest studios have well-stocked kitchens and modern amenities
  • Rooms are cleaned daily -- a rarity in some apartment-style hotels
  • Small outdoor pool and hot tub
  • Barbecue area for common use
  • Snorkels and beach chairs available for rent
  • Daily happy hours and sunset trips
  • Free Wi-FI

Cons

  • No swimming allowed at the beach by the hotel
  • Decor is a bit dated in some units
  • Views from Ocean View Studios aren't all that great
  • Wi-Fi can be spotty

Bottom Line

The two-and-a-half-pearl Sunset Beach Studios has a low-key social atmosphere with poolside happy hours, sunset gatherings by the water, and a gazebo full of seating. Its reasonable rates and convenient access to the most popular beaches makes it a popular choice with budget travelers, though Wi-Fi is spotty and many of the 13 studios are slightly dated. Nevertheless, they're clean and have full kitchens as well as cozy porch areas. Guests should note that the beach by the hotel isn't swimmable, but Malmok Beach -- which is excellent for snorkeling -- is a six-minute walk north. For a more traditional hotel with an intimate and romantic vibe, check out the Boardwalk Hotel Aruba, which is a five-minute walk from Palm Beach, though rates may be slightly higher.

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Scene

Low-key apartment-style hotel with social, friendly vibe

On an island packed with high-rise hotels, Sunset Beach Studios is a pleasant alternative. It's rates are reasonable, especially given the seaside setting, though that might be because the beach across the road isn't actually swimmable. Still, the low-key social vibe here gives the hotel a bit of personality, and most of the guests here are older European couples. There’s even a daily happy hour around the pool, followed by a ritual that gives meaning to the hotel’s name: Every evening, guests gather around the sea-facing bench across the street to enjoy the final minutes of daylight. The street along the shore stays relatively quiet, and lots of guests bike the pleasant path to and from the nearby beaches. Overall, this is a small and unassuming place, outside of the main areas where most of the island's hotels are located. The small property is perpetually busy, mostly with returning guests who often stay for a week or more. 

Location

Easy walks to Malmok or Palm Beaches, a 15-minute drive into Oranjestad

Sunset Beach Studios is located on LG Smith Boulevard, the main road that runs along the northwestern coast of Aruba. This is one of the quieter corners of the island, removed enough from the high-rise areas to feel secluded and relaxed. The hotel sits across the road from a beach, but swimming is not allowed there. Malmok Beach, which is excellent for snorkeling, is a five-minute walk to the north, while the north end of Palm Beach is a 10-minute walk to the south. Boca Catalina Beach is another option that's about a 15-minute walk from here. A car will be helpful for getting around, though, and Arashi Beach is only a five-minute drive from here. Super Food Plaza, a grocery store that's a bit of an island landmark and is handy for stocking the kitchens, is a 10-minute drive from the property. The shops, casinos, and nightlife of Oranjestad are a 15-minute drive in good traffic, though that can vary. Queen Beatrix International Airport will take about 20 minutes to reach by car, though again, traffic is a variable.

Rooms

Basic studios with bland island decor and well-stocked kitchens

The hotel's studios are fairly basic, though pleasant enough for a simple getaway in the Caribbean. Decor is a bit outdated and rather bland, with tile floors and light blue accents that contrast the mainly cream and beige color palette. The look has island overtones, and bright tropical beach photographs hang on the walls, though its worth noting that some rooms, like the Second Studio that we visited, are a bit more polished and have higher-quality hardwood furniture and modern details like distressed wooden cabinets in the kitchen. 

All have a cozy porch area with chairs and tables and plenty of shade from the sun. Vines climb the trellises that separate the rooms, and lush plants stand overgrown at their entrances. The landscaping has the dual function of granting more privacy and adding to the tropical vibe. Rooms also have full kitchens equipped with full-size fridges, microwaves, stovetops, coffeemakers, toasters, and a generous assortment of cooking utensils. Even dish soap, cutting boards, and Tupperware containers are provided. Other amenities include flat-screen TVs with cable channels, electronic safes, and air-conditioning. Wi-Fi is free, but spotty. Bathrooms are cramped, with small showers and very little counter space.

The studios are divided into categories based on whether they have garden or ocean views, which seems a bit misleading, as Ocean View Studios offer lackluster vistas -- the property is separated from the beach by a two-lane street and large parking lot. Regardless, those seeking a bit more privacy might prefer the front-facing rooms, as they are set a bit apart from the rooms in the back of the property.  

Features

Outdoor pool and hot tub, communal grills, but unreliable Wi-Fi

This small hotel has a circular garden area that’s mostly hidden from the street by a row of studio rooms. Lawn ornaments, chairs, and street lamps are scattered about the grass, giving everything a home-away-from-home, familiar atmosphere. A small outdoor pool is situated here, surrounded by lawn chairs and next to an above-ground hot tub. The hot tub is tiny and somewhat awkwardly placed between chairs, but it's clean and perfectly functional. There’s not much respite from the sun here, but there’s a large gazebo close by that has chairs and plenty of shade. Happy hours take place by the pool and guests also gather for sunsets just across the road. The hotel also offers two gas grills in the courtyard for barbecues. Wi-Fi is free, but unreliable, and parking is free as well. The hotel can also help secure car rentals at reasonable rates, and snorkeling and other beach gear is available for rent. 

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Address

L.G. Smith Blvd. 486, Malmok Beach, Caribbean

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