In Noord, a five-minute drive to either Palm or Eagle Beach
Stylishly homey apartments with kitchens and small patios
Lovely outdoor pool and hot tub
Barbecue area for common use
Owners lend beach chairs at no cost to guests
Rooms have smart TVs with a Netflix account
Free Wi-Fi and on-site self parking
Rooms are somewhat cramped and not ideal for families
Amenities outside of rooms are limited to the pool
Beach is within walking distance but path lacks sidewalks
Cleaning service comes every other day
It can be frustrating to feel like a faceless number -- just one of hundreds of guests at a sprawling, chain hotel. That’s likely why some guests choose two-and-a-half-pearl Golden Villas, a five-minute drive from either Eagle or Palm Beach. The hotel has eight stylish apartments, all of which are homey, compact, and include full kitchens. Otherwise, there's not much on offer here aside from a small pool and hot tub, but the small size works to the hotel’s advantage. Guests get the undivided attention of the hotel’s owners, who offer free beach chairs and rides to the grocery store. Large groups might want to check out the two-bedroom suites at Boardwalk Hotel Aruba instead.
Private, family-run boutique property with an eye for style
The unassuming Golden Villas look more like someone’s private home than a hotel, partly because of the hotel’s location on a quiet residential street, with just a tiny, easily missable sign on the front gate. The place is so small that despite a broken doorbell, a mere knock on the gate will be loud enough to reach Ricard and Isabel, the hotel’s owners, who are often hanging around the premises during the day. There’s no proper reception area, though it doesn’t seem necessary at this informal eight-room property, where tall gates surround a sunny interior courtyard with little more than a pool and grill area inside.
The size and limited amenities are certainly good enough for the guests who stay at the hotel, maybe because that’s exactly what people who come here are seeking: a secluded stay far from the big crowds at the high-rise hotels on Palm Beach. Instead of early-morning battles over lounge chairs, the guests who stay here are each offered free beach chairs to take with them to nearby Palm Beach (just a five-minute drive away). While rooms here are modern and clean, they’re also small, so families might want to look elsewhere. Expect a cozy, intimate vibe at this private boutique hotel that's geared to couples or independent travelers.
In tourist-friendly Noord, a five-minute drive from Palm beach
Golden Villas hotel is on a quiet residential street in Noord, Aruba’s most touristy zone and as such, the island’s hotspot for top-notch dining, nightlife, and shopping. It’s about a five-minute drive to Palm Beach and its restaurants, or a 15-minute walk (though the path lacks sidewalks). Otherwise Eagle Beach is five minutes away by car as well, and Super Food Plaza -- the island's main grocery store -- is under a five-minute drive. The California Lighthouse, one of the island's popular tourist stops, is just a 15-minute drive from the hotel as well. For dining away from the waterfront, Papiamento’s Restaurant will take 10 minutes to reach on foot. The casino, luxury mall, and other shops in the downtown area are a 15-minute drive from the hotel. The international airport, Queen Beatrix, is just a bit farther, around 20 minutes depending on traffic.
Compact apartments with stylish decor, full kitchens, and huge flat-screen TVs
The eight apartment-style suites here are sunny and modern, with full kitchens that are outfitted with a range of useful equipment, like coffeemakers, microwaves, full-sized fridges, and stovetops. They’re impeccably clean, with furniture and amenities that looked fresh and modern on our most recent visit in 2016. The decor sticks to a classy, homey theme: tropical, flowery bedspreads with otherwise gray or white walls and a few pops of green to brighten things up. Bedrooms are separate from living areas and are compact. Bathrooms are narrow; expect small limestone showers and a thin shelf for toiletries.
There are some surprisingly high-end perks for a hotel in this category, like the 50-inch flat-screen smart TVs that come with a Netflix account for easy movie-watching. Black-out shades, functional air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and comfy king-size beds are all welcome additions. While there’s a sofa bed in the living room, the units are a bit too cramped for families, and the apartments are best suited for couples. While each room has some kind of outdoor seating area, they’re not particularly private or pleasant, just a plastic table facing a large wall, with a potted plant separating the space from other guest rooms. Note that cleaning service is provided every other day, and not daily.
Pool and hot tub plus helpful owners and free Wi-Fi
Features at Golden Villas are limited, as the rooms have kitchens and most guests spend the day exploring the island. The pool is as big as it can be considering the property's small footprint; it spans one far wall of the interior courtyard of the hotel. It also features a chic, square hot tub in the middle, and a handful of day beds and couches set about the deck. There’s not much shade out here, though it’s easy enough to go inside the rooms, just steps away. There's also a grill for outdoor barbecues available for common use. Otherwise the hotel’s owners are around to offer rides to the grocery store or beach chairs for the local beaches. Wi-Fi is free and functional throughout the hotel