Owned by former Madonna producer and eighties D.J. Shep Pettibone, the Empress (from $149) was the first of Asbury’s old-guard waterfront hotels to undergo major renovations. A young, heavily gay crowd swarms the 101 balconied rooms, swimming pool, and on-site nightclub on summer weekends. If you’re here for the beach rather than the party scene, request a third- or fourth-floor room, farthest from the thrum.
Opened in January after a three-year renovation, Sixth Avenue House (from $140) is the only B&B in Asbury’s rainbow-flag-waving Victorian district. Just two blocks from the beach and one from pretty Sunset Lake, the inn has five rooms (No. 2, on the second floor, is the largest, and the only one with a whirlpool tub) and a two-room suite, plus a dreamy wraparound deck.
The four-story Laingdon Hotel (from $159) in nearby Ocean Grove (see Oddball Day) has unobstructed ocean views, breezy terraces, and four-poster beds, all intended to make converts out of Hamptons diehards. Request one of the east-facing rooms with a wet bar—a real asset in a dry town.
Farther south along perfectly manicured Ocean Pathway, the handsome Ocean View Inn (from $85 with shared bath, $175 with private bath) combines luxe modernity (plush linens, A/C, wi-fi access) with the quiet charms of a Caribbean beach house.