Review: Music is the Real Star at Hard Rock Daytona Beach

As Hard Rock Daytona Beach turns 5, the branding and music earn standing ovations
Exterior of Hard Rock Daytona Beach
Hard Rock Daytona Beach sits right on the beach along the Atlantic Ocean. Hard Rock photo

Hard Rock has been turning the heads of music fans with its cafes, casinos and hotels since Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett established the first Hard Rock Cafe in London in 1971. The Hard Rock Daytona Beach continues that tradition with a resort that remains firmly focused on providing a head-banging getaway.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer after renovating and rebranding the facility, Hard Rock Daytona Beach doesn’t have the eye-catching architecture thrills of the Hollywood, Fla., location – with its guitar-shaped tower – or the convenient neighboring status to a concert venue as the Tampa hotel does (it’s next to the region’s largest amphitheater). But Daytona does offer stunning views of the endlessly rolling waves from the Atlantic Ocean and a more boutique feel thanks to its cozy 200-room configuration. 

Lobby inside Hard Rock Daytona Beach
The limousine used by Madonna during the Grammy Awards in 2001 awaits inside the lobby. Hard Rock photo

The floor-to-ceiling branding – very familiar to Hard Rock fans – is impressive here and visible everywhere from the corner of pillowcases – with an electric guitar embroidered logo – to the stickers on TP and Crosley record players – and record collection – in each room. We particularly enjoyed blasting Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” LP, in honor of the late songstress. All the while, a portrait of Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl overlooked our beds.

A dog sits on the bed inside the Hard Rock hotel in Daytona Beach
Hard Rock Daytona Beach is pet-friendly, much to the delight of our dog Benji. Photo by Melissa Braverman

Be sure to budget time to explore all the hallways, nooks and crannies for rock memorabilia. Daytona Beach was heavy on items by The Beatles and Rolling Stones. I was transfixed by a leather robe once worn by the Stones’ Ron Wood that was displayed outside the elevators on our floor as well as a Flying V guitar played by Triumph’s Rik Emmett. Chills crept down my body as I recognized this weekend was the 30th anniversary of the brand’s epic performance at the US ’83 Festival in California.

Tom Petty’s guitar
A guitar used by Florida legend Tom Petty awaits guests on the ground floor. Photo by Melissa Braverman

When you’ve worked up an appetite, the restaurant Sessions awaits. It’s nothing fancy, but the menu offers something for everyone – even the pickiest kids. I chose a burger while the wife stuck with salmon. One revelation: the blueberry barbecue sauce for the burger. It was so zesty, I’d have happily purchased a bottle if available. One clever appetizer – tater tots with blue cheese, balsamic vinegar and onions  – think wedge salad but with potatoes – caught our eye and was consumed with gusto. 

Drinks at Session with a cocktail menu
The cocktail menu at Sessions offers traditional favorites and unique new recipes. Photo by Melissa Braverman

Still, the real star of our visit was the live entertainment. A tribute band – Foreigners Journey – took the outdoor stage at 8 on a Friday night and rolled through two hours of classic hits from their namesake bands. VIP tables and seats were sold out prior to the performance, but we were able to enjoy the show from our oceanview balcony two stories up. The appreciative crowd stuck around until about 11:30 p.m. If you don’t mind the outside noise, definitely ask for a room with a similar view. The performance was the highlight of the trip. We bookmarked the band’s website and promised to look them up again.

A band performs outside by the beach
Foreigners Journey performs for guests in June at Hard Rock Daytona Beach. Photo by Melissa Braverman

The music continues day and night through the hallways and restaurants. It’s surreal to be serenaded by David Bowie’s “Changes” while eating what we deemed the best challah french toast in the world at 9 a.m. If you’re a kid at heart, there’s the youth club Roxity downstairs with a huge video screen for playing Galaga or Pac-Man. A nearby AC/DC pinball machine plays anthems by the hard-rocking Aussie band, beckoning players to join the fun. 

The youth club’s entrance
Video games, foosball and pinball machines await inside Roxity. Hard Rock photo

Only the resort’s spa offers solitude from the music, so plan for a pedicure or massage if you need a break from the tunes. Likewise, cabanas by the pools can be rented if you need a little timeout during the day.

A record player with a Tina Turner album
Record players with classic rock albums await inside guest rooms. Photo by Melissa Braverman

Because the surrounding neighborhood in Daytona Beach looks a little tired and in need of refurbishment, think of Hard Rock Daytona as more of a “play where you stay” resort. We walked our dog Benji – Hard Rock is happily pup-friendly – around the resort late at night and in the early morning with no incidents though.

Rock star outfits on display
No matter what genre of music you love, chances are there’s a display of memorabilia for it inside Hard Rock Daytona Beach. Photo by Melissa Braverman

If you’re searching for a quiet, romantic weekend getaway, this probably isn’t the ideal city or resort for your vacation. But if you’re looking for a getaway for the girls – or guys – and welcome loud music, late nights, creative cocktails and a never-surrender attitude toward partying, the Hard Rock Daytona Beach may be the headliner you’re looking for. 

Pool outside Hard Rock
Two pools are available oceanfront at Hard Rock Daytona. Hard Rock Photo

Hard Rock Daytona Beach’s “Rock the Beach” Series: 

Here’s the remaining schedule of performances for the “Rock the Beach” series at Hard Rock Daytona Beach. All performances take place on the Wave Terrace. Doors open at 7 p.m., performances begin at 8 p.m. VIP tables are available. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

  • June 16 – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • June 23 – Aerosmith & Loverboy
  • June 30 – Pat Benatar & Joan Jett
  • July 29 – Unlimited Devotion – A Tribute to The Grateful Dead
  • September 1 – Nirvana & Pearl Jam
  • September 8 -Rolling Stones
  • September 15 – TBD
  • September 22 – The Cars
  • September 29 – Tribucon – Tributes to Scorpions, Boston & Women In Rock

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