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Situated on Ocean Drive, Winterhaven Hotel is right in the middle of the action. Although it's on the quieter end of the strip, if that's even possible, it does get loud on the weekends. But thumping house music is everywhere is South Beach, so drink you're overpriced, watered down vodka tonic and try your best to block it out. As far as the rooms go, they are small, but that's usually the case with Art Deco hotels. This one was clearly built in the 30s when adults must have been the size of small children. The restaurant and lounge has such an iconic and regal vibe to its décor that even the worst tequila hangover will feel dignified over Bloody Marys on the outdoor patio. If you want to soak tired tourist feet, check out Blue Moon's oversized hot tubs on 9th street.
The Cardoza is a great spot if you want to be in the center of the action. Right on Ocean Drive, this hotel is great for people-watching, plus you won't have to drive anywhere. There are tons of restaurants on the strip or a block away on Collins Ave. And you can't get any closer to Miami's famous beaches. For the families, keep in mind that little Jimmy might ask you repeatedly why guys are walking around in hot pants and speedos. And what can you say? Anything goes in South Beach. At the Bellini Restaurant adjacent to the hotel, the restaurant staff are pompous and inattentive, but if you're European you'll feel right at home. The rooms at Cardoza are spacious, stylish and tidy enough, but the thumping music all night isn't for everybody. The bathrooms could have been bigger, but that's the standard for historic art deco buildings. Still, there was a bidet, although I'm a peasant from the country so I didn't know what to do with that thing. Also, I wasn't crazy about the thin walls. I really didn't need to hear all about my neighbor's nightly exploits at 3 am. The hotel staff is also very friendly, which is kind of surprising at first, since Miami is legendary for it's awful customer service. At the end of the day, this hotel is great for misguided youth who want to dance all night and get lucky, but not the best choice for families.
The friendly staff, the luxury decor, the sheer allure of the Ritz...In other words, you get what you pay for. This hotel will make you feel like a king with its rooftop pool, lush rooms, and delicate attention to detail. Why make a fuss about the little things? Let the peasants take care of it. After all, you'll have at least five people on hand to handle any needs. All you have to do is roll up in your Benz ( no one will notice it's a rental), crawl up to the pearly gates, and drink in all that is luxurious and extravagant. Too stuffed on pâté to make it to the beach? No problem, with the beachfront balcony in your luxe suite.
The Dorchester gets points just for its historical accolades. After all, it is an Iconic Art Deco site. The matching decor also hits all the right points but the moldy smell is hard to ignore. Still, the patio is a lovely spot for an evening respite from the well-grooved tourist tracks of nearby Lincoln Road and Collins. But I do have to wonder about a place that serves $1 vodka tonics for happy hour. In any case, the swing under the banyan tree is a beautiful place for dreams to die. And a pool? Please. The beach is literally across the street. This place has unmistakable charm and reasonable rates. Plus, the unique Art Deco is a nice break from the soulless and overdone hotel chains. The Dorchester is pure South Beach.
The Bentley is lively and in the heart of the action. It's right on Ocean Drive and it's so Miami you can practically taste the perfume and ego in the air. The rooms are clean and bright and the rooftop pool has a pretty sweet view. The onsite TGIF is lame but great for families terrified of calamari and ethnic food. The place is decent but kind of awkwardly positioned. I had to almost walk through the kitchen to get to my room. It's also very loud at night, so if you're in Miami to party you should be okay.
If only the outside of Hotel Ocean were as romantic as the inside. The courtyard and exterior feels like a Mediterranean Villa but the inside definitely needs a facelift. The rooms are spacious and stylish but I was distracted by the strong musty smell. Also, Ocean Drive seems like a good location in the center of the action, but the restaurants are very overpriced and not that good. It is nice being right on the beach, but the windows are small and there isn't much of a view. The price is ok, but it was a little inconvenient to have to go to Breakwater to use the pool. But it includes breakfast, bikes, and beach lounge chairs/umbrellas. The staff was very friendly too, but at night it gets a little crazy. If you want to be in the center of the action and not pay too much, then this might fit the bill.
This no frills hotel is great for the price and such a relief from the overpriced tourist gauntlet of Ocean Drive and Collins Ave. It isn't anything fancy and you don't get an ocean view, but it's clean and comfortable. Plus, it's in a perfect location. It's a block and a half from the beach, steps away from Collins Ave, and walking distance to nightlife and restaurants. For the price of a few watered down cocktails, two people can sleep comfortably and stay on budget. This hotel is good for adventure travelers, especially since interesting people are always coming through.