Miami with its skyscraper-packed downtown and its giant beach hotels and resorts doesn't bring cozy hideaways immediately to mind. But here and there, among Miami's beaches, distinctive "Old Florida" districts harbor clusters of small hotels full of style and character, revitalized for the 21st century. South Beach, Miami's historic art deco district, is also so fashionable that it's sometime's called "America's Riviera." It's one of the best areas to look for small Miami hotels.
The 59-room Kent Hotel bills itself as an affordable luxury boutique with rooms available for less than $100 in the off season, rising to under $150 in the high season in 2010. Decor in this South Beach hotel takes minimalism, or what the hotel calls, "retro-modern coolness," to an extreme that may not be to everyone's taste. Rooms have bare, blond wood floors, light wood furniture and pale green or tan accent walls. Some of the more upscale rooms have decorative touches and a bit more color - except for one of the suites, called the Lucite Suites, which has no color at all. The hotel is pet-friendly, with pets staying for no extra charge.
The Crescent Deluxe Suites
The Crescent is a 1938 art deco, beachfront building converted to a small, all-suite hotel with 27 units. Suites in this family and gay-friendly hotel are either one or two bedrooms, with separate living areas and fully equipped kitchens. The building's art deco facade is meant to resemble the side of a ship, with portholes. In keeping with the nautical theme, the hotel's kitchen units are concealed as they might be in a ships galley. The living rooms have sleeper sofas, making the suites particularly suitable for groups.
The 50-room Claridge Hotel is a mock Spanish hacienda on South Beach with Mediterranean-style architecture, lots of wrought iron details, cool terra cotta tile floors and richly colored textiles. The hotel has an internal courtyard with palm trees and hot accent colors. Originally a 1930s apartment building, it became a hotel as early as 1938. Built in a style that was once popular in Miami, today the hotel, with its pale yellow and white facade is one of only a handful of Spanish style buildings left.
Not in South Beach but in Miami's Brickell business district, the Urbano is a small hotel worth considering for its remarkable art collection. The Urbano calls itself an "urban art boutique hotel." Every one of the 65-rooms as well as the lobby, corridors and pool area display paintings, photography and sculpture by local artists. Guests are invited on a 20-minute guided tour of the Urbano's art collection that takes place several times a day. Local artists are regularly invited to submit work for display--and sale--in the hotel. All rooms have balconies or lanais.
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