South Miami Beach Hotels

by Wendy K. Leigh

The South Beach area of Miami is one of the trendiest and most energetic places to "see and be seen" in America. Neon signs light up the boulevards at night, transporting visitors back to the 1930s, when the Art Deco revolution exploded on the beach scene here. With what is considered the world's largest collection of Art Deco architecture, it's not hard to find hotels that are either built during that time period or are reproductions in style and ambiance.

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Location

Miami Beach is a barrier island located east of the mainland of Miami, incorporated in 1915 as a separate city. It is separated from Miami by Biscayne Bay and is accessible by one of several bridges that span the bay. The South Beach area of Miami Beach is south of Indian Creek and covers roughly 23 blocks at the southern tip of the city. It has a large section that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Miami Beach Architectural District, also known as the Art Deco District or by its nickname of SoBe, has a concentration of hotels along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Hotels here are generally glamorous and expensive, especially if they line the ocean, but a few exceptions in this area make it accessible for those with more modest budgets.

Collins Avenue

The Raleigh Hotel is one of the South Beach classics, a throwback to the Art Deco movement, and a movie memorabilia treasure. It is known primarily for the iconic swimming pool that is featured in the Esther Williams aqua-musical films from the 1940s. The Setai is an ultra-luxury resort that is one of the most exclusive properties in South Beach, generally frequented by wealthy travelers. The Asian-inspired decor is calm, serene and intimate, utilizing the original Art Deco building in addition to a newer 40-story glass tower. The Delano and the Shore Club are planted within a few yards of each other on Collins Avenue, both attracting celebrities year-round to their upscale lounges and bistros, elaborate swimming pools and luxurious accommodations.

Ocean Drive

The Tides on Ocean Drive is an Art Deco boutique hotel that's been renovated into luxury suites in a marine theme with warm colors, and a bar that pours rums from all over the world. Hotel Victor is located next door, with 88 rooms and suites including a 4,000-square-foot penthouse. The Victor's "V Hot Spots" include a sophisticated "ice bar" as well as an outdoor pool table, a 1940s mosaic tiled pool and video art projections on the walls. The Pelican Hotel plays dress-up with its rooms, each elaborately decorated by designers from the Diesel Jeans company, which owns the hotel. Themes throw guests into a time warp with rooms like the "Psychedelic(ate) Girl," and create an urge to swing through the air in the "Me Tarzan, You Vain" jungle hideout.

Mid-Range Hotels

The Crest Hotel Suites on James Street is a boutique property offering moderately priced rooms in the heart of the Art Deco district, between Collins and Washington streets. Rooms start at $115 as of December 2010. The original features of the building have been restored with a contemporary flair, and the indoor/outdoor cafe attracts locals. It is also next to the theaters and boutiques of Lincoln Road. The National Hotel on Collins Avenue is known as a very authentic preservation of the Art Deco style, with a warm ambiance featuring genuine period furnishings from the 1930s, a baby grand piano and a blues bar.

About the Author

Wendy K. Leigh is a travel writer and photojournalist from Seattle. She is the Editor of Islands America, a travel website for visiting islands within the United States. She also writes about home design, food and historical architecture. Leigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

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