Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hip Getaways: Where to Stay in South Beach, Miami

The Marriott South Beach is located on the southernmost part of the strip, just steps away from all the action. It’s perfect for couples, families or those looking for a quiet and affordable hotel where you can actually get some sleep. Don’t worry, the party is only a few blocks away - you just won’t be living in it. It’s less scene-y and not pretentious at all.

The pool and restaurant all overlook the ocean with chairs and umbrellas available for rent on the beach. Make sure you take a dip in the ocean because it is soooo warm. Cab fare from Miami International Airport will run you around $35 with tip and gas surcharge. The ride will take around 25 minutes, depending on traffic.
The hotel is eleven years old and built from the ground up with an art deco façade. It has a boutique feel to it even though it houses 226 rooms. A Starbucks is located in the lobby and pets even receive a welcome gift upon check-in. The fire pits outside are a great place to curl up with a drink and look at the stars. The small spa on-site offers massage therapy and there is a charming herb garden and bird aviary in the hotel. We loved this hotel because it was so business-friendly. I was able to pick-up an Internet package with local calls and long-distance calls to the US for only $15. Which is great if you need to check-in with work while you're away.
The Marriott is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for a room in a mid-range price. The bonus is know what you'll get and expect from the Marriott brand. 
Marriott South Beach, Miami -
The Mondrian Miami is a hip and modern hotel off the main strip by The Morgans Hotel Group. They're in the business of cool spaces. Now don't let it's location throw you off. The pool has a fantastic view of Biscayne Bay and you can walk to the heart of South Beach in under 15 minutes.
I was also able to find a substantial discount on Travelzoo and an unadvertised sale via Expedia, so don't let this gem get away from you. The Morgans Group also owns the very swanky Delano and Shore Club Hotels in South Beach, all with a very progressive and fantastical motif. The Mondrian is the most affordable of the trio and is half condo, half hotel.
Our Deluxe Bay View Studio had a magnificent view of Biscayne Bay and this interesting over sized console, complete with floating head. Kinda creepy, but also really cool. Internet is $15/day and valet parking is around $32 and is mandatory. The room was clean and spacious and it was easy to spread out all your stuff and relax. 

What we didn't expect was the bonus kitchenette space with a little eat-in area. We didn't really use it or cook anything, but there was a stove top, mini-fridge, microwave and coffeemaker. Which I imagine could be really helpful for families.
First of all, there's a chandelier in my shower...amazing. Secondly, it's actually a waterfall shower head. Check out the intricate tile work too. Loved all these little modern details. If you're looking for a hotel with loads of personality, that won't break the bank - The Mondrian might be the place for you. The Mondrian Miami -

The W Hotel - Next time I'm in Miami, I'm staying at the W South Beach. We spent so much time hanging out here, that we should have just stayed here.
The property itself is stunning and the hotel is actually quite new. The pool has a really cool scene, cabana rentals and comfy looking loungers. They also have space on the beach where you can set-up shop. 

We ate dinner at Mr. Chow and yes it was expensive, but it was totally worth it. The service was five-star all around. Impeccable. We had up to four people taking care of us when each course was served and everything was executed in precision. Price-wise, it's not that bad. We ordered the prix-fixe for around $60 each for the two of us and this included noodles, soup dumplings, fried rice, stir-fried lobster, baby bok choy and deep-fried duck - all served family style. We left full, very happy and thoroughly impressed. 
Some people may say that it's overrated, but seriously...I got lobster and duck with a bunch of delicious sides for $60! Yes, there's always going to be a greasy Chinese food place that does it for less. But Mr. Chow was a treat and truly a fine dining experience. The noodles are hand-pulled, the ingredients are all so balanced and Chef Nick Jinson Du is the former executive Chef at one of the top restaurants in China. The room is stunning and of course, a place to be seen.
I'm a big fan of Bliss Spa and there is an outpost inside the hotel. We also spent a night partying at the W Hotel nightclub, The Wall. No cover, the line was minimal and it was a good crowd with a decent DJ. Plus, the doormen were easy and pleasant to deal with. The Living Room is also a popular lounge inside the hotel and we saw a live band there one night.
The W is close to all the action and a bit more on the pricey end. I would've loved to have just rolled upstairs into bed after a long night. This is my pick for my next visit for sure. Look for the crying Hello Kitty fountain out front. W South Beach -

Planning a hip getaway to Miami? Read more from our South Beach Travel Series!

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