Casa Casuarina, Ocean Drive | Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Ocean Drive in South Beach is well known for its association with the Miami Art Deco District, which is home to about 900 preserved buildings. There are plenty of beautiful boutique hotels on Ocean Drive, most of which played their own unique role in Miami’s formative history, transforming South Beach into the place we recognize today, where tourists, party animals, and international travelers go to feel the Miami heat and live life to the fullest. Here, we’ve come up with a list of Ocean Drive’s best boutique hotels, all of which are great places to stay a few nights if you want to immerse yourself in the South Beach experience.
The Colony Hotel
First on our list is the timeless Colony Hotel. This Ocean Drive hotel is famous for its appearances on the big screen (Scarface, 1983) and in popular TV shows such as Dexter. Situated in the Art Deco District of South Beach, the Colony is a classic 1939 boutique-style hotel that offers an intoxicating ambiance. All things Miami are either within walking or a short driving distance from the hotel. Guests of the Colony Hotel enjoy The Colony Bistro, an indoor and outdoor café/ lounge and sushi bar that offers views of bustling Ocean Drive.
Second on our list is no slouch by any means. As far as beauty, fame, and global recognition are concerned, Casa Casuarina holds its own in comparison with the venerable Colony Hotel. Once the residence of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, Casa Casuarina has been turned into one of Ocean Drive’s most sought-after boutique hotels, featuring highly decorated suites with imported Egyptian linens, Italian marble bathrooms, and free WiFi. Where else are you going to be able to stay in a mansion that was built in 1930, owned by the world’s most famous designer, and is a two-minute walk from the many attractions of South Beach?
Clevelander Hotel, South Beach | Courtesy of Chang'r/Flickr
The Clevelander Hotel wraps up the proverbial ‘big three’ of world-renowned Ocean Drive boutique hotels. This is truly a South Beach icon. Built by famed architect Albert Anis in 1938, the Clevelander Hotel is where people go when they want to stay at the center of it all. More than just another Art Deco-style hotel in South Beach, the Clevelander has multiple assets that set it apart from the rest. Its entertainment value is particularly celebrated as the best of any hotel in South Florida, and one is pretty much guaranteed to find wild parties and large crowds gathering outside on weekend nights. Featuring a rooftop lounge, a pool, a fully stocked bar, and excellent music, the Clevelander is a legit playground for adults.
The white sands and electric atmosphere of South Beach are less than a two-minute walking distance from the Sense Beach House. This refined boutique hotel sits amid the shops, dining, and nightlife of South Beach’s Art Deco district. Bright, airy rooms feature flat-screens, minibars, and free WiFi. Guests have the option to pay a little extra for a balcony with a view of the welcoming waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The Sense Beach House also features a rooftop pool and terrace, a casual tapas-style restaurant (open all day), and a game room with ping pong and Foosball. There is even a lovely parlor and a veranda to complete the sophisticated South Beach look.
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Overlooking Lummus Park, The Pelican boutique hotel lies less than a mile from both Miami Beach and Lincoln Road, a trendy pedestrian thoroughfare with a vibrant shopping scene and an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. This hotel was opened by Diesel Jeans, a highly successful denim retailer, and it features quirky, retro-chic rooms. Some rooms have ocean views, and the downstairs common area is complete with a chic restaurant serving the finest South Florida seafood. The Pelican also comes highly recommended by business travelers due to the spacious and well-equipped meeting facilities.
Another Art Deco-style boutique hotel, The Breakwater on Ocean Drive features contemporary rooms with colorful accents, as well as all the furnishings and accessories that travelers these days have come to expect. The Breakwater hotel is less than a mile away from the shops of Lincoln Road as well as busy Miami Beach. Hotel amenities include a rooftop terrace, an upper-level pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and two on-site restaurants. Renovated and re-opened in mid-2011, this 99-room historic Art Deco boutique is a fun and entertaining place to stay if you want to enjoy South Beach to the fullest.