Miami at a Price That's Right
While not a cheap date when it comes to lodging, Miami does have a handful of hotels that are centrally located, tastefully attired, and surprisingly affordable. Follow our booking strategies, and then stay at one of our top picks.
Some booking strategies
Timing matters. In sun-drenched Miami, lodging prices soar as temperatures plummet across the rest of the U.S. At most hotels, rates return to normal after Easter and rise again around Thanksgiving. The weather in early summer is surprisingly pleasant, so you may want to bypass spring and visit the city in June or July. Farecast Live Search, a website that tracks trends in hotel and airfare prices, predicts that Miami hotels will charge an average nightly room rate of $156 this summer—not bad, and with a little persistence, you should be able to find even cheaper rooms. But be careful of extending your booking into the midsummer and fall hurricane season.
If your heart's still set on a winter break, expect to pay upward of $274 per night on average. Mid-January often yields the best winter deals.
Be flexible on your travel dates. During the Art Basel fair, the Miami International Boat Show, the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament, and other major events, hotels can charge pretty much whatever they want. Try alternate weekends to find cheaper digs, or call a hotel directly to inquire about package deals.
Be aware of hidden costs. Ask about any mandatory resort fees, which can add up to $20 a day to the bill. Expect hotel room taxes of 13 percent. And factor in transportation costs: Mass transit is limited to the downtown business corridor, and some hotels charge between $15 and $40 per day for parking. Taxis in this town are reasonably priced for short runs, but not for long distances.
Location matters. It's not worth it to book a hotel that's cheap if it's too far from the action. Key neighborhoods to look for include South Beach (ideal for people-watching by the water and in the clubs), Mid-Beach (close to the nightlife, but quieter), Downtown (flush with new restaurants and upscale hotels, and near the Port of Miami, where cruise ships dock), Coconut Grove (noteworthy for its café scene), and Coral Gables (chock-full of historic mansions and fine dining).
'Hood In Mid-Beach, just a few blocks south of the chicly renovated Fontainebleau Miami Beach (famously featured in the movie Goldfinger), nestled on a quiet row of art deco and '50s hotels that run parallel to the shoreline. Livelier South Beach is a short taxi ride away.
The vibe The lobby's color-changing panels and fireplace flanked by red wingback chairs pull this 1930s-era complex into the 21st century.
Rooms White duvets, silvery diaphanous drapes, and pastel throws brighten up the 100 airy, compact rooms (with Aveda toiletries). Note: Some bathrooms have no tubs.
Plus In the courtyard between the hotel's two wings, guests can swim in the pool, play board games like Miami Beach Monopoly, and sip mojitos or other cocktails from the stylish bar. Also: The hotel is very close to the beach, separated from it only by Collins Avenue.
Minus Popular with TV production crews, the hotel is sometimes surrounded by lights, cameras, and (noisy) action.
Free Wi-Fi Hotelwide starting in 2010. Currently available at the pool, in the lobby, and in public areas.
Credit cards accepted AmEx, MC, Visa.
Details 3900 Collins Ave., 305/538-4900, circa39.com. Doubles from $89, plus a mandatory $10 surcharge, which covers use of its private chairs on the beach.
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'Hood South Beach, on a stretch of Washington Avenue that's two blocks from South Beach proper—and not far from the underappreciated Wolfsonian-FIU museum, home to retro design exhibitions.
The vibe An inviting, art deco hotel tucked discreetly behind a hedge. The small, sparkling lobby is accented with clean, spare notes like low white chairs and floral artworks encased in glass cabinets.
Rooms The 40 beige-on-beige rooms are more spacious than those you'll find in a typical South Beach hotel. Tasteful black-and-white photographs and marbled bathrooms with tubs and showers class things up.
Plus The staff at Hotel Astor (and its well-regarded restaurant) is truly polished and meets the standard of a multistarred hotel—which the property is.
Minus Some of the carpets are ready for replacement. Also: There's no pool.
Free Wi-Fi Yes; included in the resort fee.
Credit cards accepted AmEx, MC, Visa.
Details 956 Washington Avenue, 305/531-8081, hotelastor.com. Doubles from about $139, plus a $12 per room per day resort fee, which covers beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels.
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