730 S. Dixie Hwy., 305/661-7999, thegablesinn.net
A comfortable Mediterranean-style motel with arched, deep-ocher walkways and marble-tile floors. The downside: The highway location can make it noisy, so bring earplugs if you're a light sleeper. Doubles from $68.
Holiday Inn Port of Miami Downtown
340 Biscayne Blvd., 305/371-4400 or 800/526-5655, holiday-inn.com
Recently renovated, with a nice view of the Port of Miami. Large, light rooms and easy access to public transportation. Outdoor pool. Kids eat free. Doubles from $109.
Miami River Inn
118 SW S. River Dr., 305/325-0045 or 800/468-3589, miamiriverinn.com
An offbeat charmer with 40 guest rooms in a cluster of cottages around a courtyard and small pool. Rooms have hardwood floors and antique beds and dressers. "Well-behaved" pets welcome. Doubles from $69 in summer, $89 in winter.
1530 Collins Ave., 305/538-4361, aquamiami.com
Funky motel conversion a block from the beach with spartan-chic rooms (concrete floors, modern furniture) overlooking a courtyard. The private sundeck makes a terrific (and quiet) sunbathing spot. Doubles from $99 in summer, $150 in winter.
956 Washington Ave., 305/531-8081 or 800/270-4981, hotelastor.com
The beige rooms are huge for an old deco hotel, with nice touches like TVs on swivel poles and rain-head showers. The staff is reliably friendly. It's a two-block walk to the beach. Doubles from $125 in summer, $190 in winter.
Royal South Beach Condo Hotel
758 Washington Ave., 305/673-9009 or 888/394-6835, royalsouthbeach.com
A funky bargain with a candy-colored lobby and futuristic accents. White rooms have injection-molded plastic bed frames, curvy chaise lounges, and other Jetsons-style furniture. Every room has a microwave, coffeemaker, and free toothpaste. The beach is two blocks away. Doubles from $89.
South Beach Plaza Villas
1411 Collins Ave., 305/531-1331, southbeachplazavillas.com
A shady group of buildings crowded together and outfitted with dark-wood furniture and handsome, tone-on-tone fabrics. One of the best low-cost options near the water, with a lush tropical courtyard just a half-block off the beach. Doubles from $129.
The Standard 40 Island Ave., 305/673-1717, standardhotel.com
A scene-y hotel on South Beach's western side, 10 blocks from the beach. There's a sumptuous spa with Turkish baths, waterfall hot tubs, nude mud baths, and an on-site yoga center. Rooms are small and basic. Doubles from $150, opens Oct. 2005.
150 20th St., 305/534-3800 or 877/534-3800, townhousehotel.com
The best boutique hotel near the beach, with an attentive, laid-back staff; small, beautifully minimalist rooms; and an inviting roof deck with crimson water beds for sunbathing. A two-minute walk to the water. Doubles from $135.
Appreciating Art Deco
Miami is famous for its art deco architecture, especially the hotels that dominate South Beach's skyline. Deco comes in different styles that are easy to spot.