This is the party area of Miami Beach but definitely the most affordable for hotels and beach clubs. If you're with a Bachelorette Party or just want to get crazy, this is the place to be. Ocean Drive has a slew of Art Deco Hotels that are picture perfect and well priced. The beach is a bit of a hike across the street but there are dozens of beach clubs ready to have you for a small rental chair & umbrella fee. Many of the hotels include this fee in their nightly rate. Be sure to check before booking.
Another beach day option is Nikki Beach. From what I've heard, Saturdays and Sundays are a huge party and it's EXPENSIVE. Daybeds and cabanas cost from $750-$1000 on the weekends but Monday through Friday the rates are down right CHEAP. Weekday rates are $25pp for daybeds and $50pp for a cabana. We got fancy and splurged on a cabana. The cabanas are private whereas the daybeds are four beds connected so you might end up sharing space with other people depending on how many you have in your party. We got there early to pick the perfect cabana and had our own server that kept the drinks flowing. We ordered lunch at our cabana though there is a full service restaurant on the grounds. Nikki Beach doesn't have a pool but they have their own beach if you need to take a dip.
We absolutely loved our time here. The music was good, it wasn't crowded and it felt so chic. I would definitely go back!
After soaking up the sun, you're going to want some eats! There's a darling pedestrian street in South Beach called Espanola Way that is full of bars, restaurants and hotels...though you REALLY don't want to stay at a hotel on this street. We made this mistake and stayed at El Paseo Hotel not realizing the music doesn't stop until about 1am every night. I can handle background noise but this sounded like the DJ was in our room. It was truly insane. The hotel even provided ear plugs at check in - bad sign!
However, the street is definitely worth visiting for dinner or drinks. We ate at several restaurants during our stay and they were all delicious. We followed up dinner one evening with a drink and cigar (for Matt!) at Espanola Cigar to listen to a live saxophone player.
We noticed a tip was typically included at these restaurants, so keep an eye out. Also, most of the restaurants offer a Happy Hour from 4-7pm. Margarita anyone?!
We had a drink at Gale South Beach and it was very stylish! We really wished we had stayed there. There's an Italian restaurant at the front of the hotel, Dolce Italian, that was packed when we stopped by to have a drink so we made our way to the lounge in the back, Regent Cocktail Club. It was crowded and it had a chill trendy vibe with excellent cocktails.
If you're looking for a more laid back area of Miami Beach, head to Mid Beach. The hotels in this area are more resort style and the only thing separating the hotel pools from the beach is a boardwalk that is great for a morning walk or run.
Before I get into where we stayed, I want to mention The Confidante Hotel. After walking by, I was overcome with regret in not staying there. It was truly the cutest hotel from the exterior and the beach umbrellas were so colorful and inviting. I can't speak for the service, but it's winning on looks.
So, we spent the second half of our trip at Fontainebleau. I was so excited to stay at this hotel because it's an iconic favorite of Frank Sinatra's. The hotel is absolutely stunning and it's huge! I think being there during the busiest week of the year wasn't our best decision but I have a feeling it's always a hotspot. Before reserving, I would call to see if they're hosting any conventions or weddings during your stay. We had a very hard time finding lounge chairs by the pool and beach. Again, this could be circumstantial but book with caution. There are two other pools on the grounds that are worth searching for if you want a little peace and quiet. One is in the Sorrento Tower and the other is in the Tresor Tower. They're lesser known but can still fill up so get there early. Keep in mind there is no bar service at these pools. Fontainebleau was a beautiful stay with several onsite restaurants, a coffee and gelato shop, and a lobby bar you'll actually want to hang out at. It's even open till 5am as long as partiers are present.
La Côte Restaurant was my favorite part about this hotel. It's located by the pool and just off the boardwalk. You don't even have to be a guest at the hotel to eat at this restaurant. You can walk right in off the boardwalk and get a table. We didn't have a reservation for lunch and got a table with ease upstairs for the views!
If you're not staying at the hotel but want to eat at La Cote, the closest boardwalk access is at Lexington and The Holiday Inn off Collins A1A.
PRICE - $300-$800 per night depending on time of year
FOOD & DRINK - High quality and expensive. Titos vodka is the same price as Greygoose. Go ahead and get the good stuff!
THE BEACH - Chairs are included but umbrellas are $25 extra
SERVICE - Good
AMBIANCE - Excellent