Stay Here in the Magic City [5 Coolest Hotels in Miami Beach]

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Nothing can change your mood faster than checking into a beachside hotel and getting that first glimpse of refreshing, mood-uplifting ocean water – especially in the vibrant, sexy, colorful city of Miami. The Magic City has thousands of hotel rooms, so how to choose? Depends on what mood you’re going for. Whether you want that laidback island vibe or more luxurious, serene surroundings, these properties have you covered. Here are five of the coolest hotels in Miami Beach to check out for your next visit to The Magic City.

Marriott Stanton South Beach

I took a sip of my chilled pinot grigio and glanced from my balcony over the white sand beaches of South Beach, dotted with brightly colored lifeguard stands, and shrieking children frolicking in the gentle surf.  I saw sun bathers lounging under palm trees in the pool below, runners and cyclists on the boardwalk, and a cruise ship slowly making its way out of the Miami Beach Port. I felt like I had the best balcony in Miami.

My daughter and I stayed at the Marriott Stanton South Beach last year for a mother-daughter weekend and loved it. It was in renovation mode at the time, but now the $22 million renovation is complete.

The rooms are spacious, decorated in subdued colors. It’s definitely a place you want to book a balcony room.

The hotel has free bikes available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so we set out one day to explore the area. Our adventure ran a bit longer than our allotted time, but we called the hotel and they graciously extended it.

We enjoyed margaritas and Mexican specialities for dinner one night at Lola’s Surf Cantina, tucked under the side of the hotel. It was too hot to sit outside, but when the weather is cooler, the patio has a killer view of the beach and the small park next door.  We managed a bit of time by the pool – it’s on the small side, but there’s  plenty more outdoor relaxing space by the side of the property and a covered bar overlooking the beach and pool.

Marriott Stanton South Beach bedroom
Our room at Marriott Stanton South Beach was spacious with muted pale colors. Here the views are the focal point.

The Palms Hotel & Spa

While I love fun and quirky spaces, sometimes a bit of luxury is called for. That’s what you’ll find at The Palms Hotel &  Spa, where the sophistication is evident from the second  you walk into the lobby, with its soaring ceilings and white columns.

The rooms are beautifully decorated and amenities include cabanas for rent, free yoga classes on the beach, a full-service spa and even a heated swimming pool. What made this property special for me are the 1.5-acre grounds with a tropical garden and a sweet little chef’s garden. Exit a gate by the pool and you have access to Miami’s four-mile boardwalk.

Be sure to dine at Essencia where dinner items include dishes like chilled chayote squash soup, signature kale Caesar, Atlantic swordfish, islander bouillabaisse, steaks, and vegetarian dishes like chickpea cauliflower kale curry. The lounge has more casual fare like ceviche and pork sliders, and  you can grab a burger at the Tiki Bar.

Circa 39

I couldn’t help but grin when I first stepped in the lobby of Circa 39, a sister property of The Palms. While the lobby of The Palms is stately and elegant, Circa 39 is like the fun, quirky and colorful younger sister. Its lobby is an explosion of color, with fun beach-style furniture that screams for you to lounge on it in your swimsuit and kick off your flip-flops.

Its 97 rooms are split between two buildings with a palm tree-filled courtyard between them. Decorated in bright colors, rooms have an island vibe and follow the cheerful color scheme found throughout the hotel.

WunderBar, located in the lobby, is one of Miami Beach’s hottest cocktail bars with an entire wall devoted to rum. The restaurant, Jules Kitchen, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily with a breakfast buffet available. Guests can dine inside or by the pool just off the lobby.

The beach is directly across the street, and Circa 39 has a reserved area with complimentary sun lounges and towels for its guests.

guest room, Circa 39
You’ll wake up with a smile on your with this colorful decor at Circa 39.

The Pelican

I haven’t stayed here but it can’t escape your notice if you’ve strolled down the crowded sidewalks of South Beach. Even among the eye-catching colors of the art deco hotels that line Ocean Drive, the neon green of The Pelican stands out.

Guests find rooms that are exploding with kitsch, with flea market and garage sale finds from designer Magnus Ehrland who wanted each of the 29 rooms to look like a movie set. Room names include “Up, Up and Away,” “Best Whorehouse” (because who wants second best?) and my favorite, “Me Tarzan, You Vain.”

Fun fact: The Pelican, opened in 1994, was the first hotel from Diesel Jeans, an Italian clothing conglomerate. That explains the Italian fare at the Restcafe, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Amenities include a happy hour daily from 4-6 with free drinks, and free breakfast from 8-11AM. Guests have access to a concierge 24/7, enjoy turndown service every night and can bring their dogs, as long as they are under 30 pounds.

The pale green exterior of this South Beach property turns neon at night, a beacon to those wanting to totally immerse themselves in South Beach culture.

room at The Pelican
Each room at The Pelican is decorated to look like a movie set, with no two rooms alike.

The Julia

This adults-only small property opened in the summer of 2017 and is named after Julia Tuttle, who played a pivotal rule in the history of Miami. She used money left to her by her father and husband to buy land on what is now Miami. But she needed a way to get there, so contacted Henry Flagler and offered him a deal – she’d give him some land if he’d extend his railroad. He did and became known as the father of Miami. While it’s not on Ocean Drive, many guests choose The Julia for its quiet location. And it’s a short walk away to the main drag and to the beach, where the hotel has beach towels and chairs for guests at the Savoy Beach Club.

Guests also enjoy a free breakfast and a complimentary wine and cheese hour daily.

Look for packages like a bachelor/bachelorette special. There’s even one for a mother/daughter trip – a nice touch although it’s only good for 3% discount on your room.

The Julia hotel in Miami
The charming exterior of The Julia, which opened in the summer of 2017.

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