Miami—especially South Beach—has no shortage of mega-hotel properties. Many of these resorts have several hundred rooms, numerous restaurants and thousands of people coming through their lobbies every day.
But if the big hotels are not your style and you’re looking for a more intimate place to call home on your Miami vacation, I recommend one of these top boutique hotels. Each offers something a little different, and all have no shortage of charm, privacy, and fun!
Miami’s mid-beach stretch, dubbed the “Wundermile,” is one of the most coveted places to check-in these days. For boutique chic accommodations, head to Circa 39 on Collins Avenue and 39th Street. The vibrant hotel underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2015 and is everything you want from a boutique experience: intimate, stylish, and eclectic.
There are fewer than 100 rooms in this cozy hotel and many of them either look out over the private pool area or the bohemian Wunder Garden, a whimsical hideaway dripping with Spanish moss and full of lounge swings. Of course, what’s a Miami hotel without a beautiful pool? At Circa 39 you can chill poolside in a funky cabana where the resident iguana sometimes pays you a visit!
I recently stayed at Circa39 for four nights, and by the end, I was on a first-name basis with everyone from my bartender, Leo (a mixology magician, also known as the Cocktail Conjurer), to the manager, Bryant. Speaking of bars, for Happy Hour your should stop by Circa 39’s WunderBar where you have to try my favorite Mezcal cocktail, the Agave Gardens and the rock shrimp appetizer!
Stanton South Beach
While Stanton South Beach is technically part of Marriott International, it definitely has the feel of a boutique hotel. It, too, underwent a renovation in 2015 and now has a modern interior and amazing Art Deco exterior.
Viewfinder Tip: Circa39 offers free towels and beach chairs at the beach across the street.
Located right on the beach on Ocean Drive and 2nd Street, this hotel is in an ideal location for your South Beach stay. Rooms are bright and airy, and many have incredible oceanfront terraces. The also hotel boasts a beachfront pool, jacuzzi, and full-service spa. I had a chance to experience the concierge level, which offers complimentary breakfast and evening snacks in a rooftop lounge with wonderful city views.
For some sun, a private access point leads you to one of the most popular beaches in Miami, the Third Street Beach. It’s a local hangout and a popular spot to take sunrise yoga classes.
The hotel also is a short walk or bike-ride to the gorgeous South Pointe Park, an incredible place to watch cruise ships sail out to sea as the sun sets.
Kaskades Suites at Gale South Beach
When it rains in Miami, it rains all day. It’s a pelting downpour. The streets flood. It’s messy. This was the scene in South Beach when I checked-in at Kaskades, an extension of Gale South Beach. Being stuck in a hotel room all day isn’t the ideal vacation scenario for most people, but once I saw my room at Kaskades, I decided it was exactly where I wanted to spend the day.
Coming from New York City, where hotel rooms tend to be boxy and small, this giant suite felt like a palace. Upon walking in, I was greeted by my friend, Nespresso, which, in my humble opinion, is the only type of in-room coffee machine a hotel should have. Add to the mix a giant king-sized bed, steam room, and terrace with Japanese soaking tub, you can see why I threw on the “Do Not Disturb” sign and hid out in the room all day long.
Sense Beach House
For a beachy oasis in the South of Fifth neighborhood, head to the Sense Beach House on Ocean Drive and 4th Street. It’s an adorable boutique property that feels more like a summer house than a hotel. The bottom level is home to The Local House, a popular brunch and dinner spot serving up divine Nutella-and-peanut-butter French toast and delicious Bloody Marys. Rooms are extremely spacious, with some of the most comfortable beds on the beach. The top floor is a rooftop retreat with a pool, lounge areas, and beautiful sunset views.
What are your favorite boutique hotels and why?