I hemmed and hawed a bit as to where to stay for my long weekend getaway in Miami Beach last month. The one obvious criteria was that it would be on the beach, it was just a matter of where on the beach. For anyone not familiar with the area, Miami Beach is actually its own city (separate from the city of Miami), whereas South Beach, the place synonymous with exclusive clubs and restaurants, is a neighborhood of Miami Beach. While I considered numerous Marriott properties for which there was no shortage in the Miami Beach area, it ultimately came down to the Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach (an Art Deco era building that is located more in Miami Beach proper) and the Marriott Stanton, a more expensive property that’s in South Beach. Both looked nice, both received favorable reviews, but from what I read online and also after asking in online forums, the consensus was one should stay in South Beach, as the area of the Courtyard, while perfectly fine, seemed to be more residential with less available and going on for tourists. So I opted for the Stanton and honestly I don’t regret it, even though it cost quite a bit more.
I’m not quite sure when the building dates from, but looking at it from the outside, it is somewhat nondescript. If anything, it resembles private condos, of which there are a plethora in South Beach. However, upon entering it from Ocean Drive, its interior was the opposite. I believe it had been renovated somewhat recently and everything about the sleek check-in area screamed “hip” and “cool” even though I hardly feel I fit that demographic. But the clientele was definitely a motley bunch (in a good way) ranging from couples to families to even a group of high school/early college age girls that was never seen without their Starbucks in hand. In short, I’m sure there are more posh hotels on Ocean Drive, but if you’re normal like me, you’ll fit right in. But back to the building-it has the feel of both a resort and also a city hotel, since it is both (situated right on the beach but also in the middle of a major city). Elevator buttons were touch screen which to me was quite neat and just another sign of the digital age permeating even the hotel industry.
We got to the hotel around 12:30 PM and luckily for us a room was ready. What was even better is that we were upgraded to a suite. I always request a room on a high floor when making a reservation and the suite we were given was on the fifth floor-we wondered if the reason the suite was ready was because it was on a lower floor. It certainly wasn’t enough to say anything about since we could get right into our room and relax for a tad after having been up extremely early and then flying three hours. The check-in clerk was polite and friendly, gave us two bottles of water and also gave a quick rundown on where things were in regards to the hotel.
Having a suite was extremely nice especially since as the check-in clerk mentioned, these cost significantly more money than the rate we had booked. The room style and decor was definitely modern minimalist, which I loved (I’m not sure if I would want my home to look like this, but in a hotel room, it was perfect). The living area had a love seat, a chair, a table with four chairs, and a desk, along with a fridge that was empty (i.e. not stocked with overpriced snacks and adult beverages). The bedroom consisted of the bed and a very comfortable chair where we often sat and just gazed out at the ocean. I had booked an ocean view room and is often the case with mega hotels/resorts, it wasn’t ocean front. Our balcony could be accessed from both the living area and the bedroom (patio sliding doors in both) and if you stood out there you could certainly see the ocean. A slight negative to being on the fifth floor meant that we were right at the level of the palm trees (had we been higher, our view wouldn’t have been obscured as much). It was still a lovely view, but when you stay at a place like the Aston Mahana on Maui, you’re undoubtedly spoiled. The bathroom was massive although I didn’t necessarily love the toilet set up. The toilet was in its “own” room within the bathroom except the door was tinted and didn’t fully shut so it wasn’t as if you had 100% privacy. But it wasn’t that big a deal with only two people. It was definitely one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve stayed at in a long time.
Side note: housekeeping was wonderful. We never had an issue on either full day we were there where we returned after being gone for hours and the room was still not made up. The hotel didn’t seem to be at full capacity but even so, the staff truly seemed efficient and thoughtful.
Deco is the only restaurant located at the hotel but it is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a Starbucks that can be accessed through the hotel (it’s located on street level) in case you need your java fix. Since I had so many dining plans for our short time in Miami, we didn’t eat a meal at Deco. However, one day we opted to take advantage of happy hour, which runs from 4-7 PM and has all drinks and some snacks half off. The bartender was a great guy and we found out was also from Philadelphia so that was a little neat connection. Drinks weren’t cheap but it was South Beach at a major hotel after all (mojitos were $15 originally). For four drinks between us our bill came out to just under $40. Later that same night we also ordered Cuban Nachos from room service for our “dinner” (we were still somewhat stuffed from our food tour that was earlier in the day). It was a rather large portion and was $10.50. There’s a gelato and artisinal chocolate shop on the hotel grounds too. Being in South Beach, you are within minutes of countless dining options for every palate.
Well, the ocean is literally right outside (the hotel has a walkway right to it). Unfortunately, the time we were there the water was much too cold to swim in and there was also a heightened alert for dangerous sea life (man o’ wars and jelly fish). The hotel does have two swimming pools that visually were stunning, overlooking the beautiful ocean. Also unfortunately, the weather was crummy most of the time so the pools were too cold to swim in (there wasn’t any sun). However, on our last day, we were able to get time to soak in the hot tub which was nice. Being more the off season I supposed, there were pool chairs to grab although I’m sure during summer in South Beach this is probably entirely different. The hotel does provide towels for the beach or the pool. There was a fitness center on site, but hey, I was on vacation so heck no (although honestly, I never use fitness centers at hotels).
The famed beach walk is also a stone’s throw from the hotel, which was a nice feature. This seemed to be a Miami Beach thing but you could also rent bikes as you go-insert a credit card and then go bike if you want. We never did this but it seems like it would have been a nice thing to do, biking along the beach walk.
There is also a spa on site but nowhere were prices advertised, so this turned me off from even considering anything (I like to have a general idea of costs before even talking with someone about it).
One of the things I liked most about the Stanton was that it was at the one end of South Beach which meant it was considerably quiet, both with people and traffic. Although it was a tad creepy after dark when walking back from the busier sections since the streets were slightly deserted and only a smattering of people and cars were about, I never felt unsafe, just had a more heightened sense of my surroundings. The building is located right next to a public park, so that definitely contributed to its more “empty” feel. It was also off season which I knew only added to there being less people, not to mention two of the days we were there were also work days (i.e. non-weekend). But restaurants, bars, drug stores-everything was a 20 minute walk or less.
There is an ATM located right inside the hotel (although obviously many of these exist elsewhere in the immediate vicinity too). Both the lobby and pool areas had water dispensers infused with fresh fruit which I just love (all the hotels in Hawaii had this). To me this is just a nice and classy touch. Even though the weather was pretty disappointing, there was plenty of seating throughout the hotel, both indoors and out, which is nice. One night after returning to the hotel with take out, a worker opened the door for me and after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him if there were any vending machines in the hotel. He said no, but asked what I was looking for. I replied a soda, he then followed up by asking what flavor, I said a Coke, and he said he would get me one. I’m not sure where he got it from, but a few moments later, he returned with a can of Coke. This was incredibly thoughtful and kind, clearly a testament that the staff wanted to do everything possible to please its guests.
Wi-Fi was only free in public areas of the hotel, otherwise there was a daily fee involved (around $12 USD). To me this is crappy and outdated-it’s 2014, just have Wi-Fi all over. Stop nickel and diming.
The hotel had no control over the crappy weather we were given, and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Stanton. Yes, rates were high but they seemed par for the course in a tourist area like South Beach. The few negatives were all small and relatively insignificant. I would consider staying there again in the future and can only imagine how much a greater a time I would have with better weather.
Marriott Stanton South Beach
161 Ocean Drive | Miami Beach, Florida | 33139