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- Best Overall: Circa 39 — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "Relax by the swimming pool or on the sun deck with teak chaise lounges and cabanas."
- Best Social Vibe: Freehand Hotel — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "The Broken Shaker Bar serves up award-winning cocktails that incorporate herbs and spices from the hotel garden."
- Best for Families: Villa Paradiso — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "Rooms have a Florida beach house ambience, with wood floors, sunshine yellow pastels, eggshell furniture and separate baths."
- Best Boutique: Pelican Hotel Miami — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "Each room has its own unique design, name and theme."
- Best for Romance: Mondrian South Beach — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "Studio Rooms have a whopping 523 square feet of space, kitchen areas, dining tables and spacious baths with spa products."
- Best Design: Vagabond Motel — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "Rooms have free Wi-Fi, spa-quality bath products, televisions, hypo-allergenic bedding and plush robes."
- Best for Nightlife: La Flora — See Rates at TripAdvisor, "Each of the 31 rooms have simple décor with modern furnishings."
Best Overall: Circa 39
Located in Mid-Beach and owned by hotel giant Preferred Hotels and Resorts, the newly renovated Circa 39 shows off its tropical, vintage décor at surprisingly affordable prices. Rum-infused, craft cocktails are served up at the trendy Wunderbar, while the on-site restaurant offers global comfort food or a classic breakfast buffet on the patio. The 97, eco-friendly guestrooms have an island vibe, glass-enclosed showers, bathrobes, mini refrigerators and beach towels. Relax by the swimming pool or on the sun deck with teak chaise lounges and cabanas. The beach is just a quick walk across the street (access included in the resort fee). Self-parking is an additional charge.
Best Social Vibe: Freehand Hotel
A hybrid between a boutique hotel and a backpacker hostel, The Freehand is a renovated Art Deco hotel that is located a block from the Miami Beach boardwalk just south of Mid-Beach. The concept behind Freehand is to encourage travelers to be social, with plenty of public areas and shared or private accommodations. The Broken Shaker Bar serves up award-winning cocktails that incorporate herbs and spices from the hotel garden and the 27 restaurant serves international cuisine with fresh ingredients. Private rooms include iPod docking stations, local artwork, en-suite baths and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy a free breakfast, relax in the outdoor pool and garden, or take a spin around the area on one of the bicycle rentals.
Best for Families: Villa Paradiso
Finding a Miami hotel that is family-friendly and affordable can be difficult, but the Villa Paradiso hotel in Miami Beach fits the bill. Rooms have a Florida beach house ambience, with wood floors, sunshine yellow pastels, eggshell furniture and separate baths. To save time and money, there are also full kitchens that make preparing family meals a breeze. Cribs and rollaway beds are also available, and there is a playground a block-and-a-half from the hotel, or the beach is a five-minute walk. Free beach towels and Wi-Fi are included in the rates, but parking is additional and not on the property. The cozy, 17-room hotel also has a lovely garden that is a welcome reprieve after a day exploring South Beach.
Best Boutique: Pelican Hotel Miami
Created by the fashion icons at Diesel jeans, the 29-room Pelican Hotel opened its doors in South Beach in 1994 and has continued to impress visitors with its unique style. Vintage furnishings represent the Art Deco era and were collected from yard sales and Florida markets to create an authentic atmosphere. Each room has its own unique design, name and theme, but all have top-of-the-line stereo and music systems, organic mattresses and free Wi-Fi. The hotel hosts a happy hour with free drinks for guests, and the Rest Café serves up breakfast favorites, seafood dishes and Italian cuisine indoors or on the sidewalk patio. The Pelican is located in the center of South Beach, just across from the beach itself (loungers and towels are available), however there is no gym or pool on the property.
Best for Romance: Mondrian South Beach
Located on the bay side of South Beach, the 330-room Mondrian South Beach is a luxurious and romantic choice for couples. Studio Rooms have a whopping 523 square feet of space, kitchen areas, dining tables and spacious baths with spa products. Rooms have breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami – many with private balconies. Servers deliver light fare and cocktails to the beautiful outdoor pool area that is lined with cabanas, daybeds and garden hammocks. Take in a couples’ candle massage at the 4,000-square-foot, “GUYandGIRL Spa,” which has a wide range of treatments including reflexology and body scrubs. The Mondrian Café serves Floridian specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the bar grants beautiful sunset views. The resort also has a 24-hour fitness center, but breakfast and valet parking are additional charges.
Best Design: Vagabond Motel
This retro hotel features designs inspired by the 1950s (it originally opened in 1953) and infuses modern technology and comforts into each of the 45 hotel rooms. Spacious rooms average 300 square feet and have geometric wall patterns and a colorful mix of soft aqua pastels with bold, fuchsia- and lime-colored furniture. Rooms have free Wi-Fi, spa-quality bath products, televisions, hypo-allergenic bedding and plush robes. Free pastries and coffee are included in the hotel stay. For brunch or dinner, the hotel features the Vagabond Restaurant, which serves up Latin-Asian-American cuisine. Take a dip in the pool, sip on a crafted cocktail from the poolside bar, sunbathe in the palm-tree-lined courtyard or squeeze in a workout at the on-site fitness center. Located in Biscayne, the Vagabond Motel positions travelers within several creative art neighborhoods such as the Design District and Wynwood.
Best for Nightlife: La Flora
Under new management since 2012, La Flora stands out for its friendly service and outstanding location just a block from the beach and steps from the sizzling nightlife. An Irish bar, nightclub and several restaurants are across the street, but many other options are within walking distance. Each of the 31 rooms have simple décor with modern furnishings, marble vanities in baths, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions and individually controlled air conditioning. There is no pool on the property, but there is a lobby bar with free happy hour drinks for guests, an outdoor patio and free continental breakfast. Parking is an additional cost.