It’s not easy to stand out on South Beach, whether you’re an attractive person or an attractive hotel. The National Hotel in Miami has seen its share of ups and downs in the city: it was built in 1939.
Today the National Hotel is benefiting from another upswing after another bust, the real estate market roaring back and the visitors from South America adding to the increasing mix of Europeans and Americans hitting the clubs. The hotel certainly sits in a prestigious zone: at 1677 Collins Avenue it’s within a half block of the SLS, Ritz-Carlton, and Delano.
Overall the style here is updated Art Deco. Some of the original fixtures are in place, plus a phone booth and concierge desk survive from the 1940s. There are some more modern takes in the furniture sprinkled throughout, but this hotel gets away from the usual South Beach template of minimalist modern. There’s a real sense of time and place, from the lobby area to the Martini Lounge to the restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.
There’s a dash of whimsy and color outside the pool-level rooms though, with terrace dividers adorned in Japanese-inspired art that’s bound to make you smile. It’s a little incongruous with the Art Deco style, as is the 60s pop soundtrack in the lobby, but hey, we’re in a mash-up age now.
When you stroll into the swimming pool courtyard, you may get the feeling you’ve been here before. It’s probably not deja vu—at 205 feet in length, this is the longest pool in South Beach and this area has been home to countless fashion shoots, print ads, and TV commercials. That one long pool, shaded by palms, is not all there is either. There’s another more conventional shaped one closer to the beach that is surrounded by lounge chairs and has a poolside bar. You can rent tent cabanas for a more private experience and attentive waiter service.
As with nearly all hotels in South Beach, you’ve got a bit of a walk to get to the sand and then a good bit more to hit the water after you exit out the back gate—which requires your key card to re-enter. Staffers from The National are ready to help you relax at the beach, however, with lounge chairs and towels waiting for you around a kiosk with their logo on it.
The hotel is tall enough to have rooms with a view of the water. The best view is from The Triplex, a three-story suite with plenty of room and a pumping Bose stereo system. Other rooms in the main building are fine, but this is a hotel built for less demanding times, so the 32 poolside cabana rooms are more plush. These are 350 square feet, plus they have a furnished balcony or terrace. Padded headboards, an MP3 music system, flat-screen TV, minibar, coffee maker, robes, and electronic safes are included in all of them. Baths are well-equipped and have a good array of quality toiletries, while the mattresses and linens are extremely comfortable. Closets are big enough to step inside. Wired and wireless internet are both complimentary.
Packages often include breakfast, which is buffet in high occupancy periods and a la carte in others. With so many options up and down Collins and Washington streets in South Beach, the dining and drinking options here are a rather sedate affair. You can get a $20 intricate cocktail or a microbrew though, or buy a cigar to smoke on the patio.
Service at The National Hotel is polished and professional, from the ever-present doorman to the experienced waiters and front desk crew. This South Beach institution may not have the flash or hype of some of its neighbors, but it’s a fine high-end hotel in a great area, with a stunning beach past the long infinity pool.
Review, photos, and video of the National Hotel from editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at The National while attending the LE Miami luxury travel conference.