Conveniently located a block from the beach and a block from trendy Lincoln Avenue, with the Miami Beach Convention Center just a couple block further, the Albion Hotel has been hosting guests in Miami Beach since the 1940s.
Originally designed by renowned architect Igor B. Polevitzky, the nautical-themed hotel has gone through several incarnations, including serving as the headquarters for Abbie Hoffman and the Students for a Democratic Society during the 1972 Democratic National Convention (the convention was held in Miami Beach that year). While it may have been rather dumpy during the 70s eras, millions of dollars and numerous renovations have made it an Art Deco gem in the heart of one of the world’s most fashionable neighborhoods.
The nautical theme starts on the outside – from a distance the white hotel looks like an ocean liner – and continues inside with details reminiscent of life on the seas, starting with the reception desk that looks like a cruise ship bar. The lobby is decorated in blue and white, with bursts of yellow, red, and orange for accents. You’ll see lots of anchors, seaworthy rope knots, and other sailing touches.
Guest rooms continue the theme and are also done in blue and white with similar nautical touches. The hotel occupancy rate was high during our stay and the only room option was the “petite” room. Believe them when they say “petite” – at only 180 square feet there was room for the bed, some built-in furniture – which included a refrigerator -and not much more.
Still, the room was comfortable and nicely decorated, albeit a little crowded. Since most of our days were spent in meetings, and our evenings out enjoying the food and drink of South Beach, the size was not as critical as it could have been. We would definitely have chosen a deluxe room (nearly twice the size) or small suite if they had been available. Relatively speaking, the bathroom was reasonably spacious.
Wi-fi is free, and while the room was too small to get much work done, the lobby had lots of seating and a strong signal making it an enjoyable workspace. Note, however, food and beverages are not permitted in the lobby, so you can’t grab a coffee and sandwich and hang out there. I wasn’t able to get a clear explanation of the reason for the policy, but it seemed to have been enforced.
We only had a little time to appreciate the pool, which also continued the nautical theme. Located on the rooftop, outfitted with comfy chairs and loungers, there are portholes cut in the side of the pool that faces the interior courtyard. I couldn’t resist taking a peek, but since no one was swimming there was nothing to see. It was a retro feel, almost like I should expect to see a synchronized swimming spectacular at any moment.
The interior courtyard is lush with plants and trees and seating areas interspersed. Or, grab a paddle and see if your ping pong game is still worth bragging about.
If you want to head to the beach, the Albion Hotel offers private beach access just a block away. Discounted rentals for lounge chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas ranging $10-25.
The Albion Cafe on the mezzanine level is open for breakfast and lunch Some rates include breakfast. Repour Bar & Lounge on the ground floor has both indoor and outdoor seating. We didn’t try either of them as there were too many other tempting choices in the area. Get some recommendations from the front desk if you want to venture out.
In a neighborhood that’s been known to cater to celebrities and models, who have budgets far beyond most of us, the Albion Hotel was a great find. Its location is great, sparkles with luxurious touches, and oozes charm, all at a price for us regular travelers.
The Albion Hotel is located at 1650 James Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida. Rates start around $150/night. Compare rates at Hotels.com and Expedia. Meanwhile, valet parking is available for $35/day (the parking lot is not on property).