Can you find a real hotel bargain in sexy South Beach?
It depends on your expectations.
In much of the United States, you can get a pretty decent hotel room for $120 a night or less, but there are some places where bargains are few and far between. This is almost always due to a combination of high demand and real estate scarcity. If you’re in a hotspot where the number of rooms is limited, be prepared to pay up.
South Beach, Miami is a great example. Surrounded by water on three sides, with development laws limiting new high-rises in the historic Art Deco district, the area often gets full of guests without trying very hard. If you wait until the last minute to book (like I did) and there’s a big convention going on (like there was when I arrived), the pickings can be slim.
Only a few guests were Americans. Others were from Germany, Holland, Australia, China, and Japan, which makes things more interesting. The only caveat I’d give is that the one cheap router in the office doesn’t exactly send its Wi-Fi signal far and wide. If you’ve got to log on, your best bet is to hang out on the patio.
I picked this place because it got better reviews than most of the others in that range, which is another reason I like Trivago or HotelsCombined. Beside the usual abilities to sort by price and distance, it also lets you see at a glance how good the reviews are on the hotel, with a range out of 100. If it has a 72, not so bad. If there’s a 52, look out. Of course you can see more reviews once you click through for the booking, on whichever site it takes you to with the lowest deal.
The good news is, South Beach Miami is not an area of soulless high-rises and motel chains. It’s full of Art Deco buildings with character that, if nothing else, look cool from the outside. In most of them only a few rooms face the street, so the noise isn’t all that bad. Plus South Beach is one of those place, like Playa del Carmen in Mexico, where nearly everyone going to the beach is walking there a few blocks anyway. Only a few hotels face the ocean.
So unless you’re staying for a week and will really spend a lot of time in the room instead of out having fun, you can get a decent place to sleep, freshen up, and party for between $70 and $120 a night. That”ll get you all the basics, plus usually Wi-Fi and breakfast. Factor in expensive parking anywhere though—generally $20 and up per day.
This being a city where lots of friends come together, you can find triples and even a hostel. Some places are quieter, some have their own rowdy bar. Ask around or read reviews carefully.
This is not a city where you have much of a selection if you’re cashing in chain loyalty points, at least not below 20th Street. There’s a Wyndham and a Loews, but otherwise it’s mostly independent hotels. Slightly further up though there’s a Holiday Inn, a W, and a Ritz Carlton.
The photos here give you a decent sense of places to look for. A few are on Ocean Drive, which is just across a park from the beach, but most are on or right off of Collins or Washington. Search your dates and get the full scope on South Beach hotel bargains here.
Story and photos by editor Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheaepest Destinations and Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune.