There was a time when choosing a South Beach hotel was a tale of the haves and the have nots. You either sprung for a stylish, ridiculously expensive room at a luxury hotel facing the ocean with a buzzy lobby scene or you saved and stayed at an Art Deco dump or nondescript budget hotel chain.
Fortunately, in the last couple of years, a slew of bright and shiny affordable lifestyle hotels have sprung up across the beach. What exactly is an “affordable lifestyle hotel?” That’s hospitality speak for a stylishly designed hotel with a boutique set of amenities, usually catering to what they call “the next generation of Millennial travelers.” So maybe you won’t have Frette linens and a marble soaking tub, but you will have a room that’s comfortable and aesthetically pleasing with a hip vibe—and you’ll save a bunch of dough.
All of the hotels listed below are in prime South Beach locations on Collins Avenue. The only catch is that they’re across the street from the beach, as opposed to directly oceanfront. Still, most boast their own swimming pools, legit restaurants, lobby bars and dedicated beach service. Most of them are under a hotel group umbrella with a luxury brand counterpart nearby on the beach, hence the price compare.
1. Aloft South Beach
While Aloft no longer wants to be known as “the little brother to W Hotels,” that’s exactly what this Starwood limited service, lifestyle hotel is. With a branded w xyz bar, splash pool and re:charge gym, similar to W’s Living Room lobby bars and Wet pool decks, each Aloft reflects its location. The Aloft South Beach, for instance, draws inspiration from Wynwood with colorful murals and honors its historic MiMo bones of the former Ankara Motel with a delightfully retro pool deck overlooking the Indian Creek Canal. It’s home to Stephen Starr’s buzzy The Continental restaurant specializing in a modern (and delicious) twist on comfort food from around the world. Think, cheesesteak eggrolls, Korean fried chicken and tempura cauliflower tacos.
2360 Collins Ave., South Beach; 305-860-9444
Big Bro Price Compare:
W South Beach: Rates from $429
Aloft South Beach: Rates from $119
2. The Redbury South Beach
The Redbury is the rock ‘n roll little brother of SLS Hotels. Its original LA outpost on Hollywood and Vine was designed as an affordable, extended stay hotel for the neighborhood’s musicians and creative types. Its South Beach counterpart reflects the city’s 1950s heyday with black and white photos from the era, as well as vintage rock posters. Rooms are bright and incredibly spacious, each equipped with a record player and vinyls for a fun twist. There’s a small rooftop swimming pool, and guests also have access to the amenities of sbe Group’s sister hotels, SLS South Beach and The Raleigh. The Redbury is home to Cleo restaurant—an import from the LA hotel—devoted to Mediterranean and Greek fare in a hip, high-energy setting. The mezzes and labneh are heavenly and you can’t go wrong with any of their lamb dishes.
1776 Collins Ave., South Beach; 305-604-1776
Big Bro Price Compare:
SLS South Beach: From $225
The Redbury: From $179
3. The Hall South Beach
Just a block south of Lincoln Road, The Hall is bringing local flavor to what’s long been a tourist-saturated stretch of South Beach. This is owed, in part, to the laidback, surf-themed restaurant Sunny’s, helmed by Top Chef star Spike Mendelsohn, as well as the newly opened Campton Yard beer garden facing Washington Avenue. There’s also a chic, little speakeasy-style bar. Rooms are equally chilled out in mint green and natural wood tones with a kitschy, mid-century SoCal aesthetic designed by Robert McKinley of Montauk’s Surf Lodge fame. There’s also a 50-meter swimming pool for maxing and relaxing. Part of the Joie de Vivre brand, The Hall was launched as the sister property to The Thompson, which was recently acquired by Hyatt and renamed The Confidante.
1500 Collins Ave., South Beach; 305-531-1251
(Former) Big Bro Price Compare:
The Confidante: From $224
The Hall: From $179
4. AC Hotel Miami Beach
The AC Hotel is a Marriott brand imported from Europe with a limited service hospitality philosophy. They aim to provide its guests with everything they need and nothing they don’t. In the case of the AC Hotel Miami Beach, this means stylish, modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a sophisticated hotel bar and tapas restaurant and a rooftop pool. It’s located directly across the street on Collins Avenue from The EDITION Miami Beach, which is also a Marriott brand hotel.
2912 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-264-4720
Big Bro Price Compare:
The EDITION Miami Beach: From $319
AC Hotel: From $124
5. Hyatt Centric Miami Beach
Hyatt Centric is a new lifestyle brand under the Hyatt umbrella designed to encourage their guests to get out and explore. That’s why they’re always located in the city center, hence the name. Hyatt Centric South Beach is smack dab in the center of the beach, just a block south of Lincoln Road and across the street from Loews Hotel. The design is fresh and modern in shades of slate and navy with pops of yellow. There’s a rooftop swimming pool and a casual, yet sophisticated Spanish restaurant and cocktail bar in the lobby.
1600 Collins Ave., South Beach; 305-428-1234
Across the Street Price Compare:
Loews Miami Beach: From $349
Hyatt Centric: From $161
Honorable Mention: Freehand Miami
One could argue that the Freehand Miami (pictured at top) ushered in South Beach’s stylish and affordable hotel trend. Anchored by the interminably hip Broken Shaker and 27 Restaurant, it’s been a cool hangout for locals from day one and shows no sign of slowing down. The hotel, itself, is technically a hostel—but it’s a cool hostel—with quad rooms designed with a nautical aesthetic starting at $40 a head. Private rooms are also available. There’s a big swimming pool and a party every day and night.
2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-2727
Rates from $40 per person
Shayne Benowitz is Miami.com’s travel editor. Sign up for her monthly newsletter at ShayneBenowitz.com.