Inside the new Aloft South Beach Hotel

The relatively new, yet rapidly expanding Aloft hotel brand by Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened its third Miami hotel in South Beach last month. Aloft South Beach (2360 Collins Ave., South Beach; 305-860-9444) marks the brand’s first lifestyle beach hotel and also expands the limited service concept to include The Continental restaurant by Stephen Starr. While they’re still putting finishing touches on the eatery (with plans to open by the end of July for breakfast, lunch and dinner), the 235-room hotel is open for business.

Aloft is on the vanguard of a new trend in the hospitality industry offering stylish, tech-forward accommodations catering to the modern traveler at a competitive price point. The limited service concept is more about efficiency and elasticity around travelers’ needs rather than skimping on amenities or offering a low quality product. All Alofts have the re:fuel grab and go bar for prepared meals on the run, the w:xyz bar with a lobby lounge and the re:charge gym. Many of them also boast pools, including the South Beach location. What they don’t have is room service, a full service restaurant or a spa. While there are some design elements that remain constant from hotel to hotel (in particular the guest rooms), each Aloft reflects its particular city and neighborhood.

Having restored the long defunct and historic 1954 Ankara Motel on Collins Avenue, Aloft South Beach has an impressive campus. The construction added an eight story tower that connects seamlessly to the original motel’s four-story structure. It’s a rare slice of Miami Modern kitsch that one normally associates with the preserved motels on the Biscayne Boulevard Corridor. The funky canal-side setting adds to the novelty. It resembles a moat with water wrapping around two-thirds of the property’s triangular-shaped peninsula. There’s a central pool deck with lounge chairs and cabanas, a third floor plunge deck for lounging and other diversions like foosball and a separate jacuzzi deck, all with views overlooking the water and the rest of South Beach.

The hotel entrance is slightly hidden on Liberty Avenue, while The Continental will have a Collins Avenue entrance with its space age marquee. Inside, the lobby is an expansive, high-ceilinged, open floor plan clubhouse. There’s a pool table with bright blue felt, a spacious bar and lounge overlooking the pool, a desk with laptops acting as business center and the grab and go cafe. A pretty wooden staircase surrounded by a calming water feature is the centerpiece, while the circular check-in desk–a brand signature–is awash in a street art-inspired mural. This theme, taking a cue from the nearby Wynwood Arts District, runs throughout the hotel with colorful, splashy carpeting, headboards and outdoors mural walls. The color palette is bright and vibrant in blues, fuchsias and yellows tempered by natural bamboo accents.

Rooms are comfortable and spacious with many offering outdoor space, whether it be a balcony, oversized private terrace or a catwalk overlooking the pool. The design is smart, streamlined and comfortable with white linen beds, 42″ flat screen TVs and docking stations. White tile bathrooms have modern glass-enclosed showers, ample counter space and Bliss bath products. 

In addition to the recently opened Hyatt Centric and Marriott’s AC Hotel, these affordable lifestyle hotels are filling a void in the hospitality landscape. With opening summer room rates at Aloft South Beach as low as $165, travelers are getting a lot for their money, including a great location. Aloft’s two additional Miami locations are in Doral and Brickell