The Beacon Hotel: An Inexpensive South Beach Gem!
South Beach Miami isn't exactly known for being an inexpensive destination, but the Beacon Hotel on Ocean Drive isn't a budget buster!
This past weekend I needed a serious stress reliever...with so much negativity going on in the world, my family and I were ready for a Florida Staycation. We live on the east central coast, so pretty much everything is within a 3 hour drive for us, except the Florida Keys (5+ hour drive) or places on the Panhandle, so as much as I would have loved a trip to PCB (Panama City Beach) or Destin, I needed to choose a destination a little closer to home. Where would we go?
Tampa/St. Pete? Done that...
Sarasota? Nope...still too much red tide.
St. Augustine? Been there and Sarah's done field trips there.
What about Miami? We've never stayed there before!!! It's only a 2 1/2 hour drive and we've never been there for a visit. It was only just to catch a cruise ship at the port...never for a by-God overnight visit.
Now, all I had to do was find a decent hotel in a nice location and not have it break the bank. Was that possible?
Hotels.com and Expedia.com are both great places to get initial hotel ideas to check for availability...I was seriously booking this trip less than 24 hours before we'd leave, so I figured my options would be rather limited.
After looking at the different websites and crosschecking reviews on Yelp.com and TripAdvisor, I decided on the Beacon Hotel, located directly on Ocean Drive. I booked our reservation directly through the website, and it was that simple. We'd only be there for 2 days so even if it wasn't the best place in town, the location was great and in places like South Beach, location is everything! The Joy's were ready to live it up, South Florida style!
Bienvenidos a Miami!
I have to say this, Miami traffic pretty much sucks and the drivers weave through traffic on I-95 like they have a death wish. I'm originally from Atlanta, capital of the South for the worst traffic ever and the drivers in Miami are just scary....that is one of the reasons I wade sure that we would be arriving around 4:00 on Friday, so we wouldn't hit MAJOR rush hour traffic, but there were some serious lane werving looney-fruits on 95.
If you are staying at ANY hotel on Ocean Drive, be sure to check Google Maps ahead of time and plan out your route to get there. Unless you are like the single most lucky person ever, I would NOT plan on trying to find side-street parking or parking in a garage. Use the Valet. It saves SO much time and hassle. The Valet at the Beacon is $30 a day and worth it. The thing to remember is that if you are coming from 95 across the MacArthur Causeway, you would be coming from the South, so if you were to just drive North on Ocean Drive, your hotel would be on the left and you would have to make a U-Turn to pull directly in front of the hotel where the valet park is.
And THAT ain't gonna happen.
Consult Google Maps first. After your cross MacArthur Causeway, you'll be on 5th Avenue. Just take that to Collins Avenue, which runs parallel to Ocean Drive, and make a left, so you can cruise up Collins without all the Ocean Drive traffic, make a right turn onto 9th Street, then make a right onto Ocean Drive and head south, so you can just pull up to the valet with ease. Sounds complicated, but it's not. Promise you!
The Beacon Hotel was built in 1937 and is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest hotel on Ocean Drive and it has been nicely refurbished. If you are looking for a large grand hotel, this is not it. Most all of the hotels on Ocean Drive are "boutique" hotels which are all smaller in size...and that includes the rooms.
Room Type: Deluxe Double Room
Rate: Best Rate Guaranteed
Daily Rates: Friday, October 05, 2018 $209.00 Saturday, October 06, 2018 $231.00 Room Total: $440.00
Total Cost with Taxes and Resort Fees: $551.60 (that does not include the valet cost)
Check in was simple...when I made my reservation, I paid the first night as my deposit, so I just had to provide my credit card and ID upon check in. I booked using my Chase Ink credit card which gets me 3x the points on all travel related purchases, so yay for that!!!
The hotel was nicely decorated in the art-deco style of the building and the area of South Beach. Wasn't a fan of the orange color scheme with the blue, but that is sort of like Miami Dolphin colors, so I'll give them a pass. We were in room 409, so we took the elevator up to our room which holds about 3 people max. And I am referring to the elevator. It was quite small even for 3 people with 2 bags.
Once we got off the elevator, we all immediately noticed the perfumed scent in the air. It reminded us of the hotel we stayed in while in Vancouver and we decided that it must have something to do with the humidity levels and to prevent the hotel from developing a musty smell. It wasn't overwhelming, and I'd probably not even notice it if I was staying there for a longer period of time, but it WAS noticeable. However, this is South Florida and it is humid as all get out, so places can easily get a musty smell.
The room was clean, albeit a bit small and since our room was towards the back of the hotel, our window just looked out on the breezeway of the hotel next to us, but the beds were comfortable and it had a pleasant color scheme that was very soothing. I must say that I wasn't sure of what to make of the bleach smell in the room. It was almost a little overpowering, but considering that the floors, walls and furniture were white, I can understand them using a bleach spray on the surfaces for disinfecting/cleaning. After about 5 minutes, I didn't even think of it. It was just like being in a laundry room.
Did I mention how comfy the beds were? With down style duvet and an A/C system that had the room temp down to zero, I knew I was going to sleep like a baby. The bathroom was SMALL. Like Cruise Ship small, but clean. I wasn't there to lounge in a tub...We just needed a place to get ready, shower, etc...
And before you ask, we slept like kittens. There was NO NOISE from the outside, which quite honestly shocked the heck out of me. No noise bothered Jason or Sarah as well, so although there is music going out on Ocean Drive at all hours of the night, we didn't hear a thing. The concierge told me that rooms overlooking Ocean Drive tend to be noisier, because their windows face the street...so you forsake the soundproofing for a view. Your choice...
I have to say that everyone we encountered at the hotel was super friendly and helpful. When we wanted to get our car from the valet, they just requested we call about 20 minuets in advance, so they could bring it around (presumably from an off-site lot) and the valets were always friendly and courteous, asking if we needed directions. When we were ready to check out at the end of our stay, it was easy and painless. No additional paperwork to sign, no keys to turn in, as everything was billed to the card and I already received my invoice print out.
There is a restaurant on site, The Place, and our stay came with free continental breakfast, which was actually pretty decent: Eggs, Home Fried Potatoes, Sausage Links, bagels, toast, English muffins, cereal, orange juice...the usual. Not bad for a free breakfast. The Place is located directly out front of the hotel, as most restaurants are on Ocean Drive, which give you ample time for serious people watching and taking full advantage of their Happy Hour (which was all night) which was 2 drinks for $35. Just know these drinks weren't just ANY drinks. These were mega drinks...and they are NOT light on the alcohol. Drink them with caution. After one of them, I was feeling no pain and after my husband finished his 1st mojito, he was DANCING. Jason never dances. Seriously.
Yet we thought it was a great idea to each have a 2nd drink. I didn't even manage to drink a 1/4th of the second cocktail. Jason, Sarah and I had a great time people watching, eating a few snacks and Sarah spent the evening getting all the crazy sights on video. She got some real comedy gold with me giving commentary on the questionable wardrobe choices of some of the passers by. South Beach is like the Las Vegas Strip, but with less clothing. Drink carefully. Those drinks are creepers. Don't say I didn't warn you.