Hotels On South Beach’s Famed Ocean Drive

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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

South Beach is calling, and a visit to famous Ocean Drive is a must for every trip. It’s a destination where Art Deco designs shine, sidewalk eateries boast every type of cuisine imaginable, energetic music tempts you to shake your hips and join the street dancers, and the sands of South Beach beckon. The iconic street is lined with historic Miami Beach boutique hotels that have played starring roles in movies and date back to the 1930s. Many of these beautiful South Beach Miami hotels have undergone major face lifts and renovations but have kept their original charm for a perfect stay. Here are some of the places you will not want to miss.

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Celino South Beach

Around since the 1940s, Celino South Beach is an iconic Art Deco gem. The mantra is, "Gorgeously manicured but not overly fussy. Party, naturally." Here, you'll find an eclectic range of 132 modern Art Deco-inspired guestrooms and floor-to-ceiling, ocean view suites with balconies. Choose from two pools: an eye-popping glass-bottom pool or the relaxing Oasis Garden Pool and sundeck.

Dining and cocktail-ing are elevated thanks to Mia Cucina Italiana, which serves authentic Italian fare from artisanal bread to pastas; Dalia Restaurant, which offers classic dishes from the Mediterranean; and don't miss cocktails at the oh-so-Florida-chic Dalia Bar, draped in pink and green with a standout flamingo mural and horseshoe-shaped bar. By the way, the conga line was invented here — and they'll supply conga drums upon request. 640 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

    Cardozo South Beach

    Owned by Miami royalty Gloria and Emilio Estefan, this historic gem dating back to 1939, formerly known as the Cardozo Hotel, recently underwent a $15 million top-to-bottom renovation. Staying at Cardozo South Beach means a vacation soaked in Miami’s history. The hotel was a housing facility for U.S. Army recruits and trainees during World War II. Later, it was featured in several Hollywood movies like “The Birdcage,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Any Given Sunday” and “Marley & Me.”

    While the Art Deco exterior will capture your attention, the hotel’s interior now boasts a modern, white motif peppered with furniture, art and accessories from the Estefans’ private homes. The 41 guestrooms and suites have been completely redesigned with mother-of-pearl headboards, glossy cabinetry and bathrooms decked out in bold gold fixtures. People-watch while enjoying a traditional Italian meal at the new BiCE Cucina Miami restaurant on Cardozo’s main street level. 1300 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

      The Villa Casa Casuarina

      Upgrade your vacation with a stay at one of South Beach’s most storied locations, The Villa Casa Casuarina — the former mansion of late fashion designer Gianni Versace. (You’ll immediately recognize it by the loads of people snapping photos outside the famous gates.) Modeled after a mansion in Santo Domingo that was built in 1510 by Christopher Columbus’s son, the three-story villa has been completely preserved and converted into a luxury hotel.

      Wander the villa to see historically inspired art, much of which was commissioned by Versace, and the pool made of Italian mosaic tiles and lined with 24-karat gold, showcasing Versace's famed Medusa logo. The hotel boasts ten lavish suites that surround an interior courtyard and are equipped with Frette linens, fabrics monogrammed with the Versace logo, and bathrooms clad in Italian marble. Splurge on the most extravagant accommodations — Versace’s former boudoir — fitted with two balconies, gold shower fixtures and an over-the-top bed.

      The signature restaurant, Gianni’s, overlooks the sparkling pool and offers a blend of Italian and Mediterranean food. The small but swanky Onyx Bar is a great place for a pre-dinner drink. 1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

        Hotel Victor South Beach

        This 91-room hotel with a tropical beach-house vibe is another iconic Art Deco property. Originally designed by famed architect L. Murray Dixon in 1937, Hotel Victor South Beach retains its historic Art Deco charm with the original decorative logo paneled walls, terrazzo floors and ice block detailing found in the lobby bar. Guests will want to spend all day at the ornate baroque rooftop pool, with ten private cabanas overlooking Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean; or retreat to K’Alma Spa, a hidden sanctuary in the basement meant for indulgent treatments.

        The boutique hotel features a vast selection of suites and bungalows with ocean-facing views and two spacious penthouse suites with exclusive private hot tubs (a Jacuzzi in the Victoria Penthouse). Zip down Ocean Drive on complimentary bicycles, snag a beach chair for sunbathing with the locals or get your sugar fix at celebrity-favorite Sugar Factory, known for its outrageous desserts, ice cream sundaes and cocktails. 1144 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

          Hotel Breakwater South Beach

          You may immediately recognize this trendy hotel for its vibrant yellow and blue facade that’s often seen in photographs and videos touting Ocean Drive. Hotel Breakwater South Beach boasts two colorful, historic towers offering 99 rooms with direct ocean views and eclectic design. Guests can choose from a variety of stylish rooms and suites, including spacious newly renovated penthouse suites with private pools. For authentic Cuban cuisine, head to the sweeping terrace of Havana 1957 to sip a refreshing mojito, the unofficial drink of South Beach. Explore the area on complimentary beach cruisers.

          As an extra bonus, because the Breakwater is part of the Victor Hotels brand, guests have access to all the amenities at the nearby Victor Hotel. 940 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

            The Clevelander South Beach

            This popular 60-room, adults-only property is an Ocean Drive staple and is always ready to party — just listen for the bumping music and look for the swimsuit-clad crowds packing the street-side pool. Guests and visitors at The Clevelander, a non-stop playground packed with entertainment, can dive into the famous Splash Pool Party at the POOL+PATIO. Hotel guests who want to escape the revelry but still see what’s going on, can head to the fourth-floor SPF4 Sun Deck for some sun and relaxation; or to C-LEVEL Rooftop Terrace on the sixth floor for sunbathing during the day and partying under the stars at night. Sports fans will want to hang out at Game On Sports Bar to catch the latest action on one of the 15 HDTVs. Act like a local by dining on the terrace of Clevelander Kitchen & Bar, which serves a wide mix of options ranging from wings and burgers, salads and brick oven pizzas, to seafood and cold brews.

            For a more tranquil vacay, book a room at the Clevelander’s The Stiles Hotel, South Beach, which features 57 recently renovated rooms and suites, a quiet pool and a retro-cool feel, but with the same access to all the Clevelander parties. 1020 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

              Bentley South Beach

              A Miami landmark built in 1939, this pretty boutique hotel is just steps from the beach and grandly overlooks the Miami Beach skyline. Guests at Bentley South Beach will feel at home in oversized studios with kitchenettes, one- and two-bedroom suites with city or ocean views, and a penthouse suite that’s reminiscent of an upscale beach house, with a living/dining area, separate bedroom suite with a queen-sized bed and elegant marble bathroom.

              The hotel’s standout feature: rooftop views that show off the city and the glistening turquoise ocean (it was awarded Best Rooftop Pool by Frommer’s Travel). Guests can cool off in the rooftop lap pool, soak in the Jacuzzi, or watch the sunrise from the adjacent roof deck. If you want to put your toes in the sand, guests have access the private beach club at Boucher, located on 4th Street and Ocean Drive. 510 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

                Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach

                Call Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach your beachfront paradise. Tucked away in the elegant South of Fifth (SoFi) neighborhood, this oceanfront hotel offers newly renovated studios, one- and two-bedroom suites that come equipped with full kitchens, and a penthouse suite with coveted ocean views. Kick back at the pool and sundeck, make your way to the Bentley Beach Club for exclusive beach access, beach butlers and VIP service, or spend the day being pampered at the Asian-inspired Spa 101. Go for Greek at Santorini by Georgios, which is decked out in blue and white and serves authentic traditional and new age flavors, or walk across the street to Prime 112, a modern steakhouse popular with celebrities. Don’t miss a stroll to nearby South Pointe Park to watch the sunset and admire the cruise ships. 101 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

                  Avalon Hotel

                  Offering a front row seat to all that happens on Ocean Drive, this boutique hotel will give you the complete Art Deco experience, starting with the bright neon lights and iconic 1955 white and yellow Oldsmobile that’s parked out front. The Avalon Hotel’s 58 guestrooms are simply decorated with plush beds and bathrooms appointed with soft waffle-weave robes. While there isn’t a pool on property, all guests enjoy beach and pool privileges at the sister property, South Seas Hotel, so grab your complimentary beach towel and chairs from the room and go. Don’t miss dinner at longtime staple A Fish Called Avalon (it’s been around for more than 30 years), where you’ll cozy up at a candlelit table to savor creative seafood dishes and sip handcrafted cocktails. Sit outside for epic people-watching and those nice ocean breezes. 700 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

                    Leslie Hotel

                    If you’re looking for an intimate stay, this canary yellow and white boutique hotel that was built in 1937 could be your modern match. With 35 rooms and two suites that are fitted with comfy king and queen beds, stylish furniture, spa-like bathrooms, a mini-fridge and free WiFi, you’ll have all the modern conveniences at the Leslie Hotel. Upgrade to the Ocean Suite for stunning ocean views, a luxe four-poster king-sized bed, a separate living room area and Jacuzzi bathroom. Guests have access to the gym, business center, rooftop pool and hot tub with covered cabanas offering a peaceful oasis after a full day of exploring. Dine at La Trattoria, which offers street-side dining with a Mediterranean-style menu. 1244 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

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