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Hotel Highlights

  • Fresh all-white suites with inspired amenities
  • Seconds from the beach, private pool
  • BLT steak restaurant and fab rooftop terrace

Overview

Following a reinvigorationg face-lift, The Betsy South Beach hotel is a beautifully restored art deco dame in Miami. The rooms and public areas have a breezy colonial feel that’s more seaside South Carolina than SoBe. Modern art, stylish rooftop deck, and a commitment to charitable causes makes this privately-owned boutique hotel shine brightly on the beach.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Betsy South Beach with us:

Continental breakfast for two and two welcome drinks in either the Lobby Bar or B Bar

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

61, 20 suites.

Check–out

12pm, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $195.00, excluding tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $16.00 per room per night on check-out.

More details

Rates do not include breakfast (from US$15).

Also

A hotel celebrated for its philanthropy and arts and culture programmes, lots of the pieces on display in the hotel are for sale.

At the hotel

Spa services on the rooftop, library, full gym, high-speed WiFi, beach chairs. In rooms: Sferra linens, Malin+Goetz products, snack-packed minibar and TVs and top-notch audio/video connections including iHome docks.

Our favourite rooms

If you’re a real vistaholic, 328 is a Grand Suite on the corner, with the best possible sea view. We of course love the high-ceilinged Grand Suites which overlook the ocean but that glory comes at a price. Light sleepers may want to request a room that is not next to the lift.

Poolside

The small swimming pool is flanked by sunloungers which enjoy plenty of shade from the hot South Florida sun, but we think you might prefer the white-sandy beach which is a hop beyond Ocean Drive.

Packing tips

For the full photoshoot-ready effect, retro lemon-yellow accessories for the roofdeck by day, glittering disco threads for after-hours South Beach party-hopping.

Also

Pets can stay – but there’s a US$250 price tag. And if you’re a philanthropy admirer, stay here with a clear conscience: the hotel is a do-gooding heavyweight with its fingers in lots of charitable projects.

Children

This is a lovely hotel for urbane families. Baby cribs can be added to the room at no extra charge although these don’t fit in a classic room.

Read more

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

Much-hyped New York steakhouse BLT Steak is open here too for breakfast, lunch and dinner when the ribeye, Dover sole and tuna tartare are the biggest hits. There is also a sushi bar.

Hotel Bar

Pause in the cheery, sea-breezy laid-back lobby bar 11am until midnight for a coffee or a cocktail. 

Last orders

Midnight in the lobby.

Room service

Order the usual in-room American cuisine classics 8am–10pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Pretty Fifties vintage dresses and dapper khaki linens.

Top table

On the balcony, poised in pole position for first-class Ocean Drive people-ogling.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Apart from the outdoor exploits, night owls should also leave a Design District-shaped window in their diaries for an evening of eating at the hottest new eateries and perusing the edgiest galleries (www.miamidesigndistrict.net). For boutiques and eateries head to Lincoln Road, an outdoor shopping hotspot (lincolnroadmall.com).

Local restaurants

Neo-classic American cuisine is on the menu at Cuisine at the Villa by Barton G's Barton G The Restaurant, with comfort food favourites delivered with enough va-va-voom and kitsch to rival a Terry Gilliam set (www.bartong.com/restaurant). Grab a spot at Casa Tua's the communal chef's table overlooking the kitchen, for quick plates of pasta. Prime Italian (+1 305 695 8484) on Ocean Drive is the pasta-toting kid brother of the Miami steakhouse institution Prime One Twelve (www.prime112.com) nearby – and both are worthy of a reservation. Low-key Osteria del Teatro (+1 305 538 7850) on Washington Avenue has a wonderful way with Italian dishes.

Local bars

Sip at Smith-approved Shore Club (+1 305 695 3100) at 1901 Collins Avenue. The hotel’s Skybar has bordello-stye interiors and tropical outdoors areas, we love the Garden Red Room in particular. Billiards, people-watching and potent cockatils are part of the lure at the lively Liquor Lounge at 1560 Collins Avenue (+1 305 672 7171). Lost Weekend on 218 Espanola Way is divey and casual with a jukebox and vintage cigarette machine (+1 305 672 1707).

Local cafés

For a reliably smooth espresso to pair with your morning paper, Segafredo on Lincoln Road should do the trick (+1 305 673 0047; www.sze-originale.com).

+ Enlarge
Beachside Deco District

The Betsy South Beach

1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33139, United States

Planes

The nearest airport is Miami International, about 20 minutes away. A taxi should cost between US$35-US$40. Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) flies direct from London Heathrow. From New York, catch a non-stop flight on United Airlines, American Airlines or Delta.

Trains

The Omni Metromover station is the closest station – 15 minutes away by cab. It serves downtown Miami, from Omni to Brickell. The main Amtrak station (www.amtrak.com) is a 30-minute drive.

Automobiles

From the Airport Expressway, cross the Julia Tuttle Causeway and head for the shore – the hotel's smack-bang on Miami Beach. Valet parking is available for $43 a day.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Charles Martin , Continent-crossing director

Down through Little Haiti we go, passing Mexicans, Argentines, and Panamanians, and then we skim the border of Little Havana, a cocktail of Cubans with a splash of Costa Ricans and Brazilians. This is where South America meets peninsular USA. Welcome to Miami. Our cruise through this melting pot brings us to the Art Deco district of South Beach and its showpiece alleé, Ocean Boulevard. E…
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The Betsy South Beach

Anonymous review by Charles Martin, Continent-crossing director

Down through Little Haiti we go, passing Mexicans, Argentines, and Panamanians, and then we skim the border of Little Havana, a cocktail of Cubans with a splash of Costa Ricans and Brazilians. This is where South America meets peninsular USA. Welcome to Miami.

Our cruise through this melting pot brings us to the Art Deco district of South Beach and its showpiece alleé, Ocean Boulevard. Everyone from the Rat Pack to Gianni Versace has passed along (and posed on) this street searching for nighttime nirvana. As we reach the northern end of the boulevard, neon bar life gives way to gentler hotels, and at the tip stands our graceful colonial-style home for the next few nights, the Betsy.

The staff is friendly but efficient. The valet takes care of the rental car; bellboys haul our luggage from the trunk; the concierge, in pleasing designer uniform, swings open the doors. We are greeted by Cory, the front-of-house manager, with a surprise: we were supposed to have arrived yesterday. Gulp. But, ‘Hey that’s no problem,’ he says. He’s held the room and we can still stay for two nights. (Now that’s American-style service at its best.)

Opened in 1942, the Betsy was designed by L Murray Dixon, one of the two daddies of Miami’s Art Deco District. (The other was Henry Hohauser.) The Betsy was the last Florida Georgian style building erected near the beach – it’s on the landward side of Ocean Drive – and some say it is Dixon’s masterpiece in the genre. The Betsy reopened in 2009 after a full makeover from architect Carmelina Santoro.

The high-ceilinged, ground floor houses the open-plan reception, restaurant, and a lounge bar perfect for sofa-flopping and caipirinha-sipping. (Cocktails are expertly mixed here.) This is ceiling-fan-cooled heaven. It is also a showcase for the hotel’s changing art exhibits: during our stay, the walls were filled with photographs of rock stars, with Jill Furmanovsky’s photo of Blondie crowning an impressive line-up.

Across the road on South Beach, the Betsy commands its own strip of sand, replete with chaises, parasols, well-stocked bar, and excellent service. Within moments Mr and Mrs Smith are lounging by the water, iced drink in hand. South Beach is a melting pot of people-watching: gay, straight, young, old, the toned and the tubby – all amble past. Some say South Beach is the country’s finest stretch of sand: you can walk its 20 miles, if you so desire, but a stroll and a quick dip before stretching out to bake is more our style.

With the sun starting to dip, it is time to catch up with the luggage and check out our suite, which turns out to be the perfect place for a prolonged love-in. Dark-wood floors are offset by soft white linens. There are two rooms, both made for recline. One has a comfy sofa, mini bar, and flatscreen TV, while the other doesn’t mince words: the luxurious king-size bed is front and centre. In place of chocolates, bookmarks grace the pillows, each made from recyclable paper, embossed with romantic poetry, and embedded with seeds, a hint that here your love should grow (or maybe bear fruit?) The bathroom is a vast white-tiled oasis, housing a huge walk-in shower – big enough to sit down in and watch the television tiled into the wall should you run out of ideas (or just need a break from the action).

Thanks to the ever-obliging front-of-house team, there’s no wait for a coveted table at BLT Steak, the in-house restaurant. Chilean wagyu bavette is what I plump for, while Mrs Smith opts for the lighter, sustainably sourced grilled local yellowjack. A browse through the extensive wine list is followed by freshly baked popovers and a jar of warm pate. Delicious. Starters of fish ceviche come highly recommended – justifiably so – but it is my wagyu steak that gets the Oscar, with the fries winning for best supporting side. The $60, three-course set menu also gets a good-value award, especially on Ocean Boulevard.

To walk off dinner these Smiths stroll north to the nocturnal playgrounds of the Delano and the Shore Club. Philippe Starck’s wide-columned Delano lobby plays host to a big-name DJ and top-dollar drinks. It’s cooler and friendlier by the pool. Next: Delano basement club or the Shore Club’s penthouse party? An 18-floor elevator ride delivers us to the Shore’s alfresco roof jam, where Mrs Smith charms the bouncer; we are soon enjoying great views and whispered tales of that 1999 shooting during a P Diddy soirée.

Key Biscayne’s southern end beckons the next morning, and we head to the of a mere 20-minute drive from the South Beach frenzy and the site of the Key Biscayne National Park. With deserted beaches, nature trails, and a friendly man who rents bicycles, it is the perfect place to kick back after a night on the tiles. Our mojo restored, we explore on bicycles and are rewarded with a cooling ride through a forest alive with butterflies.

On our way back to town we make a pit stop at Jimbo’s. Set in its own tumble-down marina, Jimbo’s is a watering hole straight out of Ken Kesey’s Electric Cool Aid Acid Test. Resident eccentric Jamaican Pete shows us his Mick Jagger moves as his mate dishes out the Budweisers. It’s all very laid-back and plays home to an eccentric mix of waifs and strays: all well worth a visit, an authentic remnant of Sixties’ counterculture with heart. Tip generously.

Had we arrived back earlier, a spa treatment would have been on the cards. As it stands, we’re just in time to admire the sunset from the Betsy’s stylish rooftop bar. We clink glasses and congratulate ourselves on finding this tranquil haven as we watch the hordes of hedonists starting the weekend on Ocean Boulevard below.









The Guestbook

Reviews of The Betsy South Beach from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This hotel has fantastic service in a wonderful setting.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved that this was a boutique hotel, where the staff greeted us by name everyday. The rooms were beautiful – light and airy, and the bed was super comfortable. I also loved the amenities – Malin + Goetz is one of my favourites. The setup of the beach facilities (towels, chairs, umbrellas) was perfect and completely fuss free. The location of the hotel was fantastic – on Ocean Avenue but on the slightly quieter end so you could still sleep at night.

Don’t expect

The pool is not great at the hotel, which is fine on a sunny day as you can go to the beach instead. We arrived early at the hotel and thought we would sit out by the pool until our room was ready, however it was completely shaded and there were lots of mosquitos. We ended up sitting on the rooftop, which was much nicer.

Rating: 10/10 stars