Hotel: Winterhaven Hotel
Location: South Beach, Miami, FL
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
The Good: Fanfreakingtastic location, friendly staff and low cost.
The "Meh": Teeny, tiny rooms.
In a Nutshell: It’s got that classic old-Hollywood glamour, and we felt like movie stars every time we walked through the lobby.
My friend and I took a Western Caribbean cruise, but wanted to get there a couple of days before departure just to be safe. South Beach beckoned, and who are we to deny its call? We did some research online, and ended up staying at the WinterHaven – what a find!
After flying into Ft. Lauderdale (as opposed to Miami, which would have cost $400 more per person round trip), we jumped in our town car with a couple from New York and began the quick trip down to South Beach. Being low-key girls, we weren’t exactly sure if high-maintenance South Beach would be our ball of wax, but we were up for the challenge. As our driver began the slow ascent up Ocean Drive toward our hotel, we took in all the sights and sounds of South Beach, and started thinking everyone was going to be snooty.
Entering the front door of the WinterHaven, however, and walking to the front desk quelled our concerns immediately. The lobby is a breathtaking mix of classic early 20th century architecture and modern lines. The two-story open, airy nature breathes hip elegance and makes you feel at once welcome. There’s a small bar to your right adjacent to the grand staircase, and to the left many places to lounge and people-watch. We ate our complimentary breakfast on one of the plush, comfy couches each morning and it was positively delightful.
The front desk personnel were efficient and happily filled our request for an ocean view -- at no additional cost. She also asked if we needed any recommendations for places to eat or reservations made. The bellman dismissed our protests that we could carry our little carry-ons to the room, and kindly took them up. By the time we finished checking in and got upstairs, our luggage was neatly tucked into a corner.
The room was tastefully appointed and exactly what I would expect in South Beach: clean lines and light colors mixed with deep-colored wood. Beautiful, yet a little small. The large closet provided plenty of room to store our luggage, and the desk and chair gave us a place to put our purchases. The TV is directly across from our bed, with enough drawer space for two women, which says something. The bed was about two feet from our window, and the bathroom was big enough to have one person showering while the other got ready. While I can’t remember the name of the bath products, they were very high-end (read: expensive – maybe Crabtree & Evelyn?), plentiful, and lovely.
Since we only needed a place to sleep and shower, the size didn’t bother us too much. Even when we ordered dinner from the Front Porch next door (absolutely fantastic and best deal for food in all of South Beach) and brought it to our room, though, we didn’t feel crowded as we spread our meal out over the bed and watched TV. The bed itself was comfortable in a lumpy kind of way, meaning I sank into it a little bit and it conformed wonderfully to my body. If you are the type of person who needs a rock-hard bed, this might not be the place for you.
Time of Year
As I mentioned, we went down for two days before a cruise. I don’t honestly know if I would need any more time than that in South Beach. Once you’ve walked up and down Ocean Drive, taken in the Lincoln Shopping area, and hung out on the beach, that’s about it. Mid-September tourist traffic seemed pretty busy, but we never felt rushed.
All in all, we fell in love with the WinterHaven. It’s got that classic old-Hollywood glamour, and we felt like movie stars every time we walked through the lobby. You won’t find a better value for the price in high-demand South Beach!
- Review based on trip Sept. 8-9, 2005
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