Help a Reader Travel: Miami

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsPacific Coast HighwayArgentina /Buenos AiresCosta RicaCape Cod & The Islands,IcelandGenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsraelPeru / Inca Trail ,Stockholm,ChicagoParisHanoiAustinPuerto RicoBrugesSalzburgIstanbulLas VegasJamaica, India/Golden Triangle, AucklandSingapore, Moscow, The Oregon Coast,SeattlePortlandHawaii IslandsAlaska SkiingBrazilPragueBudapest,ParaguayCabo San LucasEdinburghSan DiegoHilton HeadDubrovnik, TanzaniaThe Seychelles, and Belize.

So this weeks travel destination includes Miami. I received the following email from reader Annabelle:

“I am taking a girls trip to Miami with a bunch of friends and am looking at recommendations on where to stay. We want to be walking distance to the beach, shops, restaurants, but also want a hotel with a nice pool area. I looked online at all of the major hotels and there are so many and I am not sure what part of South Beach is the ideal location to stay at! I have points at Starwood and Marriott, so ideally would like to redeem for some free nights since the rates are pretty high. However, if you have another recommendation where I do not have points, or even a non-point earning hotel, I’d consider those options as well. I am splitting the room with a bunch of friends, but if I could treat them to a free night or two that would be great. Aside from hotels, any restaurant recommendations? We can take cabs places as well. We are looking to spending the day at the beach/pool and the nights eating at fun restaurants. Thank you!”

While I’ve been to Miami plenty, I’ve actually never stayed at a hotel there – have typically stayed with friends in South Beach or a little north in Ft. Lauderdale or Boca Raton. If you’ve ever been to Miami and have any recommendations, let’s help out reader Annabelle by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. We’ve enjoyed the Hilton Bently in South Beach; it is right at the tip with the prettiest water. Next door is a property that used to be a Marriott that was nice enough. There is a bus that takes you all around South Beach for a dollar. Most importantly, it gets you to Lincoln Road, which is a great open air shopping plaza on a former road. The airport is relatively close, so you don’t need a car.

    If you want to stay farther north, we’ve enjoyed the Westin Diplomat. It is a great all around hotel, but Ft Lauderdale is a different world from Miami. It has its own attractions, its own charm and is a bit more sedate.

  2. The W Southbeach is the most ideal location. It is a little pricy on points as well as $$$ though. I would stay anywhere on Collins between 20th-6th street. If you stay further north, you could always use the bikes to get down the the heart of South Beach. We’ve stayed on South Beach 4 times in the last 2 years and this was our favorite. If you are okay with a little run down, you could always stay at the Avalon Hotel. It is cheap and in a great location for beach/shopping/bars.

  3. I live in Miami, so I’m more than glad to help. If Annabelle wants to use her Starwood points, her best bet would be W South Beach Hotel. It ticks off all her requirements: Walking distance to beach, shops and restaurants. It’s located in the Collins Park area of Miami Beach, which is seeing a renaissance of sorts lately. I personally love the hotel because it has an amazing atmosphere and one of the city’s best restaurants, the Dutch. It also is home to an outpost of Mr. Chow as well as a nightclub called WALL. Also, celeb sightings are quite common here, if that’s your thing. There are much better pools in South Beach (Fontainebleau, Standard, Raleigh, just to name a few), but it’s more than adequate and nothing to complain about.

  4. Also, just in general: South Beach’s best hotels are located on east side of Collins Avenue between 23rd and 15th Streets. This includes the Delano, Fontainebleau, Loews, SLS, Gale, Raleigh, Shore Club, and more. In general, avoid hotels on Ocean Drive. While the proximity to the beach is tempting, they aren’t as nice and sometimes can be seedy. (The exceptions to that rule are Hotel Victor and the Betsy). There are some hotels that are off the beaten path like the Standard or Mondrian, but you’ll find yourself having to get a taxi quite often if you need to get to more livelier parts of the area. Both are located in residential areas.

  5. I live in miami and used to work at south beach hotels when I was in college. Chech out these two hotels with very nice pools. Marriott renaissance on Collins ave in south beach, the Raleigh hotel on collins in south beach and the Fountainbleu on collins ave. The Raleigh has hosted victoria secret shoots and parties and its pool has been in magazines. The marriott renaissance has had it’s fair share of celebrities, including the Kardashians. The Fountainbleus is just plain famous, with its pool in the opening scene of James Bond gold finger .

  6. I’m a devoted Starwood fan, but I find the properties in South Beach too expensive (from both a points and $ perspective) for my tastes. There’s a Four Points in Mid Beach, but it’s not great. Consider this another vote for the Hilton Bentley. As Robert P mentioned above, it’s right at the tip of South Beach – which meant close proximity to Joe’s Stone Crab (highly recommended), and a beach that wasn’t too crowded. I wrote a trip report on it a few months ago, if you’d like to read more:

  7. I’m a Miami Beach resident, and highly recommend the W on South Beach if the points vs pay balance is worth it – it’s only a few blocks from Lincoln Road, has a BLISS Spa downstairs (and they have their own loyalty program for frequent Bliss-Spa-goers), and at the bar downstairs by the pool, the bartender will make a creative and individualized concoction. The pool is a lot more mundane than the Fontainebleau (which is up at 43rd and Collins, not within walking distance of South Beach, but gorgeous with fantastic on-site restaurants and a Hertz in the lobby if you want a car for the day; sometimes they have concerts at the pool, too) but it’s still pretty, and the beach is phenomenal. All the beaches on South Beach are public and most hotels will let you rent chairs on the beach in their location, even if you aren’t staying there.
    But there are some times this fall where it’s more expensive on South Beach than it is the rest of the time – I’m thinking of Art Basel in early December; it can be almost impossible to find reasonable rates that week since so many hotel rooms are taken over by dealers, artists and galleries; same thing over President’s Day Weekend when the Boat Show is in town. Great weeks to visit, but be prepared for sticker shock.
    Nobody has mentioned Bazaar SLS, which is Jose Andres’s inventive small-plates restaurant at the new SLS hotel; if you like cocktails and quirky food, it is a must-visit.

  8. I live in FLL and spend a lot of time on South Beach. Another great hotel is The Loews. It’s large property with a great pool area. It has a perfect location right a block or two from the beginning of the pedestrian part of Lincoln Rd and its right on the beach. Obviously, this is not a points related property, but I’ve stayed and its a terrific hotel. Prime 112 is the best restaurant in Miami, but it’s at the southern tip of south beach so you will need to take a taxi. Another great restaurant is Red the Steakhouse. (Both of these hotels are near Joe’s Stone Crab)
    Nobu is also an excellent restaurant. It’s in the Shore Club and its walking distance from the W, Bentley, and Loews.
    If you have enough Marriott points, check out the Ritz-Carltonon South Beach.

    Miami is a fun and exciting city, but be prepared for how expensive it will be!


  9. I live in FLL and spend a lot of time in Miami. I would also recommend the Loews Hotel. It has a great pool area and a perfect location on the beach and a block away from the beginning of the pedestrian only part of Lincoln Rd. Obviously, this is not a points solution. However, if you have a lot of Marriott points, I would check out the Ritz Carlton on South Beach. The best restaurant on South Beach is Prime 112. Also check out Red Steakhouse. Both are at the south end of the beach and are close to Joe’s Stone Crabs. They are at least a mile from The w, Bentley, or Loews so you will need a taxi. I would also recommend Nobu. It’s in the Shore Club hotel and very convenient to all the hotels mentioned above. For Breakfast, I’d recommend the News Cafe. it’s on 8th and Ocean. Good food and great people watching.

    Enjoy Miami!

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