Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Built in 1939 to resemble a beached ocean liner, the Albion was designed by Igor Polevitzky, known as the father of nautically themed Art Deco achitecture. The courtyard has round portholes looking into the swimming pool, giving the illusion you're peeking through an aquarium. In 1996, the Rubell family, renowned for its contemporary art collection and of co-own Studio 54 fame, bought the Albion and hired avant-garde Ecuadorian architect Carlos Zapata to style the lobby with mod, custom-made white leather couches and a wall-size waterfall. However, the waterfall was shut off and boarded up during my visit, and drops of water from an upstairs leak trickled into a plastic 10-gallon bucket carefully placed on the shiny travertine floor. Though renovated in 2005, the Albion has lost much of its glamour, but with rates often under $100 a night, it's by far one of the best deals in South Beach. Period.
Located two blocks from the beach, just steps from dining and shopping at the Lincoln Road Mall, and less than five minutes by car to the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Albion attracts an unpretentious crowd in their late 20s, 30s, and 40s. At the pool, the scene is pretty mellow. Couples laze in the sun poring through magazines and taking occasional dips -- it's devoid of the sceney glitz and glamour intrinsic to some of its closest neighbors, like the Ritz Carlton and the Delano, but it's plenty nice, cheap, and central to everything.
Steps from premier dining and shopping at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, and two blocks from the beach, but the street can get dark and eerily quiet at night.
The Albion is located on the corner of Lincoln Road and James Avenue, two blocks from the beach and just 10 steps from Lincoln Road Mall, one of SoBe's premier places for dining, shopping, and drinking. James Avenue is a much quieter, mostly residential street, and it can feel a little dark and empty at night, unlike the hotels on Ocean Drive or Collins Avenue. The hotel's section of Lincoln Road is across from the 24-hour CVS pharmacy and some discount electronics stores -- not the chichi boutiques further west -- but it's only one block from the beachside Ritz Carlton and the posh Delano. It's also less than five minutes by car from the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Like anywhere in South Beach, parking is a pain. There’s metered parking outside, which you can't use overnight, or guests have the option to valet park for $30 per day.
A bustling, sexy (and topless) beach is two blocks away.
It's only a two-block stroll down Lincoln Avenue and past the Ritz Carlton to the beach, but don't expect extra perks from the hotel like towels or chairs -- there aren't any.
A walk through South Beach makes it clear why there's a diet named after it. Half-naked beauties of all genders and gender preferences sun themselves on the broad stretch of sand. A jumbled horde of bikini babes, jacked dudes, couples on vacation, and families with kids play on a stretch of sand 100 yards wide.
In the mornings, the occasional runner trots along the harder, inland half of the beach. By the afternoon, the joint is packed with sunbathers; the scene thins out again at dusk.
Mobile snack stands are scattered along the beach selling soft drinks and chips, but alcohol is not allowed.
Rooms are fairly clean and a bit dated, and the cheapest "Buddy" rooms are especially small, but with free Wi-Fi and comfortable beds, they're a great value.
Rooms were last renovated in 2005, and bathrooms were reburbished in 2011. The cheapest rooms, "Buddy" rooms, are only 180 square feet; they come with a full-size bed and little else. It's well worth upgrading to the deluxe room, which is more than double the size at 335 square feet and includes either a king-size bed or two full American queens. If you're up for a gamble, book the Buddy and ask for an upgrade at check-in -- if there's space, management has been known to be generous. Adjoining rooms for families are also available, and if you call the hotel directly, you can sometimes swing a discount rate.
Because of the thin walls, this isn't the greatest place for kids, but cribs are free, rollaway beds are $25 per night, and there are a number of kid-friendly eats.
There aren't many kids at the hotel, but the Albion isn't a bad option if you have a little one in tow. Cribs are free, and rollaway beds ($25 per night) can fit into a Deluxe room (335 square feet) but not the standard "Buddy" room. The hotel also offers adjoining rooms, which usually means two queen beds in a room joined with a king in another room. Junior Suites (425 square feet) contain a pull-out sofa, and additional rollaway beds can also fit more easily in these rooms than in the Deluxe.
Pets under 50 pounds are welcome free of charge, but they can’t be left alone in the room.
Pets fewer than 50 pounds are welcome but cannot be left alone in the room at any time. A $100-per-day deposit will be fully refunded unless your dog decides to eat the gauzy designer coverlet on the bed.
Mostly well cleaned, except for the bathroom, which could’ve used an extra scrub.
The pool area and the pool itself were both very clean. In the lobby, drops of orange, sticky something or other looked stuck on one of the coffee tables, plus there was a massive leak in the ceiling.
One on-site restaurant with poolside people watching potential.
The Albion Cafe -- the hotel's on-site restaurant -- serves casual American cuisine such as burgers and salads. The restaurant features indoor seating as well as an outdoor terrace that overlooks the hotel's swimming pool. The Albion is not in an isolated area. Other tasty restaurant options are within walking distance, so guests do not have to dine at The Albion Cafe nightly.
Room service is available daily.
6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily happy hour.
Serving up cocktails to guests and locals from Wednesday through Sunday is the hotel's drinkery the Albion Bar & Lounge.
An Art Deco landmark located two blocks from the beach and steps from the upscale Lincoln Road Mall, the 100-room Albion is one of South Beach's best bargains. Base-level rooms and bathrooms are small and a bit worn, but features are great: a clean pool, free Wi-Fi, room service, and comfortable beds.