Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The whir of the air conditioner and the flip-flop of a guest's sandal were all that disturbed the silence when I walked into the Bentley's tiny but well-appointed lobby on a quiet Monday afternoon. The 24-hour Ocean Drive party is only a few blocks north, but none of the guests bring it home, which is what makes this small, 39-room hotel such a gem -- great location, but just far enough out of the fray that you can hang out by the pool without hearing rap blasting through speakers the size of small cars or bottles breaking in the street. In short, for the price and location, it doesn't get much better.
It tends to get a slightly older, more mellow, and more responsible crowd than do some of its Ocean Drive neighbors a few blocks up. Case in point: During my visit, this was the hotel of choice for a group of business students from Wharton who were in town for a conference. The students were split between the Bentley and its sister property, Bentley Beach, five blocks down the street on 1st Street and Ocean.
Consistently warm, friendly, and prompt service.
The tiny lobby is awkwardly located on the second floor of the building, requiring guests to walk through the Bellini restaurant to access the front door and elevators. Since the porter was busy helping another guest, a waiter opened the door and ushered me inside.
Check-in was prompt. I arrived at noon and was told my room wouldn't be ready until 3 p.m., but it turns out it was ready an hour early.
Whoever is on duty at the front desk doubles as the concierge, and mine was superbly knowledgeable. Her restaurant recommendations were off the well-paved tourist track, as I'd requested, and she wrote out step-by-step directions rather than handing me a map and sending me off to figure it out myself.
My bed was turned down by the time I walked in at 6 p.m., and my towels the next morning arrived within five minutes of my request -- and they were even warm.
The guests I met also found the service to be warm, friendly, and accommodating. Ditto the balance of reviewers on TripAdvisor, where one couple reported being assigned the same dark, odd-shaped room that I had. They asked to be moved and were immediately given a significantly better room on the fifth floor.
On the southernmost edge of Lummus Park, just steps from Ocean Drive's South Beach action, and a 30-minute, $32 cab ride from the airport.
The Bentley is located at the southernmost edge of Lummus Park, at Fifth Street and Ocean Drive. In short, it's a perfect location for those who want to hit the SoBe scene, but also escape it with ease.
A mere block or two from the alcohol-enthused restaurants and bars further north on Ocean Drive, the Bentley's neighborhood carries a slightly more sedate vibe. Pedestrian traffic thins out substantially around here, and apartment complexes, not hotels, make up the majority of the area. This means that SoFi (short for "South of Fifth Street" ) is where the locals hang, especially a few blocks south of the hotel. Great bars and restaurants are still within walking distance, but most are low-key and don't serve fishbowl-size margaritas.
Valet parking is a very pricey $30 per day, but you don't need a car if you're not planning on leaving South Beach.
The 30-minute cab from Miami International Airport costs a flat $32.
The average luxury studio (aka standard room) is 325 square feet, making these the most spacious rooms I've seen among low- to mid-price hotels in South Beach. (One bedrooms are 690 square feet and two bedrooms are almost 1,000.) And with a fully stocked kitchenette, these rooms are strikingly economical for families.
Unlike at the Beacon, however, all rooms at the Bentley come with full kitchenettes -- and they're equipped to the gills with full-size GE refrigerators and microwaves, two-burner hot plates, mini-ovens, toasters, eight-cup Hamilton Beach coffee pots, plus the full complement of plates, bowls, coffee cups, wine glasses, and even champagne flutes. Translation: You could whip up a dinner party if you wanted.
The refrigerator comes stocked with nips of Absolut, Johnnie Walker Black Label, and Bailey's (all between $6 and $12), among others, plus 12 sodas ($3 each), four bottles each of Pellegrino and Voss water ($4 each), and a full bottle of Veuve Clicquot ($105), among other items. Snacks are less plentiful, but in a pinch, the Famous Amos cookies, pretzels, and gummy bears would do.
The 27-inch RCA tube TV in my room left a little to be desired, but my room was an anomaly. Most rooms have 42-inch flat-screens, says management, and there's a DVD player and $5 movie rentals downstairs.
Like most everywhere in South Beach, bathrooms at the Bentley are on the small side. But the shower is spacious and clean, and well-appointed with Crabtree & Evelyn, and Gilchrist & Soames bath products.
I did have one significant complaint: My room, 209, had only one small window and felt dark. Most standard rooms have more, but all but two of the junior suites face the courtyard. As you'd expect, the higher the floor the more the light. I recommend directly addressing this issue when you book.
That concern aside, this was by far the largest, cleanest, and best-appointed room I saw among the low- to mid-priced hotels in South Beach. It made the Beach Paradise, which is more expensive, look like downright squalor.
The beach is across the street, but guests can get direct access via the Bentley Beach Club, just five blocks down the road, where lounge chairs and umbrellas are available from the hotel for a $15 fee. But the $15 fee covers two people and spares you the hassle and expense of renting from one of the vendors on the beach.
The gym is also located at the Bentley Beach Club and features top-of-the-line equipment in perfect condition from LifeFitness. Cardio equipment includes two treadmills and an elliptical machine, all with private TV monitors, seven multi-purpose weight machines, and a set of free weights.
The full-service spa at the Beach Club offers massages ($140 for 50 minutes), manicures ($25 for 40 minutes), pedicures ($35 for 50 minutes), facials ($120 for 40 minutes), and lymphatic drainage massages ($120 for 30 minutes), among other offerings.
Wi-Fi is free and can be accessed from anywhere in the hotel.
Immaculate inside and out -- except for the white upholstery.
The hotel is well-cleaned inside and out -- I didn't see a single piece of debris by the pool or on the roof-deck.
Rooms are also well-cleaned, including the floor, as well as the chrome faucets and sinks. The only blemish I noticed was a patch of dark spots on the white upholstery covering the two chairs in my room. (Why put white furniture in a hotel room anyway? Beats me.)
The hotel boasts a free continental breakfast, which consists of a few stale pastries, juice, and coffee served in the lobby. In fact, the only guest complaint I heard during my stay was aimed at this paltry spread.
Room service for lunch and dinner is provided by Bellini, an uninspired-but-serviceable Italian bistro operated independently on the ground floor patio. The food and prices may edge out the glut of competitors on Ocean Drive, but not by much: The avocado on my arugula salad with avocado and hearts of palm ($11) needed at least another week to ripen.
If you're looking to save some cash, you could cook a full meal in the thoroughly equipped kitchenette. Stock up on groceries at the CVS or Walgreens, both of which are open 24 hours, have plenty of groceries (though no fresh vegetables), and are just four blocks away.
But if you're willing to spring for really great food, the Bentley is well-positioned. Consider Prime 112, one of the best steak houses in the city, five blocks away in The Browns Hotel. Big Pink, a great family-friendly diner, is just a few blocks south, as is La Locanda, an adorable Italian restaurant with delicious homemade pastas.
Even without any special kid-oriented features, this is a clean, economical place that is in many ways ideal for families. The smallest room size at the Bentley is still more than 300 square feet and able to accommodate a crib. And all rooms have well-equipped kitchenettes for pulling together inexpensive, kid-friendly meals.
There's no charge for cribs, but in times of particularly high demand the hotel sometimes charges up to $25 for roll-aways.
With large, spacious rooms, a great rooftop pool and Jacuzzi, and friendly, attentive service, the Bentley is a superb value for those who want a trendy Ocean Drive location, but prefer a quieter address just a few blocks south of the all-day, all-night South Beach party.
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