Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
With classy, 40s-inspired decor -- dark-wood bar, slate-gray furnishings, and marble flooring with an inlaid compass -- this independently owned, two-story, 35-room hotel has an intimacy that most of its counterparts over on Ocean Drive sorely lack. At the Cadet, it's all in the details: The fresh flowers, candles, and seashell motif add to the property's homeyness.
When it opened in 1941, the Cadet, like several other Art Deco hotels, was used by the Air Force to house one of its squadrons -- hence the hotel's name. That group was led by Capt. Clark Gable, who still lives in the hotel's lobby.
Being the "most quaint," however, also means that there's no views or sunny veranda. The only outdoor area is the cute little garden off the lobby, with its patio doubling as the breakfast spot.
On a quiet, mostly residential street two blocks from Ocean Drive and the beach; also two blocks from shopping, dining, and drinking at the Lincoln Road Mall.
The Cadet is tucked away a bit, on the corner of 17th Street and James Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach between two of Miami Beach's main drags, Washington and Collins. (The reason James is not also considered a main drag is that it's only three blocks long.) It's a short, three-minute stroll to Ocean Drive and Lummus Park (aka "the beach"), and to the Lincoln Road Mall, which is also great for people-watching.
The swank Delano hotel, two blocks away, is a popular (but expensive) place to grab a drink; there's a number of other high-end clubs and see-and-be-seen hotel lounges nearby. Espanola Way, five blocks south, is a great option for dinner. (It's worth noting, though, that Miami Beach's blocks are longer than many cities', so if high heels or flip-flops are your footwear of choice, you might want to flag down a taxi if you choose the Cadet.)
Still technically South Beach, but much quieter and less crowded than the stretch that begins a few blocks to the south.
The beach is just two blocks east -- a three-minute walk. The beach up around 17th Street is just as broad as it is further south, and the sand is just as soft. The difference is that the thing that makes SoBe one of the most famous beaches in the world -- the horde of bikini babes, jacked dudes, topless Europeans, and families with kids, all jumbled together -- is absent up by the Cadet. Then again, all you have to do to join that horde is stroll south a quarter mile or so.
The hotel provides beach towels; for chairs and umbrellas, they can give you coupons for reduced rates at one of the countless Boucher Bros. stands that dot the beach.
The rooms were renovated in 2007. But at the same time, there's only so much you can do with a building that dates from the first half of the last century. Thus, as at many Art Deco hotels, the rooms, especially the bathrooms, are quite small.
As with so much else at the Cadet, the charm of the rooms is in the details:
With no pool, no activities, and rooms too small for rollaways or cribs, the Cadet isn't a great place for families.
On the other hand, it's further from SoBe's debauchery than most of its counterparts, and hey, the cramped twin-bed rooms could give teens a taste of dorm life.
The Cadet was renovated in 2007, so aside from a few nicks and scratches, everything still looks pretty new. Unfortunately, hardwood floors only stay dust-free for a day or two; after that, you'd better be vigilant with that mop. My room could have used another wipe-down or two, as you can see here. Luckily, the complimentary slippers keep your feet both comfortable and clean.
Mediterranean served on site
The Cadet is a different type of South Beach experience. There are no views of the beach, and the vibe is more B&B than SoBe Cool. But a number of charming little touches -- welcome strawberries, a lovely spa, personalized notes, nighttime chocolates, garden breakfasts -- compensate for the drawbacks.