Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Party central. With three bars, two rooftop lounges (which also serve drinks), and a location at the epicenter of Ocean Drive's party scene, the Clevelander can be summed up in a phrase: sex, drinks and rock 'n' roll.
Built in 1938, the Clevelander has been a South Beach landmark for more than 70 years, known as much for its come-one, come-all parties as for its official duties as a hotel. Many consider a stay, or at least a stop at the patio bar, to be one of the quintessential SoBe experiences.
Yet the Web site's claim that it remains a "hot spot for locals, pro athletes, models, and Hollywood glitterati" is optimistic at best. With no dress code (and often very little dress at all), a poolside bar adjacent to the street, and debauched theme nights, the Clevelander resembles a frat party more than a night at the legitimately exclusive Delano. Dance beats and classic-rock standards blast from the open-air party pavilion all day -- and all night -- long.
A moment after I checked in, an awkward young staffer named Tommy walked over and handed me a frozen red drink in a plastic cup. "Welcome to the Clevelander," he said a bit stiltedly. "Here's a complimentary rum runner to get your party started." I took a sip and commented that the-- unlike most complimentary drinks in South Beach -- didn't taste like it was watered down. "That's one thing we don't do at the Clevelander," responded the clerk at the front desk. So there you are: the essence of the Clevelander in a single exchange.
The property has only 60 rooms, but because of all the bars, clubs, and terraces, and the huge plot of land it occupies, it feels nothing like a boutique hotel. Essentially a party complex, the Clevelander is to blaring music and Bud Light what golf resorts are to piano bars and scotch. It's not everyone's cup of tea -- or rather, shot of vodka.
Moments after checking in, a young bellman named Tommy presented me with a complimentary rum runner, thereby inaugurating the continuous string of services designed to do one thing: get you wholly and completely tossed.
Tommy guided me and my bags to my room, then gave me a five-minute tour of the property, including both rooftop verandas. I was there a week after the hotel opened, and business was pretty slow; perhaps that's why I received such attentive, personal service. Nonetheless, I was impressed. "If there's anything else I can do for you during your stay," Tommy said as he exited, "just let me know."
Most impressive of all is how well staffed the Clevelander appears to be. During my entire stay, there were always plenty of bartenders on duty on the patio, plenty of waiters available at the curbside restaurant. I never saw fewer than two or three valets out front to help guests with bags or park their cars. There was usually only one clerk at the front desk -- I did have to wait five or 10 minutes to check out -- but sometimes I saw two. When I asked them for recommendations for a local laundromat and a good sushi place for dinner, they came through both times.
Again, given the demands required to run a place that is essentially "on" 24/7, it will be interesting to see how the Clevelander staff holds up during busier times of the year. Please keep us posted by dropping a comment, below.
To say the hotel is merely located at the corner of 10th Street and Ocean Drive is an understatement. "Owns" that corner is more like it. Indeed, the Clevelander is probably the most conspicuous hotel in South Beach. Even those not staying here will inevitably pass it several times a day, and many of them will be lured in for a drink or four; the crowds and music (and, at night, the fluorescent lights) are tough to ignore.
The area is generally safe -- well-lit and trafficked enough to make even petty crime a rarity.
The second sexiest beach in the world is right across the street.
It's a one-minute stroll down a concrete path to one of the most famous beaches in the world, where a jumbled horde of bikini babes, jacked dudes, couples on vacation, and families with kids play on a stretch of sand 100 yards wide. South Beach makes it clear why there's a diet named after it.
In the mornings, the occasional runner trots along the harder, inland half of the beach. By the afternoon, the joint is packed with sunbathers; at dusk the scene thins out again.
The hotel provides beach towels. For chairs and umbrellas, you'll need to hit up one of the countless Boucher Bros. stands dotting the beach.
Mobile snack stands are also scattered along the beach, selling soft drinks and chips (note, however, that alcohol is not allowed).
Clean, bright, and up-to-date -- but also small, with tiny bathrooms and few frills. And unless you're too drunk to notice, noise is a problem in most rooms.
Despite the size of the property -- huge by SoBe standards -- the Clevelander has only 60 rooms. There are five room types, four of which (classic, pool view, ocean view, and backstage) are basically standard rooms with different locations; the last, called -- what else? -- "Rock Star Suites," are the Clevelander's version of a penthouse, and start at $375 per night.
I stayed in a classic room in the main (north) building. (In fact, I was the first guest to ever stay in that room, so you can probably add a few nicks and scratches to everything I'm about to describe.) There was no view whatsoever, and it was small -- the king bed took up most of the main part of the room. But it was well lit and tidy -- in short, a perfectly fine place to crash after a long night of dancing and/or boozing. (Especially boozing, since the best way to sleep through the music that blares at all hours is to pass out.) With the exception of the hospital-evoking flooring, which could have used another pass with the mop (as evidenced here), everything in my room was spotless.
The biggest issue with rooms at the Clevelander is noise. To the hotel's credit, it added blackout drapes and soundproofing to the rooms during the renovation. The doors are indeed thick, but that didn't stop me from hearing people in the hallway outside my room. I couldn't, however, hear the music from the patio or dance club from my room, which suggests that it might be worth forgoing a view for a classic room buried deep in the building. Your worst bet is certainly the , which overlook (and, more significantly, overhear) the patio bar and its attendant craziness.
The bathrooms are "small but modern," as Tommy the bellman said when he showed me my room. The good: excellent water pressure, plenty of soft cotton towels, and Lieberman Tranchemontagne Bienvenue Paris bath products, including mouthwash. The not-as-good: cramped showers and oh-so-classy kick-flush toilets.
In keeping with the hotel's overall sex, drinks, and rock 'n' roll design motif, my room had mural-size photos of sexy people frolicking underwater and mirrors, mirrors on the walls. And then there are the bawdy little touches. The room key cards feature images of a half-naked dude holding a football underwater and the rear end of a hot chick in a red bikini. Classy! There are the colorful postcards on the nightstand, basically just boudoir photos of pinup models, which the hotel will mail gratis. Classier! Even the comment card includes a double entendre. "How was it for you?" it says on the outside. Classiest!
A veritable party complex: one pool, two rooftop terraces, and three bars, including a dance club and a .
The mini-pamphlet you receive with your key card describes the Clevelander as a "one-stop destination." That's accurate, but they should have inserted the word "party." The hotel is basically one large complex designed to get you tanked. There's the 1020 Music Boxx dance club, which was closed when I was there, and the sports bar, , which features dozens of flat-screen TVs. The views from the two rooftop verandas are awesome.
The main place to party, though, is definitely the sprawling themed parties. Monday is "Live Karaoke." (Is there any other kind?) Tuesday is ladies' night, with "male fashion shows, pampering sessions, and drink specials all night long!" Wednesday is for cover bands; the Bushmen ("Miami's Hottest Rock Cover Band") were playing the week I was there., which lines 10th Street and Ocean Drive and is home to four different bars (the main bar, the yogurt bar, the "Bond Bar," and the, ahem, "Bush Bar") in addition to the pool. You could describe the bars as poolside, but given that the pool is surrounded on all sides by bars, it's more accurate to say that the pool is barside. Every night of the week, tourists staying all over SoBe join Clevelander guests for various
I can't comment on the pool itself, as it was drained when I was there. But its location tells you pretty much everything you need to know: You can bet it will play host to more wet T-shirt contests than quiet afternoons of sunbathing.
Wi-Fi is free, fast, and reliable throughout the property.
Not a place for families. Even the hotel's pamphlet describes the Clevelander's party scene as "notorious." Children under 21 are not allowed at the Clevelander.
Unless you want your 6-year-old ogling the girl on the key card, you should probably head west, away from Ocean Drive. (And while you're at it, head north too -- South Beach isn't exactly the most kid-friendly place in Florida.)
Still clean. But for how long? As nightly host to one of SoBe's biggest parties, the Clevelander will be hard-pressed to maintain its current hygienic condition.
Except for the floor in my room, which was dusty, everything was super-clean throughout the property when I was there. Now is clearly the time to go. If you've stayed at the Clevelander recently, please keep us posted on any cleanliness issues that develop by posting a comment below.
A generic street-side café outside the hotel serves all day and evening. You're better off at one of the countless options to the south, west, and north.
The hotel's restaurant, like nearly every café along Ocean Drive, is an overpriced tourist trap. You're paying for the real estate. My burger at the Clevelander's café was decent, but it was $13. My french toast the next morning was $9 and soggy.
This 60-room boutique hotel is a SoBe landmark, with nonstop parties raging at its three bars and two rooftop terraces. Clean rooms have flat-screen TVs and plush beds -- but they're small, and noise can be a problem.