Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
An art deco icon in the heart of South Beach, where a stream of scantily clad young visitors and locals wander around with frozen drinks in search of action.
One of the highly photographed sights in South Beach, the Colony's famous vertical neon-blue sign is a cool purple during the day, bisecting a series of sea-blue lines that punch up the whitewashed, three-story art deco exterior. The hotel's restaurant, Colony Cafe, is set up in front of the building's parcel of sidewalk, covered by matching blue umbrellas to give patrons shade from the hot Florida sun.
The high-ceilinged lobby features neutral floor tiles with sea green accents, including the smooth, curved front desk. To the left on a raised platform is the Colony Bar, which frequently lures in guests with two-for-one drinks specials and has floor-to-ceiling windows for great people-watching along Ocean Drive.
Most guests at the hotel are there for the sights, sounds, and action of South Beach. The most satisfied guests are those who come with the attitude, "You get what you pay for," meaning they appreciate the Colony's spectacular location and art deco style, and accept that it's low on amenities and personalized service (though on the bright side, rooms are generally clean and modern). Given its low rates, it's not a bad trade-off.
The sidewalk outside the hotel is somehow more crowded and buzzing at night than it is during the day, and any guest at the Colony should be fully prepared to deal with the resultant crowds and noise. The party often moves to the halls of the hotel itself, particularly since its low prices make it popular with 20-somethings and partiers on a budget.
Service is attitude-heavy and indifferent at worst, considerate and slightly apologetic at best. But most guests consider this a fair trade-off for low room rates.
Guests often complain about the Colony's general lack of service (not helping guests with bags, paying no heed to maintenance calls, and generally never going the extra mile). The hotel does not have a concierge, and bell service is not something that's often mentioned or praised. A few guests cite helpful front desk clerks who carefully stowed their luggage or valuables for them, but far more complain about not getting into their rooms till late, or staff absentmindedly leaving their stuff out in the open or unattended at the front desk.
My experience just about fit this profile. I asked for an 8:45 a.m. wake-up call -- it never happened. Thankfully, I guess, housekeeping completely disregarded the "do not disturb" sign on the door and came busting through the room at 9 a.m. Under any other circumstances I would have been livid at being woken up by housekeeping that early, but in this case I would have missed my flight. Thank you, discourteous housekeeper!
The only person at the hotel that seemed to enjoy interacting with -- or even care about -- guests was the French bartender who blew kisses to the girls and mixed enormous, rum-heavy mojitos to get the buff, shirtless guys through another session of barking at the bikini-clad beach-goers walking by.
Love or hate the hotel, it has a fantastic location, which is not only convenient, but also generally clean and safe. What the hotel lacks in amenities or service, most guests feel it more than makes up for with its proximity to shopping eating, drinking, and sunbathing.
There's a reason the Colony's neon sign is one of the most photographed sights in South Beach -- it's a safe bet there will be always be a throng of scantily clad revelers beneath it. This is a major pro for partiers, but early-to-bed guests would definitely have issues with the location, which is noisy and crowded all night long.
Lummus Park Beach is considered Miami's best spot for people-watching and outdoor activities, and the Colony is directly across from the epicenter of the action. Topless, bronzed beauties sun themselves in the sand, men in speedo suits Rollerblade down the sidewalk, and everyone in between packs in near the sparkling water.
The hotel doesn’t provide umbrellas or beach chairs (guests can rent them on the beach), but it does give guests flimsy towels.
The art deco lobby, creaky elevator, and dim hallways with beat up blue carpeting had me worried about what I'd find on the other side of the door in my deluxe room. I was very pleasantly surprised.
A dark wood platform bed, modern furniture, and a 37-inch flat-screen TV made me immediately forget the heinous, blue-tinged halls that would've made the perfect backdrop for a horror movie. The artwork -- plastic apples in pyramid formation placed inside an open, dark wood frame beside the bed -- was also a nice touch. My room was perfectly spacious, though some rooms can be a bit on the small side.
The clean, but dated, bathroom quickly reminded me I was in a three-star (if that) hotel paying $120 a night to stay on SoBe's most iconic street. A small pedestal sink and low showerhead had me feeling like I was using a bathroom intended for a child. Small black-and-white floor tile, and high-gloss blue-and-white ceramic tiles lining the stark white walls contrasted the look and feel of the ultra-modern bedroom. Rooms also come with combination safes, though management plans to upgrade to electronic safes by the end of this year.
Though I didn't have any particular problems with my bathroom, a number of guests complain about rooms lacking hot water. Faucets are also opposite from the typical setup, meaning hot is on the left and cold is on the right. More than one guest mentions getting unexpectedly scalded because of this.
A few guests also complain about the platform beds being too low to the ground, though this is mainly a stylistic preference. A few others gripe that rear-facing rooms look out over nothing but a dark alley (while one guest considers this a plus: It's a lot quieter than the all-night party on Ocean Drive!). Once again, the prevailing attitude is "you get what you pay for."
The hotel essentially offers four types of rooms: There are two oceanfront suites (one each on the second and third floors), which have separate bedrooms, Jacuzzis in the bathrooms, and fantastic ocean views. There are also two oceanfront queens, which are laid out in the same style as typical deluxe queens but obviously also feature great ocean views. The rest of the hotel's 46 rooms are deluxe queens and doubles (which have two double beds).
A no-frills hotel without a pool, the Colony does have free Wi-Fi and beach towels. For more extras, seek out a larger, pricier hotel.
There's no pool, although the beach is right across the street. The hotel offers nothing more than a couple beach towels, and a number of guests complain that they're pretty thin and scratchy.
The hotel also offers valet parking ($22/day if you pay cash on the street, $24 if billed to your room), dry cleaning services, and printing services at the front desk.
The Colony’s party-hard atmosphere, smallish rooms, and indifferent staff make it a less than ideal place for kids.
Even for the most liberal, open-minded parents who want their kids to soak in the authentic South Beach scene, there are better places to do it. Whether pushing your way through the bar crowd by the entrance, or putting up with noisy partiers in the hotel's own hallways, this is not a place that many children (or their parents) are apt to enjoy. Yes, the beach is across the street and Johnny Rockets is on the same block, but there are plenty of other, far more kid-friendly, places to be had in South Beach and elsewhere in Miami.
As the old-fashioned elevator with metal scissor-gate door opened onto the rank blue hallway, I was hit with the most pungent smell of designer imposter-like perfume that I've smelled since the 1980s. The stench was still detectable in my room, though not nearly as offensive. Linens were scratchy but bright, clean white, and the room and bathroom were both tidy enough.
Again, I may have lucked out compared with a lot of other guests, who tell horror stories of hair-strewn bathrooms, crumbs on the hardwood floors, and stains on their pillows.
The hotel restaurant, Colony Cafe, offers a $5 breakfast and discounts certain dishes in the afternoon. It's decent, but the neighborhood is bursting with better options.
The Colony Cafe offers cheap, hearty breakfasts, but its lunch and dinner items are generally overpriced and underwhelming. In short, there are far better places to eat in the vicinity, but with salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and a kids' menu, it'll do in a pinch.
Across from the beach, in the middle of the all-night Ocean Drive chaos, this cheap party pad offers 50 clean, modern rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a bar that serves fishbowl-size mojitos. Ideal for spring breakers who can look past unsettling hallways and tiny bathrooms, the Colony is a steal.