Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This huge "Grand Dame" hotel is far up North Beach, and has very few guests and little to do nearby.
The Deauville says it's one of the first "Grande Dame" hotels of Miami Beach, and it shows. With 484 guest-rooms, its hulking edifice scoffs at the fiscal crisis with a lobby large enough to fit a convention center. But if the handful of guests I saw is par for the course, the Deauville's days might be numbered. Though it once was a happening place for the Rat Pack generation, now it doesn't have much to offer.
Still, the families who come here all seem to love it, perhaps because of its unpopularity. For most of the year, there are so few guests here, you might get a chance to swim alone in the pool or relax in the hot tub in relative privacy. But this far up North Beach, that's pretty much all you can do. Besides a neighboring Walgreens and couple of bars, it's a 10-minute drive south to the swanky scene at the Fontainebleau resort, or 25 minutes to all the action in South Beach.
Staff is friendly and helpful, but scarce. Getting served at the restaurant can take time.
Check-in was a breeze and the friendly desk-attendant happily chatted with me about how cold it was back in New York. She also tried her best to get me a room with a view, though she couldn't find one directly facing the ocean. Check out was similarly easy, clocking in at under two minutes!
Apart from the desk clerk, however, I hardly saw any staff at the Deauville. The hallways, the pool, and the silent corridors all felt abandoned. The only time I interacted with anyone was at the Kon Tiki Tiki Bar, out by the pool, or at the Café de la Mer restaurant in the lobby. Both spots had barely any waitstaff, but while I got a drink straightaway at the bar, it took 45 minutes to get my order at the restaurant. Maybe my experience was the exception, as other TripAdvisor guests claim that the service "won the day."
North Beach is 10 minutes from the restaurants and bars at the snazzy Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach, and a 25-minute, $30 taxi -- at least -- to all the action in South Beach. There are some shops, restaurants, and local bars within walking distance of the hotel, but the great majority of tourist activity is much further south.
The beach in North Beach is relatively abandoned. It's good in a sense, as you don't have to struggle to find a place to plunk your chair. On the other hand, I spotted a bunch of homeless guys milling around the boardwalk (this is common in South Beach as well, but at least there the ratio is about 15 tourists to every homeless eccentric, and not the other way around). Sprawling out in the sun and taking a nap can feel a bit uncomfortable here, more so than elsewhere in Miami.
The actual beach itself is very slim this far north. This may be more than enough, but it definitely doesn't compare to the broad, white-sand beaches in South Beach that make Miami so famous.
There are basically two types of rooms at the Deauville -- standard guest-rooms and suites. There are oceanfront, partial ocean-view, bay-view and city-view guest-rooms, all of which share the same floor plan. The suites have a similar range of views, but have an additional living room with a dining table, chairs, and a foyer.
My partial ocean-view guest-room had about the same, motel-type feel as the comparably priced Miami Beach Resort and Spa, 20 blocks south. The key difference is that the Deauville's rooms are immaculate and modern without the dated, clashing patterns of the Miami Beach Resort. The whitewashed cube-shaped rooms come with a king or two double beds, two chairs, and a writing desk made from light cherry wood, which keeps the room from looking too much like an icebox. The old tube TV, housed in a boxy cabinet, has a full range of cable channels. Below the TV, there's an empty fridge (no minibar). On the plus side, the Deauville's rooms come with free, high-speed Wi-Fi.
The beds themselves are surprisingly plush, on par with the mattresses at pricier hotels like the Eden Roc. The sheets don't have a high thread count, but they are significantly smoother and less worn than comparably priced hotels in Miami. The air conditioner, located by the window, is aimed directly at the bed, but this didn't disturb me at all.
The main complaint: It took about five rounds of swiping the key card in the door to enter the room every single time. Let it be said that, after spending several months in hotel rooms, I'm not a novice when it comes to card-swiping. Even the staff had difficulty getting into the room. To their credit, the staffers were quite apologetic.
The Deauville's main feature is its large pool. Most guests, however, prefer to sun themselves on the spacious deck, or to sit in the adjacent hot tub. This means the pool is open game for any avid swimmer and is definitely long enough do laps.
The Deauville has a "famous" jazz club that's open from Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. But don't get too excited -- it's just recorded music, except on Saturdays when there's live Cuban music (not jazz!) at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The club was, unfortunately, closed during my visit. Sigh...
Interestingly, the hotel's street-level lower lobby is a corridor of shops and salons that are accessible both from inside and outside the hotel. It's also where there's a guest laundry room (remember to bring quarters). A little further down there's a gym/salon with everything from weight machines to tanning treatments. It's a small space with floor-to-ceiling windows looking right out onto the street, which made me feel like I was on display. Fortunately, it's free for hotel guests.
There's also a business center with computers, and fax and copying machines, though this facility is independently owned.
Free cribs and roll-aways, but there aren't any kids' activities or features.
While the guest-rooms aren't exactly large, there's enough place for a crib or a roll-away bed, though both at once may be a tight squeeze. Cribs and roll-away beds are provided on request at no extra charge. Do note, however, that the maximum occupancy for any room is four, including kids.
The Deauville doesn't have any kids' activities or features, but it's a large enough property for them to run around and explore.
The hotel's age shows in its décor, not in its high level of cleanliness.
While the hotel's clearly pretty old, its age shows in its art deco design and somewhat questionable color choices, but not in its cleanliness or general wear and tear. Compared with neighboring hotels of a similar age -- like the Alexander and the Miami Beach Resort and Spa -- the Deauville is immaculate. No complaints here!
The relatively unknown Café de la Mer is the only restaurant at the Deauville, now that its jazz bar only operates as a lounge on Saturday evenings. Located in the ground-floor lobby, the dining area for hotel guests is at the far end of the lobby and overlooks the pool. With no walls or cozy nooks, it's not an intimate setting for a date, but it is a bright and cheerful place to have a tasty churasso, or a drink with friends family. But it's still pretty pricey for an unpopular restaurant in North Beach. Though the breakfast buffet has a decent spread including bread, cereal, eggs, yogurt, and fruit, it definitely isn't worth $25 per person.
Guests can also get food from Café de la Mer at the Kon Tiki Tiki Bar out by the pool, though the menu consists mainly of lighter snacks. Surprisingly, though, service here is faster -- it only took me a few minutes to get our order!
Offering a clean room with a panoramic view, quality beds, and free Wi-Fi at a reasonable price -- the Deauville is a decent pick, for North Beach. But the narrow beach seems to attract almost as many homeless people as tourists, and there's very little to eat, see, or do nearby. It's a 25-minute, $30 taxi from the South Beach action.