Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Witty, contemporary decor
Named for a 19th-century British prime minister known for eccentricity and vanity, the Lord Balfour's 2013 renovation weaves irreverent design details throughout its public and private spaces. Boldly graphic carpets inspired by Japanese woodblock prints crisscross travertine floors, droll handwritten quotes attributed to Lord Balfour adorn the ceilings above the check-in desk, and behind the curved glass lobby bar, a wall of plaster hands grasp vintage mirrors. Clubby-style leather seating clusters near floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the sunny courtyard. Overall, the space is spotlessly maintained, intimate and inviting.
On Ocean Drive, but a bit off-center
The Lord Balfour is on Ocean Drive in a burgeoning neighborhood known as SoFi (South of Fifth). While approximately two blocks away from the noisiest area of South Beach, there's still plenty of traffic and sidewalk activity here. The beach is across the street, and the historic Art Deco District is a 10-minute walk north on Ocean Drive. Miami International Airport is 10 miles from the hotel.
Perfect for an intimate rendezvous without the kids
The Lord Balfour is not intended to be a family-friendly hotel, and the cheeky room design gets that point across. A huge image of a winking, heavily inked woman adorns the wall behind the bed, and an open honor bar filled with top-shelf booze invites sampling. Beds are plush, midcentury-style furnishings are spare but tasteful, and golden bamboo floors lend warmth to the space. Bathrooms, though nicely updated, are cramped, with little space separating the toilet, vanity and stall shower.
Enough for a quick getaway
The Lord Balfour offers just enough for guests who like to keep things simple. A daily amenities fee covers such basics as a continental breakfast, Starbucks coffee, Wi-Fi and beach chairs and towels. There are two-for-one happy hour drinks on weeknights in the lobby bar, which features an English-inspired menu of tea-infused cocktails.
The 64-room Lord Balfour is a modern boutique hotel designed to appeal to hip, urban travelers, and for the most part, it succeeds. The decor is stylish and playful, a winking reminder to guests not to take themselves — or the hotel — too seriously. And that's probably good advice, because the amenities and the size of the rooms are a bit limited. There's no restaurant or pool, but guests can take advantage of a basic continental breakfast, as well as vouchers for chairs and umbrellas at the beach across the street. Rooms are best suited to singles or couples, since space is tight, and bathrooms are not much bigger than a phone booth. There's more breathing room in the outdoor courtyard, where guests can sip cocktails amid towering potted palms.