Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Identifiable only by a black-and-white placard at its entrance, the Metropole doesn't aggressively advertise its presence. I had to ask several men painting the handrail in front of the nearby Steve Madden store how to get to the hotel. There is no direct access from Collins Avenue to the hotel; guests enter the building via a side-entrance pathway.
Positioned away from Collins, the Metropole's interior courtyard is semi-secluded behind hedges and outfitted with broad, cushy sofas. Potted orchids and palm trees provide a welcome reprieve from the urban hustle of Miami Beach, just as long as you don't look over the shrubs at the surrounding buildings. The sound of birds chirping (rare in Miami Beach) as well as Corinne Bailey Ray's neo-soul "Trouble Sleeping" were audible alongside the midday traffic. Inside the courtyard, there's an equal balance of low-key couples and young children playing in the splash pool, which was the size of an average hot tub and had a small pile of sand on the bottom.
But the courtyard is the only common area for guests -- the lobby is teeny, with only a single wooden chair that directly faces the front desk clerk (awkward). Furthermore, there was a faint whiff of must, although it wasn't unpleasant -- more like a book after it's been left in the rain.
Handy, accommodating staff but no concierge -- and don't expect room service, good dining, or nightlife tips.
The staff was generally willing to help but occasionally appeared to lack knowledge about the neighborhood. I arrived at 10:45 a.m., very early for my 2 p.m. check-in, but the front desk happily stored my bags and offered to call my cell phone when the room was ready. For standard requests like extra towels, a staff member was at my door in three minutes.
But don't expect much help navigating the Miami hot spots. When I asked the front desk for a restaurant recommendation (somewhere around $15 a plate), she initially offered Burger King. When I clarified that I'd enjoyed a Cuban lunch at Puerto Sagua just up the block for $14 (go there!), she recommended Chihuahua on Seventh and Washington, two blocks away, without much enthusiasm. (That place's Web site doesn't work as of this writing.)
A quiet, commerical stretch of Collins Avenue surrounded by clothing retailers, one block from the beach and the noisy Ocean Drive bar scene.
The block of Collins Avenue surrounding the Metropole gets moderate foot traffic from shoppers; it's nothing like the dense throng on Ocean Drive. Next door, there's an office for the Dade County Health Department and a recording studio. Immediately across the street are a series of one- and two-story Art Deco buildings that house a Tommy Hilfiger, an Arden B., and several shoe stores. The foot traffic is a little more sparse here than on Ocean Drive, but the area is very safe.
On the plus side, noise was a nonfactor, whether from other guests or from the street below my window. The nearest bars are a block east on Ocean Drive, one block west on Washington, or further north on Collins Avenue. Unlike at its Ocean Drive counterparts one block away, the Metropole's entrance isn't impeded by aggressive menu solicitation.
Despite the calmer environment, it's no trouble getting to the beach, one block east and across Ocean Drive.
One block from a bustling, sexy (as in topless) beach.
A jumbled horde of bikini babes, jacked dudes, couples on holiday, and families with kids play on a stretch of sand 100 yards wide. Near the Metropole, South Beach makes it clear why there's a diet named after it. Half-naked beauties of all genders and gender preferences sun themselves on the broad stretch of sand. In the mornings, the occasional runner trots along the harder, inland half of the beach. By the afternoon, the joint is packed with sunbathers; the scene thins out again at dusk.
Mobile snack stands are scattered along the beach, selling soft drinks and chips. But alcohol is not allowed on the beach.
The Metropole's ultramodern, design-themed apartments beg several questions: Is that a giant glowing ball on the coffee table? (Yes, it is.) Did a cow really have to die for this speckled, furry rug? Did the 1950s prison inmates really have to go naked for these drapes? Is that Librace's leather couch? Fortunately, the beds -- king-size, with 300-thread-count Belgian linens -- are exceptionally comfy.
Fortunately, functionality is rarely sacrificed. The one-bedroom apartments -- we stayed in Room 306 -- are huge, almost twice the size of most South Beach hotel rooms. They all have separate sleeping quarters, walk-in closets, and fully equipped kitchens, snack baskets, and mini-bars. Electronics-wise, each room packs two 42-inch plasma TVs and an iPod dock. However, several flaws tainted the sleek modernity in my room: One of the garage-door-style cabinets hung by one hinge, and a button had busted off the leather sofa.
The bathroom's Gilchrist & Soames products and Kohler showerhead are quality, but some slimy residue on the shower floor emitted a very unpleasant odor. Several other TripAdvisor users had similar complaints about the bathroom.
The courtyard, one of the Metropole's best features, contains an itty-bitty splash pool. It wasn't good for much but sitting in, but it did that job just fine. As for business infrastructure, I could only pick up a Wi-Fi signal in the courtyard.
There are no on-site fitness facilities. The hotel invites guests to make appointments at The Spa at the Chesterfield, two blocks north on Collins Avenue. The normal spa rates apply to hotel guests.
With plenty of space, privacy, and in-room features, families would do fairly well at the Metropole. However, the design-oriented décor didn't strike us as particularly kid-friendly. When a giant spherical lightbulb sits within a toddler's reach, it's hard to imagine a positive outcome.
Faint mildew scents and occasionally less tidy bathrooms. (There was some scum in my shower that smelled like rotten eggs.)
An odd discoloration on the shower floor, coupled with an unpleasant odor, made me a little tense about stepping in. That said, everything else in my room was clean, and there were no foul odors in the two-bedroom suite. A vague, old-book smell in the lobby was noticeable but not offensive.
Around the corner on Ocean Drive, guests can find not-so-great restaurants interspersed with some high-quality cuisine. Meanwhile, the Cuban food at Puerto Sagua, half a block north on Seventh Street, is an Oyster favorite. (We've rerouted flights just to eat there.) Most entrees cost about $14.
Relaxed and private (rare for South Beach), the Metropole draws families and low-key groups to a quieter, shopping-focused street one block away from the beachside party scene. Adventurously designed apartment-style rooms come with full kitchens and private bedrooms, but the hotel lacks other amenities -- no gym, no spa, unreliable Wi-Fi, and just a tiny, shallow pool.