Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Hip and relaxed, with a high-design aesthetic that attracts beautiful people and (usually beautiful) families.
Following in the footsteps of its big brother in L.A., the Mondrian is part of the stylish Morgans Group, a chain that owns the beachside Delano and Shore Club further north. But while its similarly high-design siblings draw the clubbing crowd, the Mondrian is laid-back and loungy. Yes, there's a bar scene here, too, but patrons seem to be coming for the conversation -- and to gawk at the work of designer Marcel Wanders. In the words of our bellboy, Wanders fashioned the hotel to look like "Sleeping Beauty's castle, brought up from the sea by a team of superheroes."
OK, so that doesn't make much sense -- the shiny white interior looks like nothing found at the bottom of Biscayne Bay, and the stark black accents, luxury-goods vending machine, and gorgeous bow-shaped pool aren't even vaguely medieval. The twirling black staircase at the far end of the lobby and the crystal chandeliers (hidden inside pendulous golden bells) are the only things that might not be out of place in a fairy castle. Not to mention the giant anime heads -- both by the entrance and in every room -- that signify the superheroes/fairies who saved Sleeping Beauty and now serve to startle guests.
A publicist friend who owns a PR agency in South Beach explained that this low-key luxury vibe was the reason why she chose to hold uber-celebrity photographer David LaChappelle's after-party during Art Basel at the hotel's Sunset Lounge. But on an ordinary day, guests ranging from young couples to beautifully groomed families spend most of the day sitting around the pool taking in the sun and the undeniably lovely view of Downtown Miami across the water. (But remember, there's no beach here.) While we wouldn't have expected this to be a place to bring one's kids, we can see the appeal. It's clean, has a children's pool, isn't too large, and has excellent service -- the kind of place where grown-ups can bring the family and still act like adults.
Enthusiastic and very friendly, although not everyone seems to agree on this.
Despite its popularity with celebrities ("Gossip Girl's" Ed Westwick and Jessica Szohr dropped by a month after our visit), I received diligent, enthusiastic service. Doors were held open and bags were in a porter's hands within seconds of our arrival. Without asking, I was given a free upgrade to a Bayview Studio and given a tour of the hotel on the way to my room. (They had no idea I was an Oyster reporter.) The pool attendants let me enjoy a private cabana for free even after I checked out. "You gotta kill time before your flight back, right?" My thoughts exactly!
The concierge did give the standard list of luxe South Beach restaurants when I asked for a dinner recommendation. But he soon relented and told me to go to Oliver's, a reasonably priced restaurant a block away with the most delicious sesame-crusted salmon!
While I had no complaints, a guest on TripAdvisor did complain that the service was a little slow. Something I didn't observe, but that might have just been me. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Off the beaten path, which makes for quaint local dining options but a lot of time in cabs.
On Ninth Street and West End Avenue, the Mondrian isn't the type of spot you'd wander to ordinarily. The beach is a five-minute cab ride away, and the club- and bar-heavy party strip up on Collins Avenue is 10 to 15 minutes away. But I discovered the hidden charm of this neighborhood, with restaurants, cafés, and bars patronized by real locals! Imagine -- restaurants where people have family reunions and cafés where students actually work on their laptops! My favorites were Oliver's, a French bistro a block away, and Gourmet Carrot, where I picked up a healthy sandwich. There's even a Starbucks on the corner. (Yes, I'm guilty.)
But South Beach is a pretty small strip of land, which means that a five-minute cab ride will get you to Lincoln Road Mall in the heart of SoBe.
All rooms at the Mondrian have kitchenettes, which is pretty unusual for a hotel in South Beach. The affordable Strand has kitchenettes, too, but it definitely isn't as luxe as the Mondrian. The studio rooms are the standard room type the hotel offers, with the floorplan hovering at around 435 square feet. Prices differ, however, according to the view (of Biscayne Bay, South Beach, or partial views of both), and rooms with balconies come at an extra charge. At 875 square feet, the one-bedroom suites have the same views and are almost double the size but usually cost $50 to $100 more than the studios. For an additional $100 to $200 markup, the two-bedroom suites come in at 1,264 square feet.
My Bay View Studio had an excellent view of the pool and Biscayne Bay. The large window also let in lots of light, which was tinted gold and purple as it glanced off the colored mirrors lining one of the walls. Not to be outdone, the opposing wall sported a stark black-and-white floral pattern that reminded me of the wrought-iron fences at Buckingham Palace.
Facing my bed were the giant beaming cartoon eyeballs of an anime superhero ... which was weird. But the high thread count sheets -- as fine as the smooth linens at the Shore Club -- helped knock me out. The bed, however, was on a platform, not a box spring. As a result, it was firmer than some of the plush beds I know many users look forward to.
With an iHome system (iPod dock) on the nightstand and a 40-inch flat-screen TV facing the bed, I was more than entertained throughout my stay. Oh, and did I mention that this was the first hotel I'd visited in Miami with TiVo? I was also hooked up to the Mondrian's Wi-Fi network, though there was a daily $15 charge for this service. Still, it worked fast all the way from my room to the pool.
The kitchenette was great. In an alcove tiled with ironic homages to Delft pottery, it had a hot plate with a kettle, a full set of cutlery, and an actual sink, which is more than I expected from a self-described "studio." A stocked but pricey mini-fridge was stored beneath the counter, while the neighboring armoire hid a coffee maker, a microwave, a selection of teas and coffee, and some mini-bottles of booze. I also loved the little dining table, though the Harry Allen fruit bowl is one of those routine pieces one finds in "cutting-edge" stores. Come on, Mondrian, you can do better!
My bathroom was very similar to the bathrooms I'd seen at the Delano and the Shore Club. There was the same minimalist is-it-a-counter-or-not sink and the same eco-friendly Agua toiletries. But what set this bathroom apart was the shower. Sure, there wasn't a tub, but I hardly noticed. Two walls were composed of a stormy mosaic that looked like an Impressionist painting through the suds in my eyes. The third wall, however, was a floor-to-ceiling mirror. Impossible to photograph, it's also impossible not to notice. To quote a TripAdvisor user, it was "totally swank." Best of all, though, was the rainfall shower hidden in a chandelier-type fixture in the middle of the shower. It was an imaginative detail I hadn't seen anywhere else. Kudos!
A closet by my door hid an air-conditioning shaft. Fine, expect that it sometimes made muffled noises that had me thinking someone was knocking on the door. Speaking of which, the door ingeniously had peepholes both at the top and halfway up for children -- a simple but useful detail.
A real showpiece, with sun worshippers and families alike enjoying the view.
The Mondrian's main feature is its large, bow-shaped infinity pool looking out over Biscayne Bay. By day or by night, it's a beautiful view, and guests idly float in the pool watching the horizon. Many more guests splay out on the huge sun deck to get roasted. In fact, I daily observed guests emerge from their rooms at the crack of dawn, go down to the pool, pick a chair, and then stay there till dusk! It's not because they're trying to snag a chair -- there's plenty of room. They just want to catch as many rays as they can!
Large, arched cabanas sit on either side of the pool. You can reserve them for a fee, but they were completely empty during my visit, which admittedly wasn't during high season. Two outdoor living rooms -- one red and the other green -- are free of charge and open to all. Sit over by the green one if you want to keep an eye on your kids in the shallow children's pool.
Drop some weight in the high-end (but stuffy) gym or drop some dough in the luxury-goods vending machine.
During my visit, the spa still hadn't been constructed (it has since opened). The gym has a great view of the pool and the bay and a whole wall of cardio and weight-training machines. There isn't really any place to stretch, however, nor are there any locker rooms. Still, I soldiered on through my workout, only to stop midway when I realized that the room didn't have any ventilation or air conditioning. The sun streaming through the windows was making me woozy. Still, other guests on TripAdvisor have gushed over the gym, noting the top-of-the-line equipment. For those who prefer outdoor sports, the hotel offers free bike rentals.
In the event that you've forgotten toothpaste or, say, a diamond necklace, a luxury-goods vending machine in the lobby can get you your fix. Need something to put them in? They sell handbags, too!
The hotel is extraordinary clean -- which is no small feat, given that the hotel is almost entirely composed of shiny white surfaces. If there was any dirt here, it would show! On the other hand, my room was already beginning to show a little wear and tear as the fanciful wallpaper by my bed was beginning to peel off the wall along one edge.
Not exactly bursting with kid-friendly features, but the mood is relaxed and the rooms have plenty of space for little ones.
The Morgans Group calls the Mondrian its family-friendly alternative to the party-centric Delano and Shore Club. Although the Mondrian doesn't offer more kid-friendly features than its siblings, it's far more relaxed and sedate. Cribs are free and available on request, while rollaway beds are about $25 per day. There's also a maximum occupancy of four people to a room, just like at the other Morgans Group properties. The huge (literally) advantage of staying at the Mondrian is that rooms (which start at 435 square feet) actually have enough space to fit in a crib and a rollaway. Plus, every single room comes with a fully stocked kitchenette.
One tasty but expensive restaurant on the premises, plus lots of cheaper options within walking distance.
The Mondrian has only one restaurant, Asia de Cuba (which has nothing Cuban or Asian about it, oddly). The indoor seating looks like a large, open living room, with pure white tables and chairs. There's even a long dinner table where I could imagine Maleficent holding court. Large windows let in the light glancing off the pool, where you'll also find outdoors seating with a view of the bay.
Unsurprisingly, this China Grill-owned enterprise is pricey, but I have to admit that the burger was deliciously worth it. And the mojito fries -- soaked in a mojito and fried -- are a definite must. Still, if you don't want to drop $30 on breakfast, hop over to health-centric Gourmet Carrot for a salad or a sandwich. Oliver's bistro down the block also serves French food at half the price of Asia de Cuba.
The bar by the pool serves drinks during the afternoon, but it's closed most evenings. That is, unless there's an overflow from the Sunset Lounge, the large bar/lounge at the far end of the lobby, right opposite the entrance to Asia de Cuba. The Sunset Lounge is sparsely populated on most weeknights, but on the weekends, it's packed. On the night of my stay, a line eventually formed outside the hotel of folks waiting to get in. Hotel guests are at an advantage, though, as we merely needed to wave our hotel keys at the bouncer to be waved right in.
Debuting in 2009 and designed by Marcel Wanders, the off-the-beach Mondrian is as stylish as its party-centric South Beach siblings, the Delano and Shore Club, but lacks the hyped-up clubbers. Its impeccable service, kitchen-equipped rooms, and notable after-parties at the Sunset Lounge draw well-heeled singles but also families seeking more than the PG-13 kitsch of most family hotels.