Albion Rating: 3.5 Pearls
An Art Deco landmark located two blocks from the beach and steps from the upscale Lincoln Road Mall, the 100-room Albion is one of South Beach's best bargains. Base-level rooms and bathrooms are small and a bit worn, but features are great: a clean pool, free Wi-Fi, room service, and comfortable beds.
Essex House Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
A clean, comfortable, laid-back alternative to the dilapidated Deco price gougers on Ocean Drive, the Essex is an easy walk to museums, shopping, restaurants, the beach (one block away), and all-night brouhaha. A discount price tag, great noise insulation, and personable service more than make up for the fact that it's not directly on the beach.
Whitelaw Hotel & Lounge Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Perfect for the party animal looking for cheap digs in a central Collins Avenue location. The Whitelaw has a young, lively party scene, free drinks from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and hot music that plays 24/7. Rooms aren't the cleanest, but they come with 42-inch plasma TVs, iPod docks, and a lively pink decor.
Catalina Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Designed for randy 20-somethings who can rage until 4 a.m., the Catalina can be a godsend. It's moderately priced, across from the beach, and in the heart of the fashionista bar scene. Although there are nice touches like Tempur-Pedic beds and a hip rooftop pool, it's a party hotel at heart, with small rooms and an indifferent staff.
The National Rating: 4.0 Pearls
A moderately priced designer hotel on Collins Avenue beside some of Miami's most stylish luxury resorts, like the Delano and the Raleigh, the National boasts one of the largest, sleekest pools in Miami. Its small, slightly outdated rooms and relaxed, haphazard service don't contend with its super-chic neighbors', but it's a fraction of their price.
Congress Hotel South Beach Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Townhouse Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Located right on the beach, the Townhouse offers bright, stylish rooms but little else. Still, it's a great, comparatively clean alternative to the sketchy, similarly priced hotels throughout South Beach. Young singles might appreciate the Townhouse's proximity to clubs and the mix of good-looking Europeans spending the night.