Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The six-story hotel's exterior has a coral, seafoam green, and cream color scheme -- classic South Beach. The private front porch on the ground floor leads to the soaring two-story lobby showing an old-world luxury edge with warm yellow, gold, and brown classic tones. The lobby was renovated in 2012 with the rest of the hotel's interiors after joing the Autograph collection.
The lobby is most bustling in the morning, when guests gather for the continental breakfast buffet (and scramble to grab seats on the front porch), and at happy hour, when guests and non-guests alike flock to the lobby bar for drink specials. Most guests praise the hotel for balancing a convenient location that's close to the beach and action of Ocean Drive with a peaceful, stylish ambience in the mornings and at night.
Quaint, neon-lit South Beach (or "SoBe") might be the sexiest beach town in America. Just imagine: modeling agencies beside a broad topless beach. Outdoor bars and cafes line Ocean Drive's historic Art Deco District, where people watching is the draw -- flashy cars, Rollerbladers, rainbow flags, and plenty of fake-boob bikini bodies. Chic clubs with especially discerning bouncers draw the fashion-industry elite, the occasional celebrity, and plenty of 20-somethings ready to party. Every local seems to be a model, DJ, publicist, broker, or homeless eccentric. It's not all glitz -- cheap Cuban sandwich joints, fishbowl-size discount margaritas, and Bud Light-slinging dive bars peacefully coexist with the posh hotel lounges and famed fusion restaurants.
The Winter Haven is within walking distance to all the late-night happenings along Ocean Drive, but also just far enough away to offer peace and quiet at night and in the mornings. Being on the northern stretch of Ocean Drive, the Winter Haven is also much closer to the high-end hangouts along Collins Avenue than other Ocean Drive hotels, as well as to some of South Beach's best restaurants and bars on Lincoln Road.
The only drawback, which just a few guests complain about, is the public restroom (and known homeless hangout) directly across the street from the hotel. Most guests say they feel completely safe in the area, though, and gladly welcome the proximity to the public beach right across the street.
Because the 14th Street public restroom is directly across from the hotel, that particular area of the park can sometimes be a magnet for homeless people. This is not a frequent complaint among hotel guests, though, and in fact many rave about the hotel's fantastic access to the beach.
Renovated in 2012 after joining the Autograph Collection
Rooms were completely renovated in 2012 as part of the hotel joining the Marriott Autograph Collection. Art deco decor is displayed throughout with a modern white palette, light wood and silver accents, and pops of dark green here and there. The overall effect is relaxed SoBe chic that will appeal to the stylish and the budget conscious.
The hotel’s daily “resort fee” covers free beach chairs, a great breakfast buffet, drink discounts, and afternoon snacks. There’s also a pool down the street at its sister property and free Wi-Fi throughout.
You can pay less and use the pool at the Winter Haven's pricier sister property, the Blue Moon. It's not huge, and you can't exactly swim laps, but it's a perk unavailable to most other neighborhood boutiques. The hotel also offers free beach chairs (not to be confused with chaises) and towels for use at the beach across the street.
There is no business center, but computer and printing services are available through the front desk.
Among guests' favorite features are the front porch and rooftop lounge, both of which offer great views of the beach and South Beach scene. A number of guests rave about eating breakfast on the private porch and watching the sun rise over the Atlantic.
Valet parking only is available for a daily fee.
With a number of suites and connecting oceanfront rooms and a slightly quieter SoBe location, the Winter Haven is a good family option.
The easy access to the beach and the pool just down the street are definite kid-friendly features. The party scene isn't as huge here as at other hotels further south on Ocean Drive, though the lobby bar can get pretty happening. The resort is also within easy walking distance of the neighborhood's many restaurants and attractions. But for families to sleep together, you'll have to book one of the suites (rollaways aren't allowed in any rooms) or spring for a second room.
There is no restaurant on-site, but there is plenty of dining in the area.
The hotel is within walking distance of many South Beach restaurants (of varying price levels).
THIS PROPERTY HAS UNDERGONE RENOVATIONS SINCE OUR VISIT. WE WILL UPDATE OUR REVIEW AND PHOTOS AS SOON AS WE CAN. Completely renovated and reopened as a member of Marriott's Autograph Collection in Fall 2012, the Winter Haven Hotel is located across from the beach, on a quiet but still central stretch of Ocean Drive. Access to the Blue Moon's pool five blocks away, free beach chairs, great service, and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel makes the Winter Haven a solid value -- and the top-to-bottom renovations in 2012 make it a stylish pick as well.