Spring break is fast approaching -- thank goodness! We're ready to say "goodbye" to the blizzards, tornadoes, you name it, of this winter and "hello" to fun in the sun. Well, plenty of fun in the sun can be found in Miami, where thousands of college spring breakers choose to spend their week off. But whether you're a crazy co-ed, or of a more sophisticated crowd, there's a spot for you in scene-y Miami. And why visit Miami if you're not going to stay in South Beach? [Ed. note: There are actually plenty of reasons why one would choose to stay somewhere like Coral Gables or Fisher Island instead, but Spring Break in South Beach has a nice ring to it, right?] So we've hand-picked hotels for every kind of spring breaker: Want a 90%* chance of spotting a celeb? Want to party all night and sleep all day? Want to bring the whole family along? We have a spot for you.
Our Pick for Celebrity Sightings: Delano Hotel
It's harder to think of celebs who haven't stayed at the Delano than those who have. Everyone from George Clooney to Beyonce, Sandra Bullock to Matthew McConaughey, Chris Rock to Justin Timberlake have all called the Delano home, at least for a night or two. The most recent sightings to add to the roster? Less than two weeks ago, Gerard Butler (sigh), Leonardo DiCaprio (double sigh), Bradley Cooper (triple sigh), and even Mel Gibson (uh, not so much) were spotted dining together at the hotel's Bianca restaurant before heading downstairs to the FDR nightclub.
Our Pick for the Best Party Crash Pad: Metropole South Beach
If you are one of those crazy co-eds previously mentioned [Ed. note: What we'd pay to be your age again!], celebrity-studded spots may be out of your budget. But fear not: South Beach may be chock-a-block with pricey, luxe hotels, but there are certainly hotels where a bargain (well, a bargain for South Beach, that is) can be found. Take the Metropole South Beach: Amenities are sparse (the cast of Jersey Shore is not at all discerning), but rooms have hip decor, fully-equipped kitchens, and rates that are about half those at the Delano. During spring break season, the hotel often imposes a minimum stay, but spring breakers can save some cash by cramming extra guests onto the couches and into sleeping bags [Ed. note: What we'd pay to not be your age again!]. Plus, the location, just a block from the club scene and a block from the beach, adds to the value. Disclaimer: The hotel charges $20 for each additional person after two, and sometimes puts a limit on the number of guests per room.
Our Pick for Coolest Art Deco Boutique: Gale Hotel South Beach
In the 1940s, Gale South Beach and Regent Hotel stood on Collins Avenue, one of South Beach’s main Art Deco drags. Two months ago, just in time for Art Basel, the two properties re-opened as one very hip, very retro hotel. From the young team that remodeled the historic Shelborne Hotel (just down the street), Gale’s brand new interiors – the restoration clocked in at $35 million — manage to maintain the vibe of a bygone era, while also reaching modern luxury standards. Black-and-white photos (many pulled from ‘40s and ‘50s archives) line hallways and adorn rooms; terrazzo lines the lobby floor; and outdoor signage replicates the hotels’ originals to a T. Keep your eyes peeled: The Gale Hotel is coming to Oyster.com soon!
Our Pick for Keeping the Whole Family Happy: The James Royal Palm
This beautifully restored, 390-room beachfront property is a modern reincarnation of Miami’s first luxury hotel -- The Royal Palm. With a great address on swank Collins Avenue, the hotel has the sleek style that is fitting for a sexy, romantic spot: Couples will enjoy the full-service spa, the contemporary rooms, and the on-site nightclub. But don't write this hotel off as your typical, family-unfriendly South Beach party spot. The James remembers its younger guests with a kids' program, complete with a play area and beach activities, and the hotel's daily "beach fee" includes free bikes, paddleboards, umbrellas, beach chairs, and fitness classes.
Our Pick for the Naughtiest Newbie: SLS Hotel South Beach
And back to the family-unfriendly hotels that South Beach is known for... Since its star-studded opening party in November 2012, the SLS South Beach has become a hot hotel to see and be seen in Miami. The 140-room property features direct beach access, two large pools, two high-profile restaurants, two bars, and a great address on swank Collins Avenue. Celebrity designers Philippe Starck and Lenny Kravitz designed the rooms, which are stylish and sexy -- and when we say sexy, we're talking ceiling mirrors above the beds sexy. So we guess you can bring the family along to this hot spot, but just have a story ready for the tots on why the mirror isn't on the wall.
*Absolutely no mathematics or statistics were used in coming up with this percentage. We're just talking from experience -- and we're pretty great at estimating.