Historic hotel with elegant and romantic atmosphere
Two blocks from a quieter part of the beach
Bright, cozy, individually decorated rooms
Sweet garden area with patio and small pool
Charming perks, like fresh fruit on arrival
Live evening music in the lobby
Two blocks from drinking, dining, and shopping on Lincoln Road
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Rooms are smaller than at most SoBe hotels (with especially tiny bathrooms)
Street noise can be a problem
No fitness center, parking, or elevator
Beach chairs for a fee
The historic 34-room Cadet -- Clark Gable's World War II home base -- offers a different type of South Beach experience. The Art Deco oasis has a vibe that's more bed-and-breakfast quaint than SoBe cool. A number of charming little touches (welcome fruit, lovely garden, personalized notes, nighttime chocolates) compensate for the lack of ocean views and party scene. For a beachfront boutique, consider the Townhouse Hotel.
Quiet, sophisticated, and classy hotel with a bed-and-breakfast feel thanks to its retro design, pleasant garden, and small, friendly staff
When it opened in 1941, the Cadet, like several other Art Deco hotels, was used by the Air Force to house one of its squadrons. (That group was led by Captain Clark Gable. Yes, that Clark Gable.) With classy, 40s-inspired decor -- light gray walls with wood trim, taupe velvet furnishings, large circle mirror, crystal chandelier, marble flooring with an inlaid compass -- this independently owned hotel has an intimacy that most of its counterparts over on Ocean Drive sorely lack. At the Cadet, it's all in the details: The fresh flowers, historical pictures and knickknacks, a seashell motif, and live evening music from the grand piano in the lobby add to the property's charm.
On a quiet, mostly residential street two blocks from Ocean Drive and the beach; also two blocks from shopping, dining, and drinking at the Lincoln Road Mall
The Cadet is tucked away a bit, on the corner of 17th Street and James Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach between two of Miami Beach's main drags, Washington and Collins. (The reason James is not also considered a main drag is that it's only three blocks long.) It's a short, three-minute stroll to Ocean Drive and Lummus Park (aka "the beach"), and to the Lincoln Road Mall, which is also great for people-watching.
The swank Delano hotel, two blocks away, is a popular (but expensive) place to grab a drink; there's a number of other high-end clubs and see-and-be-seen hotel lounges nearby. Espanola Way, five blocks south, is a great option for dinner. (It's worth noting, though, that Miami Beach's blocks are long, so if high heels or flip-flops are your footwear of choice, you might want to flag down a taxi if you choose the Cadet.)
Homey rooms come with treats like evening chocolates and bathrobes -- but also tiny bathrooms and street or alley views (no beach in sight)
As at many Art Deco hotels, rooms (and especially bathrooms) are quite small. (There's only so much you can do with a building that dates from the first half of the last century.) Still, there's enough room on either side of the bed to maneuver around without difficulty. As with so much else at the Cadet, the charm of the rooms is in the details: personalized welcome notes, more fresh flowers, and fruit, chocolates, or macaroons. The white curtains are garlanded with dried lavender and most of the furniture and decor are antique. Other features include 32-inch flat-screen TVs (40-inch in some rooms) with HBO and ESPN, terry-cloth bathrobes, free cotton slippers, minibars, bamboo hardwood floors, and Lavish or L'Occitane bath products. There aren't any coffeemakers, but the kitchen will make coffee for guests upon request (and espresso drinks can be purchased at the lobby bar). Know that all rooms look out on a street or another building -- no beach views here.
Lovely patio and garden, fancy French restaurant, free Wi-Fi
The Cadet's back garden -- lush with orchids, bougainvillea and starfruit trees -- has a dipping pool and a gazebo, where many guests enjoy the hotel's breakfast service (not included in room rates). Pied a Terre, the hotel's high-end and well-renowned restaurant, offers creative French fare and a 240-plus wine selection. Cocktails and Italian coffee are available in the four-seat lobby bar. Wi-Fi is free and reliable. There isn't any parking on the property, but there are lots next door and a municipal parking garage two blocks away.