Iconic party spot hosts live DJs, karaoke contests, and babes in bikinis
Bright and modern lobby with citrus-colored furniture
Creative cocktail menu with spiked frozen concoctions and bottle service
Rum runner welcome drinks on arrival
Staff can help with VIP lists at Miami's nightclubs
Small rooms with tiny bathrooms and no safes
Most rooms and the pools remain noisy well into the night -- every night
Few non-party-related amenities; no gym
Charge for breakfast and parking
No one under 21 allowed (a pro for some)
If you're coming to Miami to party by the pool, then the mid-range Clevelander Hotel or "The Cleve" as it's lovingly called by locals, is a solid choice. If you have little ones or want a quiet night's rest away from the action, look elsewhere. The 60-room hotel provides small rooms with a minimalist aesthetic and almost zero property features that aren't related to nightlife. Three bars, two rooftop terraces, and an outdoor pool host nonstop parties with a creative and eclectic cocktail list and gourmet bar food. Karaoke events, drink specials, and guest DJs are some of the events designed to get guests into the "anything goes" spirit of South Beach. The sand is a short walk from the hotel.
Built in 1938, the Clevelander has been a South Beach landmark for more than 70 years, known as much for its come-one, come-all parties as for its official duties as a hotel. Many consider a stay, or at least a stop at the patio bar, to be one of the quintessential SoBe experiences. Yet the website's claim that it remains a "hot spot for locals, pro athletes, models, and Hollywood glitterati" is optimistic at best. With no dress code (and often very little dress at all), a poolside bar adjacent to the street, and debauched theme nights, the Clevelander resembles a frat party more than a night at the legitimately exclusive Delano. Dance beats and classic-rock standards blast from the open-air party pavilion all day -- and all night -- long. It's not everyone's cup of tea -- or rather, shot of vodka.
The property has only 60 rooms, but because of all the bars, clubs, and terraces, and the huge plot of land it occupies, it feels nothing like a boutique hotel. A multimillion dollar renovation in 2009 brought updates like citrus-colored modern furniture. Tall windows make the lobby bright and spacious. Upstairs, the rooftop terraces are decked out with sexy double beds and sheer white curtains. Water runs down the walls and into blue tiled fountains for added ambiance.
Smack in the middle of (in)famous Ocean Drive and across the street from one of the most famous beaches in the world
The Clevelander occupies a prime piece of South Beach real estate. To say the hotel is merely located at the corner of 10th Street and Ocean Drive is an understatement. "Owns" that corner is more like it. Indeed, the Clevelander is probably the most conspicuous hotel in South Beach. Even those not staying here will inevitably pass it several times a day, and many of them will be lured in for a drink or four; the crowds and music (and, at night, the fluorescent lights) are tough to ignore. The area is generally safe -- well-lit and trafficked enough to make even petty crime a rarity.
It's a one-minute stroll down a concrete path to one of the most famous beaches in the world, where a jumbled horde of bikini babes, jacked dudes, couples on vacation, and families with kids play on a stretch of sand 100 yards wide. South Beach makes it clear why there's a diet named after it.
In the mornings, the occasional runner trots along the harder, inland half of the beach. By the afternoon, the joint is packed with sunbathers; at dusk the scene thins out again.
The hotel provides beach towels. For chairs and umbrellas, you'll need to hit up one of the countless Boucher Bros. stands dotting the beach. Mobile snack stands are also scattered along the beach, selling soft drinks and chips (note, however, that alcohol is not allowed as this is a public beach).
Bright and up-to-date -- but also small, with tiny bathrooms and few frills
Despite the size of the property -- huge by SoBe standards -- the Clevelander has only 60 rooms. There are five room types, four of which (Classic, Pool View, Ocean View, and Backstage) are basically standard rooms with different locations; the last, called -- what else? -- Rock Star Suites, are the Clevelander's version of a penthouse. Classic Rooms are small and without a view, but these are also the quietest rooms at the hotel. The biggest issue with rooms at the Clevelander is noise. To the hotel's credit, it added blackout drapes and soundproofing to the rooms during the renovation. Your worst bet is certainly the Pool View rooms, which overlook (and, more significantly, overhear) the patio bar and its attendant craziness. Beds are comfortable. Each is topped with 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and soft pillows. Wi-Fi and 32-inch flat-screen TVs with cable are standard. Note that a safe isn't provided.
In keeping with the hotel's overall sex, drinks, and rock 'n' roll design motif, rooms have mural-size photos of sexy people frolicking underwater and mirrors on the walls. And then there are the bawdy little touches. The room key cards feature images of a half-naked dude holding a football underwater and the rear end of a hot chick in a red bikini. There are the colorful postcards on the nightstand, basically just boudoir photos of pinup models, which the hotel will mail gratis. Even the comment card includes a double entendre. "How was it for you?" it says on the outside.
A veritable party complex: one pool, two rooftop terraces, and three bars, including a dance club and a sports bar
The mini-pamphlet guests receive with their key card describes the Clevelander as a "one-stop destination." That's accurate, but they should have inserted the word "party." The hotel is basically one large complex designed to get you tanked. There's the 1020 Music Boxx dance club, and the sports bar, Game On, which features dozens of flat-screen TVs. The views from the two rooftop verandas are awesome.
The main place to party is definitely the sprawling patio, which lines 10th Street and Ocean Drive and is home to four different bars (the main bar, the yogurt bar, the "Bond Bar," and the, ahem, "Bush Bar") in addition to the pool. You could describe the bars as poolside, but given that the pool is surrounded on all sides by bars, it's more accurate to say that the pool is bar-side. Every night of the week, tourists staying all over SoBe join Clevelander guests for various themed party nights: everything from karaoke, to ladies' night, to cover bands.
The pool's location tells you pretty much everything you need to know: You can bet it will play host to more wet T-shirt contests than quiet afternoons of sunbathing. Wi-Fi is free, fast, and reliable throughout the property.
A generic street-side café outside the hotel serves all day and evening.
The hotel's restaurant, like nearly every café along Ocean Drive, is an overpriced tourist trap but great for people watching. The menu caters to those nursing a hangover (comfort food like French toast) or those who are preparing their stomachs for a night of daiquiris (oversize burgers and chicken wings). Luckily, there are almost countless options for everything from sushi to authentic Cuban food within walking distance of the hotel. The front desk is happy to help with recommendations. Breakfast is not included with the price of a room.
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