- Smaller standard rooms than most luxury hotels
- Rooms showing wear and tear
- Fee for beach umbrellas (common in Miami)
- Hit-or-miss service
- Packed with nonguests after sunset
Some may say it's "so over," but the party's still very much on at the Delano.
Despite pricey standard rooms (and small ones, at that) and buzz that the place isn't the hot spot it was a decade ago, it's still, miraculously, full. Around the pool, times are good. Well-off, but not over-the-top fabulous, late-20- and 30-somethings order drink after drink. They pour champagne into glasses, sloshing a bit into the pool -- no worries.
But it's not as crazy as you might expect from a hotel dreamed up by the original owner, Ian Schrager, the man who brought Studio 54 to the world. There are live DJs, $20+ mojitos, and tight security, but it's not all coked-up models and sugar daddies. In fact, it's mostly just well-off 30-somethings who paid good money for a room with some bragging rights.
By night, things get far less exclusive. The beautiful lobby, designed by Philippe Starck and decorated with billowing white curtains, chairs, and objects by the likes of Charles and Ray Eames and Salvador Dali, becomes a mob scene. Anyone and everyone wants to get their picture taken in the hotel's famous oversized chair, and they do.
In the center of it all
Located on posh, upper Collins Avenue, the Delano is a South Beach navigational icon. Originally built in 1947, the bright white Art Deco building with its crownlike cap is hard to miss. The hotel sits in the center of Miami's Art Deco Historic District, which covers one-square-mile and offers walking tours. Beyond is aesthetics, Delano is packed in every direction with dozens of bars, restaurants, and attractions, all within easy walking distance.
To its north are some of the most popular, high-end hangouts at the W South Beach or Fontainebleau hotels, as well as some of Miami's most exclusive clubs, like Mokai. To the south, things get less exclusive and more populist along the famed Ocean Drive, with its busy boardwalk, outdoor bars and cafes, and more affordable boutique hotels.
With white umbrellas and lounge chairs, the Delano makes even its stretch of public beach feel exclusive.
The hotel sits right on the beach, which is easily accessed by walking out of the pool area and underneath an elegant arch that reads SEA. The beach is part of a huge, busy stretch of public Miami Beach, but the Delano does its best to make its sand feel exclusive.
As at the pool, attendants don't just lay a towel on a lounge chair -- they make it like a bed, with a fitted terry cloth sheet that wraps around the cushion. Surrounded by a string of other hotels and independent beach service stands that cater to guests staying at cheaper hotels, the Delano stakes its claim in white.
Since it's a bit of a free-for-all on the larger beach, guests go up to the service cabana for a lounge chair. But if you want an umbrella, you'll have to pay for it. Food and drinks service is available, though it's not particularly elegant -- food comes in disposable plastic containers.
Trendy and bright white, rooms make a dramatic design statement, but they're small for the price, especially the cramped bathrooms.
Last renovated in 2006 and 2007, the all-white rooms have just three dramatic touches of color: the green-stone-topped desk; a large, real, potted plant; and a single green apple resting on a metal plinth engraved with the words "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." The abundance of stark white is stunning and sexy but not exactly homey, and is showing some wear and tear. It feels more trendy than truly luxurious. Take, for example, the huge, faux tarnished mirror opposite the bed.
A full-service spa on the top level and a decent gym in the basement.
The huge infinity pool -- or "water salon," as dubbed by designer Philipe Starck -- is both a trendy scene and a relaxing one.
Classical music plays underwater, and an ornate silver table and chairs sit right in the pool for whoever snags them first. In front of the pool, there's a beautiful orchard of manicured ficus trees. A giant chessboard and huge mirror within the orchard, like the giant chair in the lobby, try to create an Alice in Wonderland feel. Of course, after over a dozen years, many of the highly publicized Delano design elements seem to simply reference themselves rather than Lewis Carroll novels.
Live DJs, tasty but pricey food and drinks, cabanas with flat-screen televisions, and whimsical, hedge-lined bungalows make the pool sceney but still relaxing -- at least by day, when only hotel guests are allowed in. When the sun goes down, it changes from pool to lively bar scene as pretty young and older things from all over crowd around the water's edge.
Ambience is the priority, not the food. The hotel's two restaurants serve solidly good but not great cuisine, all at premium prices.
Tasty cocktails from Rose Bar and the Pool Bar don't come cheap, but you're paying for the scene, not just the libations.
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