The three-pearl Penguin Hotel has improved dramatically after a series of renovations and interventions that provided much-needed updates to this old Art Deco building. It's across the street from the beach, and has its own restaurant and bar with outdoor seating that takes advantage of the ocean views. Most of the rooms don't benefit from the same views, but they have streamlined, mostly white decor with a few colorful accents, plus conveniences like mini-fridges and tablets for guests to use. Free continental breakfast is included. Travelers who don't need the on-site dining or close proximity to the beach can find better rooms at similar rates in the nearby El Paseo Hotel.
Since its appearance on the Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible," the Penguin Hotel has added a restaurant and bar with an outdoor terrace and sidewalk seating facing the ocean. Inside, the lobby now serves as a bar and dining room, with bench seating and several tables under pink and blue neon lights glowing from a recessed ceiling. A small reception desk is off to one side, and the statue of a penguin stands at attention beside the tiny elevator door. Guests have also noticed a big improvement in general hospitality after the intervention, which was once notably absent. Another more recent 2016 update added hardwood floors to the rooms and updated their bathrooms, but most of the original 1948 architectural details remain unchanged. Some might find the dark hallways, washed in blue neon, to be somewhat claustrophobic.
Across the street from the beach, and within walking distance to the clubs
The Penguin Hotel has a prime location, right across from Lummus Park and the beach on the quieter northern end of Ocean Drive. It's surrounded by restaurants and other hotels, and within easy walking distance to attractions on Lincoln Road, Espanola Way, and the clubs along Washington Avenue. The Eighth Street Designer District is 17 minutes away by car. The AmericanAirlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat, is 15 minutes away by car. It’s a 28-minute drive to the Miami International Airport.
Most of the 43 rooms have lackluster side views of neighboring buildings, but a few on either end of the hotel face the ocean or the city. All have mostly white decor -- white walls, white bedding -- and big photographic floral murals behind the bed, plus mirrored walls that help rooms feel more spacious than they actually are. White chandeliers hang above the beds, which rest on attractive hardwood floors, but there's barely enough room for a tiny desk and a wooden chair beside the king-size or two queen-size beds. Mini-fridges and 32-inch flat-screen TVs come standard, but there are no coffeemakers. Every room also has a tablet docked on bedside tables for guests to use (namely for contacting housekeeping or ordering items from the hotel). Corner suites add living areas with soda beds, and there's a large Oceanfront Suite that opens to a huge, furnished rooftop terrace. The bathrooms have large walk-in showers with multi-functional handheld showerheads.
Restaurant and bar with an outdoor terrace, plus free continental breakfast
The hotel's only common space is the Purple Penguin Cafe, which has a full bar inside, an outdoor terrace, and more seating on the sidewalk below facing the ocean. It serves American classics and comfort food like burgers, along with a lot of seafood (some of it is even local). The resort fee includes beach towels, daily bottled water, Wi-Fi, and a continental breakfast featuring a spread of toast, fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal, along with coffee and tea.