A beautifully designed hotel with pomp-free service at all levels -- from housekeeping to porters to private designated assistants -- The Tides brings rarely seen substance to the price tag. Though the hotel lacks direct beach access and the small pool is less than breathtaking, the huge, immaculate rooms more than compensate.
Prompt service gets it exactly right -- and doesn’t pressure for tips.
Service at Tides South Beach transformed me into a pampered diva, pathologically unable to lift a finger. From the concierge who complimented my knock-off Marc Jacobs sunglasses to the waiters who continued breakfast service exclusively for me, I was very impressed with the staff. But what was most impressive, the service wasn't in the automated, self-conscious, you-better-tip-me South Beach tradition. It was as if they really wanted to take care of me, to ensure that the daiquiris weren't too sweet and that the honeymooning couple opposite me at the pool was able to make-out in relative privacy.
After check-in, the hotel offers you a free welcome drink of your choice (I had a superb mojito). When I asked a staff member for restaurant recommendations, she was able to provide thoughtful answers. When I chose not to think -- i.e. "want food, where eat food good" -- she was willing to walk me through the best of Miami (without the pomp or self-promotion found at other designer boutiques).
Poolside service is phenomenal. An ice water was at my feet within seconds and when I tested my server with extremely precise margarita instructions -- Don Julio silver, lightly salted outside the rim, only, with lemon, lime, and lots of ice -- they were followed exactly. (I later learned that he stood by to supervise the margarita's completion).
Rooms are bright, blissful, and homier than other high-design hotels. Features include deep soaking tubs and flat-screen TVs.
Even the base-level rooms are big, really big -- the largest in South Beach. In addition, all rooms have a perfect ocean view beyond Ocean Drive. But unfortunately, with the view comes street noise -- on a Friday or Saturday night in the high season, sleeping before 4 a.m. can be a challenge.
Kelly Wearstler -- of Bravo's Top Design fame -- is the mind behind the rooms' innovative, pan-global vintage-opulent design. The bright, beach-tone color palate and organic textures (even a thriving orchid) definitely feel more comfortable than the austere looks at the other design-focused hotels like the Setai or Delano.
The marble bathrooms have deep soaking tubs, and there's even a changing area with an organic stocked mini-bar. Bath products come from VRAI Collection.
Perfecting the design, it's even easy to swivel the 42-inch flat-screen TV toward the bed for a free movie (courtesy of their extensive, on-site DVD collection). All rooms have Nespresso coffee machines and iPod docking stations.
Treacherous jaywalking to the beach, but away from the noisiest corners of SoBe.
Across the street from the beach (directly across from a volleyball court and playground), the King and Grove is located off the noisy corners of central South Beach.
However, it's a long walk from the swank party hotels like the Delano and Shore Club, as well as the phenomenal restaurants at the Lincoln Road Mall.
Annoyed by the constant restaurant menu solicitation along Ocean Drive, I trekked across traffic to Lummus Park just to avoid saying, "Thank you, maybe later, no thanks, I’m cool, just ate, leave me alone!" Still, the hotel is in a great spot.
The pool and gym are small, but the excellent service tries to compensate.
Being a small hotel, the amenities aren't too impressive. The pool isn't much to look at -- just a mezzanine-level rectangle, but there's plenty of cushioned lounge chairs and a handful of chairs carved out of tree stumps.
The gym, while well-equipped and well-tended, is still pretty small. There's no spa facility, but the hotel can arrange for in-room spa treatments.
The on-site restaurant features both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as an adjacent bar. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the cocktails include creative craft cocktails as well as the requisite frozen drinks suitable for Miami. There's also a kids' menu available.
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