Plush mattresses, smooth sheets, and down comforters
Convenient, central location
Huge walk-through bathrooms with multihead showers
Free glass of champagne upon arrival
Gym has no air conditioning (or walls)
No family amenities
Z Ocean Hotel balances modest amenities and service with big, comfortable suites, a prime location, and reasonable rates. Marketing itself to adult couples, it successfully achieves an intimate, laid-back vibe.
An intimate, laid-back hotel with big suites, a prime location, and reasonable rates
The Z Ocean Hotel offers relatively affordable rates on high-quality rooms located in a prime spot on South Beach's Ocean Avenue.
The dark granite and moody lighting in the lobby help create a quiet, low-key atmosphere, making the hotel feel like a separate world from the bright, bustling Sagamore and Delano hotels up the street and the white-sand beaches a block away.
The hotel has a modern, romantic vibe; it's clearly geared toward vacationing couples who want a low-key but central base from which to soak up Miami Beach. And if the assortment of couples lounging around the pool is any indication, it's successfully drawing its target crowd. Guests here are more understated than their flashy neighbors down the street -- they're here to enjoy themselves, not show off or party in a busy lobby.
With the beach on one side and quaint Espanola Way a block away on the other, it's hard to imagine a better location in South Beach.
Z Ocean's entrance is on Collins Avenue and 14th Street (though guests can also come and go from the other side of the hotel, which faces Ocean Drive).
This is the only part of Ocean Drive (north of Fifth Street, at least) that can be considered tranquil. Fifteenth Street forms the northern boundary of Ocean Drive, and Z Ocean sits just between 14th and 15th streets. It's ideal for those who are overwhelmed by the tourist hordes and thumping beats a few blocks to the south, yet still want easy access to it.
A few restaurants, including its own Front Porch, offer excellent dining choices, but many of Ocean Drive's cafes are overpriced tourist traps. You're better off walking a few blocks north to the Lincoln Road Mall, an outdoor pedestrian promenade with everything from pharmacies and Starbucks to designer clothing shops and premier cuisine. Even closer is Lincoln Road's little sister, Espanola Way. It's smaller and less popular than Lincoln, and there aren't many stores, but the restaurants are more reliable.
Nightlife abounds in just about any direction along Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. The Clevelander and Delano both offer classic Miami hotel lobby party scenes, and giant blended mojitos line Ocean Drive most nights.
With direct access to Ocean Avenue, it's easy to walk to Lummus Park's beach just a block away from the hotel. The front desk supplies beach towels, and guests can claim two beach chairs and an umbrella at Boucher Brothers' stand No. 14 on the beach. They're not specially marked with the hotel's logo, but they do the job and would otherwise cost at least $10 for each chair and more for an umbrella.
As for the beach itself, a jumbled horde of bikini babes, jacked dudes, couples on vacation, and families with kids plays on a stretch of sand 100 yards wide.
Across the street from the Z Ocean, South Beach makes it clear why there's a diet named after it. Half-naked beauties of all genders and gender preferences sun themselves on the broad stretch of sand.
In the mornings, the occasional runner trots along the harder, inland half of the beach. By the afternoon, the joint is packed with sunbathers; the scene thins out again at dusk.
Mobile snack stands are scattered along the beach, selling soft drinks and chips. But alcohol is not allowed on the beach.
Spacious suites with balconies, large flat-screen TVs, kitchenettes, walk-through bathrooms, and two showerheads
Z Ocean Hotel's 79 suites are remarkably spacious, with separate living room and bedroom areas. Decor is mostly neutral beiges, accented with pumpkin-colored pillows and walls and dark wooden countertops. Rooms all have soundproof, hurricane-proof windows, and if your room looks out over party-heavy Collins Avenue, you'll be glad for it.
The super-plush and comfortable beds have pillow-top mattresses and are kitted out with down comforters, tons of pillows, and luxuriously smooth white sheets.
All rooms have what the hotel calls a kitchenette: a small area in the corner with a mini-fridge, a microwave, a Nespresso machine, a sink, a counter, and cabinets. Silverware, dishes, and glasses are provided as well.
Bathrooms, equipped with Aveda bath products, are walk-through and feature marble stand-up showers with two types of showerheads
The 37-inch flat-screen televisions seamlessly blend into the rooms. My suite had one on each side of the small divider between the living room and bedroom.
The glass-bottom pool is serene but small. The fitness center is well equipped but lacks A.C.
The Lanai deck glass-bottom pool and adjacent Jacuzzi are calm and pleasant. But the pool is small and the space to lounge is limited.
The fitness center is furnished with a fine spread of cardio machines and weights, but doesn't have real walls -- floating mirrors and white mesh curtains separate it from an outdoor passageway. In other words, no A.C. Given how hot Miami is for much of the year, that seems like a problem for anyone looking to get in a serious workout.
In-room spa services such as massages and body treatments are available
Room service is available.
The hotel has its own large underground parking lot and offers valet parking service.
Though rooms are spacious and quiet, and cribs are available, the hotel is pushing the adult, romantic angle.
Z Ocean Hotel's shiny brochures features a grainy, monochrome photo of a sexy couple embracing, nightlife in the background, and the words "An Intimate Affair." In other words, this hotel is marketing itself to adult couples looking for romantic ambience. On the other hand, rooms are spacious and quiet, and the low-key vibe keeps SoBe's raging party scene at bay. Rollaways aren't available, but cribs are provided free of charge and all the rooms have sofa beds.
Front Porch Cafe looks out on the quiet, northern tip of Ocean Drive.
Front Porch Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers indoor as well as outdoor seating (on the "front porch" that the restaurant is named for). The southern-influenced menu includes comfort food (meatloaf, chicken parmesan) as well as items such as fish tacos and salads. Happy hour specials are offered in the hotels' Breezeway Bar and in the restaurant.