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Miami Spring Break: Hotels, Hostels, and Apartments

March 22, 2007 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Travel News  | 15 Comments

From the Spring Break Visitors Guide.

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There are a lot of things that go into booking your Spring Break trip to Miami, and perhaps the most often erred factor is where one stays. Sure, if you are a trust fund baby and your weekly allowance is more than most people’s monthly paycheck, you can go ahead and stay wherever you want. But my guess is if you are even reading this you are in the same budgetary boat as most college students. And that is the boat SS Flat Freaking Broke.

So what’s left for a poor, broke college student to do? Rooms at decent places in South Beach are upwards of $300 a night, and if you can only split that two ways you may as well just save some money and spend spring break at your parents’ house. But fear not Spring Breakers, for there are some solutions to this troubling financial conundrum that can make your trip to Miami more affordable and just as much fun.

Dude, Get your Hand OFF of My Stomach!

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A common practice among Spring Breakers is to book four people to a room. This is a fine and dandy idea provided you are going somewhere where the hotels were built AFTER 1929. That, my friends, is not South Beach. Unfortunately, in South Beach we have this little thing called the Art Deco Historical Preservation Society. This organization is to thank for Miami Beach not looking just like every other beach in Florida, but also mandates that the hotels cannot be structurally changed. Gutted, remodeled, improved, sure. But not structurally changed. So what you have are hotel rooms that are roughly the size of your freshmen dorm room, but this time instead of one roommate you have 3.

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With girls the sleeping is not so much a problem. However fitting four female-sized suitcases in this shoebox of a room, and all getting ready in there at the same time, may possibly lead to just a small amount of internal strife. Guys, well, we generally bring two changes of underwear and a pair of shorts, but sharing a bed that one would hesitate to call “twin” with another dude is just a little too gay for most of us. Even if you are in South Beach. So while the economics of putting four people in a well-located room may be tempting, these are not the spacious dwellings that you had at the Park Royal Cancun. These are rooms that were once used as military barracks. And when the Army only sees it fit to put two people in each one of these rooms, you may want to reconsider sleeping half your pledge class in the same amount of space. And lets not even start on the complications should one of you decide to bring someone back. So while shoehorning four people into a walk-in closet with a toilet may make some financial sense, the inherent downsides can make your trip slightly less enjoyable.

Miami Beach is NOT South Beach

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Some of you may have come to this article as you were searching the various hotel sites for deals on “Miami Beach Hotels.” Or maybe just “Miami Hotels.” Kids, if there is one thing I cannot stress enough it is that if you are coming here on Spring break, the only place you want to go is South Beach. Not Miami Beach, but South Beach. This particular section ends at about 22nd street and any hotel North of that hasn’t been hot since the Rat Pack performed there. And if you don’t know who they are ask your grandparents.

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A lot of places advertise “Minutes form South Beach,” but “minutes” is a very vague term. All it means is that it is more than one minute away. By that logic, Seattle is only “minutes” from South Beach. Albeit 2937 minutes, but still just “minutes.” Granted, most Seattle Hotels do not advertise themselves this way, but many hotels that have no business associating themselves with South Beach do. Realize that a Miami Beach address does not mean you are going to be anywhere close to any sort of Spring Break activity. You may very well find yourself smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood full of Hassidic Jews, Spanish Language Signs, and/or hotels where you are the only guests born after the Depression. This may also require a lengthy and expensive carbide to get you from there to the Clevelander. The higher the street number the further you are away from South Beach (starts at first street), and any hotel with five numbers in the address is not really designed for you.

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This all being said, staying close to water is still better than staying anywhere labeled “Miami.” Sadly, kids, the City of Miami actually has more in common with Detroit than it does with South Beach. Staying anywhere within its city limits is only acceptable if you are here for Habitat for Humanity. Otherwise, again, you may as well have saved some money and felt better about yourself for helping your fellow man, because wherever you are isn’t going to be much nicer than one of those houses you build in an afternoon. Anything labeled “Biscayne Bay” or “Brickell” is probably not too bad and only a $25 cab ride away from South Beach. Their rooms are bigger and prices lower than the Beach, but the inherent downside is that you will never be able to just run back upstairs to shower. So if you want to lay out all day then change and eat dinner and go back out, you are going to be shelling out over $100 a day for cabs which may very well offset any savings you got from staying across the water. 

Hostel: Not Just a Hotel with a Silent “S”

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Perhaps you or some of your friends are slightly more worldly and have had the wonderful experience of staying in Hostels during trips overseas. While in America we generally think a Hostel is a Hotel for people who don’t know how to spell, around the world they are places for the young and kinda creepy to go and stay relatively cheap. For instance, if you are backpacking across Europe or trekking your way through South America, a hostel can offer you a bed (typically a bunk) in a room full of total strangers with a shared bathroom for as little as $7 a night. While the ones you’ve stayed in throughout the world may leave something to be desired as far as “amenities” such as “pillows” or “clean sheets,” this, my friends is South Beach. And while we do have some dump hotels here, the hostels are not that bad. Most offer wireless internet service, some offer free breakfast, and all are located within two blocks of the sand. The Jazz, The Tropics, and The Clay Hotel are a few of the most popular, but you can always visit Hosteling International to see if there are other options.

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The downside, of course, is that you have to have a high tolerance for grunge and scuzz to stay in such a place. You can’t be bothered by sharing a room with total strangers, nor can you be offended when people you don’t know want to be your friend. You see, people who stay in Hostels often feel this sort of sense of community with others, that a lot of Americans just aren’t used to. So High Maintenance girls, if you are reading this, Hostels are not for you. Of course, if you are high maintenance you probably either have enough money to stay somewhere nice or can find a guy to pay for it for you.

Their Aggravation can Be Your Salvation

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There are, surprisingly, people who live in South Beach who leave during Spring Break. They are the folks who moved here because they liked the small beach community and are irritated when it is overrun by drunken horny American college kids. Either that or they are trying to pay their year’s rent by leaving for a month. Either way, a good number of South Beach residents rent out their condos and apartments during Spring Break with one-week minimum stays. If you have a group of more than 6 people going, it may be more financially feasible to rent out a condo at $5000 a week than to rent three hotel rooms for the same amount of time. And a lot of times the places are much nicer.

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The lack of building limitations outside the Deco Ditsrict has given rise to what is now the South Beach Skyline you’ve probably seen on CSI. Many apartments in buildings like The Flamingo, The Yacht Club and Bentley Bay are for rent during Spring Break and offer panoramic views of the bay and the city. This provides you and your friends with the hottest place on the beach for the same price everyone else paid to stay in a cramped hotel room. There are also less-glamorous apartments that people rent out, but most of them are built in the same style as the hotels (see: Lilliputian) so you may encounter similar issues if you have a large group. Of course, you can also save some money this way. Craigslist, the Miami New Times, and Vacationrentals.com are all good places to look for people renting out their places during Spring Break.

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So see, kids, there is no need to break the bank, or give yourself a pinched nerve in your shoulder from cramming yourself into half a too-small bed, when attempting to find lodging in South Beach. That’s South Beach. Remember that. Not Miami Beach or, even worse, Miami, but South Beach. Should you decide to stay somewhere north of 22nd Street or West of Biscayne Bay, remember you must factor in your increased transportation cost when figuring if this is a wise move for you. If you are intent on staying where the action is, there are hostels for those not insistent on amenities and apartments to rent out for those willing to invest some time and research. No matter what you decide, there is always a place to stay when you come to South Beach. Unfortunately for some, that place is known to others as “The Sand.”

Spring Break Visitors Guide:

Related Categories: Miami: Travel News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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15 Comments on

"Miami Spring Break: Hotels, Hostels, and Apartments"

Dee says:

What is the best hotel that you would suggest for 8 people? We want to get 4 rooms, but were not trying to pay more than $200 a night also. But we want to be one the beach. Is this possible?

Posted on 02/21/2009 at 2:58 PM

morgan mitchell says:

what street is all tha action on?
what is the best hotel for at least 5-8 people,but were tryin not to pay more than $250 a night. but we want 2 be on the beach and close to the action[walking distant]

Posted on 09/29/2009 at 5:08 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

The “action” is mostly between Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue between 5th and 20th streets. Any hotel in there will work.

Getting that kind of rate really depends on what time of year you come. But you are welcome to contact some folks at the site and they can help you find a place that’s right for you.

Posted on 09/29/2009 at 10:55 PM

Vinny Melone says:

So is there just mainly walking the whole time, or is renting a car a good idea?

Posted on 11/02/2009 at 1:59 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Renting a car is only wise if you want to see stuff in other parts of South Florida, like the Everglades or Sawgrass Mills Mall or Dolphin Stadium or Ft. Lauderdale. If you’re content to just stay in South Beach, you can walk it.

Posted on 11/02/2009 at 6:26 PM

Vinny Melone says:

Ok so no driving really. When do you suggest to reserve a hotel because they all are probably booked months in advance right?

Posted on 11/12/2009 at 2:03 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

There’s usually room, it’s just an issue of how much you have to pay. I would start looking now and seeing what you can get, and keep an eye on prices. But typically with March, the longer you wait, the more it’ll be.

Posted on 11/12/2009 at 4:43 PM

Vinny says:

What are some of the clubs you’d recommend to checkout while staying down around South Beach?

Posted on 11/13/2009 at 2:14 PM

Martin from Denmark says:

Thanks for the articles, they are very helpfull.
What is the best periode of March month for most spring break action ? In the middle of the month ?

Posted on 11/16/2009 at 5:42 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Martin, the first 2 weeks of March are typically the best. The 3rd week isn’t bad, but it’s starting to tail off by then.

Posted on 11/16/2009 at 9:31 PM

James says:

Hey,

Coming over from the UK to South Beach for Spring Break. Just wondering if the beginning of March is the best time to visit i.e - it won’t just be Friday/Saturday night’s that are banging.

Posted on 12/16/2009 at 10:40 AM

Gus says:

James, March is a great month to visit. The Winter Music Conference is taking place March 23 - 27. All the clubs are going that week.

Posted on 12/16/2009 at 10:44 AM

James says:

Thanks for that Gus. We are planning to visit in the first week of March as this was the only week my friends could all make. Hope it should be good!

Posted on 12/18/2009 at 11:33 AM

jérémy says:

hello , i’d like to know when is the best hotel in south beach for the spring break i should go for the first 2 weeks but i really need to be in the middle of the action you know what i mean thanks for your help ?

Posted on 01/21/2011 at 1:05 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Jeremy, if money is no object I’d say definitely The Clevelander for Spring Break. Although anywhere between 5th and 16th Streets on Ocean Drive, Collins, or Washington Avenue is going to be in the middle of the action.

Posted on 01/21/2011 at 2:17 PM

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