I visited the Winter Haven hotel in South Beach Miami in mid November. The Winter Haven hotel is part of the Marriott Autograph collection. Since I’m taking the Marriott Platinum Challenge, I wanted to stay at a Marriott on the trip. I wanted to try something different while in South Beach and the Winter Haven hotel fit the bill.
Marriott’s Autograph Collection represent a unique portfolio of boutique hotels from around the world. The idea is to retain the uniqueness of each hotel’s identity while adding Marriott’s customer service and elite benefits.
If I didn’t book the reservation through Marriott, I wouldn’t even know the Winter Haven was owned by Marriott. No Marriott branding on the outside of the hotel. Just a small Marriott logo by the check-in desk.
South Beach Florida Location
I arrived at the Winter Haven late in the evening. Normally, I’m used to being upgraded at check-in. Recently, I’ve been on a suite upgrade streak with my recent stays at the Marriott Cleveland Ohio, Renaissance Cleveland, and Renaissance West Chester New York. I believe that by checking in later at night at those larger hotels, my upgrade chances increased.
Conversely, by checking in late at a boutique hotel, I believe my upgrade chances decreased. The Winter Haven holds just 71 rooms, which is part of the appeal of a boutique hotel. The typical Marriott hotel offers up to 5 to 6 times as many rooms, making upgrades for guests with status easier.
November marks the beginning of the busy season in South Beach. As a result, when I checked in at 8pm (check-in time starts at 4pm), only two hotel rooms were left, so no room upgrades were possible.
Getting to the Hotel
The Winter Haven is 25 minutes (12 miles) from the Miami airport. The hotel is located on Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami on the corner of 14th street and Ocean Drive. When checking-in, drive down 13th street and make a left on Ocean Drive. Make another left on 14th street and look for the valet stand at the right corner of 14th and Ocean Drive to drop off your bags.
Valet parking is $35 per night. If you prefer self parking, there are a few nearby lots, but you may have a far walk back to the hotel if the nearby parking lots fill up. I suggest paying the extra money for valet service to make things easier. Just make sure to notify the valet service at least 30 minutes before you want your car when checking out because the valet service uses a garage a short distance away from the hotel to park the cars.
The Winter Haven was originally built in 1939. The distinct art deco architecture brings out the spirit and character of downtown Miami South Beach. Fresh light colors permeate the lobby. A small martini bar occupies the front left corner of the lobby and the IL Bolognese restaurant occupies the front of the hotel facing Ocean Drive.
IL Bolognese offers indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating provides guests with a front row seat to the action on Ocean Drive. Ocean Drive offers an almost 24 hour show that includes luxury cars and continuous crowds of people walking by.
I stayed in a standard room on the 3rd floor. The room was clean and comfortable. Most importantly, the room was quiet. I could hear occasional noise from the outside, but it was never at the level that impacted my sleep.
Winter Haven hotel amenities included:
- free WiFi
- Daily rental of two beach chairs
- Access to the roof top terrace
- Marriott elite members had a choice of free points or a free continental breakfast at IL Bolognese. The free continental breakfast voucher could be used to offset the price of the regular menu if you didn’t want the continental breakfast.
The Winter Haven rooftop terrace is located on the 5th floor at the back of the hotel. The rooftop terrace offers a good view of downtown Miami, but it doesn’t offer a direct view of Ocean Drive. The rooftop terrace provides a good place to catch a little sun or a quiet place to relax outside with a few drinks.
Walking Across the Street to the Beach
One of the best features of the hotel was its location. Walk out the front lobby, across the street to Lummus Park and your at the beach. The 14th street beach is a public beach with massive open space. The Winter Haven offers hotel guests free daily rental of two beach chairs.
- Great location directly in the middle of the action on Ocean Drive.
- Once you park the car, you won’t need it again. Everything you need is in walking distance.
- The beach is directly in front of the hotel.
- Ocean Drive is filled with energy and excitement. Be prepared for some noise from Ocean Drive. However, I never found the noise to impact my sleep.
- No hotel pool. The beach is directly in front of the hotel and guests receive two free beach chair rentals each day.
The Winter Haven offers a good alternative to the larger chain hotels lined up towards the north side of South Beach. Even though the Winter Haven is part of the Marriott Autograph collection, the Winter Haven hotel retains its unique South Beach flavor. The hotel offers a great location in the middle of Ocean Drive and the beach is directly in front of the hotel.