I booked a 3 night stay at The Colony Hotel in South Beach, Miami for a surprise for my boyfriend's birthday. We went to South Beach together for the first time last year (March 2012) and stayed at a boutique hotel on Collins Avenue. Although we were happy with those accommodations I wanted to really surprise him by staying right on the beach on Ocean Drive. Every night life photograph of South Beach always has the famous Colony Hotel in the background, so I decided to stay here this time around.
Unfortunately I have to say we will not be returning to The Colony Hotel for any future visits to South Beach. I read numerous reviews on trip advisor prior to booking this hotel, and although most weren't great, I chose to stay here anyways because neither of us are the “knit picky traveler”. We are usually quite satisfied with a clean, functioning room for a place to shower and sleep. Well that's where The Colony crossed the line with us. First of all let me say you can not beat the location. It is perfect. You are directly across from the beach and right in the middle of all the action. Because of that we tolerated the 3 days we stayed here. We did not eat or drink at the hotel once so I can't comment on that. The room was very small, and like I said we were really only there to shower and sleep. However we kept finding ourselves tripping over and bumping into one another just trying to get ready. Apparently this place doesn't believe in light fixtures. The hallways are incredibly dingy and dark (not to mention fowl smelling....a mix of some illegal substances and awful cleaning solution). The actual room literally had TWO light bulbs in it. There was only one small lamp in between the two beds and one dingy light in the bathroom. It was always dark and hard to get ready in that type of ambiance. The only mirror in the entire room was a tiny one in the bathroom above the sink. As a female, I found it very difficult to get ready with that being the only mirror because my boyfriend would be in the shower and the bathroom didn't have a fan, the mirror would automatically fog up. We had no tissues in the entire room and there was only one small garbage can in the bathroom. I understand and appreciate that this is an original Art Deco hotel, but simple things like the aforementioned can be modified and added to accommodate their guests more. Now for the worst….we didn't have any warm water to shower with for two out of the three days. Yes, being in the Miami heat all day you want to cool off, but leave that to the air conditioning. When I need to shower I would at least expect luke warm water. However for two days I showered in freezing cold water. When I called the front desk the first day, the guy told me "ok ill turn it on, give it three minutes". Turn it on?! Why the heck was it off? Well after ten minutes I couldn't wait any longer because we were in a hurry to meet friends for dinner, so I showered in the cold. The second day I let the water run 15-20 minutes before calling to complain, but it never got slightly warm. When I called I got an almost identical response telling me to wait 3 minutes. Again, I waited over 10-15 and ended up taking a cold shower. Irate, I phoned the front desk to express my anger. The guy basically offered me no apologies, solution, etc. Instead after stuttering, told me I can see the manager when she comes in later. Well unfortunately we were checking out in an hour before her arrival, as it was our last day here (thank god). When we did check out an hour later, I couldn’t help but notice the “facebook page” pulled up on the computer screen at the front desk. Apparently surfing facebook was more important than attending to and helping their guests.
We ended up extending our trip one day longer (due to flight delays on the way there). For our last day we booked a room back at the boutique hotel on Collins that we stayed at the previous year. Upon arrival and throughout the stay we couldn't have been happier (except for wishing we had stayed there the entire time). We learned our lesson, and all the Ocean Drive beachfront hype isn't worth staying at a hotel that I felt as though they should have been paying us to stay at. (We looked at the boulevard hotel next door and asked to see a room, I almost threw up. The most disgusting place I have ever seen. I can't believe they can charge guests to stay there). Collins Avenue is less than a 5 min walk to the beach and was so worth staying at the boutique hotel we stayed at. One other complaint (not directly in relation to The Colony though) was that you could not walk down Ocean Drive at any time of day without being hassled and heckled by EVERY single restaurant host asking you to dine at their restaurant, as they are trying to shove a menu in your face. We got so sick of it we ended up walking on the Beach side of Ocean Drive. My final advice…. either book a hotel on Collins and walk to the beach, or splurge and pay for a very fancy hotel right on Ocean Drive, where you may have the proper facilities to shower and sleep comfortably. (Please note – both myself and my boyfriend are both in our mid 20’s, we like having fun and spend most of our time outside of the hotel room and this hotel’s accommodations still drove me CRAZY!!)
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