WinterHaven tres chic in funky South Beach

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MIAMI BEACH -- For the right customer, the WinterHaven is as good as a five-star hotel.

The property received a three-diamond rating from AAA, but for someone who appreciates an oceanview room over palm-lined Ocean Drive in South Beach, its hard to beat.

At the corner of 14th Street, the WinterHaven is a comfortable distance, yet not too far, from the epicenter of bustling Ocean Drive (between Eighth and 10th streets), where the nightclub scene reaches a fever pitch.

The funky culture draws visitors from all over the world, a fact reflected in the diversity of the WinterHaven clientele.

Having breakfast on the hotels front deck one morning, I was joined by a French mother with body-pierced and spikey-haired teenagers; an English couple on a business-mixed-with-pleasure trip; a young German in a red Miami football jersey; a refined elderly couple with a floppy-eared dog; and a gay couple.

Miami: Festive outdoor cafes, an irresistible feature of South Beach culture, line Ocean Drive a short distance from the WinterHaven Hotel. TW photo by David Cogswell.My room on the fifth floor was charming, cozy and immaculate. Room 503 is a corner room with a window facing the ocean and another looking down Ocean Drive.

From the streetview window, you can look down upon the strip, with its neon, art-deco facades and pulsating nightlife. 

The room had the standard amenities, including a large-screen TV with far more channels than necessary. A desk doubled as a dressing table.

The art-deco design theme was maintained right down to the brushed-chrome chevron light fixture in the bathroom.

All of the facilities were bright and new. The bathroom toiletries were Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy products, which gave the hotel a high-end feel.

The WinterHaven is part of a hotel group that includes two other South Beach properties: the Blue Moon and the Essex House, both on Collins Avenue. Both are elegant but lack ocean views.

Built in 1939, the WinterHaven has been restored to its original state. The lobby is a close replica of its early days, with a high ceiling and a winding stairway to a multilevel mezzanine surrounded by a sleek aluminum railing.

The only change from the original is a small bar that had been added years after the original construction.

Walter Chapman, manager of all three Coral Collection South Beach properties, said upgrades are planned at the WinterHaven.

Rates at the WinterHaven  start at $79 per night for a standard room, $99 for an oceanview room and $169 for a suite.

For more info or to book, call (800) 395-2322 or (305) 531-5571 or visit www.winterhavenhotelsobe.com.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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