Big crowds not your style? Book a stay at one of these 50-rooms-or-fewer lodgings.
After two renovations in the past 11 years, this Art Deco hotel has fully transformed into a contemporary, chic spot. The original 1936 cut coral-stone facade, terrazzo floor, and glass wall panels set the luxe scene as you arrive. In the garden area, dine beside the vertical water sculpture at Joley, offering American cuisine with a European influence. (Find frog and foie gras on the menu.) Each room features blond oak furniture and a modern headboard designed to suggest a ship's porthole. Find waffle-weave bathrobes and H2O+ bath products in the minimalist marble bathrooms.
• 956 Washington Avenue; $149 to $509; 305/531-8081 or hotelastor.com.
Sanctuary South Beach
Just two blocks from the ocean and Lincoln Road, the four-star hotel puts you close―but not too close―to the nightlife and beach scene. Each one-bedroom suite features a fully equipped kitchen with an espresso maker, a 42-inch LCD television in the living area, and 400-plus-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Baths feature sunken tubs or steam showers. Guests relax in lounge chairs around the roof deck's tranquility pool.
• 1745 James Avenue; from $145; 305/673-5455 or sanctuarysobe.com.
The Angler's Boutique Resort
This 49-room complex blends the old and new South Beach scene. In preparation for its recent reopening, two 1930s buildings designed by architect Henry Maloney were renovated to accompany two new structures. Seclusion reigns throughout the property with private rooftop terraces, gardens, and Jacuzzis in many rooms. J. Wallace Tutt, known for his work on the Versace mansion on Ocean Drive, decorated the rooms in soothing earth tones. Amenities include wireless Internet, an iPod docking station with surround sound, and a wet bar. Pets are welcome to accompany you for a $100 nonrefundable deposit.
• 660 Washington Avenue; $225 to $1,250; 866/729-8800 or theanglersresort.com.
True to its name, three-quarters of this oceanfront hotel's rooms offer water views. Known for meticulous service, Hotel Ocean's 27 rooms are bright, white, and airy―exactly what you'd expect from a posh Miami pad. To soak up rays outside, a daily resort fee of $9 per room covers the use of beach towels and chairs.
• 1230 Ocean Drive; $139 to $900; 305/672-2579 or hotelocean.com.
Nassau Suite Hotel
Used as a U.S. Navy operations base during World War II, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Oversize studio suites offer 584 square feet of space; larger one-bedroom suites have 680. A walk-in closet, living area, and fully equipped kitchen come standard in each room. As an alternative to the club scene, visit the hotel's private movie theater with its leather wraparound couch and red wall draperies.
• 1414 Collins Avenue; from $129; 866/859-4177 or nassausuite.com.
Hotel St. Augustine
This restored 1937 Art Deco hotel in the newly fashioned South of Fifth District offers 24 loft-style rooms. Inspired by spa design, rooms offer an appropriately relaxing environment. While custom-milled maplewood furnishings and a sound system fill the bedroom, the bath is the main focus. Italian tile surrounds a European-engineered multijet, massaging spray shower. The spa bar comes stocked with aromatherapy products. Post pampering, guests chat over cocktails in the lobby's hip Tangerine Bar.
• 347 Washington Avenue; $139 to $389; 800/310-7717 or hotelstaugustine.com.
(Published September 2008)