When last we visited the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach, a major construction project was underway. That was in 2012. The results were unveiled in 2014, and they are spectacular: new lobby, dining, and meeting spaces, an adults-only infinity pool, and the brand new Ocean Tower where every room has a beach view and private balcony. We were anxious to check in and check out the new addition, which we got to do in May.
The short story: We loved it! The Cadillac blends the appeal and service of a boutique hotel with the quality and amenities of a large chain like Courtyard. We enjoyed special touches you’d expect at a boutique hotel, like free wine tasting at the Lounge DeVille, and a waiter who remembered our names and preferences every morning in the Cadilllac Café (cool names for different sections of the extended lobby space). We also appreciated big-hotel features, like a tower room with a million dollar view. (Literally! A tidy two bedroom in the condo next door lists for a cool $1.3-million.) Read on for details about the hotel and our stay.
First, a little history.
Saying the Cadillac Hotel is historic is no exaggeration. It was built in 1940 by Roy France, one of Miami Beach’s most prolific and influential architects. Armed Forces training troops called the Cadillac home during World War II, after which the hotel received its first renovations in the 1950s: an 8-story addition with 148 guestrooms and six efficiency apartments. In 1957, the Cadillac hosted Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak as they filmed Pal Joey at the hotel, which came to be frequented by Hollywood stars like Nat King Cole and Ann Margaret. In 2005, the “historic” moniker was made official when the Cadillac was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Like many of its glamorous Hollywood pals, the venerable hotel has had a few facelifts through the years. A complete restoration in 2004 re-introduced the Cadillac as one of Miami Beach’s premier boutique hotels. Guestrooms were renovated again in 2009, the lobby and public areas in 2011, and now the addition of public spaces and 93 rooms and suites in the Ocean Tower. Thankfully, the updates have kept the integrity of the original design, and enhanced the look and experience of this historic hotel.
Checking In & Checking It Out
That experience began as soon as we stepped out of the car and climbed the few steps to the patios beneath the Art Deco façade fronting Collins Avenue. The bellman greeted us promptly and gave us a small ticket in exchange for our luggage, which was whisked away to meet us upstairs later. Stepping across a mosaic of the 1940s Cadillac coat of arms, we entered the attractive lobby, which maintains touches of the original. Though we had checked in using Marriott’s new mobile app, we still had to visit the front desk for our room key. We also had some questions about our stay, including where we might find a good cappuccino. (Hey, we are TravelLatte for a reason!)
We remembered Carrabba’s Italian Grill from our previous visit. The restaurant shares the ground floor with the lobby, and is good for lunch or dinner when you don’t want to wander far. Also on the ground floor is a fitness center, with a good assortment of cardio machines (treadmills, bicycles) and some free weights. Unfortunately, there is not much of a view, but then the best place to get some exercise here is probably on the beach.
The Lounge DeVille lobby bar features Starbucks in the morning and a nightly happy hour. Besides bar seating, there are both intimate and communal tables, shared with the Cadillac Café where breakfast is served overlooking the main pool. Options include grab-and-go coffee and pastries, a full breakfast menu, and a buffet which includes chef-made omelets and waffles alongside the usual continental fare.
With its garland of lounge chairs and palm trees, the pool likely looks much as it did 50 years ago. Art Deco architectural touches and fountains give it a distinct Miami Beach look, and a kiosk with chilled spa water and towel service give it a comfortable touch. Broad steps lead up to a large deck where Carrabba’s Surfside Tiki Bar sits beneath a palm-thatched roof. Just beyond, the Miami Beach Boardwalk winds its way along the sand and surf, and provides beach access from the hotel.
Next to the bar is the new adults-only infinity pool surrounded by chaises and cabanas on a bed of artificial turf that actually feels great under foot. The cabanas are nice but expensive – you can rent one with service (fruit, water, etc.), at prices that start around $100 for the day. The area is well shaded in the morning and late afternoon, though, so we didn’t see the need or value. Plus, the Tiki Bar staff routinely comes by to take orders if you want anything.
Our self-guided exploration of the public areas was fun, and we looked forward to enjoying the pools, the lobby and, of course, the Starbucks! The friendly, professional staff was everything we’ve come to expect from Marriott, and the amenities were fitting for a Courtyard location. So far, we were not disappointed with our decision to stay here while visiting Miami Beach, though there are certainly more luxurious (and expensive) options. But the question on every traveler’s mind when checking in is always the same: What’s my room like?
Floored on the 11th Floor
In a word, our room was perfect.
One of the Front Desk Managers checked us in and asked about our room preference. We had reserved a King room in the Ocean Tower, but he offered a bit of advice: The Double rooms are virtually the same but the view is better. Hmmm…Ocean view versus ocean view. One looks north up the beach, the other looks south. The difference is?
We took his advice, and are glad we did. The room was designed to take full advantage of the ocean view from the minute you open the door. (And remember, that’s a million dollar view!) Honestly, for the first few minutes, the room could have been a complete disaster because we were pulled right to the balcony to ogle the scene. Looking down, we saw the pools and Tiki Bar, and ahead was a ribbon of sand and the blue Atlantic. (I would spend hours admiring that view over the next few days.) We learned later that the King rooms across the hall overlooked a side street where we saw the pools. I imagine that, because of this, they were also not as quiet as our room was.
Once we pulled ourselves away from the view, we found the room to be quite roomy and comfortable, very clean and in great condition. The artwork held to Miami Beach’s Art Deco heritage while being just a bit more Modern, and the colors and decor emphasized the oceanfront feel. In addition to a nice work desk, there were two small tables, a sofa-bed and another chair. The balcony also had two chairs and a tiny table; too small to accommodate much more than a single plate, and not stable enough to use even for coffee. The bed was comfortable, as we expect at Courtyard, and we both slept soundly. Despite facing east, the curtains kept the room from being too bright in the morning, but you might appreciate a sleep mask if you are light sensitive.
Being very modern travelers (that is, having an abundance of gadgets that require charging), we were pleased with the number and locations of outlets around the room, though the desktop could have used more. We had read reviews that in-room Wi-Fi was fast and reliable, and that proved to be true with no issues connecting multiple devices. Be sure to inquire though; some guests we spoke with had access because of their Marriott status, some because they booked direct, others because it was included in their room rate. It seems there are plenty of ways to avoid paying extra for it.
Our room was equipped with the usual, and in some cases above average amenities: iHome iPhone dock, laptop-sized wall safe, iron/board, hair dryer, mini-fridge, and mediocre one-cup coffee maker. We were delighted by the Paul Mitchell TeaTree shower amenities, and stunned by the size of the shower! Though the bathroom was fairly large, there was just one sink; it seemed to us a double sink would have been helpful in the morning.
We were really pleased to learn about a Smartphone App called StayConnect in our room. Like many guests, we avoid touching the TV remote as much as possible. Enter StayConnect, which lets you control the television and connect to hotel services from our Smartphone. While we still needed to use the remote to turn on the TV and pair it to our smartphone, from there it was hands off. It’s a good use of technology, and we hope someone figures out how to completely eliminate the remote control with this app.
Location Location Location
There are two reasons we chose to stay at the Courtyard Cadillac Hotel: it’s right on the beach, and it’s specifically North Beach. There is nothing wrong with South Beach, or City Center, or any other neighborhood, but the northern sections of the island tend to be a little quieter without being completely removed from everything Miami Beach has to offer. We relied on Uber (almost always $7 or less) and our feet to get around town, and did just fine. Walking anywhere, day or night, was easy and safe. Which is good, because we enjoyed lots of area restaurants!
We bet you’d plan to spend some quality time in the sun, sand and surf while in Miami Beach. You won’t find a bad section of beach in the city. The sand is groomed daily, so it is generally clean and well-kept, the surf is fairly gentle, and you can wade out quite far without getting in over your head. Lifeguard stands are close by if needed, and we noticed the Beach Patrol routinely making their rounds. Like many of the hotels and condos on the beach, the Cadillac has a kiosk where you can rent lounge chairs, umbrellas and cabanas, get towels, and purchase supplies like sunscreen and bottled water. We took advantage of two chairs and an umbrella at $40 for the day; the cabanas offer more protection when it gets windy at $100/day. The Tiki Bar staff also services the beach at the hotel, offering a limited menu of drinks and snacks so you don’t have to give up tan time to slake your thirst.
What’s our Rating?
Guests consistently give this Courtyard three to four stars, and we agree: a great experience at an above-average hotel for it’s category . Everything was clean and in good condition. With only one exception (of having to repeat a request for additional towels and toilet paper), service was top-notch. We were genuinely made to feel welcome and valued. But the hallmark of a great staff is the willingness to go above and beyond, which we saw the evening that we arrived. Returning from dinner, we found a note slipped under our door with staff recommendations for the best cappuccino in Miami Beach.
You can get A Closer Look in our Courtyard Cadillac Hotel gallery!
We would love to hear about your experience at the Cadillac or other Miami Beach hotels, or just hear your thoughts on this truly historic hotel. Please share with a comment!
Details & Disclaimers: This review was neither solicited nor compensated. Our stay at the Courtyard Cadillac Hotel was anonymous; all views, experiences and photographs are our own.