If you're in Miami and looking for exotic, green, and lush surroundings, head for The Palms Hotel. Its quaint atmosphere will immerse you in a pleasantly laidback world. To be enjoyed without moderation. The only snag is that the hotel is a bit far from Miami's sights of interest.
The Palms Hotel stands on Collins Avenue, to the north of this huge thoroughfare, at quite a long distance from Ocean Drive. To get to the Art Déco neighbourhood, you must take a taxi or walk for at least half an hour. It's located in a quiet neighbourhood. The Riu hotel is concealed just behind the Palms Hotel. You won't find many shops, restaurants, or bars in the surrounding area so you'll have to look outside of the neighbourhood.
There is a nice wooden footpath along the beach that leads all the way to Ocean Drive. It's perfect for a morning run or to enjoy a stroll and take in the sea breeze. It's right opposite the hotel in the direction of the beach. In Florida there are no private beaches, but the hotel does provide some beach equipment, such as deckchairs and sunshades.
This beautiful building was built in 1948 (and renovated in 2009) and is a refreshing added touch of greenery in Miami. The Palms Hotel strives to be an environmentally friendly hotel and participates in a program that aims to protect the natural resources of Florida. It's one of the 14 hotels and bed & breakfast establishments in the city to have received the Green Lodging Program label. This program takes many factors into consideration, such as water management, recycling, the use of paper.... and the concierge services at each establishment can suggest a few environmentally friendly excursion ideas.
As far as the atmosphere is concerned, The Palms has managed to create a quaint tropical setting. Large wooden fans, wicker furniture, a terrace with a relaxing rocking chair, dark panelling, and flower patterns on the armchairs make for a relaxed and tropical atmosphere. The hotel is generally a peaceful place, with a calm and pleasant ambience like you might expect to find in a colonial mansion. Unfortunately, the lobby is a little dark, but we liked the interior of the bar and the terrace. The garden is a haven of peace where you can read, chat, or enjoy a drink, and the swimming pool area is just as pleasant. With deckchairs, hammocks, and even a poster bed, you'll have a large choice of comfortable places to recline in. Plus, there is a bar that will enable you to keep hydrated.
If you feel you're in need of some pampering, head for the spa centre, where massages and body and face treatments are on offer. Turkish baths are even on site for those who feel the need for some heat. The interior of the spa has a pleasant Zen theme and the massage rooms are the perfect place in which to relax. Should you wish to enjoy a massage along with your partner, there are special rooms for couples available. There's even an iPod dock in the treatment room so that you can listen to your favourite tunes. For breakfast there is a special spa menu on offer.
The interior decorating of the 251 rooms (all renovated in 2009) is slightly disappointing; we expected a little more class and refinement. The style is classically chic, and the interior has little to do with the tropical theme of the hotel. Only some rare touches of green, turquoise, orange, and the wooden fan and a few flower arrangements hint at the exotic atmosphere. Furthermore, the rooms are quite spacious and make you feel at home. This is the US, the land of all that's modern, and all the level of comfort one would expect in an American hotel room is present: flat-screen TV, coffee and tea tray, iPod dock, and free Wi-Fi. If you don't like air-conditioning, there is a great fan for you to use. As for the bathroom, it's rather small but equipped with a nice Italian-style tropical rain shower. The accommodation units boast a modern interior.
Only two suites have balconies, which is really shame. It would be nice if all of the guests could enjoy the Miami climate while comfortably sitting on their own private balcony.
As meal time approaches, make your way to the splendid Essencia restaurant. It is divided between a dining room and a lush green garden (bamboo, palm tree, banana tree, etc.). There is a lovely veranda where you can sit outdoors and enjoy the chef's cuisine. The restaurant's asset is that it is oriented towards the garden and even shares part of it. The interior stays true to the quaint and tropical style of the hotel. The atmosphere is laidback and relaxing. You'll feel as if you were in the Caribbean.
The Essencia serves refined cuisine based on Mediterranean, Asian, and European flavours. The French chef has a true passion for blending tastes and offering original dishes; you're sure to love everything you try. A selection of organic wines is also on offer. In order to enjoy this relaxed atmosphere for as long as possible, enjoy a drink in the lounge, in the veranda, or at the restaurant bar. You should also note that there is a special spa menu, with fewer calories.
As is customary in the US, the hotel puts on a Sunday Brunch, which is quite an experience. Really very nice.
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Mark out of 10 for geographical location
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