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The Betsy - © S. Poli / EASYVOYAGE
The Betsy - © S. Poli / EASYVOYAGE
Rating and opinion given by a member of our team of Easyvoyage experts
Mark out of 10 for geographical location
Evaluation of the hotel based on its size, its decoration, the number of rooms, the attractiveness of its architecture and the quality of any swimming pools, lobbies or sport and leisure facilities it may have
Evaluation of the quality of the room or suite based on cleanliness, decoration, size, view, services and comfort of bedding
Evaluation of the restaurant based on service, atmosphere, quality and presentation of dishes
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Slightly out of place among Ocean Drive's colourful Art-Deco hotels, the upscale ethical and art-loving boutique Betsy (a Small Leading Hotel of the World) is one of our favourite establishments in Miami. Combining colonial cool with contemporary casual, this is the ideal place to stay for a wide-ranging clientele including yummy mummies who thank the bulky doormen with a "Thank you honey-bunny". An attractive hotel that has mastered understated elegance down to a T, has all the facilities you would want on holiday, from a rooftop spa to a renowned steakhouse, a funky chic bar to its very own art collection, the Betsy is one of the more pleasant places to stay in Miami. Located right across from Miami Beach, a stay here is ideal for couples as well as families with a big budget as a stay here does not come cheap.
The Betsy is located in a prime spot right on Miami's most famous street: Ocean Drive. However, instead of being slap bang in the centre of the hustle and bustle, it is right at the top of the drive in a quieter and secluded area. There are a number of cafés and restaurants within close proximity and the rest of the Art-Deco district is within walking distance. The beach is just across the street. Depending on traffic, the airport is a 30 minute drive away and Downtown is about 20 minutes' drive away.
If you are planning on visiting Miami by car, do enquire about parking beforehand as it can be extremely expensive in Miami (up to $40 a day!). Hotels usually have their own car park and the cost depends on the season.
The hotel used to be known as The Betsy Ross, which opened in 1942. You will notice the original signage above the door as well as the typical Art-Deco terrazzo floors. In 2009 a new team took over and the hotel underwent an entire renovation to its present-day glory.
A rare initiative which stole our hearts away is the hotel's The Global Africa Project. The hotel owner has Africa very close to his heart and uses part of the hotel profits to fund various projects in the African continent as well as to spread awareness about certain causes. Learn more about The Global Africa Project.
The hotel has a colonial style that stands out from any other hotel in Miami. Crisp, contemporary and chic, it isn't hard to see why The Betsy bears a Small Leading Hotel label. Its white washed boarded exteriors complete with arched front porch with rattan furniture, leads inside a spotless soothing casual steakhouse (the BLT Steakhouse). Adorned with floor to ceiling windows, potted palm trees, comfortable couches, the elegant African themed restaurant takes up the entire lobby. The reception desk, where a friendly face awaits to greet you, is just opposite the entrance. To the right of the main door is the bar area of the BLT Restaurant. Adjacent you will find the chic evening B Bar lounge with its black bouncy stretch vinyl ceiling. The bar is at the height of Miami contemporary chic. Back into the lobby, an elevator takes guests up three floors of rooms. Behind the elevator shaft you will find a small art gallery area boasting rare photographs taken by famous artists from across the globe.
A detail which really makes The Betsy what it is today, is its fantastic photography collection that hangs throughout the corridors and restaurant. Although technically the hotel rents them from Rock Archive, they are originals and give the hotel unrivalled charm.
Upstairs on the rooftop is a peaceful haven of decking and trellises of lush green vegetation, creating the perfect solarium for guests not wanting to venture out to the beach. To the back of the deck is a sensual zen spa with outdoor massage tables and soothing music that is well worth a try. If you fancy a dip at the hotel, you can also make the most of the pool in the backyard. Private and calm, the pool is handy, but the downside is that it does remain in the shadow for most of the day, meaning that the solarium will be your best bet for the ultimate tan.
The hotel is filled with pretty objects that add a personal touch to an atmosphere that may otherwise have been cold. The overall atmosphere is that of a cosy South African lodge, which is the only one of its kind in Miami and is a welcome addition!
The hotel has 63 rooms including about 20 suites. The rooms are split into a manageable and unpretentious four categories. Rooms are dressed in an array of rich cosy Frette linen in neutral colours and crisp white. The oak floorboards add to the African lodge effect, as does the tapestry adorning the walls. The rooms are simple yet very pleasant and succeed in offering a soothing atmosphere. Every room has books and other carefully-selected decorative objects, making a change from your too-cool-for-school larger 'white-everything' chain hotels. The bathrooms are extremely well-appointed, with separate marble bath tubs and showers, his and hers sinks, crisp white towels, and wicker baskets, which add warmth to the clean lines. The whole thing is topped off with upscale bathroom products by the cool organic Malin and Goetz apothecary brand.
Details, like the custom-made French doors and four poster beds add an extra layer of quality luxury. In terms of views most rooms look out onto the pool courtyard so if you want an ocean front room, make sure you place a request at the time of booking.
Another initiative that we liked very much, is the hotel's effort to cut down on waste water and energy by asking guests to reuse their towels (which is rare at Miami hotels). The mini bars, or 'Magic Cubes' also use up to 35% less energy.
The Betsy has one of the best eateries in town: the BLT Steakhouse. Part of the New Yorker chain, the Bistro Laurent Tourondel, is named after its chef, whose aim was to fuse the all-American steakhouse with French finesse to create a modern steakhouse experience. The menu comprises of typical American food like burgers and of course, steak, but don't be fooled, as the real star quality of the BLT is in the choice of ingredients and the cooking methods. So don't go expecting a rosy cut of Magret de Canard! The atmosphere of the restaurant is also what people flock from all over town for. Casual yet elegant, the designer has got it just right. The BLT can be romantic by candle light in the evenings, cool by day with its stunning portraits of some of the world's most famous music artists. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch, expect to pay about $16 (£10) for a sandwich and about $40 (£45) for a steak. For dinner, you have to count $100 (£61) per head for a two-course meal excluding drinks.
For pre or post dinner drinks, the B Bar is a good choice and a good alternative to the BLT bar which you will find to the right of the entrance. The bar is open Wednesday-Saturday from 9:00pm to 4:00am.
The beach is right across the road after the promenade that lines Miami Beach. The beach is clean, wide, golden, sandy...all the things one would expect from Miami! The water is clean and calm, so there is little risk for the yung'uns, although that is not to say that they should not be supervised! The hotel has a designated beach area where guests have access to sun loungers and parasols (beach service is included in the room rate).