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Hotel Essex House Hotel 3 star
Easyexperts
1001 Collins Ave Miami, United States of America -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

Essex House is a small hotel that is easily missed if you don't know what you're looking for despite being somewhat of a landmark in South Beach. One of Al Capone's favourite hangouts when the hotel bar used to be a casino back in the 30s, the lobby remains as it was when it first opened and is one of the best examples of South Florida Art Deco around. There isn't much to the hotel today, but the secret is in its enormous lobby fireplace and original Earl le Pan mural painted in 1938. You will find another of his most famous oeuvres at the Hotel Victor (now a Hyatt - see our review of this hotel) on Ocean Drive. The Essex House is particularly popular with the British and is a quiet place to stay, unlike its sister hotel, the Clevelander next door ((see our review of this hotel).

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    • Hotel Essex House

      Essex House   -   © S. Poli / EASYVOYAGE

    • Hotel Essex House

      Essex House   -   © S. Poli / EASYVOYAGE

       
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    Location 9.42 /10

    Located on one of Miami's main streets, Collins Avenue, the hotel is within 5 minutes' walk of Miami Beach, which can actually be seen from the street. It is also situated to the back of its sister hotel, the lively Clevelander, which is a great hangout if you like loud music and Caipirinhas. The airport is a 30 minute drive away.

    Accommodation 6.70 /10

    There are 56 guest rooms and 14 adjoining suites in a separate building. All rooms have the same decor. The rooms were renovated in 2010 and look a lot fresher with a contemporary edge that has brought it into the 21st Century whilst retaining its original features. The rooms tend to be on the small side in comparison to South Beach's new builds; the building is registered, meaning that the structure cannot be altered. You will find that most original Art Deco hotels in South Beach have small rooms (with the exception of The Tides, a more recent Neo-Art Deco structure. See our review of this hotel). The rooms have heavy brown motif carpets and modular furniture, which keeps its Art Deco era alive, and lime green touches to freshen it up a little. The bathrooms have all been renovated and look brand new - the 14 suites have been kitted out with marble bathrooms and Jacuzzi baths. Although the hotel is right next door to party animal, the Clevelander, the noise is hardly audible. All rooms have 27 inch colour televisions and a mini-bar. There is also complimentary Wi-fi throughout the hotel.

    Overview 5.70 /10

    Dating back to 1938, Essex House doesn't seem like much to look at if you don't know what you're looking at; however, its history makes it a landmark in South Florida; its most famous client, Al Capone, put the hotel on the map back in the 1930s. The hotel has a splendid Art Deco facade spreading over the corner of Collins Avenue and 10th street. The porch running along the front is perfect for sitting in the shade with homemade lemonade whilst watching Miami life go by. The pool is found to the right hand side at the end of the porch; it is small, but effective if you don't want to do the 5 minute walk to the beach.

    Inside, the lobby looks nondescript upon first impression - a mix of greys and browns greets the eye. It takes a few minutes to seek out why this is the most famous lobby in town. The lobby is a 1930s original; apart from the furniture, the structure has been kept exactly as it was since it was built. From the typical terrazzo flooring, to the enormous fireplace, the Earl le Pan mural and the reception desk. To the right of the reception is the hotel lounge. Unfortunately nothing remains of the original casino that was visited by Al Capone apart from the arrows on the floor. Photographs of the hotel in its gangster heyday hang on the walls, reinforcing the Essex House's reputation.

    There is no spa or gym, but guests can use the facilities over at the Clevelander or Hotel Victor. The lounge is more of a bar and no longer serves food. On offer are top-shelf liquor, domestic and imported beer and red and white wines. The lounge has a simple decor and a very casual atmosphere, but guests seem to like it for pre or post evening drinks.

    Food and drink

    The lounge is more of a bar and no longer serves food. On offer are top-shelf liquor, domestic and imported beer and red and white wines. The lounge has a simple decor and a very casual atmosphere, but guests seem to like it for pre or post evening drinks. For food, most guests tend to hang out at the Clevelander for something a little younger and livelier. Alternatively, there are myriad bars and restaurants to try out in the city, so guests are never at a loss for choice!

    Beach

    Although the hotel is not directly on the beach, it is only a five minute walk away. You can actually see the beach from the street. Miami Beach is pretty much the same all the way along: a long and wide stretch of sand with reasonably clear water. You won't see any locals in the sea until at least April though, but the 'snowbirds', or New Yorkers, who come to Miami for a spot of sunshine during their big freeze season are happily splashing around; this does mean that the beach is rarely crowded at the beginning of the year. The hotel doesn't have a designated area on the beach, but anyone can rent towels and sun-loungers for a fee on the beach.

    To know

    The hotel originally opened in the 1930s. The hotel bar used to be a casino and in those days was one of Al Capone's favourite hangouts. The hotel is often visited by passing tourists who just want some snaps of them sitting in one of the lobby sofas.

    Equipment

    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      beauty salon

    • Swimming pool
    • Sports equipment

      beach volley

    • Non-smoking rooms

    advantage

    • Five minutes' walk to Miami Beach.
    • Great example of South Florida Art Deco.
    • Has a small pool.
    • The staff is very friendly.

    disadvantages

    • Not directly on the beach.
    • Lack of facilities.

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score 7.00/10
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