Miami’s archetypal South Beach Art Deco hotels started popping up around the 1930s and still continue to attract an upscale crowd who long to laze around their famous pools that line the seaside thoroughfare…names like Delano, Raleigh and Carlyle proudly share their status with Hollywood legends Gable, Monroe and Bogart. The National, which opened in 1940 and was designed by architect Roy F. France – credited with creating the Miami Beach, Florida skyline – is also no stranger to attracting socialites and celebrity’s past and present, from its pristine oceanfront setting on Collins Avenue.
In modern times, with around 150 rooms, the National stands out from its competitors by boasting the longest infinity pool (205ft long), which is watched over by its iconic 14-story tower. After renovations in 2013 it has cleverly managed to integrate a contemporary and modern feel without compromising its architectural authenticity.
We had booked a 3-night stay in one of the standard rooms in the cabana wing that runs down the side of the main pool. The cabanas are an upgrade from the standard tower rooms and all offer balconies overlooking the infinity pool. When the sun’s shining these are the rooms to see and be seen, being just a step down to the refreshing pool. The wing is newer than the Art Deco tower, and that’s evident in the décor; rooms combine poolside chic with outlandish Miami faux fur (fur by the swimming pool…could anything be more outlandish?).
Unfortunately for Elldrew, the National was hosting a series of evening events for the ‘Miami Wine & Food Festival’ during our stay, so whilst the cabana rooms may be a great spot to party, the original crittall steel windows weren’t sufficiently soundproofed for us battling post-London jet lag.
Fortunately, the hotel was understanding and moved us to a much quieter, ocean view tower room. Win-win for Elldrew who got both a good night’s sleep and to experience the far more authentic Art Deco furnishings in the tower. We’re big Art Deco fans and loved the mix of antique and retro-style furnishings, plus we got to wake up early (pesky jetlag) to the sound and sight of the ocean from our bedroom window.
Beyond the rooms, the National has been carefully revived and we also loved all the original Art Deco touches throughout the hotel, they blended perfectly with modern comforts, creating a homely, relaxed vibe. We enjoyed a cocktail or two in the hotel bar, dined alfresco on the large breakfast terrace and even had a cheeky tipple in the Aqua Club; a relaxed outdoor bar and casual dining area at the back of property. It was the perfect springboard for exploring the local area.
A special mention to the hotel staff to say thank you for taking our noise complaint seriously and looking after us in the move to our new room.
We really enjoyed our stay at the National. It’s not the most polished hotel and it hasn’t had loads of cash splashed on its renovations compared to its neighbours. Speaking of, we took a peek next door at the very trendy 5-star Delano hotel but we didn’t care for its dark and stark lobby décor. For a 4-star hotel, with good room rates, perfect location, great pedigree and everything else on offer as soon as you enter its door, the National is a place you should definitely consider when visiting this fun city (it’s even listed in the 2019 Miami Louis Vuitton City Guide).