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A couple of weeks ago, I gathered the TPG staff for an exciting strategy session at our new Miami headquarters, and reserved a room for TPG Assistant Editor Melanie Wynne at the Blue Moon Hotel, a relatively new property on trendy Collins Avenue in South Beach. Here’s Melanie’s review of this historic boutique hotel.
If you’ve never woken up inside a piece of history a mere block from the sea, don’t despair – the Blue Moon Hotel in Miami’s South Beach can fix all that. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection of distinctly unique properties, the Blue Moon took up residence in the former Lafayette Hotel in 2012. The hotel was built in 1934 at the height of South Beach’s Art Deco swing. Set one block from Miami Beach along Collins Avenue, this 75-room boutique hotel offers a more intimate, relaxed and friendly alternative to the area’s sprawling, high-rise luxury properties. On-site you’ll find a bar, a casual restaurant, and a fern-lined back patio with a small swimming pool.
Open since 2012, this three-star property has retained some of the Lafayette’s original details, like parquet floors and an elevator with both handle-pull and sliding grate doors. The lobby’s modern decor evokes a balance between an artsy and beachy vibe, with splashy photo-print, sprays of orchids and rounded rattan seating.
The front-desk and door staff here are all quick with a smile and a helping hand, and during my three-night stay, there was always someone present to warmly greet guests, answer questions, help with luggage, or call for a cab. My check-in here was a seamless affair. I clocked only seven minutes between my arrival at the front desk and rolling into my suite.
The hotel has only two room sizes – The Traditional and The Suite. Mine was the latter with a bedroom, living room and two full bathrooms–a suite ideally sized for two to three guests. The white and silver decor – including a white leather convertible sleeper-sofa – was accented with a few pops of color and some cool prints by local artists. I especially liked the round sky print over the bed, which made me feel at peace.
Set on the second floor facing Collins Avenue, I was worried about noise from the area’s late night crowd and at the time, street construction, but the soundproofing worked pretty darn well. My peace was disrupted only once by a couple having a brief shouting match on the street in the middle of the night, but the light-blocking curtains made the room dark enough to ease me right back to sleep.
The King bed was like a marshmallow draped in 300-threadcount sheets, soft and supportive at the same time. I opted to catch up on email there each morning (WiFi is free and strong throughout the hotel), rather than moving to the desk in the next room. Watching the 32″ LCD TV – one of two in the suite – was a little less relaxing, as it took about 30 seconds to register a channel change; I eventually gave up, turned it off and broke out my book instead.
While the bedroom was large, it’s relatively small closet was best suited to one person; if I’d had a traveling companion, the sitting room’s extra closet would have been welcome. Each closet contained two soft cotton robes, and I got a lot of use out of one of these, as the room’s air conditioning was pretty strong. On my second night, I turned the AC off and put on the overhead fan instead, which yielded a far gentler temperature.
Both marble-paved bathrooms were sparkling clean and comfortably-sized for a medium-sized person like me, but I can only vouch for the strong water pressure and quick-to-heat temperature in the one shower I used, adjoining the bedroom. There were plenty of soft towels, with herb-scented bath amenities by Lather.
I’d have loved a wider shelf over the sink and toilet, though, as it was so narrow that I worried my toiletry bag was going to topple off — and at one point, it did. (I kept the toilet lid down, just in case.)
FIX Restaurant & Bar offers in-room dining or a laid-back, lovely place to have a glass of wine or a craft beer, but I can’t recommend it for dinner. On the bartender’s recommendation, I ordered the ahi tacos with cabbage slaw, but I wasn’t at all impressed by the wafer-thin and largely tasteless corn shells or the lack of seasoning on the (albeit well-seared) tuna.
Breakfast, though, is a different story. While the continental offerings aren’t too exciting, the full breakfast menu is both tasty and inspired. The dining areas both inside and out are clean, calm and airy, and the service warm and efficient. Had it not been so humid during my May visit, I’d have loved to sit out on the back patio listening to the burbling fountains.
The most popular menu item is the Award-Winning Rice Krispie French Toast, involving words like “bourbon caramel,” which is fancy for “saturated fat.” I instead opted for the Farmhouse Eggs with virtuous scrambled egg whites and an English muffin, and my kind waiter surprised me by giving me the side of fruit that I ordered for no extra charge. The coffee here is strong, dark and really good, and a big fixings table makes it easy to take a cup along with you.
I’d certainly stay at the Blue Moon again, though on my next trip I’d be tempted to book a quieter room overlooking the pool instead of the street. And I can also see giving into a moment of weakness… and ordering the Rice Krispie French Toast.
Blue Moon is listed as a Category 8 property on the Marriott Rewards chart, which means it requires 40,000 Marriott Rewards points for a free night. Marriott Rewards members earn 10 points for every 2 dollars spent at Autograph Collection properties, and can boost their points earnings with the Marriott Rewards Visa and its business version, which enable 3 points for every on-property dollar spent (1:1 for all other purchases). My three-night stay (in a suite that cost $259 for two weeknights and $319 for a Friday night) plus a dinner and breakfast yielded an earnings-eligible total of $882.37 and netted 4,140 Marriott Rewards points. Paying for the total of booking of $991.18 with the company Ink Plus card, which earns 2x on hotels, also yielded a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning of 1,982 points. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.