Published on Thursday, May 31, 2018

A room with one hell of a view

Linsey McNeill found her own special room with a view at The Palms Hotel & Spa on Miami Beach.

First impressions: It's the delicious fresh scent of cucumber that strikes you first when you enter the cool, terracotta-tiled lobby of this tropical art deco-style hotel in Miami Beach. The scent, which is so popular with the guests that the hotel has bottled it, follows you from the lobby up to your room.

The reception, which is located discreetly to the side of the main lobby, is a calm space with a couple of beautiful sofas to relax in while you wait, but there was no hanging around for me, my check-in was swift and smooth.

Location: The Palms is right on the beach, where sun lounges are provided for guests' use. Once installed, in theory there's no need to move, as the hotel provides a waiter service all day, although I didn't put this to the test.

The area, which is known as Mid-Beach, is much quieter than South Beach, but Ocean Drive is only a 25-minute walk away along the boardwalk (which runs alongside the beach), or about $6 in an Uber.

Bedrooms: I was lucky enough to be given room 1204 on the top floor of the hotel and I challenge anyone to enter without saying 'wow'! The view of the ocean is breath-taking, and the spacious balcony is an excellent place to watch the sunrise with a cuppa and sunset with a glass of wine. Of the hotel's 251 guest rooms, 80 have an ocean-view, 28 overlook the lush, tropical, palm-filled garden (which is pretty unique in Miami Beach where many of the hotels have gone for a stripped back minimalist look), and the remaining 143 have city views.

Unlike the hotel's public spaces that have gone for dark wood, the decor in the bedrooms is fresh and bright with white wood floors; the bathroom in 1204 is tiny but, conversely, the walk in shower is big enough to share, and I liked the fact that there is a separate loo, which is large enough to do your make-up while the other half is occupying the bathroom. In-room amenities include a large flat TV screen, mini bar and complimentary tea and coffee-making facilities.

Wining and dining: The Essensia restaurant serves farm-to-table food, with herbs picked from its own small garden and the rest of the ingredients locally sourced where possible, such as fresh Florida lobster and home-grown tomatoes. You can dine inside or on the veranda, which has a Caribbean vibe with dark wood floors and ceiling fans, or out on the garden terrace, surrounded by greenery and overlooking the pool. There's also the Tiki Bar next to the pool, serving snacks and drinks throughout the day.

For dinner in Essensia, I had a refreshing watermelon and feta salad and spaghetti bolognaise with pork cheeks, which I thought was delicious, although my husband thought the meat was a little burnt. For lunch, we shared a chicken club sandwich with sweet potatoes fries, both of which were good and the dish was easily big enough for two. Service was quick.

Facilities: The hotel's spa is to die-for; there are several indoor treatment rooms, including a couples suite, or you can opt for a massage in one of the open-air thatched cabanas. There's an extensive menu of treatments from manicures using organic polish to facials and body therapies, all using Aveda products (which are also provided in the rooms). If you fancy something more energetic, there are early morning and early evening yoga classes on selected days, and there's a gym too.

The hotel caters for weddings with a pretty gazebo in the garden, a lovely seating area for guests and a large veranda for a reception, and there are nine meeting rooms.

Family-friendly: There were plenty of children playing on the steps of the pool during my visit, there's a kids' area on the beach with buckets and spades provided, there's also a ping pong table in the outdoor Grand Tiki (which doubles up a private reception area for functions), and little ones will love the two resident parrots.

Highs: The view from the ocean-facing bedrooms is unbeatable and I liked the fact that the hotel has eschewed the trend towards minimalist decor in public areas and embraced a more exotic, tropical vibe. Also, I prefered the location to the frenzy that is South Beach.

Lows: The pool is quite small for a hotel of this size, although it wasn't at all crowded during my stay. The porters need to up their game, several of them watched while I dragged my heavy suitcase down the front steps to a taxi. Also, I often had to wait quite a while for an elevator, probably because these are used by cleaning staff as well as guests.

Verdict: A unique hotel in a lovely spot on Miami's fabulous beach.

Doubles booked online start at $179 + 14% tax + $28 a night hotel fee. Breakfast inclusive offers start at $224 ++ for two adults.

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