The Hotel Deauville — visited by John F. Kennedy (who addressed the Young Democrats Convention there in 1961) and the Beatles (who filmed an appearance for The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964) — is no more: The structure, built in 1957, came down in a controlled demolition in November. (The future of the site is TBD, though one option is a condo/Equinox-branded hotel development.)
Happily, Miami Beach has a good number of historic hotels, most of which predate the Deauville and offer just as impressive a guest list. These are some of the best.
Is the sign what makes it Old Hollywood? The Eden Roc sign is perfect. If it was done today, it would not be perfect. It’s everything you want and need from an idealized version of an era you actually would never want to live in. Designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus in 1955, Eden Roc underwent a $200 million renovation in 2008. Along with the neighboring Fontainebleau (see below), the two hotels together make the 4400 to 4600 blocks of Collins Avenue dependably glam, in a swirly, sophisticated, specifically mid-century way.
Why look at that, another gorgeous Miami Beach hotel from the 1950s designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus! What are the odds? It’s like this guy made really good stuff that’s standing the test of time and taste! When the Fontainebleau opened, it was the largest and most luxurious hotel in South Florida. It remains both large and luxurious to this day. It’s been frequented by Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Mariah Carey and other icons. The Bodyguard, Goldfinger, Scarface, The Specialist and a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have been shot at the hotel. A billion-dollar renovation was completed in 2008 (2008 was a big year for renovations) and in 2012, the American Institute of Architects granted the Fontainebleau the award for the Top Building in Florida. Not Miami Beach, not Miami, all of Florida. Man, that Lapidus guy was good.
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A member of the Historic Hotels of America since 2010, the Art Deco hotel was built in 1939 and opened in 1940. Maybe more importantly for the childless and the parents pretending they’re childless, it’s the sole oceanfront adults-only hotel in South Beach on this list. It was designed by architect Roy France, the person credited for creating Miami Beach’s skyline. Fully renovated in 2014, The National closed for nearly a year at the start of COVID for another chance to update the 80-plus-year-old building.
Hey, the neighbor of The National is another historic hotel! The Sagamore was designed in 1948 by famed Miami Art Deco architect Albert Anis. With a recent multi-million-dollar renovation, the Sagamore still looks like a classic hotel, but it’s possibly better known for its art activations and pool parties. For the Art Basel appreciator, a visit to the Sagamore is a must. The self-proclaimed “Art Hotel” offers 101 rooms, some of the largest hotel rooms in the area, in a modest (for Miami Beach) setting.
The Villa was originally built in 1930 by Alden Freeman, heir to the Standard Oil fortune (a different one from the Taylor Swift song, IYKYK). He did not spare any expense. The nearly 100 medallions of people like Julius Caesar, Vladimir Lenin, Benito Mussolini and other not-at-all bad historical figures installed on the walls help set it apart from the other architectural flourishes in Miami Beach. But it doesn’t have its notoriety because an oil kid built and decorated a pretty building. It was purchased in 1992 by fashion designer Gianni Versace; he was murdered by Andrew Cunanan in front of the residence five years later. Since 2015, the former Versace Mansion has operated as a luxury boutique hotel, with 10 suites that start at $569 a night during off-peak summer months and $854 a night otherwise.
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