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Hotel check: Casa Claridge’s

TESTED BY Jenny Southan

HOW MANY ROOMS? 50 guestrooms and suites

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS The architecture and interior design, arty vibe, excellent breakfast menu and roof terrace for private parties.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in April started from $332 for a Casa Queen room.

CONTACT Casa Claridge’s, 3500 Collins Avenue, Faena District Miami Beach; tel +1 305 604 8485;

VERDICT: An intimate, historic boutique hotel not far from the beach, with peaceful, light-filled bedrooms and warm staff. If you find Miami over-the-top, this could be the perfect hideout. Nearby is the new Faena Forum, which will be an important events venue when it opens.

BACKGROUND: This charming Spanish Colonial mansion first arrived in 1928, in the form of the El Paraiso Apartments designed by Martin L Hampton, an American architect who settled in Miami in 1914. He joined forces with real-estate mogul John Collins (after whom Collins Avenue, the street the hotel is located on, is named) to later turn the residential property into a chic beach resort.

In more recent times, Casa Claridge’s was bought by Argentinian developer Alan Faena, who took it upon himself to revamp it. After closing for six months, it reopened in 2014 as an elegant guesthouse in what has now become Miami Beach’s six-block, billion-dollar Faena District.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Casa Claridge’s is a characterful boutique hotel with a bohemian, arty vibe. It’s luxurious, though, so provides a good alternative to the high-profile five-stars lined up along Miami Beach (there’s the Edition, the Thompson, the SLS and the W, among others). With design books and artwork throughout, the hotel particularly appeals to people in the creative industry. The elevator, for example, is an “ascending art gallery” with rotating installations that change seasonally.

WHERE IS IT? On Collins Avenue, the long north-south road that runs all the way down Miami Beach. It is located on the other side of the road from the actual beach, but a short walk across the road brings you to the boardwalk. It is about a 20-minute drive from Miami International.

ROOM FACILITIES: The 50 bedrooms are available in six categories – Casa Queen, King, Double Double, Oceanfront California King, Queen Suite and King Studio. The interior design has a warm Mediterranean look with terracotta tiled floors, coral curtains, hand-carved furniture and white walls. Amenities that come standard include smooth Frette linens, writing desks with data ports, free WiFi, HD flatscreen TVs with satellite channels, iPod docks, safes, minibars and CO Bigelow bathing products.

I was staying in a Queen Suite on the ground floor, which included a comfortable living room. King Studio rooms are on the top floor and offer direct access to the roof terrace. Room service is available 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Located just off of reception is quaint Café Claridge’s. With hand-painted murals on the walls and rattan chairs, it is a relaxed place to grab a bite to eat. I found the service to be very slow in the morning but fast and friendly after dark (it wasn’t busy on either occasion).

In the morning the restaurant serves an à la carte breakfast featuring dishes such as house-cured salmon and avocado toast ($13) or wild mushroom frittata ($11). I went for the Casa breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, smoked tomato jam, sliced avocado and roast potatoes ($11). The quality of the food and presentation was great.

In the evening I stopped for a nightcap – the bar has a nice selection of craft beers including Florida’s Hotter than Helles and Pennsylvania’s Dirt Wolf Double. Happy hour is 4:00 to 7:00 PM.

MEETINGS AND FITNESS FACILITIES: The homey atrium lobby space features a beautiful free-hanging, hand-cut, pink tissue paper art installation by Argentinian artist Manuel Amestoy. The room can seat 44, while the Library can host eight for a small meeting.   Café Claridge’s can be taken over by a group of 40 for a buffet, while a private dining room can seat an additional 12. Upstairs the roof terrace faces the sea – it can be used for al fresco receptions of up to 50 guests.

There is no on-site gym or pool, but the beach, sea and boardwalk, which is great for jogging, are just a minute away.