Hotel Reviews: DoubleTree North Miami Beach

It is not unusual for a hotel to advertise a city location even though it is not really in the city. After all, they believe, most people want a hotel in the general area and don’t have need to be exactly in a particular city. The DoubleTree North Miami Beach is a great example of this.

When I think of Miami Beach, it is South Beach that comes to mind. South Beach is an exciting area of art deco, good restaurants, great night life, and entertainment. South Beach runs up the coast to 20th Street or so and North Beach extends to almost 90th Street, up to the tony shopping district of Bal Harbor.

This DoubleTree is way up the coast at 173rd Street – actually in the barrier island of Sunny Isles – well north of Miami Beach. It is at least 30 minutes away from the airport in Miami, easily 45 minutes or longer in rush hour or any construction or accident delays. The airport in Ft Lauderdale is actually a little closer, as is their cruise terminal vs at least a 45-minute ride to the port in Miami. Technicalities aside, this DoubleTree oceanfront location could be in another state along the Atlantic and you might not notice any difference.

This part of ‘Miami Beach’ is surrounded by condos. In other words, very residential as opposed to touristy. Within a two-block walk you will find a Denny’s, Walgreens, Starbucks, and a small shopping plaza along with select restaurants. If you desire things like fishing or sightseeing, it is a must to have your own transportation. Taxis are available but they are also costly.

The 27-story DoubleTree was built in 2001 so it has some signs of age. The hotel lobby is small but pleasant and of course they greet you with their signature warm chocolate chip cookies. There is only one restaurant and it is located open air next to the lobby, as is a small bar area. The lobby also includes a concierge desk as well as a busy Avis/Budget car rental counter. What, no gift shop in the lobby? More about this later.

Some hotels cater more to business travelers, others to leisure guests. This property is definitely the latter. They have a few meeting rooms but not nearly enough to host anything more than small groups. When I was at the hotel, one of the rooms was used for a wedding reception.

They call this DoubleTree a “resort” but don’t get carried away thinking there may be tennis courts or a championship golf course. Just up the street is a Travelodge and they also call their property a resort. I guess the resort tag seems appropriate given that this location is very expensive real estate with some ritzy neighbors including Trump Tower and the new Four Seasons under construction.

If this is a resort, then there must be a resort fee. Yep, they charge $20/day for internet access, use of two beach lounge chairs, and unlimited local calls. This daily charge is partially offset by a $10/day food and beverage credit in their restaurant. Like most city hotels, this DoubleTree charges for parking, valet only. Add another $27/day (plus tip) to your bill.

Of course, resorts always have a spa and this DoubleTree is no exception. If you think about it, every Motel 6 could be a resort if they added a spa. And of course having a spa means an obligatory resort fee. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try it out on this trip but other reviews of the spa are quite good. The beach area is nice and well maintained but the pool seems to be a bit small given the size of the hotel. There is also an outside hot tub which is just that, quite hot, and a nice outside food and beverage area for very casual dining or drinking. Please take note, they automatically add an 18% gratuity to each bill here and in the restaurant, even for the buffets.

But downstairs inside from the pool area really is much more and highlights why this hotel earned the title of resort. Besides the obligatory fitness center and spa, they also have a salon. This is also where you will find their gift shop but it is much more than that. Here you can get not only snacks and suntan lotion but also beach towels, a generous assortment of hot and cold food, and perfectly frozen Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Rooms vary from single size up to 3-bedroom suites. Sadly the rooms have a real 1990’s feel to them, a bit old and dated but kept clean. The carpet shows sign of wear and the bathroom cabinets, counters, and fixtures are certainly original. No nice rain shower head as seen in other resort hotels. My room had a couple power outlets available in the lamp on the nightstand and another in the bathroom but none near the table in the room. Even though this is called a resort, you will be disappointed if you are expecting to find complimentary use of robes and slippers.

My room was called ‘partial ocean view’ which meant it was on the side of the building so I could see the ocean when I walked out on my small but private balcony. Actually an advantage to this side view is looking one way to see the ocean, then looking the other way to see the intercoastal waterway. The balcony had one lounge chair but personally, I could see the benefit of having a couple chairs instead. An unusual thing missing here but found in nearly all hotels today is a thermostat in the room. I learned there is one in the room next door but it doesn’t matter because the temperature is controlled by the hotel, not the individual rooms. This inevitably leads to some guests complaining their rooms are either too hot or too cold.

The room certainly had some positive features, too. They included a small refrigerator and microwave, very large fluffy towels, powerful hairdryer, and the much appreciated Crabtree & Evelyn amenities. The room also had a nice size tv with lots of channel choices, though half or more were in Spanish. If you are HHonors Gold or Diamond elite, don’t expect your status to gain much favor here. The internet is already ‘free’ because it is included in the mandatory daily resort fee, room upgrades are less likely in-season, and there is no executive lounge. However, you do receive a complimentary cold buffet breakfast. If you want anything hot like eggs, add almost $8/meal to your daily bill.

The breakfast buffet is comparable to what you will find in most other U.S. hotels. That means fruit, cereal choices, scrambled eggs, a couple breakfast meats, bacon, sausage, and different types of breads. For the sweet tooth, limited pastries and donuts. The breakfast really shines with their omelets. Using a premix batter, they offer many choices. I was surprised by how much mushroom went into the pan until I saw the size of the finished product. It was huge, had to be at least four eggs, a gastronomic delight cooked to perfection. Job well done, Chef Patrick from Haiti.

As a Diamond, I also received a welcome gift in the room consisting of two pieces of fruit, a package of trail mix, and a bag of Fritos. Oh, and the usual two bottles of water. However, all the hotel guests might have received the same thing for all I know. TripAdvisor reviews are quite good though a bit surprising. Many give the hotel glowing praise for the ocean view. Their reviews are appreciated but frankly the view is the same next door or a mile away or even five miles down the coast. Kind of hard to give the hotel any credit for the scenery since it is virtually the same as any property on the ocean.

On the other hand, I agree with the reviewers about the service. It was always excellent. Yes, I mean always. Front desk, restaurant staff, valets, gift shop, housekeeping. Just everyone. As I have said previously, every time I see excellent staff, it is always traced to excellent management. While I did not have an opportunity to meet the general manager on this trip, her staff attitude tells me she is doing an exceptional job.

This DoubleTree is quite expensive, at least compared to other properties along Miami Beach, so why stay here? Maybe it’s not the best choice if you are traveling alone or as a couple but their bedroom suites are spacious and ideal for families. If the budget is tight, eating at the nearby Denny’s or McDonalds can save some bucks. This property also offers vacation deals from time to time. Sometimes these inclusive packages can save you a lot of money.

Or maybe you want to be closer to Ft Lauderdale or stay where the beach may not be as crowded. If you prefer a quieter location away from the bustle and night life of the southern end of the beach, this may be the perfect spot for you. Just remember, you definitely want to have your own transportation if you stay here because there is very little to see or do within walking distance. But if all you need is a place to plop down for some R&R soaking up salt air streaming in from the ocean without going anywhere, this DoubleTree is pretty good at meeting all your needs.

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