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The Betsy is something of anomaly on Ocean Drive. More South Carolina than South Beach, its colonial facade and synonymous interiors juxtapose the revelry of infinite happy hours and drag shows underway a little further down the street.
Sprawling two buildings – the Art Deco Wing and the Colonial Wing – The Betsy is a little quirky. Meandering through labyrinthine corridors you’ll take in an impressive photography collection dominated by a Brit invasion theme and a wealth of public-art pieces. Once you’ve mapped your way around you’ll really start to enjoy the cubbyhole layout of the place with its libraries and reading nooks – plus some out-of-the-way hiding spots for when your family holiday gets too intense.
The lift system isn’t exactly straightforward, but at least if you can’t find your room you can rest easy(ish) in the knowledge that your clouded judgement isn’t solely down to those 3am tequila slammers.
Spacious rooms and seriously comfy beds (complete with Sferra linens) are some of the most generously sized on South Beach. The marble bathrooms with rainfall showers and Malin+Goetz products don’t hurt either. By your nightstand you’ll find a sound machine (set to “ocean breeze”) and an iHome dock (vital if you’re that person who always forgets their adapter). Interiors are subtle if a little safe – think accent-colour pillows and eclectic bookshelves – while a sense of home comforts the core focus. Light and uncluttered, you’ll wake up feeling fresh (and no that’s not a new Malin+Goetz fragrance).
What’s for breakfast?
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then there are some very important decisions to be made at The Betsy come 8am. To start, will it be multigrain pancakes with rum caramel banana flambé or croissant croque madame? Make things simple and opt for the American breakfast (which is included with your room) comprising of fried potatoes, eggs any style, bacon, sausage, fruit, toast and Panther coffee.
How about lunch and dinner?
If a menu of short-rib bao buns, sushi and more conventional steakhouse favourites sounds like the shortlist for your last meal on earth, then LT Steak & Seafood (headed by renowned chef Laurent Tourondel – who’s also opened shop at the Café Royal in London) is a must book. Although this is the kind of place we could camp out at for breakfast, lunch and dinner (that ocean breeze makes us so damn lazy), it’s worth wandering around to the hotel’s side entrance, where you’ll find The Alley for one of the best meals you’ll find on the strip. Keeping it casual, this pizzeria also serves an assortment of pastas and meat dishes. For dessert, order the frozen orange or head to the neighbouring gelateria and creperie. Revisit for that morning coffee run, or head to the Panther Coffee Shop located in the lounge of the Art Deco building.
Is there a bar?
The lobby bar is casual and laid back, opening from 11am until midnight. On the top floor, the Skybar has bordello-style interiors and tropical outdoor areas. Stop for one (but make it quick) and hit the pavement along Ocean Drive – that’s where the fun (and Gianni Versace’s former home) is.
For prime people watching along Ocean Drive head to the rooftop pool (the ground-level pool feels like a poor relation in comparison) – a great space for sipping sundowners. Also on the roof you’ll find an outdoor spa complete with draped cabanas and wind chimes to get you feeling particularly zen. If you’re an early riser, sunrise yoga classes are offered on a complimentary first-come, first-served basis.
Things you should know
If you’d like your dog to stay at the hotel, you’ll be glad to know that half of the additional fees for pets go to shelters in South Beach and Zimbabwe.
Within a short walk you can find…
Upland restaurant is a tasty (and tasteful) dinner spot, right at the tip of South Beach. Think less neon-yellow signage and more preserved lemons and you’ll have a sense of the palette of this place. The food here surpasses its New York outpost.
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