I was hosted by The Balfour Hotel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I decided to go to Miami for my birthday, I had no idea where I wanted to stay outside of one thing. I had to experience South Beach. Everyone does, at least once. Right?
Unfortunately, this famous 2-mile stretch of sun and sand is as notorious for its celebrity spotting as it is for its hefty price tags. And while the hotels here are beautiful, I don’t usually spend a lot of time in my hotel room on my first visit to a new city, anyway.
If you have the same restless spirit, you might agree that a hotel that’s reasonably affordable, with a good ambiance, in a great location for exploring beyond the hotel property, is the ultimate travel trifecta. So when I came across The Balfour, I was excited to see that it ticked all three of those boxes. And then some!
The Balfour Hotel has been a South Beach hotel mainstay since 1940. Undoubtedly, it’s a beautiful example of South Beach’s Art Deco history, with an unbeatable location that made for the perfect base during my first visit to Miami.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Miami and considering South Beach, read on for my full review of The Balfour Hotel’s location, history, rooms, food, and more!
Location: South Beach Miami
Miami Beach is a nine-mile long barrier island. But, the two-mile stretch known as South Beach (SoBe) is no doubt the most famous.
Often regarded as one of the best vacation destinations in the entire country, and one of the best places to stay in Miami, South Beach is a dizzying combination of sugary white sand beaches, picturesque and punchy art deco architecture, and luxe hotels. The glitz and glam of Miami is offset nicely by the relaxing sounds of swaying palms and crashing waves within arm’s reach, making South Beach a nice getaway no matter what kind of trip you’re after.
For those researching where to stay on the beach in Miami, a stay in South Beach means looking for a hotel on or close to Ocean Drive, the iconic street flanked by art deco facades and palm-fringed beach. The more north you go, the more expensive and exclusive South Beach gets. But, go south, and you’ll find The Balfour Hotel nestled in South Beach’s affluent South of Fifth neighborhood. Surprisingly, it is incredibly calm and serene compared to the rest of the area.
Before arriving in Miami, I was legitimately worried I might not be able to sleep due to the city’s reputation for 24-hour clubs and endless partying (which of course, I participated in – but not every night!), and the noise that came with it. So, it was a HUGE blessing and surprise for me when I learned how relaxed The Balfour’s location actually is. And, when we did want to go out, we were never more than a short walk or Uber away.
The best part? The Balfour Hotel flaunts a coveted Ocean Drive address, meaning you are just steps from the beach. A 1.5 minute walk, to be exact 🙂
The Balfour Hotel Property
The Balfour Hotel – originally known as The Lord Balfour Hotel Miami – first debuted in Miami in 1940 as Miami Beach’s tourism scene was just beginning to emerge. The architect, Anton Skislewicz, was known for his attention to functionality and providing good views for every room. So, he designed a central courtyard to give visual intrigue to the property. Today, this charming courtyard continues to offer a welcome break from the bustle of South Beach.
In 2021, The Balfour Hotel underwent a $4MM renovation to provide travelers with more modern amenities while retaining the historic elements and art deco aesthetic that have made the property so timeless. You can easily recognize the retro allure of South Beach in this authentically preserved hotel.
While the biggest amenity of The Balfour Hotel is its close proximity to the beach and the Art Deco District, you’ll find some additional perks on the property as well. A small plunge jacuzzi and deck for sunbathing, bikes for rent (for a small fee), a beautiful bar with rattan liquor cabinets, and a large restaurant featuring a wraparound dining porch perfect for people watching are each key features of the property itself. There is no gym onsite, but the hotel does offer a weekly fitness class on Sunday mornings (additional cost).
There are two sundecks on the top floor of the hotel. But sadly, we didn’t realize this until after we checked out. If you stay here, and the rooftop is open, don’t miss out like we did! Apparently, the 360-degree views of Miami Beach are stunning from up here 🙁 Now I know for next time!
If you need to work during your vacation, the wifi in the rooms and around the property works very well. The lobby has lounging and working areas for you to cozy up in with your laptop. Perfect for checking some emails each morning before going out to explore the city.
Last but not least, The Balfour Hotel provides complimentary beach towels and affordable beach chair + umbrella rentals for all guests. Honestly, having beach towels for guests is a huge plus in my book (why don’t more hotels do this?). And if you take advantage of the beach chair rentals, they’ll cost you just $15 for the entire day.
The Balfour Hotel Rooms
The Balfour Hotel Miami Beach offers 82 guest rooms ranging from classic (235 sq ft) to suite (435 sq ft). You aren’t able to choose your view when booking. But, you can rest assured you’ll either have an outward facing room or a courtyard facing room lined with tall green palms!
All rooms come with 4K smart TVs, work desks, bath robes, bath slippers, and newly renovated bathrooms with waterfall showers. The rooms are punctuated with mid-century modern style and subtle Latin-inspired decor throughout.
The Balfour Hotel Room Options:
You’ll find four different room types, ranging from 235 square feet to 435 square feet, at the Balfour Miami:
- Classic Rooms (1 king or 2 queens)
- Superior Rooms (1 king, or 1 king accessible)
- Junior Suites (1 king)
- One Bedroom Suites (1 king)
- Junior Suites with Bunk Beds (1 king plus 1 full-size bunk bed, for up to 4 people)
Compare all room options, pricing, and availability based on your Miami vacation dates using this link.
While you can visit Miami year-round, it’s definitely more of a seasonal destination with peak visitation in the winter months. Because of this, you’ll find the cheapest room rates in low season (the summer), and the highest room rates in the winter and spring, specifically around spring break.
The Balfour Hotel – like many hotels in Miami – will have a $30 daily resort fee that goes towards your property amenities. But, all things considered, if you’re looking for cheap hotels in Miami, the Balfour is an incredibly affordable choice considering its ultra-desirable location.
Food and Drink at The Balfour Hotel Miami
The Balfour Hotel’s onsite restaurant is Mehzcla, featuring a mix of Latin and Floridian coastal flavors with locally sourced ingredients. They have a ‘breakfast,’ ‘all-day,’ and ‘happy hour’ menu available for guests. During my stay I had a few snacks from their all-day menu, all of which were delicious.
Honestly, yuca fries are always a good idea (and Mehzcla’s are super tasty).
For drinks, The Balfour’s Lobby Bar serves up a menu of tropical and Latin-infused cocktails. Think pisco sours, caipirinhas, and coconut whiskey sours. Grab a cocktail and people watch on Mehzcla’s wraparound porch or rooftop at sunset for some immaculate South Beach vibes.
Tips to Know Before You Go
1. HOW TO GET AROUND IN MIAMI BEACH
The South of Fifth neighborhood that this hotel is located in is super convenient for exploring South Beach on foot. You can easily walk to South Beach’s many landmarks, but if it’s too hot out, you can rent a bike or catch a ride-share easily. Uber and Lyft are both abundant in Miami and you’ll usually have a car no more than a few minutes away.
For hotel guests renting a car in Miami, The Balfour offers valet parking for $45 a night. Parking is notoriously challenging in South Beach, so while this rate may seem a little steep, it’s a nice perk to have when staying in this part of town.
Haven’t rented a car for your trip yet? Use this link to compare pricing and availability on Kayak.
2. CAN YOU BRING PETS?
The Balfour Hotel is a pet-friendly hotel! Guests can bring up to two dogs (max weight: 40 lbs per pet), but will need to pay a $150 additional fee.
3. WHAT IS THERE TO DO NEAR THE BALFOUR?
Some of the best things to do in South Beach include:
- Wander around the 74-acre Lummus Park that straddles Ocean Drive and the beach
- Explore Ocean Drive’s fantastic Art Deco architecture and take a guided Art Deco District walking tour
- Head to Espanola Way, and grab a mojito while enjoying the Spanish-inspired buildings and ambiance in this famous pedestrian-only street dating back to the 1920s
- Hit up Washington Avenue, Miami Beach’s unofficial main street, for shopping by day and partying by night
- Spend your day at the beach, and don’t forget to snap a picture of the 36 colorful lifeguard towers
- Go salsa dancing at Salsa Mia and enjoy a guided class, a mojito, light bites, and live music included in your entrance cost
- Taste local Puerto Rican and Cuban food at Puerto Sagua, or experience a full sampler of Miami’s global cuisine at Time Out Market Miami
4. VISITING MIAMI FOR WORK?
The Balfour Hotel has great WiFi onsite, and ample spaces throughout the property to get work done. All rooms come with dedicated workspaces as well. The Miami Beach Convention Center is a short 10-minute drive from the Balfour. Downtown Miami is between 15-25 minutes away, depending on traffic.
Ready to pack your bags? Book your stay at The Balfour Hotel Miami here.