The rare surviving example of Florida-Georgian architecture in Miami’s famous Art Deco district, the independently owned and managed The Betsy, South Beach was built by Art Deco pioneer L. Murray Dixon in 1942. Enjoying a colonial chic façade of an expansive four-column portico and signature shuttered windows, the property’s first guests were American troops heading to Europe and into World War 2.
During a 2017 expansion, The Betsy was connected to the former Carlton Hotel – which was designed by another Art Deco architect, Henry Hohauser. The combined buildings now offer 130 rooms and suites, two swimming pools, two rooftop decks – The Ocean Front Deck and the Skyline Deck, three restaurants and bars, a traditional library, a small fitness centre and an extensive range of in-room beauty treatments. In the public spaces, there are rotating art exhibitions.
The two buildings are joined by an orb-shaped sky bridge which is celebrated in Miami as an important piece of public art known as The Betsy Orb.
Located at the north end of Ocean Drive in the heart of South Beach, Miami’s famous Art Deco district, The Betsy is a few holiday-steps away from the Atlantic Ocean and a white sand beach. Just cross the street in front of the hotel, guests can walk through a shady grove of palm trees, and then they are oceanside.
There is a second entrance on Collins Avenue as part of its Art Deco wing, accessible for private events and entry to The Carlton Room, a refined espresso and wine bar featuring Miami’s own Panther Coffee. It is an easy walk to the nightlife, shopping, museums and cultural events that make Miami such a popular travel destination.
Miami International Airport (MIA) is approximately 16 kilometres (10 miles away) or a 20-minute drive from The Betsy. Fort Lauderdale is only 34 kilometres (21 miles) away or a 40-minute drive. The Betsy offers valet parking with additional parking close by.
The Betsy, South Beach offers 130 guest rooms including 35 suites and 30 rooms with balconies. There are eight room categories, and all are light and airy with a residential feel – a crisp white background with various bright colours adding contrast. Furnishings are stylish with a touch of mid-century modern about them.
The Classic King entry level rooms are warm and inviting with walnut hardwood floors, shutters and Carrera marble bathrooms with spacious walk-in showers plus a working desk and chair.
Amenities include Mailin + Goetz luxury bath products, crisp white Sferra linens, Simmons mattresses, baby Alpaca bed throws and a curated guest library. Moving up the categories, the Superior Balcony Room enjoy balconies, some of which look out onto the Atrium or the hotel’s Poetry Rail. These spacious rooms anchor the Art Deco Hohauser Wing, a South Beach landmark. The Deluxe Ocean View rooms have those classic beach front views looking out over Lummus Park and the ocean.
There are seven categories of suites, and all are light and spacious. The entry level Classic Suite King has a tropical vibe with a separate living or entertaining area with a queen-sized sofa bed, hardwood floors and marble baths with spacious walk-in showers. Moving up the categories, the Superior Double Balcony Suite offers nearly as much entertaining space outside as within. This suite offers a master bedroom with king bed and a separate living and entertaining area with a sofa bed as well as two balconies with views of the Art Deco District or the Atrium. Sited in the Hohauser Wing, there is easy access to the Library, the Rooftop Pool and the Skyline Deck. The Royal Suite Ocean View King enjoys views of Lummus Park and the beach with an oversized bathroom with double-sink vanities and a large walk-in closet.
Just steps from the Rooftop Pool, the Skyline Bungalow Suite sits tucked away in a serene corner atop the Hohauser Wing, overlooking the Betsy Orb, the sculptural skybridge and public art piece. With a wrap-around terrace, cooled by the ocean breezes, this suite has two televisions and two writing desks - ready to relax, contemplate and create.
The Skyline Penthouse with Terrace is the hotel’s premier accommodation perched atop the Hohauser Wing. This loft-styled suite has 90 square metres of contemporary living and entertainment space as well as a 100 square metre wrap-around terrace, a baby grand piano and a Viennese chandelier - which originated from the owning family. There is a marble kitchen pantry, walk in closets and herringbone patterned marble bathrooms with double sink vanities. This suite can be connected directly with three more one-bedroom balconied suites via a private elevator.
Canine guests are welcome with dogs being greeted by the hotel’s resident golden retrievers Betsy and Rosa. Four-legged guests are charged a one-off fee, 50% of which goes to the Miami-Dade Animal Rescue and the SPCA in Zimbabwe, the childhood home of one of The Betsy’s owners. For an added indulgent treat, pooches can even enjoy a side-by-side couple’s massage with their owner.
With its oceanfront position, The Betsy is in an ideal location for guests who would like to enjoy the white sandy Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. The Betsy’s beach service will assist with umbrellas, lounge chairs, towels and anything else required. A personalised picnic hamper can also be arranged.
For those who prefer a pool with a view, there’s the infinity rooftop pool with 360-degree views over Miami and the Atlantic. It is an architectural marvel as it is suspended in mid-air between the two buildings making up the hotel. There is a full bar with food service on hand. There is a second pool in the part shade / part full sun courtyard atrium, perfect as a tranquil base for families.
Then there are the decks. The Ocean Front Deck is an unforgettable place to take in the day’s happenings and sounds with ocean-facing loungers, perfect for chilling out. Steps from the rooftop pool, the Skyline Deck sits atop the Art Deco Wing offering views out over the ocean and the downtown skyline, particularly popular at sunset. In the morning, there are yoga sessions in an open-air studio – the hotel provides the mats, blocks and towels. In the evening, stake out a lounger and enjoy a cocktail looking out at those beautiful Miami beach sunsets.
For a unique spa treatment or massage therapy derived from plant-based, paraben-free ingredients, book an in-room session. Signature treatments include a Wood Stone Ritual with chilled stones, an indulgent Coconut Hot Towel facial and a host of massages, body treatments, manicures and pedicures.
The Fitness Centre is located on the first floor of the Art Deco Wing and comes with modern cardio equipment, a full weight-training area, a yoga/stretching zone and two Peloton bicycles connected to online classes. Private training sessions are available in the Centre or on the beach.
You have to love & respect a property that features a library, for many a gateway to opportunities, expanding horizons and knowledge. Like the book collections in each guest room, The Library honours the property’s literary origins and support of the arts and is accessible 24/7. Books range from Rioja to poetry and gives the sense of a private club with comfortable seating and reading tables – the perfect place to while away the hours.
The property has also given the city a couple of its most interesting public art exhibits – the Betsy Orb is a work of public art installed to connect two architecturally important buildings – The Betsy Ross and The Carlton. Once per month, the hotel uses The Orb’s surface to project artistic videos or photographs for the community to enjoy.
The Poetry Rail art installation meanwhile links the hotel’s interest with literature with the arts on the Art Deco side of the hotel – with a long exhibit of words and phrases wrapping around the lower exterior onto The Alley. Art exhibits proliferate at The Betsy and fill the public areas and corridors with exhibits accessible 365 days per year. The family personally curates the visual arts exhibits around the hotel with an emphasis on photography from emerging and established artists.
Music too is a cherished part of the hotel’s creative curriculum. There is nightly live jazz, chamber music concerts and curated playlists that sets the tone throughout the day.
With the look of a Savannah mansion, there is no mistaking The Betsy, South Beach, set amongst pastel-coloured Art Deco neighbours. It is however not only the look and feel of this impressive property that sets it apart, but the way the property’s owners interact and support the arts community – their raison d’être if you like. They follow a “P.A.C.E.” model – philanthropy, arts, culture and education.
The family were born into the arts and as they themselves say, it is part of their DNA. The owner’s father Hyam Plutzik was a poet and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist which is why the hotel has a particular penchant for literature with its in-room book collections and The Library. There is also a Writer’s Room at The Betsy – a working studio space for visiting writers and artists to create, develop their craft and share their work through community programmes. The Writing Room is a throw-back to pre-war hotels where guests recorded memories and linked to home. It opened in 2012 and has hosted over 1,000 working writers and other creatives since then, all of whom applied for residency and who take inspiration from their surroundings.
There are rotating art exhibitions in all the public areas with many of the pieces for sale and an ongoing music programme too.
If you are looking for a casually elegant New American restaurant, then the hotel’s signature restaurant LT Steak & Seafood under the toque of celebrated chef, Laurent Tourondel might be a perfect fit. Fusing international flavours and techniques from France, Asia and Latin America, the menu uses the best homegrown prime or Black Angus steaks and freshly caught fish - as well as innovative vegetarian options.
Tucked away at the back of The Betsy, The Alley is a modern trattoria serving Neapolitan-style pizza, homemade pasta, charcuterie, salads, Italian style cocktails, beer and wine.
The Lobby Bar has a relaxed vintage feel with dark woods, ceiling fans, palm trees and giant windows looking out over Ocean Drive. There is a rotating exhibition of art works to enjoy whilst sipping a cocktail or two whilst listening to live jazz seven days per week. Enjoy Panther Coffee, food from LT Steak and Seafood, wine and draft beer named after the hotel’s two beautiful canine ambassadors, Betsy Rosa.
For a quick bite on the way to the beach or while enjoying the Art Deco district, stop by La Ventanita at The Betsy, a walk-up window nestled under the sculptural Poetry Rail, serving gelato and pizza by the slice.
If using the Collins Avenue entrance, then head to the Carlton Room Café for a relaxing lounge space serving Panther Coffee, local craft beers, cold-pressed juices, fresh pastries and sandwiches.
A founding member of Miami Beach’s #PlasticFreeMB campaign, the hotel uses locally sourced farm to table ingredients, is committed to sustainable fishing practices and uses natural products at the spa. Green cleaning products and energy efficient appliances are used throughout the hotel; The Betsy also chooses business partners who are committed to sustainable practices. The Betsy is “green solution” orientated wherever possible.
The Betsy has also served as an incubator for many local organisations own sustainable ambitions by providing a place of gathering for fostering meaningful connections since 2009.
Through community-led collaborations, The Betsy has provided a voice and platform for hundreds of local and national not-for-profit organisations. Additionally, The Betsy’s ownership founded Zara’s Centre, an after-school safe haven for AIDS-impacted youth in Zimbabwe supported by various fundraising efforts found throughout the property.
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