I don’t normally write about (or review) hotels. There are folks who do that—entire magazines, websites, and even other bloggers who are better at articulating why one location is superior to another. TripAdvisor is a website that provides a lot of “nitty-gritty” details and when we were in Spain, every hotel referred us to the site.
So, the last thing people need is another hotel review, right? True, but I did say I don’t “normally” review hotels. My stay at the James Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach was exceptional, and so spectacular that I want to share the experience.
The James is located on Collins Avenue, which is also right on South Beach. It’s conveniently-located close to the uber-popular Lincoln Road as well as many other restaurants and clubs. And, it is steps from the beach.
The hotel itself is a strikingly beautiful art deco building. It’s decorated in mostly white with accents of brown and green, resulting in a very soothing vibe. I felt my troubles ease away the moment I walked through its doors, and was pleasantly surprised when the check-in service maintained that “chill” feeling with a friendly yet professional atmosphere.
For the most part, once you close your eyes in a bed, a hotel is a hotel is a hotel. So what really sets apart the James has to do with its staff and the personal touches—all those little things. While checking in, guests are offered bottled water and a damp towel to cool off. We mentioned offhandedly that we were in town to celebrate our friend, G’s, birthday. The front desk person made a point of stopping the check-in process, looking up and speaking directly to her to say, “happy birthday, we are so happy you are celebrating with us.”
Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but stopping her work and acknowledging G’s birthday set the tone and set the bar for what we could expect. After check-in we were asked if we would be having lunch and when we indicated that we would a bottle of Prosecco was sent “on the house” to help celebrate G’s birthday.
Because we arrived earlier than anticipated, our room was not available. The front desk offered to give us a call when the room was ready. In the past I’ve opted for this at other hotels without such a call ever reaching my mobile. But sure enough, ten minutes after lunch, just as we were leaving the hotel for a walk, as promised, my phone rang.
All rooms in the James tower feature a balcony that overlooks either Collins Avenue or South Beach. Both views are stellar. Our room continued the white with brown and green accent themes and overlooked Collins Avenue. The bathroom was huge and featured some of the best sundries I’ve seen in a long time: the body wash was a heavenly scent and a great moisturizer. It was so good that I went to the gift shop to ask if they sold the shampoo and bodywash. (They do but to no surprise, they were sold out)
As anyone who’s read my blogs probably knows, I’m a person who doesn’t function well without coffee. But I’m particular about my java, to the point where I prefer a dysfunctional morning to bad coffee. Having said that, I loved the James’ coffee bar. What I loved even more, refills are free when you bring your cup and lid back to the barista. Folks, if you love coffee, you’ll love Miami, but even in a coffee town, James Royal Palm stands out.
This being South Beach, the hotel features beach chairs, or cabanas for interested guests. Two chairs are complementary for each room. A third chair can be rented along with an umbrella for roughly $35/day. If the beach isn’t your thing, the hotel has two beautiful pools. One pool is on the main level, right off the beach. The second pool is smaller by comparison and tucked away on the second floor, under the spa (more on the spa later). Both the beach and pools offer guests free towels, water and fruit. While these are free, remember that these employees earn most of their money off tips. The hotel does have a gym, and it looks stellar. However, this was a ‘rest and relax’ trip it looked stellar but I didn’t bother packing my workout clothes.
Obviously, this type of service and these kinds of amenities come at a non-bargain price. Yes, you get what you pay for—more so than other comparable hotels. So, if you don’t have a budget and want to feel like royalty (pun intended), the James Royal Palm is what I’d recommend to be your place to go the next time you make it to South Beach, in Miami.