I realize that my mainly home decor blog has turned into mainly travel blog, but we can’t predict our life and thus I’m seizing the opportunity to travel while it is here.
How the trip came about?
My mom called me sometime in February and asked if I was available the week of March 8th. I glanced at my work events calendar, my personal calendar, and my Outlook calendar and was myself surprised to find out that there was nothing booked! She said, let’s go somewhere, just you and me and leave the boys at home to take care of the kitties.
Of course, no mother-daughter relationship is perfect, but we always manage to have fun together when we travel; usually it’s just a road trip. Coincidentally, March 8th is the International Women’s Day and what better way to celebrate than going on girls-only trip?
Miami was not our first choice, in fact it took us over two weeks to decide. Initially we wanted to go to Colorado where neither one of us has been before. We also considered California. We quickly ruled out Cali because of the longer and more expensive flights. It was a difficult decision between Colorado and Miami, but in the end we’ve decided that we would want more days in Colorado to sight-see, and this time around we truly wanted to rest and be lazy and Miami Beach was the perfect set for it.
How did we get there?
I had enough flight miles on United to book one ticket through miles, and one we paid cash (round trip $218 HOU-MIA). From Miami airport to Miami Beach the taxi is flat $35 (+tip); Uber quote was $23; and there was a guy wandering around offering his car services, just for kicks I asked how much, he quoted $45, I was appalled, showed him the Uber rate, and he just walked away (I wonder if he was Russian). In the end we got an Uber who only spoke Spanish, it was almost as if we were in Cuba. 😛
Where did we stay?
Not so long ago, camping was the main lodging option for us, mainly due to the affordable price tag. Any hotel was considered a luxury. But as I got older (and let’s be honest, after I got a “real” job) my preferences changed a bit. I really love the nicer hotel options, but hate paying the full price. If you know me, or have been following the blog for a while, you know where this is going. Of course, Priceline! (Priceline, when will you hire me to be your spokesman already?) I used to use the Name Your Own Price tool, but that became too time consuming and cumbersome at times, so instead I use their express deals. The risk is that you don’t know what hotel you will get, but you can choose star rating and location. (Hotel.com and Hotwire have similar deals, to be fair).
Four-star hotel in prime location, on the beach, ocean-view room, during Florida’s spring break for $200/night? Sign me up! Priceline is also diligent to let you know there is an additional resort fee, which in our case was $33/day and included two chairs at the beach and towel service. Oh yeah, the hotel we got is Royal Palm South Beach. One caveat – we were able to choose the ocean-view room, which I think made a huge difference!
Tell me more about the Royal Palm South Beach hotel.
We arrived two hours before check-in (check-in is at 4pm) and our room was not ready. Bummer! So we headed to the bar and were told we’d get a call when the room was finally ready.
The bar was fantastic, albeit expensive. Drinks are $15, but as our stay continued, we found this to be a norm for a good cocktail. And they were good! Although they used quality alcohol, I did catch them using a short cut: a drink I ordered called for a freshly chopped ginger, but instead I got a splash of ginger syrup. Oh well.
At 4:30 pm (past regular check-in) we still didn’t get a call, so we headed back to the check-in desk (they did hold our bags while we waited). We were anxious to get into our room, refresh and go exploring. The check-in desk had 3 working stations, a short line, but all three were busy assisting some really complex customer requests (I couldn’t help, but wonder what the heck all those people needed), all this to say that we finally checked in at 5pm! Oh, and we requested to get our own bags, because in my experience, waiting for someone to bring your bags up may take up to an hour. It took me 5 minutes just to track someone down to unlock the storage room (this is a plus and a minus – luggage is secure, but too slow to get to).
I loved our room. It is mainly white and it’s perfect. Some reviewers online suggested the decor is tired. I found it pleasantly minimalistic, but sure, the housekeeping could do a better job. First day we were missing wash cloth, third – our robes were not replaced, and on neither of the days the coffee stain on the wall from previous visitors was not wiped off.
The sliding door to the bathroom was a cool design element, but I can see that if you’re a couple, the gaps in the closure can be a bit uncomfortable. But hey, at least there was a door (some latin resorts don’t have them)!
Location & Grounds
Location and the grounds were my favorite part! It is located perfectly between the Ocean Drive, Española Way, and the Lincoln Road Mall (more about those in the next post). There were also so many places to chill on the hotel grounds. Lots of booths between the trees, two pools, the bar, and the beach just steps away. I loved-loved-loved the outdoor set-up of this hotel! And everything was just steps away! I seriously cannot think of a better location!