While much of Miami’s new hotel action has been taking place in Mid-Beach recently (the land of Faena, EDITION, and Nobu Eden Roc), this year brings good reasons to take another look at Ocean Drive. This may sound counterintuitive to those who associate this beachfront strip of South Beach as a spring break-style scene, but bear with us. Yes, there are some notorious party hotels in this area, but Ocean Drive has also been home to a number of high-end and boutique properties over the years, including the former Versace mansion and the Tides Hotel. So, what’s new on Ocean Drive in 2017?

Library and conservatory at The Betsy

One of our favorite Miami hotels, The Betsy (1440 Ocean Drive), has an enviable position on the northern end of this stretch, and offers a calm retreat from the area’s neon-drenched antics. The hotel recently expanded into an Art Deco wing directly behind the existing building, and now offers even more peaceful rooms in coastal shades, plus event spaces perfect for rebels with an artistic bent — those looking to host or attend poetry readings, opera performances and intimate salons. The rooftop pool deck is a stunner, too.

The Betsy’s airy new Conservatory is a chic spot for a cocktail, espresso or light bite (you can order from LT Steak & Seafood here as well) and also on the way in the new wing is Poeti, a 55-seat trattoria from LT’s chef Laurent Tourondel that will also feature a grab-and-go counter for cold-pressed juices, wraps and Italian sandwiches.

Guest room and pool deck at The Betsy

The southern end of Ocean Drive is also expecting the arrival of a chic new hotel, the Celino South Beach (640 Ocean Drive)—scheduled to open in the fall. The project is currently under construction and involves the renovation of the historic Park Central Hotel, Imperial Hotel and Heathcote Apartments building—plus the addition of a modern, five-story structure. Celino is being billed as a “luxury, lifestyle-driven boutique hospitality project” from developers Optimum Group plus a team of hotel-world and architecture players that includes Highgate, ICONINK, Space4Architecture, Borges + Associates Architects and Navigate Design.

Aerial shot of The Celino

Their collaborative efforts will create a new hotel that pays homage to Ocean Drive of the 1940s—a style the Celino team are called “Floridita,” which they define as “Miami Beach glamour paired with undertones of simple, classic Floridian accents.” Think tropical fun and dramatic but elegant details.

Just as The Betsy benefits from its amazing beachfront location, but with a quieter environment than the words “Ocean Drive” suggest, Celino will have easy access to the ritzy “South of Fifth” neighborhood, home to high-rollers and some of the beach’s best restaurants. The hotel itself will be made up of four interconnecting buildings with 132 guest rooms (82 with ocean views), 12 signature balcony suites, and 14 one-bedroom suites. Guests will have beach service across the way, and the use of two pools at the hotel—a rooftop glass-bottom pool and a courtyard pool and bar. There will be three restaurants and bars, a 24-hour fitness room and in-room spa service.

Guest room at The Celino

Hotel partners and additional amenities are still being confirmed, but the team intends Celino to make quite the splash, signaling what they’re calling an Ocean Drive revival. We’ll bring you more details as the fall opening approaches but for now, earmark this as one to watch in the ever-evolving South Beach hotel scene.


Rebecca Wallwork
Rebecca Wallwork is a writer based in Miami Beach, although you’ll also find her checking out the newest hotels in New York City. She is a former contributing editor to HotelChatter, and loves dogs and books as much as she does hotels.