Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Nautilus, a Sixty Hotel

26 Feb 2016 by Jenny Southan

BACKGROUND

Another one of Miami Beach’s 1950s hotels to be revamped recently (click here to read a review of the Thompson), the Nautilus is now under the management of Sixty Hotels, a collection of five high-end properties (so far) in Miami, New York and LA. Formerly the Continental Oceanfront Hotel South Beach, it reopened last autumn in a renovated Morris Lapidus-designed tower.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The Nautilus is a full-service hotel with polite door staff who are quick to help with luggage, valet and taxis. Arrival by car is up a ramp to the entrance (look for the turquoise art deco-style sign), just off Collins Avenue. The cold, spacious lobby is somewhat lacking in buzz – and furniture (although there is a coffee bar) – but continue on through and you will come to an attractive terrace bar and long outdoor pool surrounded by loungers.

For me, this was the highlight of the property, although it rained heavily when I stayed so I didn’t get to sunbathe or swim (at night the pool is lit up with rainbow-coloured lights). There is also a beautiful tunnel of bamboo leading to the beachside boardwalk, which is great for running.

At the far end of the pool terrace is a cocktail shack and a lawn surrounded by palms – when I stayed, at the end of Art Basel 2015, there was a strange installation of giant yellow and orange rocks. I was told they were meant to look like melted M&Ms, and cost US$60,000 to manoeuvre here with a crane. There were also some lumpy brown ones that were supposed to represent popcorn but looked more like elephant dung.

WHERE IS IT?

On Collins Avenue, the long north-south road that runs all the way down Miami Beach, by the sea. It is about 20 minutes’ drive from Miami International airport. You can walk to Ocean Drive in 20 minutes.

ROOM FACILITIES

Located on levels two to eight, bedrooms are accessed via rather drab lifts (they look like service elevators). Corridors are equally downbeat, painted black and with stark lighting. A total of 42 rooms face the sea – these are the ones you want to stay in (20 have balconies).

Rooms come in ten categories (Queen/Queen Superior, King Superior, King Deluxe, Studio King, Studio King Oceanfront, King Oceanfront, King Oceanfront Balcony, King Junior suite, Queen/Queen Junior suite) and start from 26 sqm. An eighth-floor penthouse will be unveiled this spring.

Entry-level rooms come with comfortable beds made up with custom-made Sferra sheets, minibars and Nespresso machines (two free pods per day) installed inside freestanding packing trunks, Bluetooth docks, air conditioning, a small dining table with two chairs, a 48-inch flatscreen TV, a safe and a closet. Bathrooms are small but come with Ren toiletries. There is free wifi throughout the whole property.

The décor is fresh and smart, with white walls and white marble floors covered in woven brown mats, offset with navy blue or grey upholstery and dark wood furniture.

I was staying in a Double Queen Junior suite, which was fairly spacious (39 qm) and had the added benefit of a living area with a couch, coffee table and TV, separated by a sheer white curtain. Unfortunately the views were very ugly – I was looking down on a flat roof with air conditioning vents and rubbish.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

In the morning, a buffet breakfast is served in Driftwood restaurant – there is a good selection of pastries, fruit and yoghurt, cold cuts and cheese. Staff will bring you coffee or tea. Sitting outside on the terrace facing the pool makes for a very pleasant start to the day.

This being my favourite part of the hotel, I returned for dinner in the evening, and was welcomed by a very helpful, welcoming, chatty waiter. (There weren’t many other guests, though.)

The Mediterranean-Floridian sharing plates menu has been created by celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli – portions are plentiful and flavours bold yet moreish. The roasted eggplant dip (US$13) and mushroom crostini with fluffy house-made ricotta and aged balsamic (US$12) made excellent starters.

Other dishes included Tuscan kale salad with crispy chick peas, Honeycrisp apples, dried cherries and sherry (US$14); cold water lobster (US$36); chicken diavolo (US$26) and Gulf shrimp with olive oil, salt and lemon (US$29).

A panoramic bar at the top of the building is opening by the summer.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The ground-level Bridge room, around the corner from the lobby, can host up to 100 people seated in a curved, library-themed space. (There is no natural light, though.) Meanwhile, Driftwood restaurant has 200 seats, a private dining room for 16 people, and a 180 sqm terrace overlooking the pool.

The entire Nautilus Cabana Club pool area measures 1,106 sqm and can also be taken over for parties.

LEISURE FACILITIES

As well as the outdoor pool – where you can rent a cabana (US$150-$250 a day) – there is a small, 24-hour gym on the second floor with natural light, and a trendy gift shop called Expat just off the lobby. It sells swimwear, flip-flops, T-shirts, books and candles. There is one treatment room for massages. The hotel has a dedicated section for guests on the nearby sandy beach with sun beds, towels and drinks. Guests can also borrow bikes.

VERDICT

The revamp may not “wow” you but the Nautilus is a solid business hotel for anyone who wants to be located on Miami Beach. The staff were great throughout my stay. With more than a dozen major openings around here in the last 18 months, there is a lot of competition though.

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 200 including 70 suites.
  • HIGHLIGHTS The outdoor pool, free wifi and delicious food served at Driftwood.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in April started from US$323 a night for a Superior Queen room.
  • CONTACT 1,825 Collins Avenue; tel +1 305 503 5700; sixtyhotels.com

Jenny Southan

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