A tropical escape in South Beach
Amid the party-fueled fervor that is South Beach, the relatively tranquil area near Collins Park offers a unique place to exhale. That may be why Kayak chose the neighborhood for its first foray into the world of hotels, a 52-room Art Deco bungalow set along the Collins Canal. The property is shrouded in tropical foliage, from banana plants to mangroves, and after stepping inside one feels like they’ve gone from pastel stucco sprawl to the heart of the jungle.
The hotel is done up in safari-chic tones, combining Art Deco architecture with a 1930s luxury expedition. Hallways are narrow and dark, but feel more old-style than old, with modern decorations and a soothing floral smell. The lobby restaurant Layla gives the Kayak Miami Beach a constant energy; the crowd is still very much South Beach, full of beautiful people and well-heeled hangers-on. But the removed setting keeps it all relaxed, and makes the Kayak a welcomed South Beach retreat.
Feel removed with plenty to do nearby
Collins Park sits on the northern end of South Beach, a once far-flung section of the city that’s now alive with art and culture. Just steps from Kayak Miami Beach you’ll step into The Bass art museum, and can stroll the lawns of Collins Park dotted with quizzical sculptures. Miami City Ballet’s rehearsal studios are also nearby, where you can catch dancers practicing through the streetside windows. The beach is only a short walk through the park, as is the W South Beach with its boisterous pool scene and cocktail bar.
Despite having all this nearby, the Kayak still feels well removed. Its location allows for walking pretty much anywhere in South Beach, but if you want to get out and explore, here’s some other stuff nearby:
- Tour the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world in Miami Beach’s preserved Art Deco District. The iconic buildings along Ocean Drive are about 10 minutes’ walk away.
- Stroll along Lincoln Road Mall, an outdoor pedestrian shopping district designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus. It’s got a movie theater, a performance theater and loads of shops and restaurants just a few blocks away.
- Walk through Miami’s street art showcase in Wynwood. Blocks upon blocks of provocative murals await, interspersed with breweries and art galleries. It’s about 15-20 minutes by car.
- Step into the heart of Miami’s Latin culture in Little Havana, where cigar shops, Cuban restaurants and streetside mojitos fill the main drag along Calle Ocho. It’s about 20 minutes by car.
- See where art meets technology at Miami’s ARTECHOUSE. The small space on Washington Avenue offers rotating exhibits of unusual, interactive art, and is about 20 minutes’ walk away.
Soft, light tones make small rooms feel larger
Kayak’ Miami Beach’s rooms keep with the modern Miami ethos of white on white, with hints of a jungle motif. Wood trim and woven fabrics maintain the old-style expedition aura, as vintage radios and hardwood desks make you feel a little like Teddy Roosevelt on vacation. Because the building is historic, the rooms are small. So you won’t find a ton of space to unpack and relax. But for a weekend in South Beach, it offers the quiet and seclusion one needs to recover.
Bathrooms all have rainshowers and Le Labo bath products, though they too are small. Don’t expect to unpack your entire skin care regiment.
Kayak’s rooms are broken down into the following categories:
- Deluxe King – Kayak’s entry-level room still boasts a big bed, as the room’s 220 square feet fit a Revival New York-topped king bed. It makes for close passages between the bed, desk and small seating, but offers lots of natural light and a Marshall speaker.
- Cozy Double – If you’re traveling with a friend this is the move, slightly larger than the deluxe king with two queen beds.
- Boho Quad – Keeping with the 1930s theme, this bunk bed room feels a little like the golden age of rail travel, where little sleeper compartments create a cozy communal experience. With private curtains and a large bathroom, this room is perfect for groups who all want to stay together but value their privacy.
- Rooftop King – The big advantage this has over the deluxe king isn’t so much its elevated floor — your view is of the tropical pool deck. It’s the proximity to the pool, which sits just outside your floor-to-ceiling back doors, boasting a small private terrace.
- Contemporary Suite – Because Kayak’s rooms run small, those who need space to spread out should opt for this 480-square-foot suite. It comes with a full living room offering a sofa and two chairs, as well as a small private deck and larger bathroom.
A top South Beach rooftop and one of the city’s most stunning restaurants
For a hotel with a small footprint, Kayak Miami Beach packs a lot into minimal space. A big reason why it’s able to do that is the creative use of the rooftop, where you’ll find both the pool deck and pseudo-hidden rooftop bar. That’s also where you’ll take yoga classes if you’re up for it, and possibly even work if the sun isn’t too bright.
Be advised, the Kayak does not have a fitness center, though the beach is close enough to run. It does have free Wi-Fi, however, and ample space to work both in your room and in the lobby.
Kayak has no designated parking, but the Collins Park garage is literally across the street. A handful of public surface lots are also within a few blocks. It costs $20 per day.
Kayak’s rooftop pool isn’t hosting any ragers, as it’s barely big enough to walk around. That said, it makes for a refreshing dip, and offers secluded sunbathing for those who don’t want to tan with the masses. The elevated vantage point allows for maximum sun, and with drinks from the rooftop bar it’s endlessly relaxing.
Kayak’s lobby bar greets guests immediately upon entrance, and is the hotel’s de facto social hub. It has about half a dozen seats, so imbibers often take up the lobby furniture and turn the lobby into an instant cocktail den.
Kayak Miami Beach’s crown jewel is Layla, a Persian-inspired restaurant right on the Collins Canal. Waterside tables give the feeling of dining during a trip down the Nile, where the nearby street is nearly invisible and palm fronds shade you from the sun. The food is spectacular, ranging from kebabs to biryani and grilled seafood. It’s as popular among locals as it is for guests, and getting a table definitely requires a reservation.
Rooftop Cocktail Bar
Through an art-covered door on Layla’s back patio, you’ll find a nondescript staircase leading up to the roof. This is the path to Kayak’s rooftop bar, an unmarked, poorly kept secret that’s a marked departure from the usual Miami rooftop scene. Far more relaxed than most see-and-be-seen rooftops, like the rest of the hotel the bar is a spot to hide out, a cool cocktail in hand.