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Pelican Hotel


A hotel of quirky, cool, themed suites brings meticulous retro design and phenomenal Italian food to Miami’s famous Ocean Drive.

Some hotels along Miami’s iconic Deco Drive lean on their history to lure guests. The newly restored Pelican transports you into it: Its 33 themed rooms and suites feel like a trip through movie sets from a bygone era. Nothing about the Pelican is hokey, though, and owner Renzo Rosso worked with local artisans to refurbish retro furniture he found in vintage stores across the world, creating a hotel that’s as much a museum of midcentury-modern design as a place to stay.

While staying along this storied strip sometimes feels like shoehorning yourself into a 1930s-size room with décor that isn’t much newer, the Pelican is creative and cool. It maintains just enough elements of the old days to be interesting, but has enough creativity and class that it isn’t dated. And while the clientele is decidedly out-of-towners, staying at the Pelican won’t make you feel at all like a tourist.


Right on Ocean Drive with spectacular access to everything

Look out the front window of the Pelican Hotel on any given day, and you’ll likely see beautiful people shaping their bodies on the equipment in Lummus Park. Then even more beautiful people playing volleyball nearby. The hotel is literally across the street from the beach, making it prime real estate for anyone who prioritizes access to the ocean. In addition to exploring Ocean Drive, here’s what else you can do not far from the Pelican:

  • Lay out on the sand South of Fifth. It’s as close to a quiet, residential neighborhood beach as you’ll find in Miami, and is the best spot nearby to meet locals.
  • Sip the city’s best cocktails at an almost-underground speakeasy at Swizzle. It’s a little like drinking rare rum in a captain’s quarters, and more than two drinks can be dangerous.
  • Hang out in the courtyard at the Freehand hotel. It’s home to the Broken Shaker cocktail bar, but even without a drink, the tropical backyard is a memorable Miami scene.
  • Stroll through the streets of Little Havana. Though it’s not really Miami’s Cuban enclave anymore, it’s still filled with salsa bands, streetside mojitos and great Cuban food. It’s about a 20-minute drive.
  • See great modern art at the Bass Museum. South Beach’s own art museum is a treasure trove of modern works, and just over a mile from the hotel.
  • Catch a show at the Fillmore Theater. The onetime home of “The Jackie Gleason Show”  is now a mid-sized venue popular among touring indie bands and stand-up comedians.

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33 individual suites, each one filled with detail

What truly sets the Pelican apart from any hotel in South Beach are its rooms. Each of the 33 spaces has a distinct theme and is decorated with painstaking detail. This means you’ll find a headboard made from an airplane wing in the Up Up in the Sky room and car seats on rollers that double as king bed backrests in the Zebra room. None of it feels tacky since you’ll also find fabulous vintage furniture like chrome ball clocks and furry orange chairs that could easily be turned into Muppets.

Bathrooms are done up in the colorful tile you may remember from Florida beach vacations of yesteryear, accented with chrome and glass to bring them into the 2020s.

Other room themes include Executive Sixties, where bright colors and mid-mod furnishings mix with mosaic walls to create a “Mad Men”-era vacation hideaway. There’s also the Go Bananas room, a wicker lover’s dream that brings to mind the glory days of “The Golden Girls.” In true Miami fashion, there’s the Ego Center, which is completely covered in mirrors, and Old Glory, a tribute to DIESEL brand denim.

High rollers can opt for Penthouse One, which, in addition to a sprawling rooftop terrace, also includes a wolf rug, 235-gallon tropical fish tank and built-in copper bar. If a Bond villain took up residence on Ocean Drive, he’d undoubtedly stay here.

While you can book rooms by category and request a certain theme, which one you get depends on availability. So it’s best to call ahead and ask what’s available.


An Italian restaurant that stands out from South Beach

The Pelican Hotel is a boutique property on a strip of historic hotels, built before things like fitness centers and communal work spaces were standard everywhere. As such, what the Pelican has in cool design it definitely lacks in amenities. If you’re the type of traveler who needs a large workspace outside your room and a Peloton bike, this might not be the place for you. Still, it’s not without its charms as the food and drinks are outstanding.

Pelican Cafè

The restaurant at the Pelican Hotel could stand on its own as one of the top Italian spots in South Beach. Chef Wendy Cacciatori has themed his menu after music, beginning with “Scene and Sequences” (appetizers) and moving on to “Sound and Rhythm” (pastas and entrees) and “Ending Themes” (dessert). Veal meatballs, saffron risotto, and the lasagna Bolognese are all vacation-worthy indulgences, but be sure to save enough room for dessert, which is served on a miniature Ferris wheel. Pelican Cafè is also open for breakfast and has a handful of all-day items.


The aluminum bar dominates the Pelican hotel’s lobby, a clever mix of old diner car and trendy new restaurant. Each night, guests are treated to an Aperitif Hour, where from 5-7 p.m. they can show up for a free Aperol spritz. The rest of the cocktail menu is solid, too, and with a warm breeze blowing off the beach and into the open dining room, it’s a perfect place to post up for a few drinks.

Fitness Center

The Pelican has no on-site fitness center. The good news is that you can run on Miami Beach’s boardwalk and use the public fitness equipment right across the street.


The Pelican only offers valet parking for around $50 a night, and your car will take around 15-20 minutes to arrive. If you’ve rented a car, check out the city garage on Seventh Street a block away.

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