Visitors can enjoy South Beach without expense, scene at these hidden spots

Posted October 19, 2015


Attracting tourists from all over the world for its nightclubs, pool parties, optimal yacht parking and tolerance of the “monokini,” otherwise known as topless sunbathing, South Beach has a universal reputation of being a party district.

As you can imagine – this scene comes with a high price tag. Few tourists know how to attack South Beach or “SoBe” while maintaining the weight of their wallet. With a few insider tips one can learn that it’s feasible to have a decadent weekend without the luxury price tag.

Tucked away off Alton Road, sitting “ahem” peacefully on the waters of the Venetian Causeway, lies a hotel in South Beach where people are far more concerned with how many miles they can run that day rather than which Herve Leger dress to wear to Wall nightclub on Friday.

Hiding behind palm trees almost unnoticeable to passerby – especially Uber drivers, sits this 1950s art deco rectangle. Shiny, bold, sans-serif letters prop themselves upside down on the roof of the driveway spelling out, “The Standard.” Pastel tiles scale its concrete walls, brass banisters line its staircase and an all-glass exterior leads you into a building where David Bowie could have had an affair.

“I didn’t know this place until I walked in for my interview. Shaggy rugs, low style furniture, the décor — I thought I walked into the 1970s,” said Miami local, Obadiah Mays, who works by the hotel’s pool.

One must ask, how does this young man, barely in his third decade, know what the 1970s were like?

“Of course I don’t!” he laughs, “but I have a Spotify playlist that matches this scene perfectly.”

The Standard Hotel, starting at $209 a night, is a mid-range price compared to the usual high-rise hotels in South Beach. However, there’s a game there that most people don’t know about; it’s a way to play at the hotel without getting a room.

The spa hotel allows guests to purchase a spa credit, which is anything from a manicure, at a minimum price of $35, to a menu of more than 30 different massages, starting at $115. Following the treatment, spa guests are free to spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool and enjoying amenities such as a Hammam, a steam room and an outdoor mud bath. The hotel also offers yoga and pilates classes, available to the public at $20-$45 depending on the class.

“There’s also the coffee and juice bar, paddle boarding and the health restaurant next to the pool free for anyone to enjoy. We’ve got an exclusive vibe but at the same time we get people who are low-key and want to enjoy this old-school culture instead of overwhelming South Beach,” said Yesi Mena, who works with Mays at the pool.

Download, “One Night Standard,” on your smartphone and at 3 p.m. every day there are rooms available to book for that night only, starting at $99. This offer is also offered by the New York and Los Angeles locations of the hotel.

Yesi Mena (left) and Obadiah Mays joke around at The Standard pool.

Yesi Mena (left) and Obadiah Mays joke around at The Standard pool.

Much more of a bargain yet, The Free Hand combines the Art Deco boutique look of The Standard with the prices of a youth hostel. This little-known but popular “poshtel,” otherwise known as an upscale or luxury hostel, is $150 a night for a two-person suite, $35 each additional for a quadruple room and $31 eat additional for a shared suite of eight people.

The perfect place for a slumber party with seven of your best friends, The Free Hand, located on 2727 Indian Creek Drive, has free yoga classes for guests, group bike rides and themed nights such as “wine and open mic night.”

It is also home to The Broken Shaker, voted “Best American Hotel Bar.” The Shaker offers specialty-handcrafted cocktails made with exotic ingredients from around the world. Open to the public, The Broken Shaker is open Monday – Friday from 6 p.m., to 2 a.m. and on weekends from 2 p.m., until 2 a.m.

“I graduated from the University of Miami in May 2015 and discovered this Gilt City website in my junior year,” said Marci Cohn, 22, from San Francisco. “I immediately told all my sorority sisters about it, workout classes for 60 percent off, restaurant coupons, spa credits, even renting a yacht for less than $1,000 can be found. For students living in a very cosmopolitan city, it’s especially awesome that this exists.”

Marci Cohn with Barrys Bootcamp instructor, Sam Karl. The circuit training class has featured deals on Gilt City.

Marci Cohn with Barrys Bootcamp instructor, Sam Karl. The circuit training class has featured deals on Gilt City.

With the motto, “You’re going to Love your City More,” Gilt City is a website offering its members access to exclusive experiences throughout the U.S. at a fraction of the price.

Membership is free and provides deals on anything from top spas and designer stores to thrilling adventures, fitness classes, multi-course meals and entertainment tickets.

A 1970s weekend of (almost) 1970s prices allows you to relax in a city of pounding electronic dance music and spray tans. If you still want to bask in the stereotypical glory of SoBe, you have a website that allows you to do just that. Talk about a sunstroke for your buck.

If You Go:

  • Order the “Goodbye Weekend” libation at the Broken Shaker (Bustelo Coffee, a black tahini reduction, almond milk and Flor De Cana rum).
  • The shawarma wings and spicy cauliflower may not go great with your rum coffee but are a must have bar snack.
  • Check out the Free Hand’s blog ( at the beginning, middle and end of every month for a “Guide to Miami.”
  • Download ‘Airbnb’ on your smartphone for great deals on apartments and houses to rent throughout Miami.
  • The hummus at The Standard is made upon ordering it – it’s thick, fresh and goes great with the pita chips or crudité.
  • Students: FlyWheel, Green Monkey yoga studio and Barry’s Bootcamp sit next to each other on Purdy Avenue (a five minute walk from The Standard) and offer fitness classes at a reduced student rate of $15, $15 and $20, respectively.
  • Eat at The Forge and Tongue & Cheek with a 50 percent off Gilt City coupon for both.