Sunday, May 19, 2013

Livin' in LA - DON'T Vacation at Red South Beach Miami

Even though it is located on Miami Beach, Red South Beach has all the charm of real Miami.  Basically, one never really wants to go to Miami itself.  Sure, there might be nice suburbs or private gated areas, but as for the city of Miami itself, it is an angry, poor, crime ridden city with all the charm of Compton or South Central.

We know what the authentic 305 is like because we lived in a studio apartment in a slum house in downtown Miami for 3 years.  If you want to vacation in Miami, (and want to have a good experience) you probably want to stay in Miami Beach.  If you want to be in the center of the action, you will stay in South Beach.  And while this hotel bears the title of 'Red South Beach', it is not technically located in South Beach, and, more disappointingly M&F found this hotel to have all the 'charm' of real Miami.  Check out the sarcastic review below:

At Red South Beach, you can experience the exciting growth in this city from the multiple surrounding construction zones all around the hotel.  The noise by the pool is a slice of authentic Miami as you try and talk over banging cranes, hammers, and drills from the nearby construction sites.  Check out the view in the pic above!

The 'real Miami' experience is no less authentic inside the hotel.  The experience is raw, like living in Little Havana.  Come home at the end of the night and get welcomed to your red room by a chirping fire alarm with a low battery.  Please call the front desk, and even though it is 1 AM please understand that it will take a half hour for the alarm to be serviced because the only other person at the hotel not at the front desk is currently parking cars.     

After finally falling asleep, enjoy getting woken up the next morning at 7AM by the maids fighting outside your door in real Spanish.  It doesn't get more authentic than that!  And as you try to drift back asleep in the morning, try not to notice the crashing footsteps from the person a floor above.  After all, it is not the person's fault.  It is the terribly poor yet 'authentic' sound insulation in this building that also allows you to hear so well that you can be serenaded by the musical liquid sounds of the person above you pissing in the toilet.  And you will always know someone is approaching as you hear every single sound in the hallway.  Yes, even though you might technically be on Miami Beach, Red South Beach offers all the charm of Real Miami.  

Speaking of getting technical, not to nit pick but it seems that Red South Beach is not technically in South Beach.  Red South Beach is located at 3010 Collins in Miami Beach.  Most of the real action from South Beach is below 20th street, while the hotel is 10 blocks above that.  And while driving from the hotel to the heart of South Beach on Lincoln, drivers will pass a sign that says 'Welcome to South Beach'.    Aside from the construction, it is a nice area.  However, to make a comparison, for folks familiar with LA, would you want to stay in a Hollywood themed hotel and end up in Korea Town?

So why name it Red South Beach?  Why not Red Miami Beach?

Don't mean to be too critical of the place, but regardless of the name, this really was a rough place to vacation.  The construction theme seemed to carry on inside as the handle fell off the sink in the room, and the towel rack literally fell apart off the wall when touched.  The classic red phone is charming, but the charm wears off when you have to use it to repeatedly dial the front desk to find out when they are going to fix the beeping fire alarm at 1:30 in the morning.

And the restaurant was another disappointment   Apparently, the restaurant is not formally connected with the hotel, however, when you check in, there is a 'Hospitality Fee'.  The Hospitality Fee is in addition to the hotel room fee, and it is supposed to cover the cost of wifi, beach towel rental, and it also comes with a free drink from the bar. Well, it was a bit insulting that the 'free' drinks were served in one of the tiny cups from the hotel--like the ones you find next to the bathroom sink.  Furthermore, you couldn't even choose your drink, it was 'bartender's choice'.  This was the only place we stayed with these restraints on the drinks, and other places we didn't mind paying, but at Red South Beach it made the hospitality fee seem not so hospitable.

The next morning at the restaurant was even worse.  After sitting at a table for literally 15 minutes without the waitresses coming by (still puzzled by this because they walked by us many times without saying anything), we walked to the counter and picked up a menu ourselves.  M&F is trying to eat vegetarian, and the breakfast menu did not offer any appetizing food without meat.  We walked back to the counter and asked if we could order a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich for $8.50, and substitute eggs for the meat.  It seemed simple enough, but the waitress explained that she would have to charge for the ham and cheese sandwich, and then charge for the eggs too, and then some other charge to special make it, and they could do it, but the final cost would be $14.  What?!  Uh, no thanks.

So we tried to find another place to eat, but because Red South Beach is on Miami Beach and is not on South Beach, the hotel is surrounded by condos and constructions sites.  There were no easy restaurants nearby, and so we returned to the restaurant at Red South Beach.  We ordered a bagel with cream cheese for $5.50 and a bowl of cereal for $4.50.  We also explained to the waitress that we were in a hurry, and added a tip in advance.  And then we sat there.  And sat there.  10 minutes went by and we asked the waitress if it was ready.  She said not yet and kept folding stuff behind the counter.  Another 10 minutes go by.  We ask again and teasingly joke about what takes so long to make a bagel and the waitress disappears to the kitchen.  After waiting yet another 7 minutes she comes out with a bagel.  It was untoasted and with one packet of cream cheese (not enough to cover half of it).  Seriously, waiting a half hour for an uncooked bagel?!  Good thing we didn't order any hot food after all.  Probably takes over an hour for that.

If there was a silver lining, the workers at the front desk were always nice, helpful, and pleasant.  They were the best part of the staff, but everyone else from the valet (who yelled at us for parking a scooter next to another scooter aside the hotel--a spot it later turned out was fine to park it) to the workers in the rooms seemed really unhappy and it felt like many would glare at the hotel visitors.  If you want to experience the best part of Red South Beach, just walk through the lobby, and walk back out.

But honestly, it was an awful, unrelaxing experience to the point of causing exhaustion from staying at the Red South Beach.   We checked out of the hotel tired and hungry.

This was the 4th hotel in Miami and the 5th in Florida, and the first one hotel that we would not return back to.  Quite honestly, the night had more problems than the slum studio apartment we rented on the edge of Overtown and Wynwood.  And the restaurant downstairs at that place was better.

The Red South Beach gets four thumbs down.  Do not stay at Red South Beach, unless you want to experience real Miami, and authentic Miami is probably more real than you want to get.

Holy shit?  Was this review really this long.  Oops.  The review was written with all the emotion right after it happened.   Apologies for the long tale, but we stand by our non-recommendation.  Anyhoo, those interested can check out the pics below.

^The rooms were remolded with a red and white theme.  So what's up with the blue carpet?

^The rooms look nice, but we would prefer better insulated rooms to red fixtures.

^The best part of the hotel was the front desk.  This girl had a great smile and perfect voice for hosting. Wish the hotel were as good as she was.

^The red phone in the room.  Charming, until we had to use to repeatedly to get the fire alarm serviced at 1 AM.

^By the elevator.

^The lobby at Red South Beach--this is the best part of the hotel.

^Another view of the lobby.

^The broken shower rod in the room.  The pieces were so wobbly it was almost funny.

^Ugh.  Seriously?  This beeping fire alarm kept us up for an extra hour.

^The fixtures looked nice, but it seems that Red South Beach has aesthetics over quality, as even the sink in the bathroom fell apart during our one night stay.

^The view of the neighbors.  Yup.  It might be a nice place to stay in a few years when the construction next door is done, and if Red South Beach ever does anything about the poor service and the terrible noise insulation inside the rooms.

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