A suite saga at the Conrad Miami mars an otherwise great stay
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Editor’s note: As of 18 October 2021, Conrad Miami is leaving the Hilton portfolio.
I had a great stay overall, but the saga over getting a suite upgrade was quite amusing.
Prices are reasonable considering the Miami market right now. However, it looks like the property is playing some games with points availability.
Read on for our full review.
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Conrad Miami is at 1395 Brickell Avenue in the booming business and residential district of Miami. It’s officially a mile to downtown Miami, but you are pretty much downtown.
I personally love this neighbourhood, although if you are looking for beach access, this isn’t the hotel for you. The hotel is less than 10 miles (16km) from South Beach and the Miami Convention Center, but that can be a half-hour drive in Miami’s not-so-great traffic.
One cool feature of the hotel is that it is literally across the street from the Miami “Metromover” and its Financial District Station. The people mover is a free train that offers complimentary transportation to places like the American Airlines Arena or Mary Brickell Village.
You can also grab a free City of Miami Trolley, which stops in front of the hotel and can take you as far as Coral Gables.
It’s just 10 miles (16km) from Miami International Airport.
I think I got a pretty good rate for Miami, especially since lots of hotels were sold out around the time I was booking and prices were really high. I ended up paying about $300 (£220) a night with taxes. That’s typical for the hotel.
Pricing rooms out for January 2022, two nights will cost you anywhere from $447 (£328) to $776 (£570). Interestingly, searching for points redemptions revealed no availability in January at all. In fact, I can’t find much available with points at the hotel aside from a few sporadic nights where it will cost you 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
There are two options of rooms, bay views or city views, the latter of which just means the skyscrapers around the hotel in the Brickell neighbourhood. I found a pretty good Hilton Honors rate of about $281 (£206) for the first night and $256 (£188) for night number two.
I ended up earning a total of 12,678 Hilton Honors points for my two-night stay. I got 5,839 points for the base rate, a 5,839 Diamond elite bonus and another 1,000 points at check-in as part of Hilton’s “Diamond Myway Bonus.” The Points Guy values that at about $76.07 (£55).
Lobby and check-in
Most people will enter the hotel from the back where the valet parking attendants work. Valet parking is $45 (£33)per day, by the way, so keep that in mind if you are renting a car. There is no self-parking available. You enter a pretty claustrophobic street-level lobby area before taking the elevator to the actual “Sky Lobby” on the 25th floor.
Earlier that day, I had received a lovely text from the hotel with a welcome message and an invitation to send any requests ahead of check-in. Of course, in a bid to test out my Diamond status, I asked for an upgrade to a suite. The response? “Unfortunately, we are sold out in suites, but you can ask if something becomes available at the point of arrival.”
Check-in was fast and friendly. I was thanked for being a Hilton Diamond member and told my room was ready. I did follow up on that suite request and was again told that all the suites were sold out.
I let the front desk know I’d be happy to try again tomorrow. Interestingly, suites were still available for sale on the website. The next morning, I did again request a room upgrade. This time I mentioned suites were still available at Hilton.com in a text at 7:36 a.m. They replied at 8:39 that “right now we are still waiting for the guests to check out.”
By 4:21 p.m. I still hadn’t heard from the hotel, so I texted again. About 20 minutes later, I got the message that they would be able to upgrade me. It took another hour to change rooms, but my persistence was rewarded when I got the key to a suite.
Now let me pause a moment and say I would never have been this annoying, but Hilton is somewhat notorious for being resistant to giving upgrades to their top-tier members. Since I was doing a review, I wanted to see how much work it would be to make it happen — it took way too much. Now in the hotel’s defence, they did tell me there had been a flooding incident that took some rooms out of service. My argument would be that they shouldn’t be selling suites online if that was the case.
The lack of award inventory and the upgrade saga leads me to believe some gaming might be happening with this property.
In any case, I ended up with a great room.
I was in room 1829 with a king-size bed and city views for day one. It was a lovely room and spotless, but it was no suite. Because of the relentlessness I told you about, I finally got upgraded to a suite, so I have two rooms to tell you about.
Standard room Conrad Miami
My room had a Nespresso machine, which I always consider one of the most important features of a high-end hotel. The rooms also have large flat-screen TVs, a small fridge and Shanghai Tang-branded soaps, lotions and other bath products.
Here’s how Conrad describes the room:
“Newly Renovated City View King rooms are equipped with 55″ Samsung TV, Nespresso machines, mini bar, luxury bedding and deluxe bath amenities to ensure an inspiring stay close to the best of Miami. Indulge yourself with a peaceful nights’ sleep on refined cloud-like beds and unwind in our expansive contemporary bathrooms with separate deep soaking bathtub, shower and selection of luxurious bath products.”
Indeed, I found the bed very comfortable as well. The bedding and mattress were great. I also really like the blonde wood Conrad often uses for furniture with lots of neat built-ins in the room.
There were abundant outlets and the Wi-Fi was great.
I didn’t find cleanliness issues other than a few spots in the bathroom that could have used a second look from housekeeping (see used Q-tip hiding on a ledge in the gallery above). Overall, though, the room was very nice.
I love those downtown Miami views.
Suite at Conrad Miami
The suite, when I finally got in it, was much bigger but similar in design. The suites are as large as 973 square feet (90 square meters) and feature great views, a separate living room area as well as a sofa sleeper. There is even a seating area in the bedroom. It was really nice having a totally different room to work in. It felt like being in a large apartment rather than a hotel room.
The biggest difference aside from the square footage was the separate soaking tub missing from the standard room.
I did love having a separate sleeping area.
I also really enjoyed having so many different seating and working areas, though the actual desk felt a little claustrophobic.
The Property and amenities
One of the big selling points for the hotel is the huge pool area. Just be warned, you will need to exit the high-rise that contains the hotel, exit the building, cross the valet drop-off area and a driveway, go into a separate building and up another elevator to get to the pool area. It’s on the 36th floor with cool city views.
Once there, though, the pool is awesome with sweeping views of the hotel, a great bar and dining area, and plenty of seating options. Wi-Fi worked great poolside and the pool is large enough to do laps. There are also men’s and women’s locker rooms and restrooms near the elevators (though they are a bit of a trek from the pool).
The friendly bartender told me that you could rent your own sectioned-off pool area with shaded cabana daybeds for $150 (£110) for the day Monday through Friday and $200 (£146) for the weekend. If you come after 1 p.m. during the week or after 2 p.m. on the weekends, you can get half off plus a bottle of Prosecco.
There is also a spa at the hotel and a gym on the 24th floor. The spa remains closed, and there is a recorded message saying, “at this time, we do not have a date for reopening.”
Food and beverage
There are currently two dining options at Conrad Miami. Breakfast and lunch are served in the hotel lobby at the Nativo Kitchen & Bar. And food service is also available at the Sky Pool Bar.
The restaurant is spectacular. Be sure to look up when you are in the restaurant for a fabulous art installation that dominates the lobby.
I ate at Nativo twice for breakfast. The hotel, at the time, was offering continental breakfast as the Diamond dining benefit. That means I was limited to three choices: Two eggs in any style, a chia pudding bowl or oatmeal.
I had the chia bowl one day and the oatmeal on another day. Both breakfasts were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The best part of eating here was the tempting outdoor dining area. You can ask to be seated there, but be aware it can get quite windy.
I also had takeout dinner from Nativo one night. Do note; the restaurant is only open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Again, the food was fine, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back. The bar area looks like it would be really fun, though, on the weekends.
I also got to have a mocktail with my boss, TPG senior editorial director Scott Mayerowitz, at the bar at the pool. The service there was excellent and fast. It’s not cheap, however, with cocktails starting at $12 (£8.82). They have a great selection of booze and a decent lunch menu as well.
Service at Conrad was generally excellent (suite drama aside). All my in-person interactions with the staff were friendly and helpful. The one major hiccup was the mixed messages and lack of communication from employees around getting upgraded. It didn’t always feel like I was being given honest answers.
I also didn’t appreciate the lack of helpfulness and response delays in text exchanges. I feel that if you are going to communicate with guests via text and offer the service proactively, those texts should be answered promptly.
Conrad Miami was among the most accessible hotels I’ve stayed in. The hotel is wheelchair-friendly, with flat entryways and wide doors. Eight of the 16 room types are either mobility accessible or hearing accessible (with notification devices). All the entrances are wheelchair-friendly, doors are all 32″ or more, and there are many options for fully accessible rooms. There were also chair lifts in the hot tub and pool (and they weren’t covered with tarps).
The beds were all of a height that a person getting out of a wheelchair would manage.
There is Braille signage on the room doors, and the elevator from the building entrance to the lobby was Braille-friendly, though the elevators to the rooms were touchscreen and would be a challenge for the visually impaired.
This is a fine luxury hotel and a nice option for Hilton loyalists in the downtown Miami area. I wouldn’t describe it as family-friendly. It’s probably a better option for couples or business travellers. The location is great if you want to stay downtown, but those looking for beach access should look elsewhere.
I would stay again, but it bugs me how hard I had to work as a Hilton Diamond member to get an upgrade. I really don’t like not being able to find points redemption options for much of the year either.
Featured image courtesy of Conrad Miami.
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