Battle of the three greater Miami-area W Hotels: Miami vs. South Beach vs. Fort Lauderdale
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While it’s easy to distinguish a W from a St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton, deciding between different hotels within the same brand can be tricky. Despite all being W’s, each of these South Florida properties offers guests a distinctly different experience.
To help you figure out which is the best fit for your travel style, today we’re going to compare each of the greater Miami-area properties side-by-side considering everything from location, to rooms, to amenities and more.
Each of the three properties are located in very different neighborhoods. One is not necessarily better than the other; rather, it depends on the type of vacation you’re hoping for.
If it’s the South Beach party experience you’re after, then you can’t beat the W South Beach. It has an ideal beachfront location on the main strip near other luxury hotels like The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, the Delano and the SLS, with plenty of restaurants and clubs in close proximity. It’s about 30 minutes away from Miami International Airport (MIA) and roughly an hour from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
If you want a beachfront location, but without the craziness of South Beach, then the W Fort Lauderdale would be a better choice. It’s still right on the beach with plenty of shopping and dining options nearby, but it’s a bit more tame than South Beach. It’s about 20 minutes away from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and about an hour from Miami International Airport, depending on traffic.
If you don’t need to stay right on the beach, then the W Miami’s location is great as well. It’s located in the Brickell neighborhood in Downtown Miami, making it ideal for those that want to skip the rowdy crowds and hang with more locals. The area has terrific dining, nightlife and entertainment options and you’re closer to popular neighborhoods like Wynwood and Little Havana. Miami International Airport is about 20 minutes away by car, while Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is about 45 minutes away.
While the rooms share similar names across the properties — Wonderful room, Spectacular room, Fabulous room, etc. — they’re nothing alike.
Rooms at the W South Beach underwent a complete makeover in late 2020 and transformed from a darker, “clubby” design to a more refined one that is reflective of the hotel’s beachfront setting. They now feature a predominantly white color scheme with contemporary furniture and bright pops of color in the form of green chairs and pink rugs. Every room comes with an oversized balcony and an ocean view.
The W Fort Lauderdale offers attractive rooms as well. They were renovated in 2017 and also reflect the new, brighter W aesthetic. The rooms have a blue and white beach-inspired color scheme and most have balconies. If you plan on sharing the room with friends, you’ll want to note that there’s no door to the bathroom — just a curtain.
Rooms at the W Miami are extremely spacious (standard rooms start at 440 square feet), but are also the most dated. They’re decorated with an Asian flair, featuring a bold celadon palette, lamps in the shape of foo dogs and paintings of cranes. All rooms have balconies, as well as small kitchenettes with dual electric burners, microwaves and minifridges, resulting in a more residential feel.
While somewhat limited at the Miami location, the South Beach and Fort Lauderdale properties both offer a wide variety of amenities. Still, South Beach has the edge here.
The South Beach property is home to one of Miami’s hottest pools. It has a modern design with raised edges finished in sleek black tile and is surrounded by stylish loungers and cabanas. There’s usually a DJ spinning on the weekends, but there’s an adults-only pool hidden away from the main area if you’re looking for a more relaxing vibe.
If you feel inclined to work out, you can choose between the fitness center, on-site tennis or basketball courts or borrow one of the hotel’s bikes. After working up a sweat, you can stop by the new 9,000-square-foot Away Spa. Of course, there’s also the beach just steps away where guests get complimentary beach chairs.
The W Fort Lauderdale offers a great pool scene as well, with a DJ playing music on the weekends. Like the South Beach property, there’s a second pool for those that want a quieter atmosphere. Other amenities include a large fitness center, on-site spa and complimentary bike rentals. Guests receive free chairs and umbrellas at the beach.
Most of the W Miami’s amenities are shared with the Icon Brickell apartment complex. The highlight of the property is a massive 15th-floor deck with three pools: a wading pool, a large hot tub and a lap pool. There’s a small, makeshift gym exclusively for W guests, but a much larger one is available in one of the Icon Brickell buildings. The W doesn’t have its own spa, but there’s a very large one in the Icon. There’s no beach nearby, no bike rentals and no fitness classes.
Food and beverage
This is one area where the W Miami really falls behind. There is no swanky restaurant or lobby bar with DJs spinning at night. Instead, there’s just a fairly casual restaurant and a small coffee shop in the lobby.
Meanwhile, the W South Beach is a haven for foodies. It has a total of five food-and-beverage outlets including its signature Wet Bar and Grille at the pool deck. Elsewhere, there’s the Living Room Bar in the lobby; Irma’s (an outdoor bar named after the infamous 2017 hurricane of the same name and constructed with debris from the storm); a Miami outpost of the NYC high-end, scene-y Chinese eatery MR. CHOW and The Restaurant at W South Beach, otherwise known as RWSB.
The W Fort Lauderdale has several bars and restaurants as well. Options include the hotel’s signature restaurant Steak 954, the Mexican eatery El Vez, a grab-and-go breakfast station outside El Vez, a sushi bar (temporarily closed), a snazzy lobby bar as well as a bar at the pool. Although technically not a part of the hotel, on the street level of the residential tower is also a casual vegan restaurant, SoBe Vegan.
The W Miami and W Fort Lauderdale are Category 6 properties in the Marriott Bonvoy program, meaning an award night will cost you 40,000 points for an off-peak night, 50,000 for a standard night and 60,000 for a peak night. As such, they’re also eligible for the up to 50,000-point free-night certificates at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees)that come with certain premium Marriott cobranded cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card on standard and off-peak nights. Meanwhile, the W South Beach is a top-tier Category 8 property, meaning standard award nights go for 85,000 points a night, off-peak for 70,000 and peak at a whopping 100,000 points a night.
Related: The best hotel credit cards
When paying cash, the W Fort Lauderdale is usually the cheapest of the bunch, with rooms starting at $240 per night, but often hovering around $350 during peak times. The W Miami typically costs around $300 to $400 per night, while the W South Beach ranges anywhere from $500 to over $1,000 per night.
Whether you pay for your stay with cash or points, you’ll incur a $40 daily resort fee when staying at the South Beach and Fort Lauderdale properties. There’s no resort fee at the W Miami. Here’s an overview of the fees:
|W South Beach||W Fort Lauderdale||W Miami|
Related: How to avoid resort fees
The W South Beach checks all of the boxes for an ideal Miami vacation. It’s located right on the beach in a higher-end part of South Beach, has beautiful new rooms and offers plenty of amenities and food-and-beverage options. However, it’s also the most expensive.
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The W Fort Lauderdale is a cheaper alternative and offers a similar experience, including stylish rooms, a lively pool scene and lots of amenities. It’s about an hour outside of Miami proper, which has its pros and cons, but still offers beach access as well as plenty of dining and nightlife options nearby.
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The W Miami is targeted toward a specific type of traveler. It’s ideal for those interested in more of a local experience and not on staying on the beach. Being in the heart of Brickell, there’s plenty to see and do nearby, though the hotel itself has a more boutique feel with limited on-site restaurants and amenities compared to the other properties.
Ultimately, the best Miami-area W for you is based on your personal preferences. Heck, the W brand isn’t even a fit for everyone to begin with. Regardless of which of these properties you book, you’ll be at a terrific destination with balmy weather year-round.
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For a more detailed look at each of the properties, see:
- All grown up: Here’s what it was like staying at the newly renovated W South Beach
- Not your typical W: A review of the W Miami in Brickell
- Stylish beachfront getaway: A review of the W Fort Lauderdale
Additional reporting by Nick Ellis.
Featured photo by Nick Ellis and Benji Stawski/The Points Guy
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