After an 11-hour flight delay from Rio to Miami, I found myself shuffling around hotel reservations to better accommodate my quick 2-night stay in Miami.
I had originally booked The Miami Beach EDITION for my first night, but since I had lost a full day, I pushed that reservation out a day so I could enjoy it for more time. That left me scrambling to find a decent hotel that I could book with points for a quick overnight stay.
My mind immediately jumped to IHG Rewards, because thanks to multiple extensions, I had some IHG Rewards credit card Anniversary Nights from Chase that I hadn’t been able to use. After a quick search, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had plenty of options in South Florida to redeem them.
The free nights are no longer uncapped, which means they can only be redeemed when hotels are selling rooms at 40,000 points or less. Often that translates to Holidays Inns or other budget hotels in big cities, however, for my stay in September there were multiple InterContinental and Kimpton properties available!
After going back and forth between (what I considered) my best options, I settled on the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach.
Let’s take a look at how my quick, 1-night stay at this boutique hotel went.
The 96-room Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach is located on the edge of Sunset Harbor, but not quite South Beach which can be confusing to guests who are looking for the action of SoBe.
The hotel is a bit removed from all of the hustle and bustle, but the area is nice and there are plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance. I easily walked to the Miami Beach Convention Center to get a very fun COVID-19 test (required so I could fly back to Brazil) as well as the famous Lincoln Road shopping area. However, walking to the beach isn’t really practical, which is why the hotel offers a shuttle.
The hotel is about 11 miles from Miami International Airport (MIA) which should take about 20 minutes by car without traffic. Guests flying into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) are about 30 miles away, which takes just 35 minutes without traffic.
Hot Tip: Need a lounge at MIA? Here is a full list of airport lounges at Miami International Airport.
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach is part of IHG Hotels & Resorts, which means that guests can use their IHG Rewards points or free night certificates from IHG Rewards cards like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
For the night that I was in town, rates started at $220 in cash or 29,000 points. Since I was searching for IHG Rewards credit card Anniversary Nights, the hotel simply showed as FREE in the results on IHG.com.
The free nights can be redeemed at hotels up to 40,000 points per night, so since this hotel was only 29,000, I wasn’t even maxing out the value of the certificate — which is rare because I usually have trouble finding a hotel as low as 40,000 points.
Regardless, redeeming my free night was still a good value and easily made the $89 annual fee for my card worthwhile.
Unfortunately, IHG doesn’t waive resort fees on award stays, so I had to pay an additional $29 for my “free” night.
Below are the options that were available with points at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach during my stay:
- City View King — Anniversary Night (what I booked)
- Atrium View One Bed — Anniversary Night
- Atrium View One Bed — 29,000 points
- Atrium View One Bed — 24,000 + $38 (Points + Cash)
- Atrium View One Bed — 19,000 + $76 (Points + Cash)
- Atrium View One Bed — 14,000 + $104 (Points + Cash)
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach is located on the corner of a major intersection that also crosses over a river, so it can be a little chaotic and confusing for anyone arriving for the first time.
My Uber driver wasn’t exactly sure where the hotel was (and neither was I), but I quickly recognized the big red sign for Morini (the restaurant located in the hotel) on the sides and corner of the building — which was much more noticeable than the white and unlit Palomar signs.
The driver ultimately dropped me off on the sidewalk, however, arriving guests are better off entering the garage as that is where you will find the valet and hotel entrance.
I ended up walking through the garage and entered through a side door, but the main entrance is actually in the back of the building.
Once I finally made it into the hotel, I was impressed with the fun, modern, and nautical designs. The hotel takes up a very small footprint, and the lobby was small but cozy and well-designed, with plenty of seating.
As I entered the hotel (it’s the same from either from the side or main door), I walked past the elevators and to the front desk which is right next to the restaurant. Besides that, there is nothing else on the main floor.
I arrived around 7 p.m. and the lobby was quiet, but the check-in process took forever. I’m not sure if the front desk agent was new or what, but he couldn’t figure out how to swipe my credit card and then proceeded to charge my card for the full rate plus $129 for a resort fee + incidentals. It all got dropped off at the end (except for the $29 resort fee), but it was a weird experience.
After about 20 minutes of awkwardly standing at the desk and learning nothing about the property, I was handed my keys and I headed to my room.
As an IHG Platinum Elite member, there are a whole bunch of benefits available, however, in practice, they are not very valuable.
The only benefits that I would have appreciated were an upgrade and to use the Raid the Bar credit. However, I didn’t get an upgrade and the minibar in my room was empty — did someone already raid it?
Kimpton guests normally can use this $10 credit at the hotel bar, however, at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach you cannot bill the restaurant to your room, so I’m not sure how that works in practice. I admittedly was unaware of this benefit during check-in, so I didn’t ask, although I would have been surprised if the agent knew the answer.
The agent did tell me that I had just missed the evening wine hour in the lobby living room, though… no offer of a glass of wine for me, unfortunately!
Hot Tip: After I got home, I sent IHG Rewards a message regarding the credit via the website and had 600 points deposited into my account, which is an alternative to the Raid the Bar credit.
As is common practice these days, there was a resort fee at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach. Unlike Hilton and Hyatt, IHG still charges resort fees on award stays.
For an additional $29 per night, guests have access to the following:
- Private beach access to the Kimpton Beach Club, including 2 beach chairs, towels, a play area for kids, and DAYLIFE activities
- Shuttle to the beach
- Fitness center
- Turndown service, upon request
- Local and toll-free calls
- Complimentary black and white printing (up to 10 pages)
While most of those resort fee perks are just fillers (complimentary toll-free calls??) there is some value in the private beach and shuttle. Although I didn’t use it, I could see guests (especially families) getting their money’s worth.
Hot Tip: We rank Miami Beach as one of the best beaches in Florida. See what other Atlantic and Gulf Coast beaches made our list!
For being a small, and relatively cheap hotel in a nice area, I was surprised and impressed with all of the options guests had for amenities.
I didn’t get to use them all during my quick stay, but I would definitely consider returning with my family to try them out.
Even though the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach is not on the beach, guests can enjoy Miami Beach via the hotel’s exclusive access at 21st and Collins Avenue. To get to the beach, guests can take a free ride in the hotel’s personalized FreeBee vehicle.
Just the ride to the beach will be fun for most kids!
Guests who want to go to the beach will have access to the boardwalk area and reserved seating that is attended to by staff.
Included with the resort fee are 2 beach chairs and 2 beach towels. Extra charges apply to food service, cabanas, day beds, and any watersports booked via the concierge.
The pool is located on the top floor/rooftop of the hotel.
The pool itself was small, but there were plenty of chairs around and it was heated, so it seemed like a great place to hang out.
The views of Miami from the pool area were also spectacular, offering almost a complete 360-degree vista.
From 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. there is bar and pool service available. Guests can order burgers, salads, snacks, and drinks. You can take a look at the complete menu online.
Besides the pool, there is actually a ton of space on the rooftop. This is where guests can participate in morning yoga classes and other events sponsored by the hotel.
There were plenty of seating options, including chairs, tables, and big sofas. This is a great place to hang out during sunset or while waiting for the rest of your party to get ready before going out.
As a parent, my first thought was that it was a perfect spot to bring the kids to get them out of the room in the morning while I enjoy a coffee!
Located on the second floor of the hotel is a pretty small, but surprisingly complete, fitness center.
Kimpton properties are known for their wellness initiatives, including yoga mats in the room, so a decent gym was expected.
There were free weights, a nice Precor machine, and some ellipticals.
And, of course, the obligatory Peloton bike.
Guests who want to explore and get some exercise at the same time can borrow the house bikes.
Located in the lobby, the complimentary bicycles can be borrowed for up to 2 hours per day on a first come, first served basis.
Scooters for Kids
I didn’t realize this when I was at the hotel (I can’t imagine why the front desk would have told me), but there are scooters available for kids to borrow.
Younger guests of the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach can borrow a custom-designed Micro Kickboard scooter and matching Nutcase helmet.
There are 2 sizes available: the Mini, for kids ages 2 to 5, and the Maxi, for kids ages 6 to 12.
Hot Tip: If you are traveling to Miami with kids, be sure to read our list of best things to do in Miami and Miami Beach with kids!
Morning Coffee and Tea
There are no breakfast options at the hotel, but guests can help themselves to complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby each morning from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m.
The layout was simple but had enough to get the job done.
As an IHG elite member, I received free internet. However, it was also included in the resort fee, so no real benefit there.
I didn’t use the internet much during my stay, but it was easy to connect to and the connection was strong.
Kimpton Hotels is one of the most pet-friendly hotel brands, so it was no surprise that all pets are welcome at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach with no restrictions on types or size — “If your pet fits through the door, we will welcome them in.”
To top it off, there is no pet fee! Great news for anyone traveling with a furry friend.
Guests arriving by car can valet for $40 per night.
If you want to save a few bucks, there were plenty of parking garages in the immediate area.
I booked and received a City View King, which is listed at 280 square feet on the website.
The room was clean and modern and looked out over the river with downtown Miami in the distance.
I was assigned room 526, which actually shared an entrance with room 527.
This would be nice for a family or party booking 2 rooms, but I could easily see this being uncomfortable for some travelers, especially women traveling alone.
The room had a king bed and I was shocked at how comfortable it was. Sure, I had just got off a 9-hour flight in economy, but man did I have a good sleep!
The City View King did indeed have a city view… you could see downtown Miami far off in the distance.
Across from the bed was a 55-inch TV.
Besides the table and chair, there was an empty mini-fridge, some storage, and an ice bucket by the window.
On the other side of the room was a closet with an iron and ironing board and a Kimpton yoga mat.
There was also a beach bag for guests to use, but mine was pretty dirty, so I don’t think I would have used it even if I had gone to the beach.
The bathroom was bright and modern, and the layout was well-thought-out for a small footprint.
The shower was big and had great water pressure, but the bathroom did get pretty wet due to the half-glass door.
Another shower-negative was the giant, shared shampoo and body wash bottles… I think these are so gross. These were not even secured to the wall, so they could easily be tampered with. It’s too bad because Atelier Bloem makes some good products.
Food and Beverage
Besides the limited menu by the pool, the only dining option on the property was the Italian restaurant chain from New York, Osteria Morini.
Osteria Morini in the lobby of the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach was really nice and made for a great hotel lobby bar.
I love a good hotel bar, so I grabbed a barstool and chatted with the bartender while I decided where I was going to eat dinner.
Well, thanks to some South Florida weather, I decided to just stay put and enjoy my time at the bar and order my meal there — and I was not disappointed.
I ordered from the Miami Spice menu, which is a preset menu similar to Restaurant Week in other cities. The food was delicious.
I started off with gazpacho verde. I’m a big gazpacho fan, and this one delivered.
For my second course, I ordered the branzino, which was fresh and very flavorful.
And finally, for dessert, I indulged in the decadent tiramisu.
Overall, it was a great meal and the bartender, José, was awesome with his recommendations and pairings. The only negative was that guests cannot bill to their room.
During my quick stay, I admittedly didn’t have too much interaction with staff.
Unfortunately, besides my great meal at the third-party restaurant, my only staff memory was during check-in — where it took 20 minutes to get my key and he didn’t tell me anything about the property. Oh well!
Overall, my stay at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach was surprisingly good. Not that I went in with low expectations, but I was expecting almost a budget hotel — it was inexpensive, but not cheap.
There is no arguing that the price was unbeatable, especially when using an IHG Anniversary Night, but even with IHG Rewards points, it’s a steal. If I had a larger room (which sometimes becomes available when booking with points), I could easily spend a few days or a week there.
The location was excellent — just far enough to justify the lower prices but close enough to walk to many attractions, if needed. And of course, there are plenty of other transportation options to get around Miami from Ubers, to buses, to Citi Bikes, and even electric scooters — oh, and the hotel bikes!
Add in the free beach shuttle, and if you go in with the right expectations, you could really have a good time at this property. If I find myself back in Miami on a budget, I will definitely be looking for the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach and you should, too.