Dozens of hotels in South Beach offer accommodations in restored deco classics. Two of the newest and most talked about are the Tides and the National.

by Debra Gawron

Absolutely Florida
1220 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Fax: 305/604-5180
Reservations: 888/OUTPOST

Smack dab in the middle of the South Beach scene is the Tides, the latest gem in the Island Outpost family of hotels that also includes the Cavalier, the Leslie, and the Marlin.

The view from the lobby into the elegant 1220
BoseArts photo
Like its sister hotels, the Tides is pure Sobe, unabashed in its celebration of the non-stop parade of the toned and tanned before Ocean Drive's cafe terraces and carnival-colored neon.

Yet, the Tides has taken a softer approach than its more exuberant neighbors. Its color scheme is a soothing blend of cream, caramel and cafe au lait. The sleek, deco structural lines are bare. The lobby is so scarce of decor it's as if the space has been left as an empty stage where those who come and go become the stars of the show.

The Tides is one of 40 hotels designed by L. Murray Dixon, one of Art Deco's leading architects. It opened in 1936 with 115 rooms. Today's Tides offers more luxurious accommodations in 45 suites, all facing the ocean. Its penthouse

A lobby in beige on white for the toned and tanned.

BoseArts photo

suites, often home-away-from-home to Hollywood's top talent, have private sundecks with jacuzzis and best views on Ocean Drive.

Back on street level, the hotel's Terrace restaurant is now THE place to see and be seen. The person at the next table might be just as likely to be perusing Le Monde or La Republicca as The New York Times, reflecting the European make-up of the Tides' clientel.

In the evening, the 1220 Restaurant serves Ocean Drive's most elegant fare. A meal might start with a delicate crab mille feuilles followed by a savory crispy duck with Szechuan pepper and ending with a luscious Marquise au chocolat.

1677 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

The National Hotel is the finest authentic restoration of Art Deco on Miami Beach. It has been honored by the Dade Heritage Trust for its "Outstanding Contribution to Historic Preservation."

Throughout the hotel, the National embraced the elegance of the period that made Miami Beach famous. It originally opened in 1940, one of the last of the great deco landmarks designed by one of its best architects, Roy F. France, who also did the Cavalier and the St. Moritz.

A unique 203-foot-long pool graces the
National's pathway to the ocean
The National is handsome and understated. Everywhere one looks are classic deco touches: the gleaming terrazzo floor, wrought iron balustrades lining the mezzanine, mirrors and etched glass doors.

The hotel's basement turned out to be a treasure trove of long-neglected furnishings. Chairs and rugs were hauled back into the sunlight, given a fresh, new look, and can now be seen decorating the lobby and restaurant. What pieces couldn't be found on property were collected by the owners, Hans-Joachim and Ursula Krause, during their frequent antique-buying forays. The result is a stunning display of Art Deco interior design.

Intimate and romantic are apt adjectives for the Oak Bar and the Oval Room restaurant. The cozy Press Room, just off the main lounge, will soon be a cigar bar. The centerpiece of the Oval Room is a deco chandelier, designed by the architect and set in the recessed, oval-shaped ceiling molding.

Cuisine in the Oval Room is as sophisticated as the surroundings, with eclectic choices such as Bourbon-cured salmon rolls and Yuca-crusted sea bass. Diners can often enjoy the music of a live jazz quartet performing in the Oak Bar.

Intimate and romantic: the Oak Bar is an ideal
setting for any tete-a-tete.
Leading from the patio of the main building to the sands of Miami Beach is a 203-foot-long swimming pool lined with palm trees. Overlooking the pool are 39-rooms in the garden annex, each with a private patio.

The National Hotel is located around the corner from Lincoln Road, where South Beach's hottest galleries, shops and restaurants are concentrated along a newly-restored pedestrian mall.