Catalina Hotel and Beach Club
The Catalina takes the value-added approach to South Beach nightlife and succeeds without feeling cheap or cheesy. Guests receive free VIP passes to clubs like Mansion and free frozen mojitos during the daily cocktail hour, served under the thatched roof of the Tiki Bar or in the sleek Red Bar. In the mornings, wake up with challah bread French toast in the hotel's Maxine Restaurant, then head to the pool to snag a cabana bed (latecomers are left with a complimentary lounge chair for the beach). The hotel consists of three small buildings, with reception area and the Red Bar in the middle. Rooms in the south building are large and expensive, but overdone in an unfortunate green and blue color scheme; on the north end of the complex, the all-white rooms are fresh and surprisingly comfortable, with Tempur-Pedic mattresses, Sony stereos, and white laminate floors set off by red pendant lamps—ideal for resting up for another strenuous night of fun.
Tip: Don't worry about transportation to or from the airport. The Catalina, like other South Beach Group Hotels, provides a free shuttle.
Room to Book: No. 382, a deluxe room in the north building, which is close to the bar and restaurant and has great views of the center of the action—the pool.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.