by Terry Ward
Although popular with business travelers and couples, the downtown InterContinental Miami is also a big hit with traveling families. And that’s mostly to do with two factors: comfort and location. The InterContinental Miami, which opened in 1982 — back when downtown Miami wasn’t nearly the tourist destination it is today — is an enormous 34-story property with more than 650 guestrooms and suites overlooking Biscayne Bay and the downtown streets of the financial and business district.
South Beach may be a 15-minute taxi drive, but the location is ideal for visiting downtown spots like the American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace, and is within easy access (a five-minute drive) of the Port of Miami — indeed, many families stay here before or after a Caribbean cruise.
Miami is obviously known for its balminess, and you’re likely to spend lots of time at the hotel’s outdoor pool overlooking Biscayne Bay. But if you prefer the beaches, there are lots of good options nearby, from South Beach to Key Biscayne.
Rooms and suites — all of which were renovated in 2012, along with the lobby and other public spaces — are spacious, and there are good connecting options to puzzle together two rooms if your group is large. There are several restaurants onsite at the hotel, too, as well as a handy Starbucks in the lobby, and you’re within walking distance of many other restaurant options.
Our Editor Loves
- Pool overlooking Biscayne Bay
- Three onsite restaurants
- Close proximity to Port of Miami
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Sized more to Las Vegas standards than real world ones, the InterContinental Miami has a whopping 641 guestrooms and 34 suites spread among 34 floors in a towering building that looms over downtown, with glittering views across Biscayne Bay toward the beaches. From the rooms to the suites, the hotel's dÃ©cor is standardized. Bedrooms are carpeted and bathrooms are done up in tile and marble. Standard rooms have shower-in-tub combos in the bathrooms and suites have glassed in showers with rain heads and separate bathtubs. Wi-Fi is not free in guestrooms or suites, unless you are an IHG Member, and will cost $11.95 per night. Cribs and rollaway beds are available for a fee.
Standard Guest Rooms
Standard rooms have either one king bed with room for a rollaway bed for $35 per night, or two double beds with no option for a rollaway. You can opt for city views, but it's worth the extra splurge for views of Biscayne Bay. These standard rooms do not have mini-fridges or microwaves, but a mini bar is included -- be aware that it operates on sensors so anything that gets moved inside will be charged to your room. Flat-screen TV's with premium HD cable services, coffee makers, safes and irons and ironing boards are standard in all rooms and suites, and the bathrooms are marble throughout.
Moving up from the standard rooms are the InterContinental Suites (also called Parlor Suites). These have your choice of a king bed or two double beds with a sofa bed in a living room area that's separated from the bedrooms for everyone's privacy. These suites have 1.5 bathrooms. As is the case with the standard rooms, you can request a mini-fridge for $35 per day, and a rollaway is permitted in the room with the king bed for $35 per night, but not in the suite with two double beds.
Penthouse Suites have basically the same features and space considerations as the InterContinental Suites, but the layout is spread between two stories, with a king bedroom upstairs with its own bath, and a sofa bed downstairs. These suites do not have the option of two double beds instead of a king.
For even more space, upgrade to the Executive Suites, which have a kitchenette with a microwave, oven, sink and mini-fridge, two floors (one with a king bedroom and one with a sofa bed in the living room) and room for a rollaway bed, too.
Presidential and Royal Palm Suites
Finally, there are the Presidential and Royal Palm Suites, the largest options, again with two stories, a king master bedroom, a kitchenette and a living room with a sofa bed. These suites also have a large dining room table that can accommodate eight people and 1.5 bathrooms.
In all of the rooms or suites, it's important to note that the hotel only allows a maximum of four guests (unless you have a baby or small child sleeping in a crib).
Connecting rooms are also available and most often can be guaranteed when booking. You can request to connect a standard king room to one with two double beds or to connect the Penthouse Suite to a room with two double beds. The hotel's IHG Club is on the 29th floor, and if you book any of the club level rooms (located on floors 27 to 34), you will have access to a free daily breakfast, afternoon tea with light refreshments and an evening happy hour reception (children are not allowed at the latter). Some of the suites, but not all, also come with club access privileges, so be sure to inquire when booking if that's important to you.
Had a great stay November 9-11, 2018. First time guests. This hotel oozes class from the location, amazing lobby with massive stone statue to large, sophisticated-designed, lovely rooms, to restaurants/bar. Lots to do with lovely waterfront park right next door and Marketplace mall with lots of restaurants. Only negative is $45/day to park is steep but I understand most hotels downtown don't have this convenient, onsite parking.
Very impressed with this hotel. Fantastic facilities and views over the city and harbour. Very close to the cruiseport. Being from Yorkshire we loved the Henry Moore sculpture in the lobby. We used Starbucks and Ole for breakfast whilst there (Ole does an amazing buffet breakfast). Our only issue was that the pool closed for a function whilst we were there with v little warning. That said due to the shadows from the buildings it was better used in the morning. Would stay again. Join the IHG rewards programme before staying for an upgrade and coffee vouchers for Starbucks
Just because you're staying downtown at the InterContinental Miami doesn't mean you can't make a beach vacation of your stay here, too. The hotel is only 15 minutes from South Beach and about the same distance to the more family-friendly stretches of sand on nearby Key Biscayne. The InterContinental Miami doesn't, however, have a beach club, so you should bring your own lounge chairs and towels. Taxis are also on call at the hotel to ferry you off to the beach on a moment's notice (expect to pay between $15 and $20 one-way).
For swimming within a few steps of your room, the hotel's large, rectangular pool is located on the fifth floor and has nice views of Biscayne Bay and plenty of umbrella-shaded lounge chairs for settling in for a few hours. The pool deck is often well shaded from the scorching South Florida sun thanks to the towering hotel's shadow, too. There's no lifeguard on duty and the pool is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Electric bicycles can be rented from the hotel's concierge for $49 for three hours or $59 for four hours, and cycling is a fun way to explore the downtown area. If your children are still quite small, you can rent a trailer for your bike for an additional $25 -- it's capable of carrying up to 90 pounds of weight, with room for up to two children.
Located right next to the hotel, Bayfront Park has a great playground for kids to run off energy with a pirate ship, bouncers, slides and many structures to climb on, as well as whimsical sculptures of manatees and dolphins perfect for photo ops (adults are only allowed in the play area when accompanying children under 12).
Miami is an expensive city. And unless you're just grabbing snacks from the Starbucks in the lobby, you should prepare to spend a substantial amount of cash to feed your family at the three restaurants located onsite at the InterContinental Miami.
With a buffet open from 6:30 to 11 a.m. daily, and a la carte breakfast served until 11:30 a.m., Ole Restaurant is the hotel's only breakfast option. The buffet costs $25 per person (kids under 5 eat for free and children between 5 and 12 receive meals at half-price) and has everything you'd want, including an omelet station, scrambled eggs, French toast, sausage and bacon, croissants, muffins, cheese and charcuterie and hot chocolate, coffee, tea and juices. A continental breakfast buffet is also available for $18 per person, with cold cereals, juices, toast, fruit and hot beverages. You can also order off the menu at Ole for traditional breakfast items (priced between $14 and $16), such as pancakes, Belgian waffles, steak and eggs, huevos rancheros and cinnamon vanilla French toast.
Toro Toro Restaurant & Bar
The hotel's main restaurant and a downtown favorite, Toro Toro is open for lunch and dinner daily. This is a Latin steakhouse with a delicious menu of small plates that make it easy to share with a crowd and meats and seafood that get grilled to perfection. Adults with daring palates will love dishes like spicy Korean pork ribs and yellowtail tiradito. And while there's no official kids' menu at Toro Toro, the kitchen can prepare classic kid-pleasers, such as mac and cheese, cheeseburgers and chicken tenders for around $10 each.
Toro Toro is open for lunch Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 6 to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight. The bar stays open till 1 a.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on the weekends. The restaurant maintains a dress code and you should dress business casual or "Miami Chic," which means no flip-flops or shorts on gentlemen. Highchairs are available, but bring your own crayons and coloring books to keep young kids entertained.
Blue Water Restaurant
For casual daytime dining by the hotel's pool, Blue Water is a laid-back restaurant with food service Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (the bar stays open until 7 p.m.). There are no fryers here to prepare the usual suspects like chicken nuggets and fries for the kids, however, and as such, no kids' menu. If your kids aren't super picky eaters, however, they'll find plenty to order among the pizzas (including make-your-own versions), paninis, wraps and salads on offer.
The hotel also offers 24-hour room service with an extensive menu of things like mac and cheese, PB&J, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese and chicken fingers with French fries.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wireless Internet costs $11.95 per day, unless you're a member of IHG's awards program. You can sign up free online to save on Internet costs.
Parking is valet only and costs $39 per night with in/out privileges as often as you like.
The hotel offers same-day laundry service for a charge, but there are no self-service laundry machines. There are, however, many options for coin laundry in downtown Miami.
There's an excellent gym, open 24 hours, located within the hotel's spa area with all updated equipment. It costs $15 per day to use it.
The hotel has a business center where you can print airline tickets for free, but you'll pay by the minute to get online with the business center's computers.
The hotel's Shade Gift Shop, just off the lobby, is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and sells things like water toys, sunscreen, postcards, high-end swimwear, and snacks and drinks. A fun pop-up shop called Streets of Wynwood, open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the hotel lobby, sells works by local artists from the Wynwood district, as well as gift items like mugs, pillows, journals and the like.
The hotel's concierge can arrange babysitting through trusted providers for $20 per child, per hour (three hour minimum), plus an additional parking fee for the sitter.
The hotel's mySpa is a suitably luxurious wellness bastion with 10 treatment rooms that include a couples' suite and couples' hydrotherapy suite. The usual offerings of facials, massages and manicures and pedicures are on offer.
The Art of Smart Timing
The InterContinental Miami's popularity as a business hotel means it stays busy year-round, with the exception of the December holiday season (although picking back up for New Year's Eve). Conferences are often hosted here. Prices are higher during the spring break months of February and March, when occupancy stays high.
Miami is warm year-round, with often unbearably hot summers, but you can get the off frigid day in winter, believe it or not. Hurricane season in Florida runs from the start of June until November, and this time of year often sees heavy afternoon downpours that quickly dissipate into sunshine. The most pleasant temperatures in Miami -- when the weather is nearly postcard perfect -- are from January through March. During the summer, you'll want to have your bug repellent handy at the pool and around town. When Miami's NBA team, the Heat, have a home game, you can expect the hotel to be extremely full, if not sold out.
Most guests fly into Miami International Airport, about 15 minutes from the hotel, or Fort Lauderdale's International Airport, about 35 minutes (26 miles) to the north. The InterContinental Miami does not offer shuttle service from the airports. From Miami International Airport, a taxi will cost between $25 and $30 each way. Unless you're planning to just stick around the hotel and downtown Miami, you'll want to consider renting a car during your stay. All of the major car rental companies have onsite counters at the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports. Alamo Rental Car also has a desk onsite at the hotel for spontaneous reservations.
Taxis are readily available just outside the hotel to take you everywhere from the beach to nearby downtown neighborhoods, like Wynwood and the Design District. Unless you just plan to spend your time in and around downtown Miami, you'll want to rent a car to reach South Beach and the beaches in Key Biscayne (or be prepared for hefty taxi fares), both of which are between 10 and 15 minutes away and cost about $20 one-way by taxi. You'll also want to bring your stroller along if you have small children and plan to do a lot of walking around downtown Miami's busy streets.
For Mom and Dad
The hotel can arrange babysitting services if you want to have an adult night on the town, and Miami has plenty of reasons to splurge on an evening of fun. You can make a night of it just staying on property for drinks and dinner at the excellent Toro Toro Restaurant, a suitable Miami scene of its own. But if you're looking to get out and about a bit, book a table for a meal to remember at one of Miami's top-rated restaurants, Azul, located inside the nearby Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Plan some downtime at the hotel's spa, too, which has a special couples hydrotherapy suite where you can take advantage of water-centric therapies.