The Catalina is the budget party spot in the heart of South Beach's hottest block and attracts plenty of twentysomethings with its free nightly drink hour, airport shuttles, bike rentals, two fun pools, and beach chairs. It's across the street from the beach, but nobody seems to mind the short walk. Each of the Catalina's three buildings has a distinct feel: The original Catalina (with the smallest, most inexpensive rooms) is an exercise in camp, with red-shag carpets, two-story glass windows, and monumental sheer drapes. The midrange rooms are in the old Maxine Hotel, decorated in rock baroque and featuring a karaoke machine in the lobby. Room 400 here is one of the beach's best values, with a private sundeck overlooking the strip. The most luxurious part of the Catalina is the Dorset Hotel, which now houses the hotel's biggest rooms as well as its Asian restaurant, Fung Ku. Another outdoor restaurant, Maxine's Bisto, overlooks the passersby on this very sexy strip of Collins Avenue, making the Catalina an entertainment complex in its own right.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The Catalina's bistro is open 24 hours, making for sometimes loud, inebriated partygoers whooping it up while guests are trying to sleep.
So you're not going to find 1,000 thread count sheets, but you will get a clean room and shower at the low end of accommodations here. Pony up for a double or suite and you'll receive furnishings like leather headboards, Tempurpedic mattresses, and plasma screen TV's. Some rooms offer complimentary WiFi in the room, all offer WiFi in the lobby.
For a budget hotel, there are some pretty good perks like complimentary airport shuttle to MIA and a free happy hour from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Bathrooms are basic and clean.
The lobby can best be described as ski chalet meets Austin Powers. The main action is around the pool and at the bars and cafes.
Two pools offer different experiences. The bamboo pool is surrounded by lush foliage for a relaxing setting, while the rooftop pool is perfect for day drinking.
The rooftop pool bar offers cocktails daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There's no gym, but the hotel offers free bike rentals.
Fung Ku serves an ecclectic blend of Asian-inspired dishes. Maxine's Bistro offers solid fare 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Red Bar serves coffee by day.
A Miami Beach free trolley is available seven days a week and most South Beach attractions are walkable. Uber and taxis are the best ways to get around, and the Catalina provides a free airport shuttle to MIA.
Taquiza (15-minute walk) offers gourmet tacos and beer in an outdoor setting. The Neospresso Cafe (15-minute walk) serves coffee, espresso, and sandwiches on Lincoln Road.
Sweet Liberty (10-minute walk) is a locals' hangout that's won numerous awards for its cocktail program. Mac's Club Deuce (15-minute walk) is an old-school dive bar that's a favorite hangout of Anthony Bourdain and other celebs in the know.
WHY WE LIKE IT
For budget accommodations that are clean in a lively setting, you can't beat the Catalina's vibe and location.