First of all, there is of course the private club aspect of the property. Only members and their guests, and hotel guests, can access most of the facilities, although Cecconi's, the Italian restaurant, is open to the public.
The members-only policy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but we found it far from pretentious--staff treated us warmly even though we were just overnight visitors, and we loved the quiet feel of the lobby and bar areas. The location helps, too--being on the Mid-Beach stretch at 43rd and Collins means being worlds away from the Ocean Drive frat-boy, Fat Tuesday land.
We also loved the cozy feel of the decor: vintage accents, comfy couches and pretty patterns reminded us of our stay at Crosby Street Hotel in New York (yeah, the Brit thing), and we didn't feel like we were going to break anything or dirty up an all-white room like those at so many of Miami's ultra-modern hotels. Plus, the rooms were easily triple the size of the poky little rooms at many of the Art Deco-style hotels down on South Beach.
Apart from the obvious appeal of Soho Beach House's many amenities--a gorgeous pool, beach and boardwalk access, the Cowshed Spa (more on that soon), and being able to have a bartender mix cocktails in your own room--the hotel gets bonus points from us for exceeding our hotel expectations in the following ways: room service arriving in 10 minutes; full-size Cowshed products (including a range of shower gels to choose from) in the bathroom; a basket full of the stuff we often wish hotels carried, such as toothpaste, razor, comb, tampon, condoms and ear plugs; and a beach bag hanging in the closet that you can use during your stay.
Did we mention that the rooms are huge?
We paid a media rate of $195 + tax while on assignment for an Australian publication. Rooms usually start at $400 a night.