2. Freehand Miami—First, we should point out that this place, as funky, hip, and good-looking as it is, is actually a hostel, not a hotel. But for the right budget-minded traveler, it serves just as well as any other place in town. Owned by the Sydell Group (we've been hearing a lot about them recently), the hotel offers private and shared accommodations with a variety of room types (single, bunk, super 8). But the amenities (a swimming pool, bocce courts, bike rentals, ping pong table) are top-notch, and sort of guarantee that even if you show up solo, you're bound to make a few fast friends. Beds from $30, rooms from $150. Be sure to check out our full review of Freehand Miami later today!
3. Clinton South Beach—We know what you're thinking: 'isn't this where that hooker got stabbed?' Technically, yes. However, this is Miami, and stuff happens. So aside from the crime scene that greeted us last month, this place wasn't so bad. Rooms show a little wear and tear, but it's got all the important elements covered (clean beds, functional bathrooms, free airport shuttle). And if you don't feel comfortable hanging around the public spaces (for fear of being stabbed), then you're in luck: the hotel is literally one block away from the beach, where you can sun away the hours, pimp-free. Rates from $129.
4. Circa 39—With bright, clean, lime green-accented rooms, this boutique hotel on the northern section of Collins Ave is an excellent choice for beach-oriented folks who want to enjoy a quieter side of Miami. Though we once called it the "poor man's Delano," we're now thinking that's more of a compliment than a put down. Indeed, the place is spotless, staff are super-friendly, and there's a great scene over in the lobby bar (two-for-one drinks from 5-7pm every night!). Rates from $134.
5. Hampton Inn Miami Brickell—If Downtown Miami (rather than South Beach) is your preference, hit up this relatively new 15-storey tower located right next to the Brickell Metromover station. The hotel's got two major things going for it: the building is LEED-certified, and it's got some pretty slick public spaces, filled with original art. So whether you end up at the brightly-colored lobby bar, or overlooking the city from the rooftop pool deck, you'll always have options other than staring at a wall in your room. Rates from $194.
6. Element Miami International Airport—Here's another option slightly outside the main hub, ideal for folks with a quick 24-hour (or less) layover in MIA, or anyone who just really loves the Element brand. Indulge your inner Captain Planet with amenities like filtered water, soy-based furniture cushions, plenty of natural light, eco-friendly cleaning agents, recycled carpets, and free healthy breakfast options. Oh, the heated outdoor pool doesn't hurt, either. Rates from $149.
[Photos: HotelChatter;Freehand Miami; HotelChatter; Hampton Inn & Suites; Element]