Difficult to Get a Good Night’s Sleep in Miami Beach

Thompson Miami Beach

Thompson Miami Beach

I was just in Miami to attend the South Beach Wine and Food Festival as a guest of Certified Angus Beef. The first night they put me up at the Thompson Miami Beach and the next two nights, I stayed at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Both are beautiful hotels but it was the first time I had to switch rooms so many times. Would you believe I switched rooms five times in just three days?

Thompson Miami Beach room

Thompson Miami Beach room

The Thompson Miami Beach
At The Thompson it wasn’t so bad since the problem was with the room temperature. Miami was already seasonably cold so I really didn’t like that my first room’s heat didn’t work and that the temperature was set at 54F degrees. When I called down, it took a couple times for someone to answer the phone which I think is unacceptable for a luxury hotel. Then they sent a couple of cool workers up to my room to see what was going on. They spent a good 45 minutes in there trying to fix the heater before offering to switch me to another room.

It was an awkward 45 minutes since I had work to do but couldn’t really concentrate with them in there. Then when they switched me, I tried to take a nap since I’d woken up at 3am for my 6am flight but the hallway noise from the maids was just too much. I have no idea how they allow the maids to keep slamming the doors after each time they go from the rooms to their carts. I understand the doors are heavy and close automatically but they need to come up with a better system. Same can be said about the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 956 in Chateau tower

Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 956 in Chateau tower

Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Business travelers need to be warned to stay away from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach between Wednesday and Sunday. That’s because the hotel is party central. First of all, they have a lot of rooms with connecting doors and they are so thin that you can hear everything that your neighbor is doing. Including blowing their nose. The worst is when it’s two couples sharing a room and they don’t like to sleep, opting instead to watch movies and talk really loud until after 3am. I understand that people are on vacation and want to have fun but that’s when I finally waved the white flag and switched rooms.

But that wasn’t the real reason because I put ear plugs in so I was able to block out most of their noise. The real reason was because at 2:30am, I woke up to music thumping like it was New Year’s Eve, 1999. My whole bed was vibrating … and I was on the ninth floor.

I was exhausted but managed to call down to the hotel operator and ask, with my mouth guard still in (yeah, I wear one and I know it’s sexy) what time the music would stop? She said 5am. My eyes almost popped out of my head. I mumbled that that was not going to work for me and then she connected me to the front desk.

Bed at Fontainebleau Miami Beach Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 956 in Chateau tower

Bed at Fontainebleau Miami Beach Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 956 in Chateau tower

A gentleman named Daniel answered and asked if I could be placed on hold – yes. Two minutes later he returned, asking how he could help.  I asked (without any attitude) if my room was right above the nightclub. “Pretty much,” he said. I asked if the music was really going to continue until 5am? Yep. Is it going on tomorrow night too? “Yes, sir. Wednesday through Sunday. Do you want to move?”

I was beat and my bed was so nice and warm and comfortable that I didn’t want to leave. So I decided to try and go back to sleep but told him that for sure I would need to move the next day since I couldn’t take another night of this. I put my ear plugs back in but between the young couples in the room next door talking loudly, watching TV and possibly throwing up, and the thumping of the music, I called Daniel back and said I need to move.

He was great. I asked if it was possible to get the same floor so I didn’t have to get into the elevator. He said he only had double beds available and I said that was fine. I sluggishly gathered all of my stuff scattered around the room. The bellman quickly came up and gave me new keys so I went from room 956 to 925.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 926 in Chateau tower

Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 926 in Chateau tower

When I walked into the room, I realized it was definitely a downgrade, it smelled funny and I could hear a party going on two rooms over. On top of that, I could still slightly hear the night club thump (I have dog ears). Daniel randomly called to see if I was satisfied with the room but the cordless phone’s battery must have been old because it kept hanging up on him. Luckily, he kept calling back and on the third time, I was smart enough to use the other phone. He asked if I wanted to change towers and I agreed that I’d better. He said he would send the bellman. This time the bellman didn’t come so quickly so I thought I would save some time by meeting him by elevator. Still no one. Then I heard a room phone ringing a few rooms away (that’s how thin the doors are and/or how loud the phone ringers are) and figured it was Daniel so I grabbed the house phone by elevator and called down. “I was just calling you,” he said.

Switching rooms at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Switching rooms at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

I wobbled downstairs all disheveled with my hair sticking straight up, eyes crusty, shirt out and bag half open. I grabbed the new key from Daniel and walked what felt like a New York City block from the Chateau tower to the Versailles. Along the way, a half-dressed, drunk girl accompanied by a way-too-smiley dude came out of the elevator and as she walked by me, she asked, “Do I look pretty?” I said she looked a whole better than I did and her boyfriend laughed.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 1264 in Versailles Tower

Fontainebleau Miami Beach room 1264 in Versailles Tower

The Versailles tower is not as nice as the Chateau tower but at least you can’t hear the night club. I couldn’t fall asleep for a while so I decided to write this post: 10 Reasons Not to Stay at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach if You are a Business Traveler.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach dumb art work

Fontainebleau Miami Beach dumb art work

  1. Noise from the night club
  2. Noise from connecting rooms. It’s ridiculous.
  3. Noise from guests slamming their doors
  4. Noise from maids allowing the heavy doors to slam every time they clean a room. Why don’t they just put a stopper instead of going in and out of rooms every two minutes?!
  5. Dirty windows.
  6. Resort fee (Unfortunately, I think most of the hotels in Miami charge it so you should just pick another city.)
  7. Dumb artwork (see photo above)
  8. Evil mini bar where it charges you after lifting something up for 20 seconds or longer.
  9. It’s huge! 1,600 rooms.
  10. No complimentary bottled water. For $500+ a night, you would think they would supply bottled water, wouldn’t you?

I was going to add that there weren’t enough electrical outlets by the bed but that was just in the Versailles Tower. On the flip side, the 10 reasons to stay at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach are:

  1. Rooms are sleek and comfortable.
  2. They all come with desktop Mac computers.
  3. They have large flat screen TVs.
  4. The bathroom is stocked with Molton Brown toiletries.
  5. Daniel, the front desk night manager, is the man.
  6. It’s on the beach.
  7. It’s next to a marina.
  8. They have huge events and conferences here so you don’t need to travel far to get to meetings.
  9. They filmed a bunch of movies and TV shows here.
  10. They know how to party if that’s what you’re looking for.

I would definitely stay at both of these hotels again to give them another shot just in case I caught them at a bad time. How about you? Have you stayed at either of these hotels and how was your experience?


Johnny Jet

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Johnny Jet
I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

29 Comments on "Difficult to Get a Good Night’s Sleep in Miami Beach"

  1. Clara Bosonetto | February 25, 2015 at 9:06 am | Reply

    I’m exhausted! Thanks, Johnny. Note taken.

  2. Whew! I think I need a nap after hearing that. Thanks for the pointers for my next vacation.

  3. I did not stay at either of those but at an airport hotel in Miami.
    I had the same problem with the doors slamming.
    I had just fallen asleep at midnight and a door slammed and woke me up.
    After that I couldn’t fall back asleep – it ruined my whole night!

  4. No one walks in LA, right? Well, no one sleeps in Miami, I guess.

  5. Nice post Johnny. I had a similar experience. Once a hotel put me in a room right above the dance floor on graduation party. I got to the hotel about 4:00 that day with my family. The party and music did not start until 10:00 pm. They need to reserve those rooms for the party goers.

  6. Wow, what an ordeal! I hate noisy hotels so thanks for the warning.

  7. Sorry to hear the miscues at the two hotels. Miami Beach isn’t exactly the place you go to relax. Sounds more like you (we) are getting old my friend…

  8. I agree on the maids letting the doors slam, but they do it in lots of hotels al over the country. Most annoying.

  9. Hey Johnny! I hope you know I like and respect you so much but this story is not one of your best. I get that hotel problems can really ruin a trip. But these two hotels aren’t meant for business travelers at all, so complaining about them to this degree and stating that they’re not suitable for a business traveler is like wondering why there’s no vegetarian dishes on the menu at a steak restaurant. Also, the “dumb art” that you showed a photo of is actually a copy of a piece by the artist John Baldessari, a work that was made in 1971. It’s a lithograph that’s actually widely respected in the modern art community and the original is hanging in NYC in the MOMA I believe. I hope you do give the Fontainebleau another try sometime. I went for a music event and had a really wonderful time there!! There’s a post on my blog about it.

    • Thanks Kirsten for the comment and letting me know about the artist. I figured it was someone famous but I just didn’t like it at all and it was in all three of my rooms. Also, I would argue that the Fountainebleau is geared towards business travelers since it’s 1,600 rooms and has a huge conference center. I really liked the Thompson with the exception of the slamming doors.

  10. I’ve stayed in Miami Beach twice in the last year. Both right on the beach, and also way cheaper than over $500 bucks a night!! I was worried about experiences just like you mentioned, Johnny, but experienced NONE!!! Did have a fire alarm at one of them, which was actually nothing but burnt toast, and at the othe, hotel, the front desk made a HUGE mistake and gave another guest OUR room, AND a key to get in… Ya, that was creepy, but we overlooked it and our stays were both EXCELLENT!! I am a VERY light sleeper, so noise in other rooms, music, traffic, etc. keeps me awake. I experienced none of these noises, and even slept without my best friends. Also known as earplugs!

  11. I stayed at the Fontainebleau, I don’t remember the name of the tower, but it was the one that felt like it was a half an hour walk to the lobby. I would not pay to stay there again! The room was not very nice, the walk was horrible, that horrible art work that you have pictured was in our room, and the balcony door was broken. We called down to have it fixed and after about an hour of work, it was so called fixed, but not really. Not what I expected for the price at all and I definitely agree, they should at least provide you with bottled water.

  12. A couple of suggestions: 1. When making your reservation tell the res. person of your sleeping issues so a note can be made..do the same at check in time. 2. Don’t use one of the hotel reservation systems online like hotels.com they specialize in using the lessor wanted rooms that’s how they “save you money” call your travel agent to make the reservation it’s worth it. 3. This is an OLD hotel and things like outlets (how many were needed back then) and sound proofing have greatly improved over the years. 4. Get yourself a “white noise” machine, they can be real life savers or go to sleep listening to your favorite relaxing music. 5. Take a snack never use the mini-bars.

  13. I’ve not stayed at either of these hotels preferring those with less than 200 rooms if possible. Convention hotels are just too crazy for me as they host a myriad of travelers and turn over so frequently. I have changed rooms and agree a good front desk manager makes all the difference. My profile states ” quiet room away from elevators, etc” and this might mean a long walk and no view but I happily sacrifice that. If I arrive to a connecting door I try to move immediately as the sneezing, coughing, etc is too close for comfort for me. shame you had these experiences but good to note for my business travelers to avoid

  14. My dearest wife and veteran travel writer Debbi has always told me she loves staying at hotels. I’ve always told her “hotels are not places where you get sleep and rest — they’re places where you get a room and a bath. You’re CONSTANTLY harassed by people – whether it’s the Front Desk calling your room, neighbors making noise, or Housekeeping knocking on your door.” 90% of Housekeeping staff will knock on your door EVEN WHEN YOU PLACE A DND ON THE DOOR. It’s a fact that in most hotels, your privacy is constantly assaulted by one person or another, whether staff or guests. Yes, the more upscale the property, the lower likelihood this will happen – but it’s happened to us at even Four Seasons and The Ritz. Ugh.

  15. Hi Johnny,

    “Hotel Impossible” – it must have been really bad since you rarely complain that much about a specific hotel.
    I hope they gave you your money back.



  16. Johnny, I feel your pain. True story: several years ago I was staying at the Versailles hotel in Miami Beach, a 3 star, during spring break. I had arrived late and was exhausted. After falling asleep the connecting room next door occupants came home and proceeded to have a massive party. It felt like my bed was in the middle of their party. I called downstairs and there were no rooms available to change to. So I ended up stripping all the bedding off the bed and making a little nest for myself in the walk-in closet to sleep in. I then took the mattress off the bed and put it up against the connecting door to try to muffle the sound. Put some toilet paper in my ears as your plugs and curled up in my little nest and finally was able to get a little sleep.

  17. My husband and I stayed at the Fontainebleau and fortunately did not encounter any of the problems you had to endure. We were on vacation and I believe there lies the difference. We enjoyed the pool and the amenities the hotel had to offer. My knowledge of art is somewhat limited but even so, I would have had no appreciation or tolerance for that piece!! Also, I liked the fact that you followed the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try AGAIN!!!!

  18. One additional comment- I would hope that the artist, John Baldessari, would heed his advice and internalize his words on the painting- “I will not make any more boring art”!!!

  19. Ten great reasons to just stay at the Motel 6. Sixes are clean, close to everywhere, and, with the money you’ve saved, you could buy your own Mac.

  20. And I felt badly, I didn’t get to stay there a few years ago! Thank You! Love South Beach & Miami & ocean! Scary place for a woman alone tho’ Also LOVED the duck!!

  21. Johnny, just saw this post. I feel for you — and for those who replied indicating you need to put on your big-boy pants, I’m guessing they are not travel writers, who sleep in so many different rooms for such a short time it’s hard to know where you are, much less get comfortable.

    I always stick in the earplugs and put on the sleep mask, set the alarm on my cellphone but do not put it next to my bed, lest I wake up before the alarm goes off but forget the phone. And too often I have to curse the previous room occupants who left the clock radio alarm for 4 a.m.

    bob j.

  22. I used to love visiting Miami and would get in to town 2-4 times a year, but with the removal of the Eden Roc from Marriott’s portfolio and the Diplomat switching over the Hilton there are no good chain options ocean front and all the independent places worth staying at suffer the same fate of the Fountainbleu with their too high prices and poor services/amenities. Very disappointing.

    • Hi, Johnny. Try the http://www.AirBnB.com. I have stayed with them 9 times all over the world and have never been disappointed. Always < $100 USD per night and most provide coffee, tea, refrigerator, as well as maps, guide books, local travel tips and discount information.

  23. Recently, while staying in a hotel in India that had a rock concert aka wedding going on right outside my window, in desperation I resorted to using my white noise iPhone app with my noise canceling ear buds. I could not hear a thing and had one of the best night’s sleep I’d ever had when travelling. I did this every night while I was away and could sleep anywhere, even on overnight trains which are notoriously noisy (I travelled with a group who didn’t sleep so well, so wasn’t worried about my luggage—keep your wits about you if you are travelling on a train solo in India).

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