IMPORTANT NOTE: Since this review was written, the Marlin has been sold, renovated and upgraded. It’s a completely new hotel and I’m actually looking forward to stay there again.
UPDATE: The Marlin Hotel has a new owner. And the place was in desperate need of it. Currently found in spot #181 of 202 hotels in Miami Beach, (that would be TripAdvisor, then), 20 out of 40 reviewers rate it “terrible”, (TripAdvisor again). Under the new, Brazilian ownership, The Marlin has been blessed with a new bar/lounge – the Elite Lounge. Soon the now 14 rooms will get an overhaul. Looking forward to the new-opening!
It’s kinda sad. In fact, it’s very sad.
Only five years ago, I would have told you that The Marlin was one of the most spectacular hotels ever. The entrance and the lobby used to be a favourite of mine (always felt a bit cooler when hanging out there). The bar, with its distinctive polished metal design, was very polished indeed and in the opium den you could listen to incredible live music.
The Marlin story in short:
Designed by F. Murray Dixon in 1937, the hotel entered a new era when Chris Blackwell came about. Blackwell had founded Island Record in 1959 and after signing Blondie, U2 and, above all, Bob Marley. Soon Blackwell is a rich, puffing Jamaican don mega. He creates the hotel chain Island Outpost by buying The Marlin in 1990. At this time South Beach is still the playground for hippies and druggies. The Marlin undergoes an extensive renovation, boasting 11 large suites. Blackwell also grabs the opportunity to fit a recording studio into the building. The year 1998 means that Barbara Hulanicki is supervising an interior transformation, where the bar gets its trademark stainless steel design. During the opening night, a well-known band called the Rolling Stones is entertaining the guests. All of a sudden, The Marlin is hotter than Beyoncés nipples.
Eight years later, none of that grandeur remains.
The stainless steel bar is no more. It now looks like an over-aged punkrocker has tried to recreate something from his lost youth. Even the sign above the entrance looks jaded. There’s an odd guy looming around in the lobby. After a while I realize that this is not somebody who didn’t pass the audition for the butler of the Addams Family, but the guy manning the reception. Thank’s for the warm welcome, Lurch.
But it’s not just exterior and lobby.
Suites are not clean. It takes two calls to the reception to get new sheets in the bed. My suite is next door to The Romance Suite, where Beyoncé is supposed to have stayed while recording her first solo album. That’s what the hotel web site will tell you. It’s obvious that the hotel is trying to exploit what is not longer there. To comic effect at times. The hotel web also tells that a Mr. Steve Perry of the group Aerosmith wrote the song ‘Pink’ while staying in suite # 306. The problem is that there’s no Steve Perry in the Aerosmith line-up (there is however a Steven Tyler and a Joe Perry).
The Elite Model agency have moved out of their office on the first floor as well. There’s no trace of Chris Blackwell’s genius in this building. None at all.
What is remaining though, is the recording studio.
I don’t know the name of the hip-hop artist who is recording during my four-night stay, but I sure can tell he was working hard. And until sunrise. I wish him the best of luck with his next record release. The hotel claims the studio is ‘completely soundproofed’. Not true.
So what do you get when staying here?
Well there’s still the fantastic entrance facing Collins Avenue. The building itself still has a lot of charm. Rooms are spacious, to say the least and they come with free high-speed internet and working toasters. But until the Palm Resorts Group has managed to get their shit just a little bit better together, I do recommend everybody to stay away from this place. Sad but true.
1200 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139