Miami Beach’s Circa 39: Art deco coziness
By Eric Moya
Talk about synergy: Miami Beach’s Circa 39 hotel sits at the corner of Collins Avenue and 39th Street, and it was built in 1939 (as the Copley Plaza Hotel and Sherwood Apartments).
In 2008, the property, part of the Pre-
ferred Hotels & Resorts collection, was
purchased by current owners the Krause
family, who renovated it completely in
2014. Through it all, its art deco roots —
its circa-’ 39 aesthetic, one might say —
are still in evidence.
I should confess: During a hosted overnight stay last fall, I wasn’t able to sample
some of Circa 39’s key features. I skipped
its pool deck and gym and only glanced at
the courtyard garden connecting the 97-
room property’s two buildings.
The garden, a press release tells me,
“enchants with tropical plants, exotic
birds and relaxing seating options,” which
sounds lovely. But there wasn’t time; with
a scant five hours or so between my arrival and bedtime, I had much to explore
in Miami Beach before heading to Fort
Lauderdale in the morning.
And Circa 39 certainly encourages
off-property exploration. As soon as I
checked in, the staff asked if they could
help with restaurant recommendations or
offer any other guidance on how I should
spend my evening. They directed me to
the boardwalk, a mere Collins Avenue
crosswalk away, as the best way to navigate the hotel’s Mid-Beach neighborhood.
Before that, however, I would have been
remiss in skipping the hotel’s WunderBar.
It was, after all, happy hour at a property
targeting the “down-to-earth, chic, bud-get-conscious” vacationer, as the Circa 39
literature states, so I felt duty-bound to
check out the offerings.
I ordered a couple of light bites from
the WunderBar’s $5 happy hour menu:
a jerk chicken taco and an order of three
“Floribbean” wings (dressed in a mango
and scotch bonnet barbecue sauce). They
were downsized portions of the small
plates available from Jules Kitchen, Circa
39’s restaurant offering “feel-good food
from far-flung places.”
Rum is well represented at the Wunder-
Bar, with a dizzying array of aged, spiced
and other varieties lining a wall of its
modest, lobby-level space.
The bar makes good use of its inventory with a variety of specialty cocktails
— “Wunder Drinks” in Circa 39 parlance.
I had a Cherry Libre: a rum-and-Coke
variation made with Bacardi Superior,
Heering cherry liqueur and
hecho-en-Mexico Coca-Cola (sweetened with cane
sugar instead of corn syrup).
Beer selection leans toward the local,
with offerings from Tampa-based Cigar
City and South Florida’s Funky Buddha.
I spent a few hours walking along the
boardwalk and deciding where to have
dinner in Mid-Beach (I settled on Cuban
food) before calling it a night. I settled
into my homey room, where the green-and-white patterned wallpaper, deep-orange curtains and rattan furniture reminded this somewhat roadworn travel
writer that he was in South Florida.
Six hours or so later I was fueling up at
the Jules Kitchen breakfast buffet, set to
drive about an hour north to Fort Lauderdale. My stay at Circa 39 was all too
short, but if I ever have the occasion to
return I happily would, perhaps finally
checking out that pool deck or garden, icy
Cherry Libre in hand.
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A guestroom at Circa 39, a
97-room property in Miami
Beach’s Mid-Beach neighborhood.