24-Hour Room Service: The Tides, South Beach, Miami, USA

There's a telescope in every room, a message board and chalk by the door, and a notepad beside the toilet in case inspiration strikes while you're on the loo. No detail, however quirky, has been overlooked. Beside the stereo in every room is a CD-mini-bar containing a selection of mood music. While you're out at night, cookies are left on the pillow, the bed is turned down and music is turned on low.

There's a telescope in every room, a message board and chalk by the door, and a notepad beside the toilet in case inspiration strikes while you're on the loo. No detail, however quirky, has been overlooked. Beside the stereo in every room is a CD-mini-bar containing a selection of mood music. While you're out at night, cookies are left on the pillow, the bed is turned down and music is turned on low.

Music plays a big part at The Tides, because it's one of the Island Outpost hotels developed by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records. Blackwell launched the record label in Jamaica in 1959, where he'd spent much of his childhood. He moved to London in 1962, and over the years signed musicians as diverse as Steve Winwood, Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, Grace Jones and U2.

Always looking for a fresh challenge, Blackwell branched out into film with Island Alive (remember Kiss of the Spider Woman and Mona Lisa?) and, in 1991, founded Island Outpost with the opening of the Marlin in Miami. This wacky hotel-cum-recording studio in Miami's South Beach has been credited with kickstarting the regeneration of the area.

There are now five properties in the Island Outpost portfolio in Miami; the Marlin, Cavalier, Kent, Casa Grande and The Tides, each with its own distinct flavour. In Blackwell's original stomping ground, Jamaica, there are four more – including Goldeneye, Ian Fleming's old home – and a further two pop up in the Bahamas.

The Tides is Island Outpost's flagship hotel, a shining white vision of Art Deco glory designed by L Murray Dixon in 1936, overlooking the ocean on Miami's ritzy South Beach.

Location, location, location

Enviable. The Tides is at 1220 Ocean Drive (001 305 604 5070, www.islandoutpost.com), in Miami's Art Deco district.

Time to international airport: Roughly half an hour, depending on traffic. Miami International Airport is ten miles west of the beach. There's a fixed price for taxis from the airport to South Beach of $24 (£16.85), plus tip. If you're having to save cash to pay the bill, take the bus instead.

Are you lying comfortably?

Oh yes. In the bedroom, by the pool, on the beach. When the hotel was converted in 1997, the original 115 rooms were turned into the current 45 rooms and suites. The standard room is a cavernous 600 sq ft. Each has an ocean view and, from the crisp white linen to the TV suspended from the wall, is decorated in pearly shades of white. CDs for the state-of-the-art music system include Island Outpost compilations (which you can buy for $15).

Freebies: Aveda products in the bathroom, complimentary beach facilities (sun lounger, umbrella, towels, board games, magazines and sun-tan lotions) and free use of a nearby yoga centre and fitness club

Keeping in touch: Three two-line telephones (one cordless), with voice mail and an extra phone line for fax/modem.

The bottom line

A deluxe ocean-front room (the most basic) costs $525 (£368.50).

I'm not paying that: The Kent 1131 Collins Ave (001 305 604 5068, www.thekenthotel.com) has rooms from $145 (£101).

Lucy Gillmore
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