This is an updated review of the Element Miami International Airport. I first came to this hotel when it was still an SPG property back in 2016. Most of you might know, but Marriott bought SPG and they merged completely in 2018. Besides that you now earn Marriott Bonvoy points, not much really changed here. Unfortunately. The only advantages of this property are the low rates you can usually book it and the size of the room you get for it. Most of the time, their standard rooms run below $100 USD. But there is a hefty parking fee of $20 USD per night attached if you bring your own car. You can try to avoid this fee by parking outside, on the side of the road as many people do, but the Element Miami International Airport is not located in the best neighborhood, and especially in Miami I wouldn’t trust to leave any valuables in my car period. I had belongings stolen once here in Miami during brought daylight in a busy parking lot. I couldn’t believe it, but that’s Miami.
Speaking about parking. The Element Miami International Airport has parking spots for electric vehicles which include a charging station and other spots in front of the hotel for low emission/fuel-efficient cars. So here starts the problem. What cars do you consider low emission or fuel-efficient? Are 16 mpg fuel-efficient or does it start at 17 mpg, maybe fuel-efficient starts at 30 mpg? Unfortunately, these parking spots are regularly used by anyone and I am sure big pick-up trucks are not considered low emission fuel-efficient. But don’t worry, people here in Miami are so rude and ignorant they also park SUVs in the electric vehicle charging stalls. Unfortunately, this is not enforced at all by the hotel. However, I was parking in a regular spot and also had my parking pass from the hotel on my car’s dash and still got a warning that this vehicle is parked illegally and next time it will be towed.
The Element Miami International Airport is located just a few miles from the Miami International Airport and right next door to the Miami Airport Rental Car Center and a major transit hub. You can walk to the rental car center and transit hub, which offers connections on Metrorail, Tri-Rail, Metrobus, Greyhound, and Megabus. This makes it very convenient to reach different parts of the city with public transportation and you don’t even have to bring a car. Downtown Miami had free transportation like the People Mover or the Miami Trolley. To get to the Element Miami International Airport from the airport, the most convenient way is by taking their complimentary shuttle bus.
There are a few more hotels in the closer vicinity of the Element Miami International Airport, but that’s about it. Nothing really worth mentioning or worth checking out. The Element Miami International Airport is fully gated but they actually used to close down the gates at night. This made me feel just saver during the night. You were able to open the door with your room key or by pressing the buzzer button at the gate to enter and the exit gate would open automatically as you pull up. Every entrance has a double gate but their newest procedure for security is now to close only one of the two gates at the entrance and the exit. 😕 I don’t know really how that makes the property any safer as one gate is wide open. I guess they can now state that they at least tried.
As I usually arrive by car, check-in is most of the time quick and easy. The only time when it comes to waiting times is when I arrive simultaneously with the airport shuttle or if you are a passenger on the shuttle. Their check-in team is nice and friendly but not the fastest. This is also a hotel where airlines book their guests in case of canceled flights, checking them in also takes quite some time. But overall, it’s an easy process and I have to sometimes remind them, what they have to do, like handing me a parking pass after I mentioned that I will be parking as well. This hotel uses contactless room keys without the usual magnetic stripe on the back. This eliminates the risk of demagnetizing them while having it close to your phone or other electronic devices. I also love them, because it’s just easier to hold the card near the reader on the room door instead of swiping it in a slot.
There are a few rooms on the ground floor but most of the rooms are located on floors 2-5. The Element Miami International Airport has actually two elevator lobbies. The main lobby is just to the left after the front desk and all the way to the end. The other one is walking down the long hallway to your right and a single elevator will be located pretty much all the way down of this hallway.
I try to get rooms on the west side of the hotel. If you stand in front of the hotel, outside the main entrance, and look at the hotel. This would be all rooms from the main entrance up and to the left. From here you have the closest way to walk from the parking spot to the elevator and then to the room. There is also a second entrance on the west side of the building. Their best rooms are the corner rooms which they call “Executive Suite”.
Besides having a terrible service, they are actually very generous if it comes to upgrades. If the Executive Suite is available during my reservation, I get upgraded if I ask during check-in. But I have to ask.
2 Queen Studio
During my first ever stay at the Element Miami International Airport, I stayed in this room type as nothing else was available. The room was located on the 4th floor right across from the elevator. Once I opened the door, I was positively surprised about the room.
It’s a pretty spacious studio room with everything you need for an extended stay. The room had a fully stocked kitchen with everything you need: Silverware, dishes, dishwasher, sink, microwave, cooktop, and a huge refrigerator with an ice chest and ice maker.
On the left side was a work desk which had a glass top. These desks look nice and you could see what was in the drawers below, like information about Miami, but they are a nightmare if you want to set up your laptop and use a mouse. I hope you better packed a mousepad. I never leave home without one. The desk had a multimedia station on top of it, where you can connect your devices to the TV through all kinds of different connections (S-Video, HDMI, VGA) and provided USB charging ports and power outlets. Next to the desk is a relatively small flatscreen TV which is mounted on a turntable to be able to watch TV while sitting at the desk, in bed, or at the kitchen counter.
My room had two queen beds which were facing the window towards the south-side. Between the beds was a nightstand with a lamp and alarm clock.
Last but not least – the bathroom. The bathroom is relatively big in these kinds of rooms. You get a nice big vanity with a lighted mirror on the wall. At the end is a walk-in shower with a glass front. Inside the shower, you find dispensers for your body wash and shampoo rather than these little bottles. Many people argue what’s better or more sanitary and so on. In my opinion, this is great, as you don’t produce a bunch of plastic waste while using a few bottles every day. Also, this is an advantage if you are opt-in to “Make A Green Choice”. This means, for every day you decline housekeeping you get bonus points or a voucher for the bar/restaurant. SPG started that and Marriott kept it after buying SPG. It’s just funny that the hotel kept the old hangers you put on your doorknob, which still says “SPG” on them.
1 Bedroom Suite (Room 554)
During my most recent stay, I got upgraded to this suite as there was no Executive Suite available anymore. Unfortunately, because I really love these rooms, they are the most spacious rooms in the hotel.
However, the 1 Bedroom Suite is not far from the Executive Suite if it comes to space. This suite has a pretty large kitchen area. The kitchen has everything you need for an extended stay: Microwave, fully stocked with dishes and silverware, dishwasher, cooktop, sink, coffee maker, closets to store your food, and a huge refrigerator with an ice chest and ice maker. It’s almost like a mini apartment.
The living area and kitchen area are separated by a work desk. This work desk also has a glass top, which looks great but is very inconvenient. First of all, it’s probably hard for housekeeping to keep it spotless (if they care that much) and again, you have to use a mousepad if you want to use a mouse with your pc. On top of the desk are a wireless in-room phone, lamp, and a multimedia station that has different ports (S-Video, VGA, HDMI) to connect your devices to the rather small flatscreen TV mounted on the wall. It also has USB charging ports and power outlets.
The living area is rather small and features an L-shaped sleeper couch facing the wall-mounted TV. Below the TV are a few shelves to stow additional items and the TV comes with a DVD player. This is rather rare in hotels, but who uses DVDs anymore? We are in the streaming-age and rather wished they would have Chromecast integrated into their systems so I can stream from my online library.
The window in the living area gives you a few toward the rental car center and transit hub. Depending on approach direction you can also see planes landing or taking off from Miami International Airport. Right below the window, you see the extended parking lot of the hotel. Even tho, that Marriott states on their website, that the windows are soundproofed, you still hear them flying by. It doesn’t distract me at all, but if you have a light sleep, it’s maybe something to consider.
This is the same few as you get it from the bedroom windows. The bedroom and kitchen area are separated by a sliding door, which is rather hard to move. On either side of the King-sized bed is a nightstand with a lamp and one side has an alarm clock while the other one has a wireless in-room phone. The lamp comes with one power port and two USB outlets to keep your devices charged. Opposite of the King Bed is the wall-mounted TV but without a DVD player. To the right of the TV is a full-size closet with iron, ironing board, and in-room safe. By the way, the controls for the blinds are located on the small wall between the bedroom and living room. Unfortunately, you can’t control the rooms individually. It will control the blinds in both rooms simultaneously.
The bathroom is well sized and comes with a vanity and a large backlit vanity mirror. To the left of it is the toilet and at the end is the walk-in shower. With showerhead and handheld showerhead. There are two wall-mounted dispensers with body wash and shampoo. Perfect if you opt-in to “Make A Green Choice” so you don’t have to call for the little plastic bottles all the time. Towels are stored under the vanity.
When you walk into the room you will see a bunch of closets on the wall to your left. Perfect for additional storage. There is also a little table with wheels and two little stools. I assume you can set this up as your dining table.
The lobby area stretches over half of the ground floor. There are plenty of seating possibilities all over the lobby. Great spot to hang out and unwind. Thanks to the many windows on either side, the lobby is relatively bright and well lit. I like how everything is on different levels, even though it’s just a step or two up or down.
Just behind the building is the heated outdoor pool. Around the pool are plenty of pool loungers. Just outside the pool and between the pool and hotel are chairs and tables. There is also a gas-powered BBQ grill. Some of them right outside of “The Salon”, the hotel’s restaurant.
Outside is also a small fire pit with chairs. This fire pit is abused by stupid guests as an ashtray and they throw their cigarette buts in there. Looks disgusting. Unfortunately, nobody at the hotel cleans it up either.
Behind the pool area is Palmer Lake. However, this lake is not accessible from the Element Miami International Airport. It’s also not a good lake to swim, as it is connected to the nearby Miami River and the Industrial Zone along with it. I am sure the water is not even close to being rated for public enjoyment.
Right inside is the large fitness center. Inside you find a big selection of workout equipment for every type.
Just outside is a small business center with two workstations and a printer. Sometimes you will see kids sitting here and playing games and occupying these stations for hours. That’s not what they are for and parents should know better. Right behind the workstations is a bicycle you can borrow and ride around, it’s complimentary. Next to it is a phone charging station that comes with different pods to securely store your phone while charging. Seems to be a coming trend here in the States as I see it more and more.
Next to the fitness center, down the hallway to the west exit of the hotel is the guest laundry. This looks almost like a commercial laundry facility as it offers a lot of washer and dryers. Usually, you find at a hotel just one or two of them. Here they have multiple setups in a large dedicated laundry room.
Along the long hallway on the other side of the lobby is also an ATM if you have to get some last-minute cash.
The Element Miami International Airport offers its guests a complimentary breakfast buffet. Which is probably one of the worst I have seen especially for that class of hotel. They used to have a hot breakfast with eggs and sausage, but that’s been gone now for a few days. Now you have the usual breakfast stuff like cereal, toast, fruits, and muffins. Not what I would call a “healthy” start in the day as it gets advertised on their website. Come early for breakfast as it gets messy here. I don’t know why but guests here make a mess all the time. They leave their empty plates all over the place, not just on their table. I kinda like that they have four toasters out, as this is basically now your main food source as there is nothing else. However, one of the toasters was broken, and another one only toasted one half of the bread but not the other. And you are promptly down again to two toasters like you usually find it at other hotels, but with a bigger selection of food. Besides the food, you have different juices, coffee, and tea as your choices to drink.
Unfortunately, the staff attending the breakfast is not very focused on doing their job. Most of the time they stand in a corner and chit-chat rather than cleaning off tables from dishes which got left behind by lazy guests or wipe the tables down. I think I never saw one of them wiping a table down during breakfast hours, only after breakfast was over. Breakfast is supposed to start at 6:30 a.m. during the week but that’s when they start putting stuff out sometimes. Then they forget stuff or put forks in the spoon tray so you have a knife, fork, and fork tray. Meticulous is different.
For dinner, you can eat at the on-site restaurant “The Salon”. Which is located next to the lobby and breakfast area. The food is ok, but really just ok. Nothing close to what I would call delicious. But if you had a long day and got in late and don’t want to drive anywhere, this will do. But not for every-night dinner. You also want to avoid the restaurant because of the 18% service charge, which does not even include gratuity. A service charge for a bare minimum of service? No, thank you. Sometimes only one waitress is working at the restaurant. She at least tries to keep up but sometimes can’t if there are too many people. The hotel should give here a little bit more help. Service is really not the best and could be improved. It’s basically a fast-food restaurant with a service charge.
Other than that, you can buy small snacks, beverages, and microwave-meals at the “Gourmet Pantry” next to the front desk. The selection is very limited and the only thing you actually can buy here are the beverages.
It’s better to dine out or have food delivered than eating at the restaurant in the Element Miami International Airport. As the rooms have a fully stocked kitchen, it’s probably better to just cook your own meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) than relying on the hotel.
From Monday through Thursday the Element Miami International Airport has a social event going on from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. For snacks, they have bread and cheese cubes decorated with some fruits and serve unfortunately only alcoholic beverages. If they can get their kegerator to work you can choose between two beers and either red or white wine. The beers are both not really my taste and the wines are at least somewhat okay. At least you get the good old cheese cubes which you know from pretty much every airport lounge in the United States. I wish they would have been a little bit more creative and at least change it up every night.
What should I say? The Element Miami International Airport is great if you are here for an extended stay and don’t expect any service from the hotel other than providing a room. If you want to enjoy breakfast or the restaurant at the hotel, I wouldn’t consider staying at this hotel. There are better options nearby like the Hyatt Place Miami Airport East or the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel.
The biggest negative point is the staff here. I had many issues while staying here. Like when I told them to check me out and I just have to grab one more bag out of the room. It was 5 a.m. when I checked out, but he told me that he can’t check me out because then I can’t enter my room anymore. My room key is still good until noon, but he told me that he would check me out at noon instead so I can grab my bag. I am sure you know what happened! He didn’t check me out and I still got charged for the remaining three nights. I had to call in and explain my situation and they wouldn’t even believe me that it happened. Then there is the issue with “Make A Green Choice”. I love the idea of doing something good for the environment and also to earn some bonus points. However, the staff didn’t honor the sign I put on the doorknob and still cleaned my room. Sometimes only halfway and just made the bed but didn’t actually clean anything. I talked to the front desk and they told me, they will add the points (I don’t know if it ever happened, as there is no real way to track it) and also talk to housekeeping. The next day, housekeeping was still cleaning my room. At least I got the points. Another guy didn’t know how dry cleaning works. When I tried to drop off my bag with the paperwork inside, he told me that they don’t do that at the front desk and I have to go to the guest laundry facilities. It took me a bit of explaining for him to understand. Also, I stopped by at the front desk to pick up more forms for dry cleaning. The guy working the shift wasn’t able to find them and told me that he will send them to my room. After 45 minutes of waiting and nobody delivering the forms, I went back down to the front desk to ask what’s happening. He completely forgot about the forms and a colleague of him was actually able to find the forms right at the front desk.
Overall I had a very negative stay experience, but if you want to feel the real “Miami Attitude” you are right here. I am coming here for business and have to deal with other businesses in the area. Unfortunately, same as the hotel, nobody cares. It’s a nightmare but it’s the general attitude you will find in Miami. I basically like this place only because of the cheap rates which allow me to requalify for my Marriott Bonvoy status relatively cheap. Unfortuantely, to cheap if I want to become ambassador member.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.