Before getting into the meat of this Element Miami Brickell review, I’d like to clarify two important points (in case you found my blog for the first time).
First, I don’t write hate posts. I always share my experience as a way of journaling. I write what I lived, you judge. I always write in a very positive manner, and even when I do comparisons, it’s always bringing the positive aspects forward. I’m not a big fan of hard critics toward workers that are trying their best.
Second, I’m a big Marriott fan, and I’ve been a Titanium Elite Member for 5 years, and have stayed over 400 nights at their properties so far. Sure, some have been great, and some others weren’t. I even have issues or trouble multiple times, but when I write my reviews I never include those issues, because that’s the feedback I give to the property to improve the service.
However, this time is different. My poor experience at the Element Miami Brickell hotel was not a one-time thing, it was a result of numerous fundamental flaws in their management, team, property, and service. I lived there for 22 nights, and I could see and hear firsthand the complaints from other guests as well.
Feel free to let me know in the comments what’s your experience if you stay at the Element Miami Brickell hotel in 2023 and I will be happy to update this guide to capture some of your most recent trips, to keep it fresh.
Long-story short (TL;DR)
I spent 24 nights at the Element Miami Brickell Hotel. The property was nice but the management team and staff were terrible. Breakfast was disastrous, the room was noisy, and the cleaning service was the dirtiest I’ve seen in over 500 hotel stays. When I checked out, they charged me $300 for room damages, they acknowledged it was a mistake, but never reimbursed me. I’m never staying here again.
1. The Price (My 600k Point Booking)
Before making this booking I did a lot of research. I had to stay for about a month in Miami and wanted something with a kitchen and desk to be able to work. I ended up booking the Element Miami Brickell hotel with points, given that the value-to-points rate was quite decent.
The room I booked was a 1 Bedroom Suite, which has a king bed and a sofa bed. The regular price of a night was $284 USD per night (including taxes). In cash, the 24 nights gave a total of $6816 USD.
With points, instead, the rate was 30.000 points/night. Marriott has every 5th night free, so booking 25 nights is the same price as booking 20 nights, which was a total of 600.000 points, plus $568 in taxes for the entire stay.
When you do the math, the value of those 600k points was $6284, which gives about 1.05 cents per point. Not the best, but a decent rate for such a room and a long stay. Element also includes free (basic) breakfast to all guests and has a laundry room, gym, and pool, which were all pluses at that point.
2. The Property (The Good)
The hotel is at the heart of Brickell (the financial district), at walking distance from Brickell City Centre. It’s also 10min away from Downtown Miami (by car), and close to the Miami Loop. You can easily take the train to and from Miami International Airport, or the loop lines to go downtown or other places.
The area around Brickell City Centre is nice (and slightly expensive). It has plenty of nightlife with lots of bars, restaurants, and pubs.
Interestingly, the Element Miami Brickell is co-located with the AC Brickell hotel. This means that they share the property: the left side of the building is the Element hotel, and the right side is AC. The whole exterior is painted in both white (Element) and black (AC).
The entrance is incorrectly marked on Google Maps: it’s over SW 1st Ct, and not over 115 SW 8th Street (keep that in mind when calling an Uber or Lyft).
When you enter the building, there’s a hall that goes straight to the elevators. The lobby is on the 6th floor, and not on the ground floor.
It’s a bit confusing at first to have co-located hotels, but then you get used it it. Every floor of both hotels are connected. Some elevators leave you on the AC side (which is all painted in black), and you need to go through a connecting door to access the Element side.
I checked in at around 19:00 after my Swiss flight from Zurich. The check-in process was quick and I was handed out a bunch of $20 USD voucher valid for either food at the AC Bar, at the Pool bar, for a 1-mile ride in a Tesla, or for a discount at a Yoga class. These vouchers sound great, you’d think they would save you some money in food, but no.
Turns out that to use the voucher in the AC bar or pool bar, you always need to pay taxes yourself. Plus, if you consider the prices of drinks or beverages, the best you can get (using those vouchers) is a plate of hummus for about $5.
When you check-in, they also give you a green bracelet which shows that you have breakfast included and differentiates you from guests at AC hotels. This is mainly to prevent AC guests of having free breakfast at Element. You need to bring this bracelet and show it every time you have breakfast.
After checking in, I went straight to the room on the 21st floor (the last one). Luckily, as soon as I entered I took pictures of the room for this review. These pictures are key to what happens next.
The 1 Bedroom Suite is the second-largest room at the Element Miami Brickell hotel. It has a living area with a Sofa bed, TV, access to the bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchenette. The room is fairly big for a couple.
The sofa bed was comfortable, and the desk was large and with easy access to power outlets. Both TVs are equipped with a casting feature that you can use to stream from your computer or from streaming services directly.
The bathroom looked nice and fresh, although there was no bathtub. Access to the bathroom is only through the living area, so keep that in mind for a party of 3 (which is allowed in this room)
The room had great views of the Brickel Centre, the loop, and the bridge. At night, the views were amazing and colorful.
The kitchenette had everything you need for a long stay, including a big fridge, microwave, toaster, pans, and utensils. There’s no oven, tho, which is reasonable to prevent hard smells.
The downside of this room was the noise. You could hear almost everything that happened in the other rooms. In addition, the Element Miami Brickell hotel has a lounge pub called Rosa Sky. This lounge is also located on floor 21st and opens late at night, so all the noise from the pub filters through the rooms.
Since this room is right below the gym (on floor 22), you can also hear the treadmills when people are running above you.
Another drawback of the room was the poor lighting it has. During the night it is really hard to see sometimes and there’s not an option for stronger lights.
The pool area is located on the 6th floor, right after you pass the lobby and breakfast area. First, there’s a bar with a few tables and a fence that lets you through the pool. The pool isn’t very big, so it’s not fit for training. But it is comfortable for chilling, and it’s surrounded by chairs and sunbeds of different types and sizes.
The pool area is also noisy, as it is at the same level as the Miami loop (you can see the train right from the poolside). The hotel has several speakers with loud lounge music (mainly house and EDM) to hide a bit of the noise. Don’t expect this to be a quiet area. It’s more of an area to socialize and drink, maybe grab something to eat as well.
In the pictures below, you can also see one of the plates I ordered at the pool bar using one of the $20 USD vouchers (I still paid $5 for it, tho).
The gym is at the 22nd floor, one floor above my room. The equipment is rather basic, but everything is new, as the hotel opened in December 2021. There are some machines, dumbells, and also a section with treadmills and bikes. Keep in mind the gym is always freezing (they keep the temperature very low).
The gym has its own toilet inside the gym area, which was always very clean. You can also fill water bottles with a water filter embedded in the wall.
The treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals all sync with your phone or Apple Watch to save your workout and read your heart rate and other metrics.
The view from the gym is also nice, and the only caveat is that during some hours, there’s so much light from the reflection of the sun on the buildings in front, that it might be hard to look out the window.
Another convenient thing at the Element Miami Brickell was that they have a laundry room on the 8th floor. Although one dryer was broken, you can use the washing machine for $1.5 (30-min) and the dryer for $1.75 (45-min). This is pretty neat for long stays.
You can get soap or detergent at the Publix supermarket which is 2 mins away. The machines work only with quarters (25p), and you need to be careful and plan ahead since there can be a long queue of people waiting for them at certain times.
3. The Service (The Bad)
Breakfast was a hell of an experience at Element Miami Brickell. In theory, the offering seems to be a solid breakfast like in any other Element hotel. However, the poor management and execution made it the worst breakfast experience I’ve ever had.
What they offer was:
- Tea and Coffee: regular and decaf, with almond, oat, light, or 2% milk, and half-and-half.
- Cereal: granola with greek or vanilla yogurt, oatmeal, nuts, sliced almonds, and coconut. They also had chocolate and honey boxes.
- Bread: English muffins, bagels, brown or white bread.
- Spreads: Nutella, peanut butter, and marmalade.
- Fruit: Bananas and apples
- Cooked dishes (day’s special): Every day there was a special dish such as tacos, fajitas, toasts, or pancakes that you had to order in the kitchen. From Monday through Thursday there were salty dishes and sweet stuff from Friday through Sunday. You can always choose egg frittatas too.
So, when you look at this list, it looks awesome, doesn’t it? I wish it was real.
The key problem was that the breakfast was so poorly managed that nearly 60%-70% of the stuff was missing every day. Coffee refills took 20 minutes. Some days there was no bread or fruit. Cream cheese was scarce, there was no butter or milk for he cereal. For 5 days in a row, there was no cutlery! Yes, no forks or knives, just spoons.
A few days breakfast opened 1 hour late. Breakfast opened at 7 am but they started “preparing” everything at that time, and didn’t let you enter until 8 am. A total disaster. You couldn’t rely on this breakfast at all.
The only thing that’s worth mentioning at the Element Miami Brickell was a lovely lady called Araís. She was the one and only employee who really genuinely cared about offering good food and providing good service to the guests. Cheers to Araís.
Overall, breakfast was a roulette. After 24 nights, the best I can say is that it all depended on luck. It was evident that the kitchen manager gave a f*ck about placing the right orders at the right time and being involved in providing good service.
Housekeeping was another major flaw. I have family and friends working in this industry and I know how hard it is to catch up. That’s why I am super clean and helpful with the staff when I stay at a hotel. I usually only use housekeeping every 3 or 4 nights and try to keep the room clean myself. I also tidy up the room and put everything in the garbage bins before I let staff in.
At Element Miami Brickell, the only housekeeping you can expect was to make the bed and broom the bathroom. I had to call in more than 6 times during my stay because they didn’t refill toilet paper, shampoo or soap. The staff also never cleaned the floors with a vacuum cleaner or broom. The worst was the toilet, as I could see long hair on the ceramic (which wasn’t mine) every time they “finished” cleaning the room. Maybe this was coming from the cloths they used to clean other rooms as well.
Most staff at the hotel, except for Araís at breakfast, and one boy at the front desk, were rude and condescending. They almost never wanted to help, and it extended even to the AC bar, where I went there two nights. The worst part of the staff was the general manager, and you can read that story below.
On the service side, the only plus was that the hotel doesn’t charge for receiving packages (like ordering Amazon stuff).
4. The Conflict
Besides the weak points I already mentioned, the worst part is yet to come.
The day I checked out I did it through the Marriott app. It’s a simple process where you can review your charges and finalize your booking. Then you pay with a card and get an electronic invoice in your email. After checking out I went straight to the airport and got on my flight to Boston.
A few days later, I see an extra charge of $282.50 USD on my credit card. I go to the Marriott App and check the invoice again, and see a PDF with the following “room damage” detail.
As I knew I left the room in mint condition, I immediately emailed the front desk and general manager to review the charges. They replied several days later stating that after inspection, they found tampering with a smoke detector after I left the room, and hence they charged that damage charge. This was the picture they attached, from the “inspection”
When they sent me this picture, I explained to the manager that I never smoked in my entire life and that the plastic bag seemed like the original wrapping of the device.
Luckily I remember the first pictures I took from the room for this review! In those pictures, you can already see the “tampering” of the device as they mentioned it. So I attached the picture and replied back to the manager showing those pictures.
To which the manager replied the following:
The problem after that was that they never adjusted the folio! I had to open a case with my credit card and decline the charges and after three weeks the credit card filed in my favor.
This was the complete sequence of events:
- Oct 2: I checked out
- Oct 9: My first email reporting the issue to the front desk
- Oct 15: First answer for the manager explaining the device tampering
- Oct 15: My reply with attaching my pictures
- Oct 18: I follow up with them and also complain to Marriott Customer Service
- Oct 18: another manager takes on the case and attached the same picture with the device tampering
- Oct 19: I forward my previous message to the new manager
- Oct 19: They reply back acknowledging the error. They mentioned they will “adjust” the folio.
- — no response —
- Oct 28: Still no news. No reimbursement. I follow up via email
- Oct 29: I complained to Marriott Customer Service for the second time.
- Nov 10: I followed up again with the manager, no response
- Nov 16: I followed up one last time with the manager. NO RESPONSE
What kind of service is this? What can you expect from a manager that cannot fix or solve an issue like this in less than a week?
Now I’m over the issue already and I was refunded the money from my credit card, but such a service is not proper from a chain like Marriott, where guest satisfaction is among their highest priorities.
It saddens me because the Element Miami Brickell hotel has the potential to be one of the most convenient properties in the area. I could be writing a totally different review (and trust me, I wish I was).
However, this is definitely the worst experience I’ve ever had with a management team, and when you combine that with the poor service at the hotel, that’s a killer combo
I’m writing this article given that they had no response with me whatsoever and hoping they can take this feedback into account when they review their flaws.
I can certainly confirm I’m not returning here ever again.
Conclusion: Element Miami Brickell Review
The Element Miami Brickell has a nice property with great potential of being one of the most convenient options in the area, but its poor service and terrible management team raise all the red flags you should watch out for. I spent 24 nights at this hotel with “fake” breakfast, dirty cleaning, and rude staff. When I left, I got a $300 incorrect charge for room damages. They never fixed the issue even though they acknowledged the error. Simply put, I’m never staying here again, and I highly recommend you do the same if you want to stay away from trouble.