With a history that dates back to the 1930s—Al Capone ran a gambling operation out of here—it’s remarkable that the Clay Hotel (1438 Washington Ave., 305/534-2988, www.clayhotel.com , from $60 d, hostel from $22 per person) has managed to maintain its art deco charm while offering clean, decent accommodations at sub-fleabag rates. The audience skews pretty young—part of the Clay is set up as a dorm-style hostel—and draws a lot of party-ready kids from Latin America, so xenophobic families may want to stay away.
The atmosphere is exceedingly friendly, however, and the operators run a pretty tight ship. Hotel rooms have private baths as well as telephones, TVs, air-conditioning, and even mini-fridges, while the hostel dorms are similarly equipped (although, of course, you’ll be sharing a bath). Guest rooms are small but tidy, and the Clay has a full kitchen and laundry facilities available to guests.