OUR STORY BEGINS...
The Riviera Hotel Company was issued a building permit for a three-story masonry structure costing $103,000, with 22 apartment units plus storefronts along both streets. Architects were John and Coulton Skinner. The building was named the Riviera Hotel for its first ten years, as seen in City Directories through 1949. Its architecture is Art Deco, or “Moderne” in style, and takes advantage of its important corner location. Two sweeping facades on the east and south, with eyebrows and Racing stripes, meet in a chamfered corner, flanked at each story by a pair of octagonal lozenge windows. The corner parapet is built up, decorated with a bas-relief medallion, and crowned with a flagpole. A three-color chevron decorates the terrazzo floor at the corner entrance.
Within a few years of its completion, the Riviera was among the hundreds of Miami Beach buildings used by the U.S.Army Air Forces for military training. Tourists were turned away and hotels became barracks, restaurants served as mess halls, theaters became classrooms, and thousands of new recruits trained daily on the beaches, streets, and golf courses. Government records show that the Riviera at that time had 50 hotel rooms (apparently the original apartments were subdivided), with a capacity to house 185 soldiers, and was leased by the military for $11,500 per year. It returned to civilian use on May 20, 1944.
The Riviera was renamed the Bentley Hotel, which it remains today. Retail tenants in the building’s storefronts over the years included Burton’s drug store, a Kasdin drugstore, a beauty parlor, and several restaurants, but no major structural changes were made and the building exterior still remains largely true to its original design.
While the exterior continues to reflect our history, the interior of the hotel has gone through a beautification process. The freshly updated room décor of our oversized guest rooms honors the essence of Miami Beach!