This time every year, as the temperature begins to drop here in New York, we suddenly find ourselves thinking a bit more often about Miami. But like any great city, Miami has multiple personalities — and the first step in choosing a hotel is knowing which Miami you’re here to see. We can help.
All of Miami is Party Miami, of course — you’ll notice these categories overlap a bit. But for those of you who put nightlife first, Miami has no end of options.
A classic by Morgans Hotel Group and Philippe Starck, the Delano comes alive after dark: the restaurant, Bianca, is a hotspot, the Rose Bar is small, dark and sophisticated, and FDR, the underground bar, features DJs and live music acts until five in the morning.
Miami’s first Nobu restaurant calls the Shore Club home, and Skybar’s deep red poolside club is one of Miami’s most in-demand nightspots. This is no hotel for reclusive or retiring types — the Shore Club is for those who like their luxe with a side of nightlife.
The iconic swimming pool is just as glamorous as it ever was, while advances in cocktail technology enable the Raleigh to keep pace with the times. Add a James Beard award-winning chef to the pool bar and the Martini Bar and you’ve got a recipe for some serious revelry.
For a hotel called Dream, there’s precious little sleeping going on here. The restaurant, Naked Taco, more or less speaks for itself, and Highbar, the poolside rooftop lounge, bills itself as Studio 54 with an ocean view, which sounds about right.
Created by a dream team of decadence, including the ubiquitous Starck and the nightclub impresario Sam Nazarian, the SLS is a reminder that in today’s Miami, the pleasure-palace vibe is the ultimate aim — just ask (literal) rockstar interior designer Lenny Kravitz.
Again, all of Miami is about decadence, more or less. But here you’ll find a level of devotion to plush, pampered leisure that’s almost beyond belief.
The Standard’s guests are not exactly wallflowers, and the bar and the pool always attract a celebratory crowd; but compared to South Beach proper, a stay at this spa-focused enclave on Belle Isle, slightly removed from the thick of it all, is practically transcendental meditation.
Speaking of Studio 54, Ian Schrager is back in the hotel game with EDITION, his Marriott collaboration — and the Miami Beach installment makes good on the “urban resort” promise, from its restaurant by Jean-Georges to its basement nightclub, complete with ice-skating rink (!).
This is a town that’s not exactly hurting for over-the-top luxury accommodations, but the Setai manages to set itself apart by being even more over-the-top than the competition. Come for the trio of pools, stay for the in-room spa treatments with a high-rise view of the Atlantic.
The setting is unique, just off the shore of downtown Miami. The atmosphere is faultless modern luxury of the sort Mandarin Oriental does best. And best of all, depending on your perspective, you’re miles from Collins Avenue and the heaving crowds of Miami Beach.
We don’t love the word “foodie” either, but all the alternatives are worse — and anyway, we need some way to recognize the fact that the Miami hotel scene has upped its culinary game.
It’s right there in the name — here the main attraction is the popular Vintro Kitchen, with soaring 30-foot ceilings and an open-air terrace looking out over the Collins Canal, where boutique wineries and locally sourced charcuterie plates are charmingly described on chalkboard menus.
The absence of a paparazzi-strewn nightclub scene takes nothing away from the appeal of the comfortable and subtly luxurious Betsy — there are those among us who’ll take a Laurent Tourondel steakhouse over a celebrity DJ night any time.
There’s more to this town than South Beach; these days mainland Miami offers many inducements, among them Rainer Becker’s Japanese Zuma and Wolfgang Birk’s seafood-focused Area 31, sixteen floors above the downtown waterfront.
Casa Tua bucks a lot of Miami trends by prizing intimacy and privacy over ostentation, and the same can be said of its restaurant — in this town a bit of unpretentious, properly delicious Italian cooking goes a very long way.
While many of Miami’s most popular hotels converge towards a certain sameness, there’s also space in this town for some extremes of variation. Here are a few of the city’s most colorful characters.
The extravagant Versace mansion is back, this time as a luxury boutique hotel. This patchwork Italian-style palace is still every inch a monument to excess; the difference being that these days it’s open to the public — or at least ten suites’ worth of the public.
The original Angler’s hotel dates back to the Thirties, long enough ago that Hemingway drank here — and this charmingly different Mediterranean Revival compound in the heart of the Art Deco district feels miles more private than the big hotels along the seaside.
What else would one expect from the Diesel fashion group? A hotel owned by an old-school fashion dynasty would paper its walls in its own logo, and emboss its label on every flat surface. The Pelican is more theatrical, playful, and self-aware, and goes to extremes of retro kitsch.
And though this town is practically synonymous with extravagance and excess, it’s also potentially quite affordable, if you know where (and when) to look.
The mega-chain’s new youth-oriented boutique sub-brand is aimed at a population of travelers who aren’t afraid of a bit of modernist furniture and the occasional bold splash of color, and for whom business and leisure blend effortlessly together.
This refurbished motel’s architectural style looks lifted out of a storyboard from The Jetsons: geometric and sculptural, with an open-air plan and overhanging roof lines, plus the occasional nautically inspired design element, just for good measure.
There’s something of a formula to South Beach hospitality on Collins Avenue: a nod to Art Deco origins, a celeb-magnet cocktail lounge, a rooftop altar to hedonism. Stiles, in contrast, dials back the excess in favor of cleaner, more minimalist digs.
A century ago, Miami Beach was a modest day-tripper’s getaway with a couple of bathhouses and a few simple snack stands. Casa Claridge, housed in a Spanish-style building that dates from 1930, serves as a refreshing antidote to the current norm, and a throwback to gentler days gone by.