The Ten Best Hotels in Miami
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Miami is blessed with a variety of hotels that are great for hangouts. From the swanky jet-setter crash pads to the Art Deco icons that define South Beach, to the sexy hideouts and new crop of hipster hostels, the city never lacks whipped rooms and anonymous beds to order to lay your head. (And nobody cares if you actually sleep.)
The variety of options made it nearly impossible to pick the best in this city with increasingly enticing accommodations. But these ten hotels are examples of their style, whether it’s budget, luxury, hip, historic, or anywhere in between. You won’t regret it in the morning.
10. Faena Hotel Miami Beach: The “It” spot
This glittering beach lure for the South American rich and euro famous has been on endless top ten lists since it opened worldwide. The sprawling gardens, opulent open-air lobby, and the crowd ready for the red carpet are so typical of South Beach that we put our magnifying glasses to look for a mistake. But there is none to be found. The emerald green lawns, the clear, bright pool and the cheeky red pool furniture create a dazzling palette. The restaurants are lavishly decorated, while the terrace areas feel like little fantasy casbah gardens. This color theme also plays out in the room decoration, albeit more subtle and balanced through taupe and cream.
3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Visit faena.com/miami-beach.
9. East, Miami: The sophisticated Brickell skyscraper
In the neighborhood known for its sleek, sophisticated skyscrapers, East has supplanted the other hotels and luxury condo towers by being newer, more ambitious, and – in keeping with parent company Swire’s pedigree – slightly more Hong Kong-haute. From the posh lobby bar to the hipster cocktail meeting point on the roof to the secret lounge, which is only available by invitation, East is a fascinating new addition to the Brickell landscape. The rooms are decorated in a subtle, natural color palette – somewhere between beach resort, modern minimalism and China-richness.
788 Brickell Plaza, Miami. Visit east-miami.com.
8. The Vagabond: The coolest motel
Do you know how normally, when someone says they are staying in a motel, you assume they are slumming? Not in Miami. This rumored former Rat Pack hangout is ready to reclaim the coolness quotient of its glory days. The combination of neon decor accents visible from the street, 50s-style furniture throughout, and modern luxury in the guest rooms fulfill the desire for fun and funky accommodations in the MiMo district. Why should the decoration era get all the throwback love?
7301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Visit thevagabondhotel.com.
7. The Delano: South Beach Deco Chic
In the 1990s, this partnership between Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck redefined the Miami Beach art deco hotel trend, with an airy, pop-luxury-wonderland approach that immediately became an icon. The white-on-white facade and the rear pool area create a dazzling contrast to the dramatically lit lobby, where every piece of furniture, from the pool table to the Salvador Dalí chair to the Murano chandeliers, could be part of an art museum installation. The lack of signage, while intentional, is a bit confusing – you’ll likely lurk under the gauze curtains and accidentally stumble into the Rose Bar before finally ending up in your designated spot.
If you stay at the Delano, quickly reorient yourself by looking out the window of your guest room where the beach suddenly dominates your view. You will learn to cut through the courtyard to get straight to the top notch lounge chairs in the garden. Most people stay here for the sexy, low-key indoor and outdoor party atmosphere. All things change over time, and we’ve heard that some decorations and programs might change due to the new owner, but it would be stupid to tamper with the Delano’s spirit.
1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Visit morganshotelgroup.com.
6. The Betsy: SoBes Arts Haven
While most Miami Beach hotels strive to host the most model-friendly pool parties or create the most expensive cocktail menus, the Betsy excels in a completely different cultural spectrum: this is the cultured choice for a refined Colonial-meets Ocean Drive experience -deco decor and a very smart and versatile programming list. In fact, the Betsy’s salon-style events are so different from anything else in the neighborhood that there is something daring about them. Check out live chamber music here, browse international photography collections, attend poetry readings, and feed your soul in other ways. This hotel even has an author’s room for its many guest authors. On the more hedonistic side, the new rooftop pool will open in November.
1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Visit thebetsyhotel.com.
5. Acqualina Resort & Spa: The luxury enclave
Far north on the beach, just before the Broward border, is Sunny Isles Beach, a surprising pocket of luxurious skyscrapers on a shimmering white-sand beach. It’s just over a mile from Shangri-La and contains some of the region’s brightest brands. And the crown jewel of this district is Acqualina. The shimmering pools on the aqua beach, the green gardens and the cherry-red parasols seem to be an early template for the faena. But this property is more aimed at families and people who can and will buy the lifestyle if they like it. The hotel shares amenities with the adjacent superluxe condominiums, and the resulting vibe is surprisingly neighborly, despite the Italian marble and fine art and fleet of Rolls-Royces on the doorstep.
17875 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach. Visit Acqualinaresort.com.
4. The Fontainebleau: the icon by the sea
Set in a landscape of boutique luxury hotels, the Fontainebleau stands out for being extremely massive, yet outperforming most of its neighbors in terms of velvet rope piles. It’s the size of a Mexican mega-resort with just as many restaurants and bars – and these venues are some of the best in Miami. Some would say that LIV, the resort’s nightclub, is the toughest rope in town, while Hakkasan and Scarpetta are the ultimate in luxury eateries. The hotel sometimes feels like a fantastic obstacle course made up of well-guarded hostess stands and exclusive parties. The pool area is a shiny oasis that can be seen in an exciting way by passers-by on the promenade. Unsurprisingly, it all adds up to an experience Manhattaners and Londoners absolutely love – and that’s why the hotel continues to offer high rates on its 1,500-plus rooms. The final makeover, a $ 1 billion renovation and expansion in 2008, was a total transformation that took it from the landmark of the ’70s to the incandescent “it” point, and that hiss seems to linger again.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Visit fontainebleau.com.
3. The Biltmore: The historic harbor
The Biltmore was a palatial retreat more like a Mediterranean palazzo than an American hotel. It was the earliest realized fantasy about what true luxury could be in Miami. Many properties have tried to match or surpass it, but no other can rival the old world glare and sheer acreage. In the 1980s, the Biltmore was owned by the City of Coral Gables, and while privately owned for nearly 25 years, it’s still in some ways a public heritage – a designated National Historic Landmark and a true piece of Miami history. It’s also the kind of property conference attendees dream of because they can sneak off and play a few rounds of golf or enjoy a lavish spa treatment between business meetings. The Biltmore is also great for special family occasions, whether it’s a blowout reunion or a simple Sunday brunch with your parents.
1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Visit biltmorehotel.com.
2. The Freehand: The Hipster Hostel
If you look around this boho-chic magnet in public space, it is not clear whether someone will notice that they are in a hostel. Is this place actually a hostel? The signage says it does, but it has one of the best cocktail programs in town, a pool to hang out by all day, and bouncers who don’t think about turning people away from the restaurant on a weekend morning – all very well in line with a luxury hotel in Miami Beach. It turns out, however, that the rooms are hostel-style, which means you can actually share them with strangers – a four-person “Quad” or a “Super 8” for avid Euro-style travelers. There are also private rooms and suites with fun, simple decor like you’d see on a mid-priced Airbnb rental.
2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach. Visit thefreehand.com.
1. The Standard: The Spa Sanctuary
Picking the best hotel spa in Miami is difficult, but this one is special for so many reasons. Firstly, its location isn’t on the beach or in town proper, but rather on a tiny island a hop, skip and a jump from South Beach, but with a different relaxed feel to it. Second, the pool area: This is where real Miami insiders relax on the weekends because it’s so cold and beautiful, with less cleaning and peacocks, as is typical on the beach. And when it comes to bathing for beauty, the pool is just the beginning.
“We promote the shared rituals of traditional bathhouses with our do-it-yourself hydrotherapy paradise and unique features such as hammam, aromatic steam bath, cedar sauna, infinity pool and Roman waterfall whirlpool,” says spa director Mina Gough. For the really self-confident and treatment-loving body, there is also the mud lounge – clothing is optional. The staff encourages guests to “explore the healing properties of water and indulge in a steamy mix of health and hedonism”. Think of it as the perfect cure for a spell from blah.
40 Island Ave., Miami Beach. Visit standardhotels.com.
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