From the colourful art deco buildings of Ocean Drive to the white beaches and glamour of South Beach, there’s no time to rest in this Florida hotspot
Words Hannah Hopkins
Famed for its trendsetting nightclubs and surfside hotels, there’s a whole lot more to Miami than partying. Home to the celebrated Art Basel show, packed with award-winning restaurants and bars, and a hub for all kinds of watersports, it’s no wonder trendsetters are flocking there this autumn. Tempted to book? Here are 20 reasons why Miami should be your next big trip.
WHERE TO STAY
Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Faena is the name on everyone’s lips when it comes to luxury hotels in Miami, and it certainly meets and exceeds all expectation. Evoking Miami’s golden age of glamour, the landmark hotel’s guestrooms and suites boast signature butler service and a bespoke blend of late-Deco flair and contemporary amenities. Opulent in more ways the one, the lobby areas come bedecked in gold and murals, while the metallic Damien Hirst woolly mammoth is a serious talking point by the pool.
faena.comThe Miami Beach EDITION
For a boutique hotel with a twist book into the Miami Beach EDITION, located in the historic heart of Mid-Beach. Its interlinked complex of structures harbour sumptuous suites, a luxury spa, pool with diving board, outdoor chill areas and a basement entertainment zone complete with bowling alley, ice skating rink and a nightclub, aptly named BASEMENT, where Drake and Rihanna partied not long ago. Don’t miss dinner at the on-site MARKET restaurant, which serves quite possibly the best spinach and three-cheese pizza ever.
editionhotels.comMandarin Oriental Miami
For pure luxury check into the Mandarin Oriental, where you might find it hard to leave your hotel room. Its sophisticated rooms come with private balconies and free-standing tubs, and upgraded suites have complimentary airport car service, bars and private chefs. Food wise, you’re spoilt for choice with Peruvian, modern American and Asian outposts. We love the poolside cafe with sweeping views of Miami.
mandarinoriental.comThe Setai Miami
Fronting the ocean in South Beach’s lively art deco district The Setai, just a half-mile from the upscale Lincoln Road Mall and the Miami Beach Convention Centre. Its Asian-inspired suites are the ultimate in luxury with rainfall showers, gourmet kitchens and whirlpool baths. Take your pick from no fewer than three outdoor pools or hit the private beach for sunbathing and cocktails.
thesetaihotel.comW South Beach
The cool crowd flock to W South Beach for ultra chic rooms – think crocodile-skin headboards, glass balconies and contemporary wall art – combined with Chinese and seafood restaurants, a lively poolside grill and an opulent lobby nightclub. Got a few hours to spare? Relax in the trendy beauty spa or hit the rooftop basketball court.
WHERE TO EAT
Pao at Faena
A break in Miami wouldn’t be complete without dinner at Pao by Paul Qui. Part of the Faena hotel, it serves up modern Asian cuisine from James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef Paul Qui in a spectacular ocean view setting. Signature items include crudo specialties, fresh fish and meats seared table-side over Japanese binchotan charcoal. Our top plates? The melt-in-the-mouth wagu short rib beef, sweet potato puree and wild mushroom rice, and if you’re feeling brave, the sea urchin served with sweet corn pudding is unlike anything you’ve tasted before.
Perfect for a night out with friends, Byblos’ selection of meze and exotic dishes with an Eastern Mediterranean feel are made for sharing – think crispy baked artichoke, turkish manti dumplings, roasted red beets and lamb ribs. After a Nightingale Sour or two (Peach-infused Absolut, Lillet Blanc, Galliano, & Lemon) head into the intimate ‘Lounge’ area to continue the night in style with resident DJ’s and bottle service.
byblosmiami.comA Fish Called AVALON
For an authentic South Beach experience book a sidewalk seat at A Fish Called AVALON, an upscale seafood restaurant that boasts prime people-watching opportunities on the neon-lit Ocean Drive. Jumbo shrimp platters, seafood risottos and lobster bisque are all highlights.
afishcalledavalon.comJoe’s Stone Crab
Barack Obama is a fan of this cavernous, bustling crab restaurant, based on Washington Avenue. Regularly drawing huge crowds, and therefore long queues, it might be a bit of a wait but the fresh stone crab claws and famous Key lime pie are worth the wait.
A relative newcomer to the Miami dining scene, Alter is based in Wynwood, the Shoreditch equivalent of Miami. Inside the industrial space, with an open kitchen and garden, chefs deliver plate after plate of deliciousness, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients from Florida.
WHERE TO DRINK
The Broken Shaker
Housed in the trendiest hostel in Miami, this compact and romantic watering hotel serves up inventive cocktails in a large, fairy-lit backyard.
For swanky drinks try Matador Bar, where the finest Champagnes and aperitifs are matched by the opulence and glamour of the expansive black walnut and stone bar. Take time to check out the range of photographs donning the wall, created by Lucien Clergue to portray the art of bullfighting.
matadorroom.comCecconis at Soho Beach House
Regardless of whether you’re a member or not, Soho Beach House is still worth a visit for mingling with creative types. True to the house style, the antique effect chairs, oak bar, low hanging plants and ceramic tiles create an atmospheric place to sample a drink or two.
Pairing classic cocktails with tempting bar snacks like lobster rolls, this speakeasy style watering hole is set in the up-and-coming Collins Park area and is operated by award-winning bartender John Lermayer and Dan Binkiewicz along with restaurateur David Martinez.
For an awe-inspiring vista you can’t beat Area 31, perched on top of the Epic Hotel. Combine your drinks with seafood to be enjoyed with spectacular views of downtown, Biscayne Bay and Brickell Key.
WHAT TO DO
Head to the hipster haven of Wynwood to check out the Wynwood Walls – miles of murals, art and graffiti that Instagrammers flock too. Peruse the collection of art galleries to snap up early pieces from rising stars, shop at a covetable collection of stores, including Aesop, Le Labo and Plant The Future – a trendy terranium shop. Make sure you stop off for lunch at Coyo Taco – an upbeat spot (with a hidden bar) for Mexican street food and margaritas made with house-brand tequila.
The Perez Art Museum (fondly known as PAMM) is a must-visit for its array of contemporary art, fans of Basquiat, Rauschenberg, Oppenheimer and more will be in heaven, particularly in the gift shop.For shopping…Head to Miami’s coolest malls, including the famous Lincoln Road, where you can combine shopping with brunching and a trip to an old-school cinema. Aventura Mall is worth a visit too, as are the Bal Harbour Shops and Kartell for on-trend interiors.For partying…Try Nikki Beach or Radio Bar South Beach for poolside DJs, Bardot for live music, try the aforementioned BASEMENT for a party atmosphere and for a truly authentic Miami night out, head to the vast nightclub LIV.If it’s your first time in Miami…Walk along South Beach snapping the art deco buildings and sampling South American cuisine, try paddleboarding and stroll the boardwalk on Miami Beach, browse the Design District for emerging artists and snack on giant sandwiches at Halves and Wholes, experience Cuba in Little Havana and see the beautiful Botanical Gardens. If you’re there for a long haul…Do a half day trip to the Florida Everglades to spot alligators and crocodiles, visit Key West, part of the Florida archipelago, or if you’re feeling flush book the ferry over to the Bahamas for a day or more.