Miami Boutique and Lifestyle Hotels: Sassy, Stylish and Chic by Design
If you’re looking for a hotel with personality to burn, the only problem you’ll have in Miami is choosing one.
With the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world – many of them lovingly restored into boutique and lifestyle hotels in a range of hues resembling a celebrity stylist’s Mac palette – choosing has never felt sweeter.
Miami offers amazing destination beach and golf resorts and sophisticated ultra-luxury hotels, but if you’re looking for something more intimate and fashion-forward, this is the place. We offer the highest concentration of boutique (100 stylish rooms or less) and lifestyle (250-300 rooms with cutting-edge décor) hotels in America, so you can easily find boutique and lifestyle properties that let you express your unique personality and style.
As you’ve probably guessed, in South Beach's Art Deco District, the youngest community to make the National Register of Historic Places, boutique and lifestyle hotels are the rule instead of the exception. Built in the 1930s and 1940s to be a whimsical escape from the Depression Era, they now line up like playful models on streets that look like fashionable runways, such as Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue and beyond.
You can learn about this treasure of historic architecture, preserved thanks to the hard work of the Miami Design Preservation League’s Barbara Capitman in the 1970s, on walking and biking tours courtesy of the Art Deco Welcome Center on Ocean Drive and 10th Street. Even if you’re not an architecture buff, you’ll delight in the charms of these chic, sassy little hotels, with luxurious amenities, warm, personalized service, interesting design and great central location to South Beach sun, sand and sin.
Radiating character, Miami's boutique hotels each have their own allure -- with imaginative in-room perks and décor, ranging from outrageous and cool themed rooms, trendy furniture to mini bars with retro snacks and state-of-the-art sound systems or shower heads. Special services run the gamut from VIP passes to the hottest night clubs and guidance on the best concert tickets to great in-room and oceanside yoga instruction. Some hotels keep frequent guests' favorite breakfast cereals on hand, while others provide complimentary fruit baskets, trendy fashion magazines and decadent treats for their guests.
The lifestyle hotel often credited with South Beach’s rebirth as “It Central” in the in 1995 is the Delano, originally built in 1947 and cleverly restored by hotel guru Ian Schrager and designed with rare imagination by Philippe Starck. Upon opening, the trendsetting Delano, with its ceiling to floor flowing white curtains, quickly established itself as the epicenter of cool, internationally renowned for its cutting-edge “white on white” design, acclaimed Blue Door restaurant, rooftop spa and celebrity scene. Owned today by Morgan’s Hotel Group, the lobby is a Mecca for eclectic late-night minglers, including its communal sushi bar, and its back lawn filled with indoor furniture, including the pool which pipes in underwater classical music. The hotel features a stunning international collection of furniture and objects, including works from such renowned artists as Antonio Gaudi, Man Ray, Charles and Ray Eames, Salvador Dali and Mark Newson.
Also star-studded, the Delano’s sister property The Shore Club, also a vision in white, shimmers with intrigue and a Zen-like calm before the storm. Designed by famed British architect David Chipperfield, with landscaping inspired by the rich Matisse-like palette of the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, the hotel leads South Beach’s social scene with dinner at Nobu, Sunday pool parties, headlining acts at Red Room and late night gatherings. The lively Art Deco lobby leads to a labyrinth of gardens, where secret passageways, alcoves and outdoor 'rooms' conspire to create an atmosphere of unexpected encounters. The hotel furnishings are a dreamy, eclectic mix evocative of global marketplaces—including relaxed sofas, tufted floor cushions, hand-woven tribal rugs and large patterned throw pillows from Kenya that inspire socializing. Celebrities looking for solitude book the hotel’s Beach House, a private duplex villa with separate entrance, private pool and outdoor dining and lounge area.
Nearby, The National and The Raleigh Hotel boast two of South Florida's most historic and beautiful swimming pools, making them hotspots for swimsuit photo shoots and fabulous parties. Another hot hotel is the Standard Miami, which trendy hotel guru Andre Balazs opened in late 2005 on the Venetian Causeway in Miami Beach. The hotel features outdoor yoga lawns, garden fire lounge, a waterfall hot tub, huge sound pool (also featuring underwater music), an arctic plunge, treatment rooms, mud lounge, sunset waterfront yoga, outdoor showers, a full array of spa treatments and much more. The Clinton Hotel features eye-popping contemporary design with serene guest quarters including huge suites featuring private Jacuzzis. Kimpton’s Surfcomber Hotel is another popular choice for boutique hotel lovers wanting contemporary rooms, pet friendly amenities, direct beach access and a great pool with cabanas.
The upscale Victor Hotel, recently rebranded as a Thompson hotel, flaunts a lavish interior, including two floors of sophisticated lounge space – packed with trendy travelers and locals at night. Their lovely poolside sunbathing deck is a popular gathering spot, and those looking to retreat can relax at SpaV, a 6,000-square-foot subterranean oasis of rejuvenation. Next door is the “I can’t believe I’m staying here” Villa By Barton G, formerly the Versace Mansion. Hotel guests enjoy personal butler service, custom-designed Frette linens, and the latest in technology including e-readers and free Wi-Fi. The restaurant serves acclaimed continental cuisine inside the pebble-mosaic Dining Room and al fresco dining beside the famous Thousand Mosaic Pool.
Formerly the Gansevoort, the new Perry South Beach Hotel aims to strike the perfect balance between casual and modern elegance. The 340 guestrooms, including 86 suites, are the most spacious in South Beach, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and Miami's skyline. Lavish resort luxuries include fine Egyptian cotton linens for bed and bath, signature tubs and walk-in showers and complimentary high-speed wireless internet. Guests can enjoy the legendary 42,000- square-foot David Barton Gym and Spa, and dinner at the popular culinary steakhouse STK. You might spot a celebrity at two other culinary hotspots which are located at the glamorous W South Beach; The Dutch, featuring American fare with an oyster bar – and Mr. Chow with Asian offerings.
Imaginative and whimsical, Dream South Beach is an transformation of two iconic, Art Deco South Beach Miami hotels - the Tudor Hotel and Palmer House - into a sophisticated, boutique property with 108 rooms and suites. Relax in late-70s inspired accommodations or lounge by the rooftop pool and lounge. Another property that recently underwent a massive renovation was the beachfront Shelborne Hotel, now a more luxurious addition to Collins Avenue offering remodeled rooms, spacious townhouses or suites and a dazzling Penthouse. Jump your day with a fresh new look at GuyandGirl Boutique, followed by an al fresco espresso at Vesper American Brasserie’s daylight pool deck – or unwind in a private beach cabana with margaritas and tacos Lucy’s Cantina Royale.
Two other strong players in the luxury market are the historic oceanfront Sagamore Hotel and the Betsy South Beach. The 93-room all-suite hotel Sagamore features a breathtaking contemporary art collection, with provocative pieces spread throughout the hotel's public spaces and guestrooms. Luxurious suites boast fabulous views of city and sea, and feature mini-kitchenettes, Modernist furniture and oversized whirlpool tubs. The Betsy – South Beach is better than ever after a floor-to-ceiling restoration which kept its signature grand columns and created 63 one-of-a-kind guest suites and exquisite public areas, including the Roofdeck and Wellness Garden, and hip eatery BLT Steak.
Another South Beach success story unfolded in 1998. Urban developer and preservationist Tony Goldman joined forces with innovative fashion designer Todd Oldham to create what is today still one of South Beach's most beautiful boutique properties, The Hotel. Consistent with Oldham's love of handmade details and lush color sense, the decor at The Hotel is a cozy mix of rich, cool colors and artisan detailing. It is home to an award-winning restaurant, Wish, a rooftop pool with panoramic views and a boutique that sells many of the Oldham-designed products used throughout the hotel. The Mondrian South Beach boasts direct access to one of the most vibrant cities in the world with sunset views overlooking the Downtown Miami skyline and direct access to the blue waters of Biscayne Bay.
Lords South Beach Hotel at the Nash is an irreverent “straight friendly” hotel, self-promoted as “a quantum leap in gay travel,” complete with bohemian rooms, quirky amenities and details like kitschy room keys. You’ll have a blast at Cha Cha Rooster, described by the hotel team as “a bonfire disco party... with the taste of the cha cha and the attitude of the rooster.”
Fun-loving travelers seeking oceanfront accommodation in the center of all the action can check out the Diesel-owned Pelican Hotel, one of the premier collections of personality-packed hotels on glamorous Ocean Drive. A hit with the fashion, music and publishing set, the quirky hotel features 30 individually designed rooms offering themes from "Psychedelic" to "Executive Fifties." Vintage furniture is a perfect complement to high-tech amenities that reflect the Italian clothing company's offbeat aesthetic.
In contrast, just up the road, The Tides South Beach rolled out a distinctive new look for its 45 guest rooms and public spaces a few years back. Trend-setting designer Kelly Wearstler returned glamour to this iconic property that evokes a vibrant sense of style and a sexy remix of The Tides past, present and future. Guests who stay here are misted with Fiji water at the hotel pool and offered the hotel's signature tropical fresh fruit popsicles, not to mention close proximity to one of the finest restaurants in South Beach, La Marea at The Tides.
On the other side of Government Cut, where the cruise ships pass the southern tip of South Beach, the über luxurious Fisher Island Resort awaits. Accessible only by ferry, boat or helicopter, guests reside in a variety of exceptional tropical suites, villas and cottages, all surrounding the historic William K. Vanderbilt mansion. Tucked away in the Bay Harbour Islands just north of Miami Beach is the 46-room Daddy O hotel, featuring an intimate setting with a retro chic design. The famous Palm Restaurant steakhouse is located inside the hotel, and shoppers will love the hotel’s close proximity to the Bal Harbour Shops.
In downtown Miami, three iconic luxury boutique hotels have opened, tucked away in soaring skyscrapers overlooking Biscayne Bay near the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, the Design District, Wynwood Arts neighborhood, Brickell financial district and Bayside Marketplace. Situated on the 39th floor, Hotel Beaux Arts (located inside the JW Marriott Marquis) is an architectural masterpiece offering the most discriminating and sophisticated business and leisure traveler dramatic city and bay views with total exclusivity. Entirely outfitted with Bang & Olufsen in-room entertainment systems, the hotel is a private urban retreat providing guests with services such as private check-in and personal escort to one of the 44 ultra-contemporary and lavishly appointed guest rooms and suites. Recognized by Conde Nast Travel Magazine and its Gold list as one of the World's Best, the Epic Hotel is a stunning addition to Miami and the latest addition to the collection of Kimpton in Florida, offering cutting-edge urban style and personal service, and trendy dining at Area 31 and ZUMA. W Miami is a glamour-infused luxury Miami hotel created for business and leisure pursuits. Designed by tastemaker Kelly Wearstler, this Brickell Avenue oasis offers elite residential necessities with scene-making dining at Eos, roof-raising lounging at Club 50 and rejuvenating spa treatments at the Spa at Viceroy Miami.
Just south of downtown in the Brickell financial district, close to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, is the cozy and contemporary Hotel Urbano. This 65-room, moderately priced gem features eclectic interior design with balconies or lanais.
Fun Hostels and Guesthouses
For those willing to trade amenities for budget and the opportunity to meet fellow travelers from around the world, hostels are a terrific, inexpensive lodging option on Miami Beach. The roster of friendly hostels, with single and double occupancy rooms as well as dormitory-style accommodations starting as low as $20 a night, is impressive. One of the longest operating, the internationally-acclaimed Hosteling International-Miami Beach at the Clay Hotel is a seven-building complex on artsy Espanola Way, in the heart of the Art Deco District. Backpackers are also welcome at the Miami Beach International Travelers Hostel and the Tropics Hotel and Hostel.
Guest houses, such as Circa39, Lorraine Hotel, Chesterfield Hotel, The Catalina and Whitelaw Hotel, offer affordable Miami Beach accommodations with a dash of relaxed European ambiance. Some guests become so enamored with the laid-back lifestyle they become long-term residents.
Romantic Inns and Cozy B&Bs
Many visitors opt to step off the beaten path to enjoy a quiet sojourn at a historic inn or one of the cozy bed and breakfasts that inhabit the back roads. Miami offers a variety of options for those whose dream vacation includes a cozy corner to read in or relaxing over a home-cooked breakfast.
Brimming with history, the Miami River Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a true hideaway that sings with the spirit of old Miami. Built in 1908, the renovated property consists of four wooden cottages, converted into 40 individually decorated rooms. Complete with pool and other amenities, the Inn is situated directly on the Miami River, with great vantages for watching river commerce float by, and only minutes from downtown Miami shopping, dining and cultural attractions.
Just north of South Beach, camaraderie can be found poolside by the gardens at The Indian Creek Hotel, one block from the beach. This charming historic inn, built in 1936, was recently purchased and renovated by New York Inns Hotel Group. Although the inn maintains its Old World aura on the outside, inside it now features stylish and colorful modern furniture, hardwood floors and Wi-Fi.
For those who want to get away from it all without venturing too far from civilization, Homestead and the Redland, the center of Miami's agricultural breadbasket, are only 40 minutes from downtown. Here, horses munch on front lawns, and backyards are filled with avocado trees. Those who long to repose among the lush, tropical landscaping or Biscayne Bay's soothing waters, and enjoy close proximity to attractions like Everglades or Biscayne National Parks, can spend time at Katy's Place and Ten Oaks: two private homes that offer B&B accommodations. Alternately, the historic Redland Hotel offers accommodation in downtown Homestead.
Hot Hotels Coming Online
The haute hotel scene is about to get a bit hotter in Fall 2012, with Lenny Kravitz and friend Philippe Starck designing the SLS Hotel South Beach. Unbeknownst to many of his fans, the music megastar is the driving force behind Kravitz Design, Inc. which has been enlisted by SLS Hotels’ parent company SBE to create an exclusive bungalow and penthouse at the SLS South Beach. The bungalow suite will be one of 10 situated around the lavish pool area. Philippe Starck will design the rest of the property.
The historic Royal Palm hotel in South Beach will soon be reincarnated as The James Royal Palm. Welcoming guests in late 2012, the property will be the brand’s first hotel in Florida, with 179 guest rooms and 211 studios and suites, the majority of which have ocean views. Located just steps away from the beach and world-famous Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, the hotel will also boast two swimming pools, a beachfront restaurant, a poolside bar, a lobby lounge, a full-service spa and over 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
For information on the above or other small hotel options, visit www.MiamiBoutiqueHotels.com, website sponsored by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau that tells you everything you need to know to pick the right boutique or lifestyle hotel for you. The site offers details, including photos, on properties, and provides an opportunity to make reservations online.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is an independent not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches for leisure, business and conventions. For a vacation guide, visit our website at www.MiamiAndBeaches.com or call 1-888-76-Miami (US/Canada only) or 305-447-7777. To reach the GMCVB offices dial 305-539-3000. Meeting Planners may call 1-800-933-8448 (US/Canada only) or 305-539-3071 or visit www.MiamiMeetings.com.