The Big Six: Miami beach retreats


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The Independent Travel

The Freehand, Indian Creek Drive

This hip hostel comes from the Sydell Group, notable for The NoMad and The Ace hotels in New York. Once again, they've drafted in Roman & Williams for the interiors (responsible for the industrial-chic look at the Ace), so low rates won't equate to a style compromise. At The Freehand, they've opted for a beach cabin feel, with wooden floors and nautical hues in the dorms and doubles. There's a tropical pool, a Broken Shaker cocktail bar and a new restaurant, The House, to come in March.

The Freehand, 2727 Indian Creek Drive (001 305 531 2727; Dorm beds start at $30 (£19), room only.

SLS Hotel, Collins Avenue

SLS brought sparkle to the shores of South Beach when it opened last month. Interiors are by Philippe Starck, with a helping hand from rock star Lenny Kravitz, who designed the penthouse suite. The Bazaar restaurant is managed by chef José Andrés, who's popularised the "small plates" dining concept in the States, while sushi master Katsuya Uechi looks after the Japanese eatery. Several cocktail bars, two outdoor pools and direct access to the beach, complete the all-star line up.

SLS Hotel, 1701 Collins Avenue (001 305 674 1701; Doubles start at $410 (£256), room only.

The Villa by Barton G ,Ocean Drive

This 1930 mansion was built by the philanthropist and architect Alden Freeman. He commissioned hundreds of artworks for the property. It became home to Gianni Versace in 1992, who was shot dead on its steps five years later. Restaurateur Barton G Weiss renovated the property in 2009. The original artefacts remain, including busts by sculptor Ulric Ellerhusen and a bronze statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The pool area is inlaid with a thousand mosaic tiles, while the 10 suites have Rococo beds and butler service.

The Villa by Barton G, 1116 Ocean Drive (001 305 576 8003; Suites start at $940 (£588), room only.

The Ritz-Carlton Lincoln Road

The man with the Midas touch for designing Miami hotels was Morris Lapidus. The godfather of the neo-Baroque resort, which arose in the 1950s, built the Fontainebleau hotel, Eden Roc and The DiLido – which is now the Ritz-Carlton. The hotel has entered a new phase, after a renovation of its 375 rooms and suites, completed last month. Miami's rolling waves and sandy shore acted as inspiration: expect shell motifs, with soft blue, green and coral shades.

The Ritz-Carlton, 1 Lincoln Road (001 786 276 4000; Doubles start at $428 (£268), room only.

The Standard Spa, Island Avenue

Located on a barrier island in the Biscayne Bay, The Standard Spa offers a serene escape from the city's lively party scene. There are soothing views of the water from the infinity pool, a Turkish hammam, Finnish sauna and mud baths. Treatments include hot-stone massages and vitamin wraps, supplemented by fitness boot camps and yoga sessions. The Lido Restaurant serves healthy, wholesome food, while rooms come with outdoor tubs in some and garden views in others.

The Standard Spa, 40 Island Avenue (001 305 673 1717; Doubles start at $297 (£187), B&B.

The Gale & Regent Hotel, Collins Avenue

In 1941, The Gale and The Regent opened as two separate hotels. Now, after a $35m renovation, they are restored as one. Designed in classic Art Deco style by architect L Murray Dixon, the historic shell now holds 87 rooms, a rooftop pool and Regent Cocktail Club. The Dolce restaurant serves Italian food, while staff wear 1940s-style uniforms. Though not directly on the shore, there's free access to beach chairs at The Shelborne next door, which is owned by the same group.

The Gale & Regent Hotel, 1690 Collins Avenue (001 305 673 0199; Doubles start at $250 (£156), room only.