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Best hotels in Miami 2023: Where to stay for luxury and beachfront locations

Live your best beachside life in our pick of the Floridian city’s top places to stay

Gabrielle Sander
Wednesday 01 February 2023 06:38 GMT
<p>A salt-water pool surrounded by palm trees creates a tranqil spot at The Standard Spa hotel on Belle Isle</p>

A salt-water pool surrounded by palm trees creates a tranqil spot at The Standard Spa hotel on Belle Isle

Whether Miami conjures up images of effortlessly cool (and incredibly bronzed) rollerbladers gliding past South Beach; palm-tree-lined streets, or simply the video for Will Smith’s 1998 hit single, when it comes to travel in the US, this sun-soaked Floridian city has been drawing crowds for decades.

Beyond the beaches, you’ll find the glamour of the Art Deco district, where colourful, eye-catching architecture graces Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue, and where the likes of Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth and Gianni Versace once whiled away the hours. Today, Miami continues to entice A-listers, with its mix of high-end hotels, chic bars and restaurants, and warm climate.

Meanwhile, to the west of Downtown Miami, Little Havana and Calle Ocho offer up a celebration of Cuban heritage. After sampling the street food, watching heated games of dominos unfold in Máximo Gómez Park, and taking in the art and music of the area, you may want to recharge your batteries with a palpitation-inducing colada coffee – the fact it comes in shot-sized servings should give you a clue as to just how strong it is.

Whichever neighbourhood takes your fancy, if you too want to party in the city where the heat is on, blingy, beachy, artsy Miami has plenty of places to bed down in style. Here’s our list of stand-out stays where you’ll receive a warm welcome to Miami.

Best for art and culture: Arlo Wynwood

Neighbourhood: Wynwood

A trip to Miami wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Wynwood. The Magic City’s most visited neighbourhood attracts more than a million people each year. And for good reason. With the world’s largest concentration of street art, more than 250 galleries, plus independent boutiques and antique shops, a hip-hop-pulsing Asian foodhall (1-800 Lucky), and the likes of Panther Coffee, serving a damn fine cup of freshly roasted, it’s a feast for all the senses.

The November 2022 opening of Arlo Wynwood, the area’s first hotel, gives you the chance to explore, sleep, repeat while spending time in what was previously a day-trip destination. A love letter to Wynwood, the Arlo is decked out in pieces from more than 100 local and international street artists, with a roster of local DJs and musicians providing the live soundtrack. At Florida-inspired brasserie, MaryGold’s, cocktails come from the same team behind three-time Top 50 Bars in the World winner Broken Shaker, while the menu is led by critically acclaimed chef Bradley Kilgore. Yoga and meditation classes, a rooftop pool, free bikes, and luxury in-room tech and amenities are other treats you can look forward to at this box-fresh Miami abode.

Best for dog-lovers: The Betsy

Neighbourhood: South Beach

The Betsy welcomes dogs

Golden retrievers Betsy and Rosa are quite the welcoming duo at the dog-friendly Betsy hotel, where four-legged guests (of all sizes) can enjoy a range of perks, from Scooby snacks to massages, and owners are invited to do downward dogs at sunrise yoga sessions.

Sunny rooms echo the seaside setting at the quiet end of Ocean Drive, with a laidback, beach house feel: wooden floorboards, shutters, raffia ceilings, and sweet touches such as poetry bookmarks at turndown. The latter are made of biodegradable paper filled with seeds to sow back home.

The Betsy’s other love is the arts, with a packed library; an artist in residence programme; rotating exhibitions; a ‘poetry rail’ adorned with written odes to South Florida from the likes of Muhammed Ali; and the giant Betsy Orb, a piece of public art that comes alive with light shows at night and connects the Betsy with the old Carlton Hotel with which it merged in 2016.

Best for boutique on a budget: Life House

Neighbourhood: Little Havana

This homely, guava-pink 1920s mansion is a decorative ode to its immediate surroundings in the heart of Miami’s Cuban neighbourhood, Little Havana. Afro-Cuban art, ceramics, textiles and photography meld with mid-century modern Danish furniture, and punchy House of Hackney wallcoverings to delicious effect. Rooms are small but perfectly formed, with plump beds and luxury touches from Le Labo and Dyptique. For groups, there are plush bunkbed rooms, with full-size beds and proper stairs to access the top.

Vegetarians and vegans will delight in the largely plant-based menus served at the Parcela lobby cafe and the Terras rooftop restaurant and bar, featuring ingredients grown in their nearby urban garden and on-site herb patch, along with low intervention wines and herbal cocktails. If you can peel yourself away from the house’s courtyard hammocks, Little Havana awaits with family-run spots selling freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, Cuban sandwiches and heart-jolting cafecitos; domino players on Calle Ocho; cigar-rolling displays, and live jazz and salsa at the famous Ball & Chain.

Best for escaping reality: Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Neighbourhood: Mid-Beach Miami

Hidden behind this chalk facade is a riot of fun: scarlet velvet, sparkling chandeliers, Art Deco flamboyance, and hark-backs to the 1950s, when Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin were among the talent to walk through these doors (in its former guise as the Saxony Hotel). It’s exactly what you’d expect as a result of charging Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge director and costume designer duo, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, with the interior design. Damien Hirst’s 3m tall, gilded woolly mammoth skeleton is among the many stars of this sumptuous show, which includes candy-cane-striped poolside parasols and beach cabanas; a Living Room cocktail spot that’s all brass palms and tiger stripes; and the gloriously kitsch Tree of Life bar, sporting a punchy underwater scene that’s borderline The Little Mermaid. Kids are welcome, but you’ll want to leave them at home to fully immerse yourself in this wonderland.

Best for teeing off in style: Biltmore Hotel

Neighbourhood: Coral Gables

A designated National Historic Landmark, The Biltmore is a palatial behemoth, where everything is super-plush and super-size: vaulted ceilings, hand-painted frescoes, vertiginous stone columns, 150 acres of tropical gardens, 10 tennis courts, an 18-hole championship golf course – where everyone from Al Capone to Tiger Woods has teed off – and the largest hotel pool on the East Coast. Whether it’s signing yourself up for tuition at the Jim McLean Golf School (rated number one in America), limbering up for one of the 100 weekly fitness classes, enrolling the kids in the Culinary Academy, or soaking up the seventh-floor panoramas from the spa, it’d be impossible to get bored here. Or hungry. There are four restaurants, from Italian-inspired Fontana, serving lavish Sunday brunches, to Cascade, a more casual poolside spot, tucked under a 23ft waterfall. Downtown Miami is a mere seven miles away, should you want to venture out of the old-world Biltmore bubble and explore.

Best for modern design: EAST, Miami

Neighbourhood: Brickell, Downtown Miami

There’s much for the design-lover to swoon at in this Downtown Miami hotel. Brutalist concrete punctuated by pops of orange in the spacious outdoor pool area; lush alfresco garden dining spaces slung with terracotta light fixtures; and sleek modern guest rooms, with floor-to-ceiling, multi-aspect views across the financial district to Biscayne Bay and the Everglades. So good you’ll resist drawing the curtains. Epicureans will rejoice in the on-site offerings: eatery Quinta La Huella, with a juicy selection of Parrilla-grilled, South American flavours in an equally delicious setting; rooftop garden bar Sugar, where 40th-floor vistas complement excellent cocktails and tapas; and Hong Kong cocktail bar-inspired Tea Room, where free-flowing champagne night brunches draw in the crowds. EAST, Miami also connects to Brickell city centre, a four-level shopping, dining and entertainment precinct.

Best for travelling with friends: Moxy South Beach

Neighbourhood: South Beach

There’s much to satiate the young and restless (or young at heart) at this new kid on the Washington Avenue block. Look up when you enter the lobby and you’ll catch a wink of the fun going on at the rooftop pool, through an 8ft spy-hole in the ceiling. Head up there to catch one of the complimentary #SweatAtMoxy poolside workouts in action, flex solo at the Muscle Beach-inspired indoor/outdoor gym, or lounge under a cabana. There’s a packed day-to-night entertainment calendar; rooftop screenings of Miami Film Festival flicks, and free flamingo-pink Moxy bikes to take for a spin.

At open-air Mexican bar and restaurant Serena – one of six food-and-drink spots on site – squash blossom quesadillas are among the highlights, while, at the 8th floor The Upside, the scarlet, mezcal-spiked The Moxy cocktail is the sundowner of choice, served with 360-degree views of Miami.

The rooms tick all the right boxes for a luxurious stay: high thread counts, super-size Smart HDTVs, purified AtmosAir, uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling vistas, at a great-for-Miami-Beach price tag. It’s pet-friendly too. Plus, when you’re ready to hit those beckoning blues, there’s the inclusive Moxy Beach Hut on South Beach.

Best for escaping the crowds: Mayfair House Hotel & Garden

Neighbourhood: Coconut Grove

A few miles south of Miami Beach, is “The Grove”, Miami’s oldest neighbourhood, with a rich Bahamian heritage, acres of lush parks and gardens to explore, views of Biscayne Bay, and an eclectic mix of former residents, from Tennessee Williams to Madonna. Fresh from a two-year renovation, the Mayfair House Hotel & Garden is a fitting tribute to its locale, warmly welcoming you at check-in with a passion-fruit mimosa. At its heart, a vibrant, tiered open-air courtyard overflowing with tropical palms and ferns, leading off to generous guest rooms designed to be “small private homes”, with leafy terraces and walled gardens, outdoor showers, and deep, long-haul-flight-healing freestanding baths.

At The Mayfair Grill, feast on a wood-fired Sonoran menu, drawing on flavours from Arizona, Southern California and New Mexico (think cactus fries, mushroom tacos, blackened chipotle prawns; washed down with one of myriad Californian whites), before retiring to the rooftop Sipsip for cocktails and calypso.

Best for entertaining the whole family: The Gabriel Miami

Neighbourhood: Downtown Miami

The Gabriel Miami is a great base for exploring Miami's cultural offerings

There’s more to Miami than its famous beaches. Downtown is home to a host of family-friendly cultural spots, including the Frost Museum of Science, which encompasses a fantastic three-level aquarium and an 8K planetarium; the Pérez Art Museum next door; the Maurice A. Ferré Park for long bayfront runs; the FTX Arena for live gigs and sport, and the American Airlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat basketball team. The Gabriel Miami is within walking distance of it all. Part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, it’s a great hotel for those wanting to spend as much time exploring the city as splashing about in the 14th-floor infinity pool. Expect sunny, art-packed rooms (some connecting) with all the necessary mod cons and floor-to-ceiling views of the Port of Miami. When the sea beckons, a free shuttle will whisk you over to sister hotel The Gabriel South Beach, where reserved deck chairs await.

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Best for digital nomads and solo travellers: Freehand Miami

Neighbourhood: Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach

Walking into the courtyard of Freehand Miami on a balmy evening feels like you’ve just arrived at the coolest neighbourhood party in town. A mix of old and young, locals and travellers, cocktails in hand, lounging around the central pool, under a canopy of tropical flora strung with fairy lights, to a soundtrack of laidback beats. To the side, an organic herb, fruit and vegetable garden, which serves the multi award-winning cocktail bar Broken Shaker and the 27 Restaurant, whose South American and Middle Eastern flavours are as joyous as the crockery they’re served on. Inside, it’s a fusion of Seventies oranges, quirky grandma’s living room and Mad Men sleek. Embrace the hostel way and book a bunkbed in a shared room, or reserve one of the well-priced private rooms and enjoy a king to yourself. Complimentary perks include bicycles and super-fast wifi. Mid and South Beach are a block away, but the feeling here couldn’t be further removed.

Best for making you #happy: The Goodtime Hotel

Neighbourhood: Miami Beach

A joint venture between Pharrell Williams and Miami nightlife mogul David Grutman, The Goodtime has all the makings to give you just that. Trompe l’oeil wet footprints tip toe along the hallway carpets into guest rooms featuring silky leopard print robes and guaranteed ocean or bay views. Psychedelic alligator prints greet you in the lifts, hand-painted murals immerse you in tropical lands, and pink adds a joyful lick to everywhere, from the boudoir-esque library to the bedside rotary-dial telephones. It’s a little bit Barbie World, a little more Wes Andersen, and 100 per cent made for sharing on social. At the centre of the action is Strawberry Moon, where quite possibly the only pink-and-white-striped swimming pool in existence takes centre stage, amid all-day weekend parties headlined by big name DJs (and attended by cabana-residing VVIPs). This is where morning meditations meet sessions in the indoor/outdoor, Peloton-inhabited gym, and a lunch-to-late-night menu serves up Mediterranean dishes, including Pharrell’s favourite: swordfish kebab.

Best for mixing business with pleasure: CitizenM Miami Brickell

Neighbourhood: Brickell, Greater Downtown Miami

CitizenM’s first Miami outpost may well sit in the finance district and cater very well to the business traveller, but there’s nothing business-like about this hotel, as you’ll realise from the technicolour façade. For the deal-makers and blue-sky thinkers, there are sleek meeting rooms, unlimited free coffee and Zoom-friendly wifi; a 24/7 canteen and co-working spaces you actually want to work in. When it’s time to wind down, there’s the rooftop pool (opening this winter), a very homely living room filled with books, and XL king-size beds made for sinking back and tuning into one of the specially commissioned ‘Brainwaves’ tracks, created in collaboration with music scientists at Goldsmiths University of London to help business travellers to focus, sleep or reduce anxiety.

Best for boho vibes: Life House, South of Fifth

Neighbourhood: South of Fifth (SoFi)

Harking back to Espanola Way’s colourful past, this SoFi newcomer exudes the bohemian air of an artist’s seaside abode. The 1930s Tudor-style manor pops majestically from the surrounding Art Deco vibes, with a sandy stucco façade that conceals within an eclectic palette of jewel tones, salvaged and vintage curiosities, lush tropical flora and nods to the Arts and Crafts movement. Among the 26 sunlit guest rooms is a family suite fit for six and a writer’s studio, made for poring over the hardbacks in the reading nook, while sheltering from the midday rays. Restaurant and bar Pretty Swell – named after the popular nearby surfing spot – serves up coastal treats, from East Coast oysters to tiradita, alongside a soundtrack of an open fire and spinning vinyl. It’s a place you’ll struggle to tear yourself away from.

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