City Escape: Miami

First image...
Sip cocktails at the swanky Living Room Bar in South Beach's W Hotel.

Miami, 5 Ways

Whatever your travel personality, find a hotel to match.

Walk to Lincoln Road Pedestrian Mall from the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach.
Experience seashell therapy at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne.

By David Hochman

1. Style Seekers
The fabulous flock to the W South Beach like flamingos to fresh water. Bikinis with rhinestones (accompanied by the highest of heels) aren’t uncommon, and the 312 rooms, done up in whites and shimmering grays, pay tribute to Miami’s 1950s glamour. The hotel’s Passion for Fashion program takes guests in a private car to the exclusive Fifth Avenue Club at Saks in Bal Harbour. There’s Champagne on arrival, a personal shopper, and on-the-spot alterations—plus a gift card to get the spree going.
  • The glamour trail: Start at Therapy, a casual-wear concept shop inside the W. Strut down the block to Violet & Grace, a haute-bohemian jewelry boutique run by former Ford model Ina Lettmann (1901 Collins Avenue; 305/534-1500), then head up Collins Avenue to The Webster, where men’s and women’s sportswear fills a three-story art deco landmark overlooking the sea (1220 Collins Avenue; 305/674-7899).
  • Browse: Taschen Store Miami showcases fashion and design books in what may be the world’s most beautiful new parking structure. 1111 Lincoln Road; 305/538-6185.
2. Art & Culture Fans
An ideal base for exploring Miami’s design scene, the 326-room M andarin Oriental, Miami is a quick drive down Biscayne Boulevard from the Design District’s 100-plus art galleries, antiques showrooms, and restaurants. Just over the MacArthur Causeway, The Wolfsonian-Florida International University museum, library, and research center house the city’s finest collection of pre-World War II art and design objects.
  • Event of the year: Titans of the international arts scene gather each winter for Art Basel Miami Beach, a quick complimentary shuttle ride from the hotel, with more than 250 prestigious galleries showcasing 2,000-plus artists.
  • Global player: Nearby Miami Art Museum has developed into a collection worthy of the city’s global soul, with permanent works by José Bedia and Carlos Alfonzo alongside pieces by Marcel Duchamp and Frank Stella. 101 W. Flagler Street, Suite C; 305/375-3000.
3. Families
Separated from Miami by the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne is a lush, manicured world unto itself and a perfect escape for families with children. The 450-room Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami has a stellar kids’ club program, of course (there are elaborate treasure hunts on the beach every Saturday night), but there’s also a burger lounge, a dedicated family pool, and some of Florida’s finest tennis facilities. Book rooms on the fourth floor or higher for the best ocean views.
  • Beach it: Two of Miami’s best beaches for wading and playing porpoise are a five-minute walk away—Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
  • Time out (for parents): The hotel’s Cantina Beach restaurant has fire pits and a menu of more than 80 types of tequila.
4. Romantics     
The Setai does romance better than practically any place in Miami. Consider its signature couples spa treatment—a 60-minute Ancient Balinese Massage for two that culminates with Champagne and canapés and a soak in an oversize terrazzo bath filled with rose petals. Outside, three infinity-edge pools, heated to 75, 85, and 95 degrees, have hedged-in areas for optimum privacy. Adrian Zecha, of Amanresorts fame, made the 75 rooms and 50 suites the height of minimalist chic with dark woods and black granite.
  • Table for two: A pillowy banquette is just the right amount of cozy to enjoy hotel chef David Werly’s award-winning Asian cuisine at The Restaurant at Setai.
  • Ultimate indulgence: The Setai offers a private Champagne tasting with caviar for two with the head sommelier in the wine cellar, followed by dinner. Typically uncorked: Krug Brut, Clos du Mesnil 1998; Krug Rosé; and Krug Brut, Clos d’Ambonnay 1996.
5. Gourmets
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach’s DiLido Beach Club
is one of Miami’s most attractive dining spots, and the surrounding neighborhood radiates with culinary star power. But it’s the annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival that makes the 375-room property a gourmet heaven each winter.
  • Tasting menu: Make time for white truffle risotto and nights under twinkling lights at Casa Tua (1700 James Avenue; 305/673-1010), haute Cuban sandwiches from Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian at Tudor House (1111 Collins Avenue; 305/534-8455), and Ola’s deconstructed key lime pie and chocolate cigars (1745 James Avenue; 305/695-9125).
  • Big-deal meal: Splurge for the roasted local hogfish and other delights worthy of the architecture inside the former Versace mansion at The Villa. 1116 Ocean Drive; 305/576-8003.
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, March 2012.

More Urban Escapes

Find hotels in:

New York City