What do we think of when we think of the best hotels in Miami? Pool parties, beautiful people in swimsuits, bottles of champagne, beach parties, Spring Break, DJ sets – yes, it is all of the above, and fabulously so.
But it's more than that too. A crop of new and renovated boutique hotels are showing off the best of Miami culture. It will also be glam and over-the-top, but increasingly the hospitality venues also reflect the rich Cuban heritage of the city, as well as influences from other Latin American immigrant communities.
In addition, Art Basel Miami is a bigger deal than ever, drawing thousands artists, dealers and buyers to Florida's sunny shores every December.
There's a strong art focus in many of these hotels; the Faena has a giant Damien Hirst sculpture by the pool and The Betsy even hosts literary salons. And then there's The Goodtime Hotel, the creation of David Grutman of Groot Hospitality and Pharrell Williams that's been attracting plenty of creatives with its fantastical décor.
1. Life House, Little Havana
The Life House, Little Havana building is a historic 1920s icon that incorporates elements of Mission Revival style architecture. It reopened after a full refurb at the end of 2021 and it manages to look somehow entirely retro and entirely contemporary.
The hotel sets out to represent the "diverse plurality of cultures" in the Little Havana neighborhood, with nods to Cuban culture but also the local Ecuadorian, Colombian and Venezuelan communities too.
Inside you'll find an explosion of patterns and colors, including wallpapers from House of Hackney and details that pay homage to the heritage of the area, like photography from a local Cuban photographer and Afrocuban ceramics. The dining options offer an "elevated" take on Latin American street food.
Book a stay at Life House, Little Havana. Rooms from $189.
2. Faena, Miami Beach
If you were asked to close your eyes and imagine a luxury design hotel in Miami, we'd wager that Faena is what you'd see.
Art deco meets meets contemporary at this super glam art-driven address, which even features a Damien Hirst golden mammoth by the pool.
There's a private beach club, naturally, and a spa – but also an all-pink "Project Room" where artists' salons are held.
Book a stay at Faena, Miami beach. Rooms from $600.
3. SLS Brickell
This is the SLS hotel group's second opening in Miami, this time in the increasingly buzzy financial district.
If the tall tower that houses the hotel is classic Miami, there's a distinct Parisian flavor inside thanks to design from Phillippe Starck. Rooms display his typical flamboyant yet elegant style with high-quality fabrics and natty details, like the patterned rugs and statement pieces of furniture and even mirrors on the ceilings in some rooms.
There's a striking art collection dotted around the hotel and an "altitude pool" on the roof.
Book a stay at SLS Brickell. Rooms from $390.
4. Soho Beach House Miami
The unstoppable Soho House group does it again.
What was once the Art Deco Sovereign Hotel has been expanded and transformed into a destination design hotel to be enjoyed by Soho House members and friends only.
Inside this tower you'll find eccentric retro interiors typical of the Group, with a Cuban twist.
There's no shortage of food and drink options: South American cocktails, Italian fare and even a tiki bar by the pool.
The 49 bedrooms range in size from dinky to suite, with joyful, vintage stylings across every room grade.
Book a stay at Soho Beach House Miami (Members and Friends only). Rooms from $450.
5. The Betsy South Beach
The Betsy offers a refined, grown-up choice amid the effervescent party scene of Ocean Drive and South Beach.
There's a strong cultural focus: the hotel hosts jazz nights and has an in-house writers room, where literary events are held, and a library. Hyam Plutzik, father of The Betsy’s owner, Jonathan, was a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry.
Décor-wise, you'll notice the nautical vibes: think lots of white wood and blue accents and a 20th-century sophistication feel, with elements of mid century and Art Deco.
Book a stay at The Betsy. Rooms from $300.
6. Hotel Greystone
Grey by name, but not my nature.
This gorgeous South Beach hotel is all warm tones and splashes of pastel color courtesy of Texas-based interior design firm Bowen Holly.
The outside shell is a swoon-worthy curved Art Deco building, designed by Henry Hohauser in the late Thirties. Inside you'll find minimalist bedrooms – think lots of cream and white and natural fabrics. Plant pots are used to gorgeous effect, cheerily dotting the communal spaces and filling them with greenery.
The in-house jazz bar nods to the history of the venue, while the Japanese and French fusion cuisine brings the food and drink offering bang up-to-date.
Book a stay at Hotel Greystone. Rooms from $220.
7. Esme, Miami Beach
This home was originally built as an artists' colony and the creative feel is most certainly in evidence.
There's a Spanish or Mediterranean vibe in the interiors, with lots of rich colors, beautiful tiles and patterned fabric from NYC-based designer Jessica Schuster.
Right in the heart of the part of South Beach made famous by Miami Vice, this refreshing boutique address is laid out across eight different buildings and a section of beach, five minutes' walk from the main site.
Book a stay at Hotel Esme. Rooms from $280.
8. The Goodtime Hotel
Sugar sweet and ultra-cool, this bubblegum fantasy hotel is like a frozen cocktail on a sweltering day. Perhaps it's freshness is not surprising given its the brainchild of Miami hotel impresario David Grutman of Groot Hospitality and musical and cultural icon Pharrell Williams.
The sprawling 266-room complex, which occupies a whole city block on Washington Avenue, opened in 2021 and has already made quite the name for itself thanks to its joyful, whimsical aesthetic.
The distinctive look comes courtesy of a formidable design trifecta: architect Morris Adjmi, superstar designer Ken Fulk and landscape architect Raymond Jungles. Whimsy blends with functionality and there's a distinct digital nomad feel in the communal 'library' and and the café space. Meanwhile, down at the vast pool club, the focus is on relaxing and mingling, preferably while elegantly coiffed.
It's over-the-top, kitsch classy and cool all at once, with a Wes Anderson energy and just a touch of Barbiecore.
Book a stay at The Goodtime Hotel. Rooms from $200.
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Hannah Meltzer is a Londoner by birth and Parisian by adoption. She previously worked on the staff of The Daily Telegraph’s travel desk, before moving to Paris in 2017. She writes regularly about travel and Parisian culture for The Telegraph as an expert destination correspondent. She has also written for The Independent, The Times, Vanity Fair, openDemocracy and Télérama. Recently she wrote a podcast series about Parisian culture for an LA-based production company.
Hannah is based in the 18th arrondissement in the less touristy side of Montmartre behind the Sacré-Coeur basilica. Though her life sometimes resembles a hammy cliché — sketching in sidewalk terraces, walking her beloved dog Babette through the streets of Montmartre — she is adamant she has not lost her London humour and open-mindedness, or her accent.
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