For namedropping: Fontainebleau
One of the biggest and most famous hotels in Miami, Fontainebleau likes to boast its celebrity connections and throw big, lavish parties. If Fontainebleau was a person, she would be the friend who knows everybody.
The lowdown: This modern hotel is a bastion of South Beach. There’s great food from its eight restaurants, including Michael Mina’s bold, beefy Stripsteak, which features cuts and chops from a wood-burning grill. There are endless facilities, too: great for entertaining kids.
Namedrop the days away as you pass under chandeliers designed by Ai Wei Wei, through halls where Frank Sinatra once strolled and a night club where you might spot one of the Jenners.
In a city where people get dressed up just to go to the mall, there’s no show in the world quite like a night out in Miami. Swanky nights out end up at LIV, the Fontainebleau’s over-the-top night club. To start your evening a little earlier, dress up for a drink at Bleau Bar.
Insider tip: Accommodation is set in four soaring towers. Partygoers should book rooms in the Chateau tower.
The fabulous Faena hotel is full of big surprises: like this $18 million, 24-carat sculpture.£858 ppBook a holiday
For its ace basement: The Miami Beach EDITION
The largest beachfront in the city belongs to the Miami Beach EDITION. Sunning its fine self on trendy Mid-Beach, the hotel has its own ice rink and bowling alley downstairs.
The lowdown: A pearl-pale monolith on the beachfront, the Miami Beach EDITION hotel retains some original 1950s features, like gold columns in the lobby and a towering white sundial in the gardens. The rest is ultra-modern, though. Settle into a chair in the sunken dining area of Matador restaurant or sink your toes into the hotel’s outdoor ‘Sandbox’ while you watch a film under the stars. The pool and beachfront are divinely sunny, but downstairs is a different story. The hotel’s special basement is decked out with four bowling alley lanes, a novelty ice rink and a boutique night club.
Insider tip: When your brand becomes synonymous with glamour, you’d be a fool not to trade on it: Miami Beach EDITION is scented throughout by its own signature perfume. You can buy it from the on-site boutique.
For art addicts: Faena
It’s all a matter of taste. Ridiculous extravagance litters the Faena hotel. While some may adore it, others will raise their eyebrows at the Damien Hirst woolly mammoth skeleton in the garden and flayed unicorn statue in the restaurant. Whatever, Faena is still one of the best hotels in Miami.
The lowdown: This massive, art-snob of a resort is set in the newly-established Faena District at Mid-Beach. There are some big names behind the hotel’s recent redesign: film director Baz Luhrmann and costume designer Catherine Martin helped perfect the hotel’s ‘out-there’ aesthetic: candy-striped umbrellas at the pool club, animal print poufs, and walls that look like resurrected coral reefs. Los Fuegos, an amazing Argentinian restaurant, serves ladles of chimichuirri with your steaks.
The cultured will be in heaven: there’s a cabaret theatre, art books in the atrium, craft afternoons and immersive installations. Despite its flashiness, this up-scale hotel welcomes celebrity guests with the utmost discretion.
Insider tip: Make use of your butler – there’s one on every floor.
The surroundings may be sapphire, but insiders order the delicious pink martini at Bleau Bar.£952 ppBook a holiday
Let the Carillon take care of you: its spa has an amazing range of detoxing, destressing and deeply relaxing treatments, and its personal trainers will take you for yoga on the beach.£1388 ppBook a holiday
Did you know…?
Nobu Matsuhisa created his signature dish when a customer sent their sashimi back, complaining that it was raw. Nobu poured a hot oil on the plate to cook the fish - and 'New Style Sashimi' was born.£877 ppBook a holiday
For golf and grandeur: The Biltmore
This grand old golfing hotel houses a great set of restaurants, including French cuisine in Palme d'Or.
The lowdown: The 1926 Biltmore hotel resembles something between an Art Deco rocket ship and a wedding cake, with a dramatic central tower and charming, old-fashioned interiors. It’s classic, rather than hip, with fantastic facilities, not least its Olympic-sized 600,000 gallon swimming pool lined with Greek statues. The Biltmore is firstly a golfing hotel, taking great pride in its restored 18-hole championship golf course. But the two old-school fine-dining restaurants are nothing to scoff at. The rooms are similarly timeless. For more space, you can book one of the hotel’s many suites.
You’ll find The Biltmore in a quieter corner of Miami, away from the beach in Coral Gables. Whilst you’re in the neighbourhood of this affluent Miami suburb, visit another 1920s gem: the Venetian Pool and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Insider tip: Look out for La Fôret Noire on the tasting menu at the Palme d’Or restaurant, a fantastical chocolate ‘tree’ topped by a blossom of pink spun sugar.
For the spa: The Carillon
One of the healthiest 5 star hotels in Miami, The Carillon is a huge wellness resort.
The lowdown: If you’ve come on holiday with wellness goals, you’ll find all your needs met (and the juice bars fruitful) at The Carillon. It operates South Florida’s largest spa and pumps out over forty fitness classes every day. Your wellbeing will be taken as seriously as you want to it be: there’s even an on-site consultant for ‘healthy aging’. But there’s no pressure: no one has a problem with you destroying the breakfast buffet and lying under a massive hat by the pool all day.
The Carillon boasts extensive facilities, loads of things to children occupied, and an impressively realistic indoor climbing wall. The rooms are enormous, too – a minimum of 65 square metres each. If you’re partial to busting out a sun salutation as soon as you jump out of bed, you’ll have plenty of space to do so.
Insider tip: Set in a residential, well-to-do area of North Beach, there are lots of nice shops and eateries scattered around the side roads.
For the menu: Nobu
Famous Nobu Miami is known for its restaurant, but the surrounding hotel is just as appetising.
The lowdown: It’s not often you get a restaurant so famous that it has its own hotel. Nobu, by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa started as a Japanese restaurant in the hippest district of NYC back in the nineties. Several restaurants and Michelin stars later, it has opened a series of hotels that epitomise Japanese elegance – each with their own Nobu restaurant. Whilst Miami is about as far from Japan as you can get, the hotel styles itself as a Japanese beach house. You’ll find a lot of sparse, wooden spaces and angular architecture, and a chic private pool area. A few Miami theatricals creep in: a glass of fizz on check-in, frozen grapes by the pool, cloud-soft beds, wraparound balconies outside some of the suites, and brunch delivered to your room.
Nobu is a ‘hotel within a hotel’ – as it’s part of the Eden Roc hotel complex. You can use the Eden Roc facilities, including three extra pools and a spa.
Insider tip: Look out for the roaming drinks trolley. You can request a complimentary cocktail made exactly to your taste.
A thick planting of bourgainvillae, plumbago and palms make The Palms Resort & Spa a leafy paradise. The hotel has direct access to Miami Boardwalk.£884 ppBook a holiday
For families: Grand Beach Surfside
Families can spread out comfortably at Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, where the good-sized rooms mean you can strew your flip flops and towels and sunglasses on every surface – not that you’d want to spoil the minimalist look of these rather chic spaces. The whole hotel is very nicely designed, with leafy pool areas and a Sky Bar. Surfside is a quieter area of the city and it’s great for kids – you’ll not run into any Hen Dos here, and the area affords a number of pretty parks, for days when you’re not at the beach.
Insider tip: Families, book one of the two-bedroom suite, or ask for interconnecting rooms.
For location: Victor
Set in the centre of the action on Ocean Drive (it’s next to the Versace mansion), boutique Hotel Victor offers very good rates, given its five-star status.
The lowdown: One of the enviable South Beach Miami hotels, Hotel Victor’s chic, grey-toned rooms act as a palette cleanser after an Ocean Drive happy hour. To celebrate its opening night the PR team placed penguins in the small, pretty pool. Nowadays, you’ll find the pool area quiet, and lined with cabanas.
The hotel’s handy bike rental means you can don your kaftan, cut through the crowds outside the Casa Casuarina, and billow down the boardwalk. Later, enjoy Pinkberry Ocean Drive, Hotel Victor’s froyo parlour. Pomegranate flavour is sure to please.
Insider tip: Ask for a room away from the street, as this neighbourhood can get quite lively. All rooms have at least a partial view of the ocean.
For good southern manners: The Palms Resort & Spa
This relaxed, family-run hotel hosts two resident parrots. Find it in the Faena District, Miami Beach.
The lowdown: For those who like their elegance as laid-back as it comes, The Palms Resort is a welcoming, easy-to-love four-star hotel. The décor is Old Floridian (palm-thatched cabanas in the garden), with a dollop of Miami glitz on the top (a stunning lobby chandelier). The on-site restaurant, Essensia, champions the slow-food movement. It uses the hotel’s garden to source its fruits and herbs and serves a colourful Sunday brunch. Enjoy the hotels green spaces for yourself by joining a Vinyasa yoga class in the gardens.
Insider tip: The spa has a well-stocked Aveda shop on site if you want to treat yourself to some all-natural beauty products.
For romantics: The Plymouth
Two blocks back from South Beach, boutique hotel The Plymouth is set in an interesting late-Art Deco building. The sushi restaurant is worth staying in for.
The lowdown: Elbows out – there are just 110 guestrooms available at The Plymouth. True to its dramatic 1920s exterior, the interiors are just the right side of vintage kitsch, from the bamboo bar to the stripy sun loungers and Art Deco pool. Guest rooms look like they’re straight out of a sophisticated beach house. All in all, this hotel is a quiet, romantic hideaway.
The Plymouth might not be beachfront, but don’t despair: the hotel has its own private beach area just a short walk away.
Insider tip: The famous American chain, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill has an outpost on-site. It’s perfect for couples who want to feed each other with chopsticks. Order the signature Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken with wasabi honey on the side.