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Kim Peiffer Forbes Staff
There are many reasons to book a trip to Miami, whether you’re in it for the relentless nightlife or can’t wait to flop onto a beach chair with a green juice and not move for days. A mere three-hour flight from New York, most travelers are after some combination of sun and sand, which is why our list of the best hotels in Miami is focused heavily on the luxury properties and wellness escapes of Miami Beach and the South Beach strip.
What’s not to love? Miles of white sand beaches and turquoise seas fulfill the desire for warmth and water, the party scene never disappoints, the vibrant art scene is world-renowned, and there is still a place for those who just want to relax poolside without ever setting foot inside a dance club. Below, the best hotels in Miami for relaxing, rejuvenating and imbibing.
For The Wellness Junkie: 1 Hotel South Beach
1 Hotel South Beach, Miami Beach
Who Will Love It: The wellness junkie who loves to people watch
All-Star Amenities: Four pools; a massive gym; seven health-centric restaurants; oversized suites
What Not To Miss: A deep tissue massage at Bamford Wellness Spa
The 1 Hotel brand is a star player in the land of eco-conscious hospitality (even the hotel keys are crafted from recycled wood) but you’ll do quite the opposite of roughing it at this luxury oceanfront property in South Beach. With massive guest rooms—a standard room averages around 700- square-feet—and five-star amenities including the chic Bamford Wellness Spa, the biggest problem you’ll encounter during your stay is deciding which swimming pool you’ll spend the day lounging beside. The second problem? Deciding which healthful dishes to sample at the hotel’s seven dining options, like a lobster truffle roll at rooftop restaurant Watr or fresh fish tacos at The Sandbox. The scene-y rooftop, which includes an adults-only pool and a popular sunset cocktail hour, boasts 360-degree views of the ocean and downtown Miami.
For Those Who Love A Little Luxury: The Setai Miami Beach
The Setai Miami Beach
Who Will Love It: Those who believe true luxury has no price
All-Star Amenities: Hidden infinity pools; a high-end Valmont Spa
What Not To Miss: A memorable dinner experience at Asian Night Bazaar
It’s hard not to feel like a VIP the second you waltz into the confines of the incredibly chic Setai. You can lounge all day like a celebrity at one of three temperature-controlled infinity pools, all hidden within lush tropical gardens. Asian-inspired design touches such as sculptures, palms and water pods throughout the property make for a zen vibe and incredibly relaxing stay. At the same time, there’s an underground nightlife scene that reminds you that you are, indeed, in Miami Beach.
Begin the evening by bellying up to the limestone lobby bar for a stiff cocktail and ogle the well-heeled guests. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if the lights dim and the music changes when you least expect it. Fire dancers and live music are the unexpected addition to weekend dinner festivities at Jaya, the hotel’s renowned courtyard restaurant set among stone-filled pools and a retractable roof for those star-filled Miami nights. When it’s time to turn in, head upstairs to one of 87 thoughtfully-curated Art Deco rooms—or even better, splurge on one of the 49 private luxury Ocean Suites with sweeping views of the aquamarine ocean below.
For the Art Enthusiast: The Faena
The Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Who Will Love It: The art aficionado
All-Star Amenities: The South American-inspired spa complete with waterfall therapy; direct beach access and a traditional hammam
What Not To Miss: A selfie in front of the famed 10-foot-tall woolly mammoth skeleton encased in 24-karat gold by artist Damien Hirst
Those who love a good Instagram photo op will drool over the dazzling designs of Faena Hotel. ‘The Great Gatsby’ director Baz Luhrmann and his production designer wife Catherine Martin gave the 1940s property an extravagant makeover inspired by old Hollywood in 2016. Classic Art Deco design motifs (found in the gold color palette, signature red accent pieces and colorful furniture) are present in every inch of the property, from the hotel’s 179 guest rooms to the perfectly styled pool with red and white candy-striped lounge chairs. Right outside the lobby in the Mammoth Garden you’ll spot Damien Hirst’s famed 25-karat gold woolly mammoth skeleton sculpture encased in hurricane-proof glass, as if there wasn’t already enough visual stimulation to absorb. After your artistic palate has been fully satiated, head upstairs to the spa for an afternoon of total bliss on the marble hammam.
A Bal Harbour Beauty: Ritz Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour
Who Will Love It: The relaxation seeker
All-Star Amenities: Feather-topped luxury mattresses; expansive terraces with ocean views; a secluded beachfront pool
What Not To Miss: The outdoor fire pit (complete with cigars and cordials) on Friday and Saturday nights
Bal Harbour is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Miami, and The Ritz-Carlton fits right in. Just minutes from the glitzy neighborhood shops and high-end restaurants of Bal Harbour, yet close enough to jet over to South Beach should you choose, The Ritz is certainly a decadent choice for those looking for quiet luxury instead of a bustling Miami scene. Let stress slip away inside the 10,000-square-foot spa, zen out in a yoga class, or soak up some sun at the property’s outdoor pool (we’ll take all of the over, please). Sip craft cocktails at Artisan Beach House before heading to a lavish 15-course immersive sushi experience curated by Chef Anderson Osorio. End the evening with a nightcap on your oversized terrace listening to the gentle sounds of the ocean.
The Hotel With The Best Location: Loews Miami Beach
Loews Miami Beach Hotel
Who Will Love It: Those who love to be in the middle of the action
All-Star Amenities: Stellar poolside service; an onsite Exhale Spa; prime beach location
What Not To Miss: An afternoon lounging in cushy chairs on the resort’s private beach
The enviable beachfront location right in the middle of all the South Beach action is the icing on the proverbial Miami cake at Loews. The rooms are modern yet luxurious (Frette duvet covers, flat screen smart TVs and a fully-stocked minibar), the oversized pool is perfect for a day of lounging and the convenient access to the barre classes at Exhale Spa make it easy to stick to your fitness regimen. Grab a poolside cabana on day one. On day two, switch it up by heading outside the gates to the private beach for incredible people watching and ocean waves. Bar Collins is bustling at night, but you don’t want to miss the hotel’s low key Lure Fishbar for briny oysters and yellowtail sashimi. It’s the perfect pick for a romantic date night.
The Chic Factor: The Miami Beach Edition
The Miami Beach Edition
Who Will Love It: Those craving that lively and luxe vibe
All-Star Amenities: Outstanding restaurants by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten; multiple pools with outdoor bars; a large swath of semi private beachfront; an ice skating rink
What Not To Miss: A trip downstairs to the underground club, Basement
If you appreciate good design, you’ll never be disappointed with a stay at an Ian Schrager property; the Miami Beach Edition is one of the many jewels in his crown. The hotel offers guests every amenity under the sun coupled with that cool, dramatic aura only Schrager can conjure. The resort’s five restaurants, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s innovative Latin fusion spot Matador Room are one-of-a-kind, but that’s only the beginning of what makes this hotel unique. For starters, the lively underground club, Basement Bowl, has a bowling alley and ice-skating rink. Step outside at dusk to explore the grounds and you’ll discover a sexy hidden hammock garden sandwiched between two swanky pools—the perfect spot for a private nightcap.
The Most Notable Reno: W South Beach
W South Beach, Miami Beach
Who Will Love It: The influencer crowd
All-Star Amenities: Poolside bungalows; updated suites; a lively beach scene
What Not To Miss: An epic Chinese meal at buzzy, upscale restaurant Mr. Chow
Thanks to an expansive $30 million makeover, the always-popular W got a new lease on life during the pandemic. There’s the brand-new Away Spa, the addition of a swanky multimillion dollar art collection curated by the owner and completely remastered guest suites. Travelers who want an escape without the crowds should book one of the property’s five poolside bungalows that offer private entrances separate from the hotel and a plethora of amenities: fire up your rooftop grill, lounge on the private glass terrace and take a dip in your plunge pool without ever stepping foot in the lobby. Guests won’t be disappointed by any of the rooms—the W is the only South Beach hotel with oversized balconies and ocean views from every room. Enjoy dinner and a show at Mr. Chow, which serves up more stunning views, contemporary Chinese fare and theatrical surprises like scantily clad dancers to boot.
The Hottest Hotel In Brickell: Mandarin Oriental Miami
Mandarin Oriental Miami
Who Will Love It: Those looking for elevated glitz and glamour with the occasional celebrity spotting
All-Star Amenities: Private beach club overlooking Biscayne Bay; oversized soaking tubs in guest rooms; luxurious tri-level spa
What Not To Miss: The Kundalini spa treatment, a unique combination of aromatherapy massage, gemstone therapy and sound bathing brings you inner peace and balance
South Beach has always been Miami’s go-to destination, but veteran vacationers and locals know the downtown area of Brickell is the newest hotspot. Mandarin Oriental Miami is in the perfect location—its a quiet respite on Brickell Bay that offers total tranquility, yet it’s mere minutes from bustling downtown Brickell. Not that you’ll want to leave the hotel; from luxurious oversized guest rooms to a 20,000-square-foot white sand beach overlooking Biscayne Bay that boasts cushy day beds, don’t be surprised if you want to move in permanently. While you’re checked in, don’t miss out on the dining options; MO Bar + Lounge has extraordinary cocktails and light bites, and La Mar by Gastón Acurio hasPeruvian-inspired fare, irresistible desserts and an excellent Sunday brunch.
The Place To See And Be Seen: Soho Beach House
Soho Beach House
Who Will Love It: Socialites and scenesters
All-Star Amenities: The Cowshed Spa; expertly curated rooms with clawfoot soaking tubs; poolside cabanas
What Not To Miss: The avocado toast on the brunch menu; drinks at the second floor Club Bar (a nod to 1940s Cuba); Mrs. Mandolin—the property’s Mediterranean-inspired boutique
Media moguls, socialites and European travelers all flock to the exclusive Soho Beach House in Mid-Beach. The British private club is a members-only property (you must be approved by a member to be allowed inside and you must be a member to book a stay), and no two rooms are alike. The 50 eclectic guest rooms in the renovated Art Deco Sovereign Hotel have concrete beams, tile floors and leather armchairs. The beachfront bar, killer cuisine at Cecconi’s in the ground floor courtyard and the rustic yet luxurious Cowshed Spa are a few more reasons anyone who’s anyone wants to be at the Beach House.
Frequently Asked Questions About Miami
Is it better to stay in South Beach or Miami Beach?
Many people confuse South Beach and Miami Beach, but South Beach is actually a part of Miami Beach—the southern part. Miami Beach, which is 9 miles long and close to a mile wide, is a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. Miami Beach is broken up into multiple sections, including North Beach, Mid Beach, South Beach, and South of Fifth. The beaches between the sections are all connected. South Beach has become one of the most popular areas to stay due to the great restaurants, hotels, nightlife and art scene, but many visitors are now choosing to stay downtown Miami, an up and coming area called Brickell.
Which location is best to stay in Miami?
South Beach is the most famous section of Miami Beach. It includes a wide array of luxury hotels, upscale restaurants, luxury shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene. It also has miles of gorgeous beaches to walk and a great boardwalk that you can walk, bike, or rollerblade on. It is known as one of the best locations to stay in Miami Beach.
What is the nicest part of Miami Beach?
There are many great areas in Miami Beach, but some of the nicest parts of Miami Beach are South Beach and Mid-Beach. Here you will find many upscale hotels and dining options, gorgeous beaches, and easy access to many shops and retailers. The art deco scene that Miami is known for is very prevalent in the design of the buildings in Miami Beach.
About Kim Peiffer, Your Miami Guide
I have been covering travel for nearly two decades, from reviewing luxury hotels to visiting off-the-beaten path locations throughout the world. I’m always in search of a new ski town, a remote beach and a stellar cocktail (and the perfect spot to sip said cocktail, of course). I’m also always down for adventure on a vacation, whether its doing aerial acrobatics in a fighter jet over the desert or heli-skiing down a glacier in Italy. Miami is one of my favorites that I find myself returning to again and again, and I’ve personally visited every hotel on this list. As Forbes Vetted’s Executive Editor, I oversee our travel and hotel coverage. I’ve also written for Vogue, Robb Report, Travel & Leisure, InStyle, GQ, DuJour, Oprah and many others. Follow my adventures on Instagram: @peifferk1
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