It’s that time of year, when the art world descends upon Miami for the bacchanalian moving feast known as Art Basel.
And as the global glitterati and influential tastemakers head to Magic City, they demand stylish digs in which to rest their pretty heads.
Enter a new batch of hotels that aim to reinvent the party retreat, the classy resort or the hipster hangout.
Welcome to the latest edition of modern Miami’s scene-stealing escapes.
Finally, a hotel in the city’s creative hub — and it couldn’t come at a more clutch moment. If all goes as planned, the 217-room, nine-story retreat designed by architectural darlings Meyer Davis will be the go-to hangout for the art crowd’s younger generation.
Those seeking engaging conversation can find it over inventive cocktails courtesy of Bar Lab, the hospitality collective that brought us the beloved Broken Shaker, or with a meal at MaryGold’s by award-winning chef Brad Kilgore, whose focus here is on Florida-inspired brasserie fare.
After the party is the after-party at the cocktail-centric third-floor Higher Lounge, where DJs spin, and after that, the cool kids move to the rooftop deck for sunrise mimosas.
Work it off with complimentary and ticketed daily yoga classes and meditation sessions, or just dance yourself clean to the sounds of live music and local DJs. Free bikes get you from Wynwood to all the satellite fairs; giant, immersive, colorful murals are your guideposts home.
For those planning to stick around awhile and actually unpack their Rimowas, this 646-room debut in increasingly hot downtown Miami is an easy first choice. The just-opened 49-story tower by Sieger Suarez Architects swims in desirable amenities, like a 19,000-square-foot sun deck formed beneath two-story structural pillars.
That shady, double-height outdoor space promises to be highly engaging 24/7: There’s a 132-foot-long pool; an outdoor faux-grass “theater” with 16-foot LED screens displaying movies, videos and sporting events; a bar; and, natch, killer views. Guests flitting to and fro in their fantastical Éliou rompers are welcomed by a colorful mural by Jeffrey Noble, which sets the tone for some seriously festive darties.
When it’s time for rest, guest rooms by Florida-based Cotofana Designs embrace a residential coastal aesthetic, with 9-foot-tall ceilings, fully-stocked kitchens, spa-like bathrooms, earth tones and private balconies — even in entry-level abodes.
Bigger isn’t always better; sometimes it’s those jewel-box hotels that leave you breathless and booking a return stay.
Such is the case with the Pelican, a 32-room oceanfront property that has upended the notion of a 1950s Art Deco hotel, filling it not with sleek black and brass, but with elevated kitsch — courtesy of the freakish mind of Renzo Rosso, founder of the Italian clothing brand, Diesel. Cinematic-themed rooms range from the jungle-chic “Me Tarzan, You Vain” to the James Bond-inspired “Penthouse One” (Rosso’s secret lair when he’s in town), to a retro-futuristic “Lust in Space” guest quarter with its Antonio Citterio sofas.
The ironic wink extends to the beachfront eatery, the Pelican Café, where chef Wendy Cacciatori serves up (what else?) classic Italian dishes with a cheeky spin. Of course, if the most fun isn’t being had in that festive café, then you get a second shot on the hotel’s beach, where scantily clad fashionistas parade around sipping spumante as they order cocktails and Capreses to be delivered to their (complimentary) lounge chairs. You want to be with the beautiful people? Take flight to the Pelican.
Originally built as a 1920s artists colony, the Spanish-Mediterranean Revival property retains that bohemian vibe. Its 145 rooms, by Jessica Schuster Design, are spread across eight buildings and come in two iterations: the Village Rooms are fairly classic with a little whimsy, while the Casa Matanza quarters are moodier and pay homage to this secret hideout for Al Capone’s gambling syndicate in the 1930s.
Five on-site restaurants include El Salón — an intimate cocktail bar and lounge that serves only its own proprietary blends of spirits — and The Roof, an expansive space connecting four rooftops with a retro pool and cabanas that will be packed with late-night diners and dancers moving to the chill beats of local DJs.
In sizzling Coral Gables, 219 guest rooms and 23 suites occupy the heart of the newly opened Plaza Coral Gables, a dining and retail destination much like Dallas’ Highland Park Village or the Malibu Country Mart.
Targeting business travelers and festive-event attendees, the property caters to ladies who lunch in their Lilly Pulitzers, replenishing their vitamin D at Phineas, the poolside ninth-floor oasis serving Latin flavors with views. Private groups can book the Chef’s Table, tucked away in the Americana Kitchen restaurant — an ode to the Americana Hotel built by the Tisch family (Loews’ owner) in 1956 in what is now Bal Harbour.
Built in 1985 by architect-sculptor Kenneth Treister with infinite sculptural details that visitors can still discover throughout their stays, the Mayfair — Coconut Grove’s original grande dame — was once the favored resting spot for Miami’s cocaine cowboys, but now draws a more sophisticated guest.
Check into this 179-room tropicool escape to immerse yourself in the Caribbean rhythms of the calypso-style rooftop bar, with rum cocktails and live music. Or just Instagram the heck out of a meal at the Fountain Bar, the brainchild of beloved hospitality group Lost Boy & Co. and located — wait for it — in one of the original elevator shafts.
No two guest rooms are alike, though each has a fabulous feature that comes with bragging rights, be it an outdoor shower, a walled garden, or a stand-alone tub. Skip the Uber line and get around by complimentary cruiser.