The Good Life
with a Southern Drawl

3 Favorite Miami Hotels

By Amy Bailey — November 10, 2015

The thought of Miami may conjure up images of all night parties and crowded beaches, but if you really educate yourself about Miami you will find a city that is full of splendor from its hotels to its cuisine to its art and architecture. With the world renowned modern art festival Art Basel coming up and the weather getting quite chilly in other parts, set your sights for this Southern point and enjoy one of these world class Miami hotels.

Thompson Miami Beach

11403009_10153444654094042_4660755797489654480_nA technicolor dream located in the heart of South Beach, the Thompson Miami Beach will delight all your senses. Globally revered interior designer Martin Brudnizki presents a strikingly vibrant bohemian-beach chic hotel concept that reestablishes the glamour of 1950s Miami Beach, housed inside a masterfully restored 1940s Art Deco tower. The rooms are stunningly furnished and comfortable, the pool area will entice you with its yellow, pink and white striped loungers, and the beach area is like something out of a movie dressed in flamenco umbrellas with fringe on top. The service throughout the hotel is top notch leaving you never having to want.

11218053_10153456951814042_8683947200326366538_nAs far as eateries inside the hotel a lush garden surrenders to glittering pools, an enigmatic beach bungalow houses a 1930s-era cocktail den, James Beard Foundation Award-winning Michelle Bernstein is every bit as locally sourced as her cuisine at Seagrape, and, star chef Dale Talde brings his highly lauded Asian-American eatery, TALDE, to Miami. Now open, TALDE Miami Beach is a casual Asian-American restaurant and bar by Chef Dale Talde and his Three Kings Restaurant Group partners David Massoni, and John Bush. It features an eclectic, authentic Brooklyn-inspired design (hand-painted graffiti and all).

Chef Talde blends his heritage into the TALDE menu with signature savory dishes like Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings with tahini mustard and Korean Fried Chicken with spicy kimchee yogurt sauce. Eager to embrace Miami’s energy, culture and cuisine, Chef Talde has been experimenting with some of South Florida’s signature spices and flavors which will be incorporated into select dishes to make them authentically Miami.

Mandarin Oriental, Miami

mandarinSecluded on its own little island away from ‘party central’, the Mandarin Oriental Miami gives you the ultimate in relaxation. From the moment you step inside the doors you are treated like a special guest they have been eagerly expecting. Our room was spacious and luxurious including a balcony with expanding views of Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami. The Mandarin Oriental also boasts a gorgeous pool with poolside service and beachside service at its own private beach. The beach is small but perfect for those looking to avoid crowds and truly get away from it all. Soak up the sun, sip on a fresh smoothie, and enjoy watching the beautiful boats leaving and returning to Biscayne Bay. Go for a walk or run around the island on its waterfront jogging path and discover the beautiful condos and cafes that also call Brickell Key home. You will also get a glimpse of Mark Cuban’s enormous yacht, Fountainhead, parked across the water at the Epic. For further health and relaxation make an appointment at the hotel’s spa. Spread over three floors and enjoying an idyllic waterfront setting, the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami offers an indulgent environment in which to enjoy holistic therapies and treatments and is consistently ranked among the best spas in the world. If you want to achieve a sense of seclusion amongst the bustling city of Miami, the Mandarin Oriental Miami is your retreat.

10947179_10153078497229042_357293539711185034_nBut relaxation and luxury are not the only reasons to choose the Mandarin, there’s also the food. If I had two words to describe the Peruvian inspired restaurant La Mar by Gaston Acurio, they would be ‘world class’. I thought I had already experienced the best meal of my life, that is until I ate at La Mar by Gaston Acurio and experienced a meal prepared by Executive Chef Diego Oka. From the first course of the cebiche sampler which was made to order combining leche de tigre with fresh catches like yellow snapper, octopus, shrimp, and tuna – your taste buds are in heaven. It was at that moment my friend looked at me and said, “This is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.” And that was merely the beginning of the meal. The next course of Causas, which are whipped Peruvian potatoes combined with various flavors like octopus and olives or crab, beets, and kale, were one of the most unique foods I’ve eaten. These tiny bites are served in a Peruvian style boat, they are smooth in texture but their flavors burst in your mouth. Next on our plates the Plancha Anticuchera, grilled octopus and calamari in a chimichurri and panca pepper sauce, similar to a barbecue flavor. It was at this point our stomachs were beyond delighted and we thought we had experienced the best, when out came the most beautiful culinary display I could imagine, the Whole Fish Nikei.

lamarIn a perfectly fried U-shape, the catch of the day is displayed with the flash fried pieces toppled around the middle of the fish – mesmerizing and delicious. At this point we were in a state of euphoria, convinced it was simply time to retire to the room, but I am so glad we didn’t. Our waiter insisted we try sample portions of the El Chocolate Y La Lucuma and the Los Alfajores, these last small bites were the perfect ending to an unforgettable meal. This restaurant shouldn’t just be a stop on your Miami itinerary, it should be a reason to travel to Miami.

If you are a South Beach loyalist, you may come up with excuses of why the Mandarin Oriental doesn’t work for you and yes, although Miami is spread out there is Uber. In Miami Uber works and it works exceptionally well. Every driver we had was fantastic, friendly, and Uber was simply a great way for them to make a second income. The fee is pre-set and typically half the price of a cab and since payment is set up on your phone you never even have to pull out your wallet. It was perfect for us because we needed to be in South Beach but wanted to visit other parts of Miami as well.

Soho Beach House

sohobeachouse2 (1)An intimate choice, Soho Beach House is an exceptional boutique hotel with only 50 rooms and stunning views of the ocean. Enjoy the main pool flanked by loungers with full waiter service, Ocho the 8th floor rooftop taqueria and plunge pool, the Club Bar which is a homage to 1940s Cuba, the Beach Club, and Mandolin Beach the al fresco restaurant serving drinks and Mediterranean food. The decor is sophisticated yet cozy. Sometimes you will feel like you have the place to yourself as you lounge  by the rooftop pool or grab a refreshing margarita at the Taqueria bar. The hotel also boasts a screening room and library where you can have your won private gathering. For big television events they also broadcast awards shows like the Golden Globes and Oscars on the white building, quite a way to watch TV with the ocean in the background.

sohobeachhouseSoho Beach House is also home to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Cecconi’s. The atmosphere alone will make you fall in love, then with dishes like Maine lobster spaghetti and black truffle and goat cheese pizza, Cecconi’s will have you hooked for life. As you step into this al fresco dining experience located in the courtyard of the Soho Beach House hotel lights twinkle above your head and the laughter of guests fills your ears. Cecconi’s is a modern day classic Italian restaurant open for brunch, lunch, cicchetti, and dinner, seven days a week. Cecconi’s originated in Venice and serves hand-made pasta, seafood, and dishes cecconisfrom Northern Italy using the finest, freshest ingredients. In addition to the flagship restaurant in Mayfair, London, Cecconi’s has outposts in West Hollywood and Istanbul.

READ MORE on the Best of Miami at Miami, A World Class Destination.