Miami isn’t known as the Magic City for nothing… It’s the place you can party, shop, eat, drink, admire art deco, see street art, and flit between beach and city in 15 minutes flat.
There’s far more to this Florida escape than the string bikinis and convertible Mustangs of tourist-heavy South Beach. This is a city that’s been quietly cultivating a buzzing arts scene, including playing host to celebrities and art world luminaries via Art Basel every December (this year’s headline makers included a banana duct-taped to a wall that sold for $120,000).
With a thermometer that rarely dips below mid-20s, Miami’s consistent heat makes it one of the most vibrant and sunny destinations around if you plan to do a lot more than flop on a sunlounger. These are the seven hotspots that you won’t want to miss in Miami.
Rival the candy-striped sun loungers with a South Beach-ready vacation wardrobe. Here’s what to pack for a Miami weekender…
THE PACKING EDIT
The City Beach Hotspot Mandarin Oriental Miami
Unlike its neighbouring Brickell city skyscraper hotels, Mandarin Oriental Miami is more like a relaxing beach resort – positioned on the exclusive enclave of Brickell Key you’re surrounded by a double whammy of epic sea and city views. MO has all the gloss you’d expect from a city hotel, but with an infinity edge pool, day spa, and even its very own Brickell Beach.
As Miami’s one and only private beach it’s only accessible with a swipe of your hotel key card and, with 20,000 square feet of white sand, you’ll have no problem bagging a sunlounger to take in the uninterrupted views of the city skyline and Key Biscayne. Art lovers should check out the hotel’s Art in Residence concept to find local and international talent in unexpected places, like the statement Rainer’s divers hanging from the ceilings that illuminate the lobby at night.
The Asian Dining Hotspot Jaya at The Setai
Asian dining doesn’t get more decadent than the breath-taking outdoor courtyard of Jaya at The Setai. Towering pergolas, palms and dining tables surround the edge of the huge stone-filled pool, and your background ambience is all about the water fountains, cool ocean breeze, and a star-filled sky.
Executive Chef Vijayudu Veena’s pan-Asian menu is as delicious as your dining table view with regional specialities from Southeast and Northern Asian cultures – its diverse menu is separated into mains from the grill, wok, or tandoor (with spice levels expertly navigated by the helpful waiters). Highlights include tuna tacos, wagyu tataki, sea bass tikka, and the dreamiest truffle dumplings stuffed with steamed scallop, shrimp and fresh shaved truffles. Even the creative cocktails have an Asian twist in keeping with the culinary vibe. Start your Jaya dining experience with a Tokyo Mule or Thai Basil Mojito.
The Outdoor Spa Hotspot The Betsy Wellness Garden & Spa
If you like a side serving of ocean air with your spa treatment, The Betsy’s Wellness Garden & Spa is the only fully outdoor spa in Miami Beach. Located on the hotel’s serene rooftop, it’s like a spa hideaway with zen-inspired wood, stone, bamboo and natural fibres – all shaded by retractable sails and private cabanas.
The hotel’s Arts & Culture Program brings some creativity to the spa menu with standout treatments like ‘Muse’, ‘Canvas’ and ‘Symposium’, which are inspired by notable quotes and saying of famous writers and artists. If you’re looking for a run-of-the-mill massage, The Betsy isn’t it. Signature therapies include a ‘Blue Eucalyptus Sonata’ ($160) using vibrational sound therapy with Tibetan singing bowls.
The Celebrity Hangout Hotspot Swan
If you want to do dinner outdoors, but really indoors, step into the garden-like interior of Swan. This 1-year-old Design District restaurant oozes Instagram cool, thanks to its high-profile owners, Pharrell (yes, that one) and Miami kingpin David Grutman – and, unsurprisingly, it has a celebrity fan club which includes the Kardashians and Hadids.
Don’t head to the Swan for quite conversation, this is all about the electric atmosphere. With a co-owner like mega-producer Pharrell you can expect hip 80s beats and buzzy chatter. After dinner, take a trip to the plush upstairs lounge, Bar Bevy, to keep the party going – it’s every bit as insta-cool as Swan.
The Casual Foodie Hotspot Time Out Market Miami
Made for the dining indecisive, TOMM as it’s affectionately known, is the ultimate casual lunch hangout – especially if your foodie group is forever debating what cuisine you all want to eat. In a modern warehouse-style 18,000square feet space in the heart of South Beach, this curated food hall packs in 18 of the most-talked-about Miami kitchens and three buzzy bars all under one roof.
The two latest restaurant concepts to be added to the culinary line-up are Ms. Cheezious (award-winning grilled cheese served with everything imaginable), and La Gringe Tostaderia, Mexican cuisine courtesy of Chef Gomez Navarro who’s currently taking over TOMM’s biggest pop-up demo kitchen for six months. Think specialities like blue crab tostadas and shredded beef chalupas.
The Cool Pool Hotspot Faena Hotel
Have you ever seen a more attractive pool? Answers on a postcard, addressed to Faena Miami Beach. This 5-star hotel has got the Miami Beach vibe down to a tee with a palm-fringed pool that’s decked out in signature red and white candy cane-striped umbrellas and plush chaise lounges.
Step a few metres over the boardwalk and the Faena Beach area is just as coordinated (just head for the red and white umbrellas). Hotel guests get dedicated pool or beach butlers on standby to offer fruit-infused water, sunglasses cleaning and small bites. There’s even a fresh water footwash to help you rinse off the white sand.
The Secret Skate Hotspot The Miami Beach Edition
Balmy Miami Beach might not be the first place you’d expect to go ice skating – but insiders know The Edition is the place to channel your inner Torvill and Dean. Head down to the Basement and you’ll find a 2,000 square feet indoor ice skating rink if you need to cool off from the Miami heat.
Expect disco vibes – developed by the legendary Ian Schrager of Studio 54, it’s a v cool (excuse the pun) night spot. The scene of skaters gliding to the ever-changing light show reveals a surreal, Dali-esque sight to those watching from the high windows outside on Collins Avenue.