With remote working firmly the norm, savvy Americans are flocking in droves to the coastal metropolis of Miami for its 320 days of sunshine and work hard, play hard lifestyle. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, and retailers have followed suit, with famous names such as Sexy Fish, Carbone and The Goodtime Hotel (Pharrell William’s latest venture) popping up across the city. Despite its modernity, party reputation and flashy first impressions, Miami is actually only a little over 100 years old. The only US city to be founded by a woman (hats off to you, Julia Tuttle), the Latin diaspora thrives here, with Spanish spoken more than English. Alanna Ospina explores the many faces of Miami…
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When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Miami?
The sun is shining and the air is warm in Miami all year round. Steer clear of humidity, hurricanes and hordes of people by visiting from December to June.
Where To Stay In Miami
The Setai Miami
One of the luxury South Beach stalwarts, The Setai Miami sits between glitzy Collins Avenue and the ocean. Its location is hard to beat. For those that swoon at the geometry, zig-zags and curves of art deco architecture, Miami will have your heart racing; it has the highest concentration of art deco buildings in the world, with The Setai being one of the District’s crowning jewels.
Interiors were overseen by starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy, who has infused his signature Asian style to create a feel that surpasses the typical hotel experience. Minimalist suites reflect this: tones are muted, punctuated by dark teak furniture and sleek lines.
Plan your days around the three pools, each a different temperature, depending on your mood. When the ocean calls, skip through the back entrance for sand between your toes in seconds; here, the hotel has sun loungers and bar service, too. Book a treatment at Valmont for The Spa at The Setai Miami Beach with signature treatments specialising in anti-aging.
Dining at The Setai is an experience in itself, with a fresh breakfast buffet that will have you going back for more… and more. The problem with a hotel like The Setai in the middle of the city is finding the time to go out and explore when another piña colada by the pool is on offer. A celebrity favourite hang-out, the people watching here is most enjoyable. This writer even got chatted up at the bar by an Oscar winner.
BOOK IT: Nightly rates from $725 per night, including daily breakfast for two. thesetaihotel.com
Psychedelic art emblazons the side of the building, a life-sized graffiti horse and wall mural shouting ‘Good Life’ when walking through the doors of citizenM. One of Miami’s newest hotels – having opened in 2022 in Brickell, a downtown residential and financial district – it certainly is the good life here. citizenM has excelled in the affordable luxury stakes since it arrived on the scene in 2008. This is no-frills luxury for the traveller who wants high-tech and comfort with a sense of place.
Bringing art to the community is one of the pillars of the brand. Here, the brand commissioned Miami artist Jen Stark to create the eye-catching pieces on the hotel’s façade, and to judge entries to citizenM’s ‘Open Art Call’ for works by local artists. The winning pieces add colour and dynamism to space, from The Living Room, where digital nomads tap on laptops fuelled by food and drinks from canteenM, to the functional and sleek bedrooms (make sure to check out the mood lighting on the room iPads).
Proving themselves to offer all the necessities, this is the first citizenM hotel with a swimming pool. Head up to the rooftop to catch the city’s year-round sunshine and take a dip.
BOOK IT: Nightly rates start from £137. citizenm.com
Where To Eat & Drink In Miami
From Michelin star dining to soulful Latin food, Miami offers a vast choice for eating and drinking.
For ocean views and star spotting, the beachfront Ocean Grill is a place to see – and be seen. There is something fun and easy about being open to the elements and feeling the sea breeze. With a mixed crowd of suited-and-booted business lunches to dresses thrown over bikinis for rose-fuelled rendezvous, you can’t go wrong with the delicious Caesar salad, or one of the signature seafood or wood grilled dishes. thesetaihotel.com
Jaya at The Setai
Jaya at The Setai is a bold, modern Asian restaurant inspired by ancient silk and spice trading routes. Tables orbit a central pond-like water feature and, at night, the space is magically lit by palm trees wrapped in lights. The food is exceptional, with flavoursome sushi, delicate dim sum and flavour bursting curries, with entertainment like fire eating and acrobatics, too. thesetaihotel.com
The cultural opposite of a swanky Miami restaurant is the American dive bar that always promises attitude, good music and a varied drinks menu. Tobacco Road pays homage to its previous incarnation, which was Miami’s oldest dive bar. kushhospitality.com
Mac’s Club Deuce
Likewise, Mac’s Club Deuce is one of the most raucous and infamous dive bars in Miami. macsclubdeuce.com
For elegant, neighbourhood dining that transports you to 1920’s Miami, the rustic Mediterranean food at The Drexel is a must. You must try the fried cauliflower and lamb chops. drexelmiami.com
Head next door to Tropezón to try their epic gin selection afterwards. tropezonmiami.com
For a memorable sandwich (perhaps even the best you’ve ever had), La Sandwicherie, across various locations in the city, has become something of a Miami institution. Fillings are packed in either a crisp baguette or a soft buttery croissant. lasandwicherie.com
The SOBE Club
Surely the cure to many an ailment (or at least a hangover).
Home to some of the city’s best pocket-friendly, heart-bursting dining, including Mi Rinconcito Mexicano for authentic Mexican cuisine (the tacos chorreado are wickedly delicious) and Lung Yai Thai Tapas for tasty Thai street food (go early to avoid the queues – they don’t accept reservations).
Ball & Chain
Finish a trip to Little Havana with mojitos at legendary bar, Ball & Chain. Once a music hall where Billie Holiday and Chet Baker played, the rhythm of great music still plays and keeps punters starry-eyed and salubrious. ballandchainmiami.com
Things To Do In Miami
The truth is you could spend the whole weekend in Miami at the beach. If you’re planning on doing that, head to South Beach where world-class dining is only ever a short walk away.
Rooftop Cinema Club South Beach
Finish a day at the beach with an outdoor cinema experience under the stars at Rooftop Cinema Club South Beach, where the programme includes both classics and recent blockbusters. rooftopcinemaclub.com
Graffiti lovers should visit Wynwood, Miami’s answer to Shoreditch, to see the highly Instagrammable Wynwood Walls – and to check out its quirky independent boutiques.
To experience the real beat of Miami, Little Havana is home to many of the city’s Latino settlers, where music plays in streets and cigars are rolled in one of the handful of cigar shops. Mr. Cigars is the best and has a fantastic selection of cigars and humidors for any smokey joes in your life.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
To go back in time and understand Miami’s history and heritage, a visit to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is well worth a visit. vizcaya.org
For more information, visit miamiandbeaches.com
Featured image: Miami Brickell skyline.