July 7, 2022
Tablet is your source for discovering the world’s most exciting boutique hotels — places where you’ll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. For over twenty years we’ve scoured the earth, evaluating hotels for every taste and budget, creating a hand-picked selection that’s proven and unforgettable. Now, we’re the official hotel selection of the legendary MICHELIN Guide.
Alan Faena doesn’t do things halfway. The pioneering Argentinian hotelier didn’t just open a hotel in Buenos Aires — he transformed a piece of abandoned waterfront real estate into a glamorous urban destination, turning a once-derelict neighborhood into a thriving arts district. And now he’s brought the Faena brand to Miami Beach. It’s a place that, of course, doesn’t require the same kind of vision or transformation. This part of Miami is well-developed, to say the least. But in some ways the Faena Hotel Miami Beach is an even more ambitious project. That’s because Faena, just as he did in Buenos Aires, isn’t just opening a hotel: he’s taking over the neighborhood.
The Faena District occupies an eight-block stretch of prime oceanfront real estate. There are condominium towers, a high-end design bazaar, and a cultural center, but for the moment, the knock-out highlight is the newly opened hotel. Faena enlisted a dream team of designers, including architect Rem Koolhaas, to bring his fantasies to life, and the result is fanciful indeed. The grand entryway, nicknamed “the cathedral,” features gold-leaf ceilings, intricate mosaic floors, and a series of gargantuan murals by the Argentine artist Juan Gatti, plus a massive glass wall revealing views of the sea beyond. Upstairs, guest rooms and suites evoke Miami’s glamorous Art Deco past. It’s all curving lines, jewel tones, and retro-inspired decor, with luxe amenities and a distinctly Faena twist: bespoke bed linens made in Italy, Carrara marble bathrooms, and private butlers to attend to your every need. Suites have freestanding bathtubs, opulent dining rooms, and balconies with ocean views and plush furnishings.
For travelers of certain tastes, the big, established Miami Beach boutique hotels, with their see-and-be-seen atmosphere, can sometimes feel a bit much. Just one block from the Collins Avenue hotel strip, hiding in plain sight at Washington Avenue and Española Way, is something a bit subtler: Esmé Miami Beach is a Spanish-Mediterranean gem whose bohemian-luxe interiors establish a warm and slightly retro mood — one that’s got nothing to do, for once, with mid-century modernism.
Esmé’s design concept aims to recall the glory days of famous creative neighborhoods like Greenwich Village or the artists’ quarter of Montmartre, and there’s just a touch of a French accent to the rooms and suites, decorated as they are in saturated colors and careful compositions — if Paris were set on the Mediterranean, it might look a bit like this.
What’s Hyatt Centric? It’s the mega-chain’s new youth-oriented boutique sub-brand, aimed at a population of travelers for whom Park Hyatts and Grand Hyatts are perhaps uncomfortably pricy, and regular old Hyatts are a one-way ticket to dullsville. These are people who aren’t afraid of a bit of modernist furniture and the occasional bold splash of color — a fact which is reflected in the Hyatt Centric South Beach’s interiors.
It’s also a population for whom business and leisure blend effortlessly together, which is how the Hyatt Centric gets away with offering a proper desk in every room, free wi-fi, and plenty of formal and informal meeting space, without feeling like the dreaded business hotels of old. And of course there’s plenty about this hotel that’s purely resort-oriented. The rooftop pool deck is probably the hotel’s most desirable space — especially for canine guests, who have access to the adjacent Wooftop, which is, as far as we know, the only hotel-rooftop dog park in existence. And for (human) wellness there’s Exhale, a spa and yoga/barre studio.
In Miami the flash hotels arms race has escalated to a point where a hotel like the Betsy — South Beach is almost shocking in its restraint. We’re almost tempted to call it conservative, but with a disclaimer: the Betsy’s pre-deco style means it’s got a personality all its own, and can’t help but stand out from the poolside fashion shoots and celebrity-thronged nightclubs of its more attention-starved neighbors.
This was pretty much the last Georgian-style hotel to be built on Ocean Drive, and was, at the time, called the Betsy Ross. To be fair, the image of an old woman sitting in a chair sewing a flag is probably the wrong one for the hotel’s present incarnation, which folds in the former Carlton Hotel on Collins Avenue as its “Hohauser” wing. Interiors are contemporary but still classic, the palette sunny yet restrained, contrasting rich corals and greens with the ever-present Miami white. Bespoke fixtures and furnishings anchor the seaside ambience, picking up earthy notes of walnut, teak, raffia, and wicker.
If you’re expecting The Standard Spa, Miami Beach to be a carbon copy of the LA Standards, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. Still intact is the Standard’s house brand of low-key luxury — itself enough to raise an eyebrow or two in shamelessly glam Miami Beach — and unique to this particular Standard are a few novel solutions to the problem of shoehorning another big-deal hotel into the already packed South Beach scene.
First, the hotel is located off the main drag, on the quiet and mostly residential Belle Isle, along the Venetian Causeway just short of Miami Beach proper. You can find yourself very much in the thick of it within minutes, but The Standard makes the most of its slight remove, such that it may furnish the kind of peace and tranquility that’s long since departed Collins Avenue. Well, relative peace and tranquility, anyway — The Standard’s typical guests are not exactly wallflowers, and there’s always something going on in the bar; but compared to South Beach proper, this is practically transcendental meditation.
Whether it sports a museum-adjacent location, a separate pool for adults and children, extra spacious rooms, or particularly kid-friendly activities, plenty of great Miami boutique hotels are excellent for families. Below are some of our favorites. Be sure to contact our Travel Specialists for specific details.
The Confidante by Hyatt
The Miami Beach Edition
In Miami, you won’t have trouble filling the hours after dark. At the following hotels — and their lauded restaurants, bars, or beach clubs — there’s a built-in social scene right on site.
The Faena Miami Beach
1 Hotel South Beach
The Villa, Casuarina