Miami is unlike any other place in the world, as it is both an important business destination and a perennial spring break (and year-round vacation) favorite. With the beach and the city at your fingertips, it’s easy to get lost in the seemingly endless choices. However, we’ve made it easy for you in our luxury Miami travel guide by rounding up the best luxury hotels to stay at, the restaurants you really shouldn’t miss, and incredible experiences to keep you busy when you’re not soaking up the sunshine.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Miami
Argentinian hotel proprietor and real estate developer, Alan Faena, pays homage to the 1947 Saxony building — a treasured trend-setting hotel back in the day — in his Faena hotel on South Beach. A tribute to the glamorous 1950s, the decor is a lively combination of glitz and glam, with a spirited South American touch. From the moment you walk in, you are mesmerized by the vibrant colors, the chic and daring hints of animal print, and the classic Miami Art Deco aesthetic. Filmmaker Baz Lurhmann, of Moulin Rouge, and his wife, an Academy Award-winning costume designer, joined forces with Alan Faena to design the gorgeous property, and theatrical flourishes abound.
The rooms are spacious, each uniquely decorated with royal reds and decadent design. Each floor has an assigned butler who will take care of everything from making reservations to waking you up with a fresh pot of coffee. While all of the rooms are luxurious, the most sought-after overlook the crystal-clear water and seemingly endless sand of Miami Beach. If you’re traveling with a group, book the 14,507-square-foot, five-bedroom, nine-bathroom Penthouse Suite.
During the day, lounge poolside under the iconic red and white striped umbrellas and enjoy some R&R. If you want to stick around the hotel for dinner, Faena’s restaurant, Los Fuejos, is known for its incredible steak. What else would you expect from an Argentinian hotelier? After dinner, head to The Living Room for a cocktail. You just might end up dancing on the tables, but, luckily, your room is right upstairs. No matter the length of your stay, do not leave without going to the hotel’s dreamy spa, Tierra Santa Healing House. The 22,000-square-foot sanctuary houses one of the largest hammams — a Turkish steam bath — on the East Coast. The haven is much more than a run-of-the-mill luxury spa. It offers body-healing rituals and treatments created by shamans. The state-of-the-art facial treatments use quality skincare lines such as Naturopathic and Biologique Recherche. A treatment at Tierra Santa Healing House is not only for the body but also for the mind and soul.
The Setai on Miami Beach is as posh as it gets with a rich history dating back to the 1930s. The classic Art Deco hotel sits in the heart of South Beach. Its beautiful Asian-inspired design and enormous rooms are just part of the allure. Not only is the beach — with its attentive beach attendants — right outside your window, but it offers not one, not two, but three sparkling pools.
With a five-star rating to uphold, the concierge service at The Setai is always available to make your stay seamless. The culinary offerings are impressive, too. Chef Vijay Veena brings traditional culinary techniques to Jaya, the hotel’s modern Asian fusion restaurant. You can expect delightful dishes inspired by the cuisine of Thailand, Vietnam, India, Japan, China, and Korea.
Valmont Spa at the Setai uniquely incorporates traditional Swiss medicine. Valmont skincare products are renowned worldwide for their deft blend of luxury, pioneering technology, and the finest Swiss ingredients. The spa includes four private suites that can each accommodate two guests. Each room has a private bath and steam room overlooking the ocean. All of the treatments are heavenly, and the signature facials using Valmont products are superb and deliver immediate results.
Mandarin Oriental in Brickell Key has a view of both water and city, reflecting the feel of Miami. Perfectly located in between South Beach and downtown Miami, Mandarin Oriental is a perfect spot for exploring all that Miami has to offer. It’s an excellent choice for anyone traveling on business or wanting to avoid the party scene, as its location allows for a more quiet and private setting.
Mandarin Oriental has high ceilings, plush couches, and Asian-inspired decor throughout the hotel. The spacious, contemporary guest rooms have gorgeous views — each has a balcony and a stylish marble bathroom. In addition, it offers a three-level spa and fitness center, a private infinity pool, and bayside dining.
Miami Beach Edition
One of the trendiest hotels in town is the Miami Beach Edition. But don’t let that deter you. It is still sophisticated but with a more youthful, fun edge. For instance, there is an ice-skating rink and a bowling alley. Not to mention, an underground nightclub for anyone that wants to hit the dance floor.
The rooms have sleek wood finishings, which contrast nicely with the soft, neutral tones and modern design. For an upgraded experience, you may want to reserve one of the 28 private oceanfront bungalows. On the other hand, you can never go wrong staying in the over-the-top penthouse suite. World-renowned chef, Jean-Georges Vongertichten’s Matador Room fuses inventive dishes from the Caribbean with Spanish, Latin, and South American fares. Inside, there is an intimate atmosphere courtesy of dimmed, romantic lighting. The Matador Terrace has long tables, a slick bar, and is illuminated by candles and charming fairy lights. Lastly, The Matador Bar brings you back in time to the glamorous 1950s. It feels as though Marilyn Monroe could be sipping champagne at the end of the bar.
Though the 1 Hotel group has opened its doors in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, the 1 Hotel on South Beach is iconic, as it is the renowned hotel group’s first location. It has dreamy, minimalist decor with reclaimed wood elements and a serene all-white color scheme. The zen pool area has stunning ocean views, making for a great place to relax and recharge. If you feel like some movement, the hotel has a SoulCycle studio on-site as well as a top-of-the-line gym.
There are multiple dining options in the hotel, each with a signature style. Habitat, run by Chef Jose Mendin, features classic Mexican fare with a twist. Head down to the restaurant in the morning for some killer lemon ricotta buttermilk pancakes or in the evening for some sensational tacos. Health nuts will love Plnthouse for a smoothie bowl or a freshly squeezed juice post-workout. For something a bit more sophisticated, try Wave at the Beach Club. An incredible sea-to-table concept, it boasts delectable seafood and signature cocktails.
Bamford Wellness Spa at the 1 Hotel offers holistic treatments, services, and learning opportunities that stimulate the mind-body-spirit connection. If you’ve been spending too much time in the sun, the After Sun Recovery massage will soothe and nourish burned skin. Looking to indulge in a few different treatments? Check out the spa packages, like the four-hour De-Stress treatment. The combination of the Body Scrub, B Silent Treatment, Organic Facial, and a 24K Collagen Face Mask is guaranteed to help you unwind.
Miami Restaurants You Won’t Want to Miss
Situated in the ground-floor courtyard of Soho Beach House, a hotel and members-only club on Collins Ave, Cecconi’s is excellent any time of day. It offers classic Italian fare and a sprawling wine list in a cozy, chic setting. Make yourself at home as the locals do on the couch seating and admire the sunset, lit up even more so by Edison bulb lanterns. Although the setting is exquisite, the food is what we’re here for. The all-day menu boasts great family-style plates. For example, regulars love the whole branzino, the chicken paillard, and the truffle pizza with goat cheese and zucchini blossoms.
Tucked behind lush and colorful greenery in Miami’s Art Deco District, Casa Tua offers an experience that feels like dining in a private villa in Tuscany. The restaurant is located in a historical estate with several elegant and differently styled rooms, each with a unique character. Tables in the garden are the hottest seats in Casa Tua. The chef’s table — seating up to 22 guests — is a semi-private room with a more intimate setting where you can watch the chefs prepare mouth-watering Italian dishes. The main dining room is the library, which has comfortable booth seating and showcases works from world-renowned artists. In addition, a discrete upstairs lounge is reserved for its member’s club.
Though the menu changes seasonally, you can’t go wrong with any of the pasta dishes, the burrata with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil, or the branzino. Casa Tua also offers a raw bar featuring several types of caviar and oysters. Be sure to save room for the warm chocolate meltdown on caramelized banana and vanilla ice cream. It’s worth it.
Occupying a restored 1940s bungalow in the heart of Miami’s Design District, Mandolin Aegean Bistro is a fan favorite. It showcases incredible Mediterranean fare, but it’s not just the delicious food that will transport you to the Greek isles. The bistro is decorated with pops of blue and has beautiful foliage. Founded and run by husband and wife duo Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis, Mandolin has its own garden and on-site bakery. The menu was designed for family-style, shared plates. Some of our favorites include a sampling of the mezzes with grilled pita bread, the Greek village salad, grilled octopus, and grilled lamb chops over orzo pilaf.
KYU is Miami’s new it restaurant, and it’s almost impossible to get a reservation, so be sure to plan ahead. Located in the hip and edgy Wynwood Walls area of Miami, KYU is a slick, sophisticated Asian-fusion restaurant. Inside, you can watch the chefs busy cooking wagyu beef brisket, the ultra-popular fried chicken, and the best roasted cauliflower you’ve ever tasted (seriously). You will end up placing a second order, mark my words. The crispy tuna and hamachi tartare are crowd-pleasers, but if you’re an adventurous eater, the chef’s tasting menu showcases a fantastic selection of chef Michael Lewis’s favorite dishes. Top off your meal with the coconut cake and the dark chocolate s’mores cake with bourbon banana ice cream.
Amara at Paraiso
For dinner with a view, there’s nowhere better than Amara at Paradiso, overlooking the water from a prime spot in Edgewater. It’s the perfect spot for a sunset dinner with friends accompanied by a bottle of French white wine and a few dozen Island Creek Oysters. Not only is the ambience great and the view spectacular, but the food — prepared by award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Schwartz — is delicious. The grouper ceviche plated in a coconut milk broth is refreshing and a great starter, along with the charred octopus. But our favorite main dish is the bone-in ribeye served with a side of grilled Japanese sweet potato. Finish it off with the dulce de leche flan and an espresso from Panther Coffee.
Things to Do When You’re Not at the Beach
Because Miami has both the beach and the city, there are countless ways to spend your time. If you’re looking to do some shopping, make your way over to the Design District. Here, a myriad of luxury shops (Gucci, Tom Ford, Dior, Louis Vuitton, to name a few) awaits you. Another area known for its luxury shopping is Bal Harbour, located at the tip-top of Miami Beach. And be sure to check out Wynwood, a centrally located arts neighborhood famous for its street murals and trendy restaurants, which have made it a popular spot to grab a bite to eat.
In addition to the hotel spas mentioned above, Miami has some other lovely spas well worth considering. For example, The Spa at The Miami Beach Edition, The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Acqualina Spa by Espa at the Acqualina Resort all offer sensational treatments.
Art aficionados make a pilgrimage to Miami Art Basel, an annual art fair that’s worth planning your trip around. The party scene that week is also wild — it’s unlike any other time of year in Miami. In addition, Miami is home to several museums of note. One of our favorites is the Pérez Art Museum — an enormous 200,000-square-foot modern art museum and one of the city’s most popular. Finally, Don and Mera Rubell have collected artwork since they got married in 1964, and they share their vast collection with Miami in the Rubell Museum. It houses one of the most extensive private contemporary art collections in all of the US.
Itching to get out and enjoy some fresh (albeit humid) air? The Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden spans a whopping 83-acres and showcases an impressive collection of rare tropical plants. On the other hand, if you want to get out on the water, Golden Yacht Charters offers a fleet of various types of yachts to choose from.
South Beach is synonymous with here-to-be-seen nightlife and the beautiful people who flock to it. While there are too many nightspots to name, a favorite of ours with some extraordinary history is The Villa Casa Casuarina, formerly known as Gianni Versace’s Mansion. Who wouldn’t want to toast to Gianni’s legacy in the very courtyard he dined in. The Villa Casa Casuarina has its own fantastic restaurant, Gianni’s, or you can opt for Sushi by Bou — an exclusive, high-end omakase experience — all in the beautiful environs of the mansion.
For a late-night out, LIV nightclub showcases some of the most in-demand and popular performers. For example, Calvin Harris has graced the LIV stage on more than one occasion.
There is certainly a notable cocktail culture in Miami. New places are popping up in every nook and corner of the sprawling city, so the choices feel almost endless. Grabbing a cocktail at The Living Room at The Faena Hotel is always a good option. An ode to the glamorous 1950s Miami Beach, The Living Room hosts live jazz performances and serves specialty cocktails. It’s the perfect place to sink into the plush leopard-printed couch and go back in time. An up-and-coming cocktail lounge is Bar Bevy at the popular Swan restaurant in the Design District. It’s a collaboration between mogul-producer Pharell Williams and night-life legend David Grutman.