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With its jaw-droppingly beautiful stretch of surf, vibrant cultural scene and glittering nightlife, Miami is one of the most alluring and iconic beach vacations in the United States. You’ll want to stay on the beach to maximize your time soaking up the sun and sea, but which hotel to choose? From high-rise towers with uninterrupted ocean views to properties that ensure fun for the whole family, make reservations at one of these winning stays.
Best Overall: W South Beach
Smack dab in the middle of South Beach and just steps from buzzy Collins Avenue and the sand, the 19-story W is a stylish hotel that caters to an exceedingly cool crowd. Huge rooms (many with kitchens and laundry amenities) boast soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and large private balconies, so the ocean is never out of sight. When you’re not enjoying your own private paradise, relax on the beach or kick back on a daybed next to the pool where you can order food and drinks — like corvina ceviche, alcohol-infused popsicles and fresh lime caipirinhas — from WET Bar and Grille. On-site restaurants The Dutch, an outpost of the popular New York City eatery, and Mr Chow, an upscale Chinese restaurant, are great if you don’t feel like venturing far. Making the most of your night? The Living Room bar serves up delicious cocktails and keeps the party going until 2 AM. Alternatively, Bliss Spa is a relaxed, calming space to hang out when you need to escape the sun or recharge after a late night. Get the oxygen facial to erase your sins if you’ve had a little too much fun living it up in Miami.
Best Budget: Freehand Miami
Billing itself as a ‘luxury hostel,’ Freehand Miami offers a mix of dorms and private rooms. Set in an Art Deco 1930s building just two short blocks from the beach, the upbeat, social atmosphere attracts a largely millennial crowd. Relax by the pool, join a yoga class, join an organized tour to the Wynwood Walls culture and street art hub, or enjoy brunch at the hotel on weekends. Award-winning backyard bar The Broken Shaker is the place to see and be seen in the evenings. Here, bartenders take their craft seriously, using house-made elixirs and exotic ingredients to whip up their concoctions. A complimentary breakfast of fresh fruits, Cuban-style pastries, juice and locally roasted Panther Coffee is served daily. Room styles vary but include a spacious Bungalow with four twin-size bunk beds (a convenient option for families and groups), a King Suite with a spacious living room, a King Room with an ensuite, and shared dorm rooms.
Best Design: Faena Miami Beach
At the aesthetically pleasing Faena Miami Beach, every corner is a sensory overload of art and colorful statement furniture. In fact, if you thought the hotel's gold-painted woolly mammoth skeleton encased in glass looked like a Damien Hirst — it's because it is. Faena is housed in the former Saxony Hotel, a hot-spot for Hollywood elite in the 1950s and 1960s. The new property pays homage to its history with a feeling of old-world glamour — there’s even a Parisian cabaret show at the on-site theatre several times a week. The glam aesthetic continues in 169 rooms and suites, most of which overlook Mid-Beach (others looks towards Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami). Bright pops of color, luxury linens, furnished balconies, marble bathrooms and butler service take things to the next level. Argentinian restaurant Los Fuegos and modern Asian eatery Pao by Paul Qui will both impress foodies. A well-dressed crowd mingles in the hotel’s five bars, including The Living Room, with its dazzling chandeliers and leopard-print chairs. Be sure to book in at Tierra Santa Healing House, a 22,000-square-foot spa with a shaman-designed treatment menu and huge hammam.
Best for Families: Loews Miami Beach
Following a $50 million renovation completed in 2017, Loews Miami Beach has never looked better. The iconic hotel on South Beach — one of the biggest beachfront hotels in Miami with 790 rooms — is luxurious without being pretentious. The modern, new-feeling rooms feature free Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service (including milk and cookies at night for little ones), and many have balconies with ocean views. A huge pool and state-of-the-art kids club ensure children will never be bored, offering a variety of activities including treasure hunts, arts and crafts and pizza-making. For tweens and teens, there’s a video game lounge. While the kids are occupied, parents can visit the Exhale Spa or an adults-only SOAK cabana, a private oasis with a covered daybed by the pool and bottle service. There’s no shortage of dining options here: Lure Fishbar offers fresh seafood, sushi and American classics, while Bar Collins serves up homemade pizzas and other casual bites. Request a pre-loaded iPad to keep the kids entertained while you savor your meal.
Best Romance: Acqualina Resort & Spa
With its Baroque architecture and unbuttoned atmosphere, stepping into Acqualina Resort & Spa feels more like transporting to the Mediterranean than Miami. The expansive property is perched on an exclusive 400-foot strip of pristine beach just five minutes north of Bal Harbor's shops. Aside from the beach, there are also three large ocean-facing swimming pools to choose from. The Acqualina Spa by ESPA is a must-do; two peaceful levels of treatment rooms and relaxation areas, including a Roman waterfall and deck overlooking the ocean, make you feel relaxed before the spa therapist has even laid a hand on you. Ninety-eight stylishly appointed guest rooms, which have either a view of the ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway, feature high-definition TVs, minibars, private terraces and marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. The hotel's restaurants include Costa Grill, a beachside spot open for lunch and serving American and European classics in a casual setting, and AQ Chop House by Il Mulino, an Italian-influenced steakhouse in an elegant dining room (you can also sit outside).
Best Luxury: The Miami Beach EDITION
Despite having 294 rooms and the facilities of a large hotel, The Miami Beach EDITION delivers a distinctly boutique feel. With a prime position on South Beach, the property offers 70,000 square feet of beachfront and a lushly landscaped pool area. Stylish, understated rooms feature king-size beds, flat screen TVs, Bluetooth speakers and sleek marble bathrooms with rainfall showers. Rooms vary, some with ocean views and balconies, others not, so make sure to check before you book. The Sandbox beach bar, tucked away amongst palm trees, is a sophisticated yet relaxed spot to sip cocktails with your toes in the sand. At Matador Room restaurant, overseen by Michelin-star chef Jean-Gorges, settle into the 1940s supper-club vibe dining room and enjoy modern Spanish, Caribbean and South American dishes. In the light-filled Market At Edition eatery, you’ll find modern breakfast options, a raw bar, salads, pizzas, juices, smoothies, a cheese and salumi board, wine, cocktails and more.
Best Wellness: 1 Hotel South Beach
1 Hotel South Beach is the quintessential Miami hotel — just with a healthy twist. Watr at the 1 Rooftop, a bar/restaurant with a sleek pool and uninterrupted ocean views some 18 stories above the beach, serves up a Peruvian-Japanese fusion menu and cocktails made with all-organic ingredients for a healthy(ish) happy hour. Elsewhere at 1 Hotel South Beach, you can dine on cutting-edge vegan cuisine at Plnthouse, or sophisticated farm-to-table meals at Habitat. The holistic Bamford Haybarn Spa, Spartan Gym and on-site Soul Cycle ensure you can balance health and hedonism while in Miami. In the rooms, reclaimed wood, 100-percent organic cotton sheets, robes and slippers, and white curtains that blow gently in the ocean breeze create a peaceful sanctuary. The hotel has four pools and direct access to 600 feet of white sand beach.
Best Boutique: The Betsy
The Betsy harkens back to a bygone era. A rare example of Georgian architecture in Miami Beach, the landmark plantation-style property was built in 1942 and called The Betsy Ross until it was renovated and re-opened as The Betsy in 2009. The boutique's 130 rooms feel more like Savannah, Georgia than South Beach, with mid-century furniture and plantation-style shutters. Still thoroughly modern, though, rooms have Wi-Fi and iHome docks. With its location steps from the sand of South Beach and an entrance on Ocean Drive, the Betsy is a social hub thanks to its communal spaces, including the palm-tree filled Lobby Bar, which serves coffee in the AM and cocktails and wine in the PM, and the Skyline Deck with rooftop pool and ocean views (there’s another more low-key pool in the hotel’s shady Art-Deco courtyard). On-site restaurant LT Steak & Seafood offers seasonal American fare.
Best Business: Marriott Stanton South Beach
Marriott Stanton South Beach makes it possible to stay on the beach and still be less than 15 minutes from downtown Miami and the Brickell business district. The hotel just wrapped a $22 million renovation, unveiling upgrades to all common areas and guest rooms, and an expanded fitness center and spa. Three event spaces with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment — the largest with a capacity of 165 people — make the Marriott perfect for hosting corporate events and conferences. Japanese restaurant Azabu is a stylish spot with an 11-seat sushi counter, or get your Mexican fix at Lolo’s Surf Cantina. Chic, understated rooms all offer a work desk, fast Wi-Fi, iPod dock and coffee machine for a productive work session so you can get back to the beach ASAP. Most rooms have a balcony, and all have either a beach or city view.