With no shortage of luxury hotels in Southern Florida, when it comes to deciding where to stay in Miami, it all depends. If you’re looking for visually stunning, hyper-luxurious stays, look no further than the following list.
Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach
Acqualina Resort & Spa hovers over serene Sunny Isles like a grand dame overlooking her lovely flock. Elegant and stately, the Italian-Rivieria-meets-Miami-Beach resort sprawls over 4.5 acres of beachfront and 400 feet of coastline. From the minute you arrive through the iron gates at the porte-cochère, you may want to jump into the Baroque fountains and belt out an aria or two.
Once inside this beachfront Mediterranean-style villa, doting staff will usher you to one of the 54 guest rooms and 44 suites bathed in a beachy, yet elegant motif, featuring zebra wood, walnut, champagne bronze, and smoked glass—as well as a classy, comfy beach pad with chinchilla throws and tufted headboards. In the Acqualina Spa by ESPA, indulge in one of the relaxation lounges with sinus-clearing Himalayan salt walls: backlit just enough to flatter you and overflowing with negative ions used to bring out only the most positive vibes.
The Setai, Miami Beach
The Far East takes a far-out South Beach sojourn in the form of The Setai, where the 1938 Art Deco facade has been meticulously restored, and shields an exquisitely designed, Asian-inspired interior of Burmese teak, Indonesian bronze, and Shanghai brick. Designer Jean-Michel Gathy wasn’t thinking of a hotel when he came up with this beauty—an Asian guesthouse is more like it, one in which you’d be equally at home in haute couture as you would in bamboo flip-flops and a robe.
A new 40-story glass tower, The Ocean Suites at The Setai—featuring an assortment of one-to-four bedroom suites—has added a new level of luxe, sparkling over South Beach like a brand new piece of jewelry: one coveted by many, but only caressed by a few. Each comes with VIP perks including “arrival, concierge, and valet teams” and a 45-minute spa treatment. Follow your soak in one of three infinity pools, with a chili passion martini in the serene central courtyard complete with Miami’s most colorful movers, shakers, and a serenity pond. This is where to stay in Miami if you want to truly relax.
Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Faena Hotel Miami Beach is where old world Deco fuses with new world glamour to produce breathtaking results: a razzle-dazzle of a place, evoking red velvety and leopard printed 1950s Miami Beach and Hollywood. A certain flashy filmmaker contributed to all its aesthetic aspects, and much like his films, the result is a blockbuster—a place that makes you want to channel your pre- or post-modern inner star and starlet.
There’s a 150-seat cabaret-style theater, and the lounge-like Living Room, where on any given night, someone famous may just decide to perform. Last but not least, there’s the Tierra Santa Healing House spa, where a resident shaman (really!) will rub you down with oil from a magical Brazilian tree (that’s right!) and then put precious metal sound bowls on the most tense areas of your body.
If Jay Gatsby found himself wondering where to stay in Miami back in the day, he’d likely stay at The Biltmore, as several notable presidents and criminals have in real life. They say the place is haunted, but what’s most haunting is its beauty: a Spanish and Italian mashup designed by the same folks responsible for Grand Central Station, featuring tera-cotta-tiled roofs, and a palatial half-acre pool that’s been splashed in by, among others, Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller. A seventh-floor spa overlooks the sprawling 18-hole golf course.
Fisher Island Hotel & Resort
Fisher Island Hotel & Resort, reachable only by ferry (or they say, yacht), features 216 meticulously manicured acres of private residences, a beach, beach club, golf course, tennis center, marina, restaurants, and a historic Vanderbilt Mansion reserved for cocktails and cotillions. They don’t make luxury hotels like this any more. On this island dotted with Mediterranean-style mid-rises and cozy cottages, a well-heeled international crowd that’s well-versed in R&R tool around in their very own golf carts. Built in 1925 by William Vanderbilt II as a winter estate, the Island (or just “Fisher,” as the locals call it) is just 10 minutes from South Beach, but truly worlds away—a sanctuary not just for people, but for peacocks and all sorts of exotic birds . . . and sports cars.