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Skimpily dressed, taut-and-tanned locals mingle with the rich and famous inside swanky boutique hotels in Miami and Miami Beach. In this city, no hotel is too flashy or has too much flavor. Here are our top picks, pulled straight from the all-star roster of Forbes Travel Guide Four- and Five-Star hotels in this fabulous Florida city.
Without a doubt, Mandarin Oriental Miami is one of the finest hotels in the city, from the valets who remember your name to the impeccable customer service to the lobby area (a Zen den replete with dainty flowers on vases on the tables and satin pillows on the red-hued couches) that invites relaxation with its sky-high windows that look out onto the water. The rooms at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel are also pristine, and exude a calming vibe with their Asian-inspired flair and their color palette of pear-green, light yellow and tan. Balcony rooms have picture-perfect views of Biscayne Bay and the colorful city lights at night. The view is enough to inspire you to spend the day a bamboo bed on the hotel’s private beach.
Chic Mediterranean style is found in spades at Acqualina Resort and Spa, a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel that's located just far enough away from the city's core party district to allow for total relaxation, yet close enough so that a trip to the famous Miami nightlife is just a short taxi ride away. You'll find plenty of Atlantic shoreline at this popular spa to sunbathe to your heart's content while you enjoy luxury perks like frozen grapes and Piña Coladas. Book a treatment at the Five-Star Acqualina Spa by ESPA to experience total relaxation during your stay.
Four Seasons Hotel Miami really rolls out the red carpet for the kids. They get complimentary amenities upon arrival, including child-sized bathrobes, and free baby and children’s toiletries. Everything, it seems, but easy access to water. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is in Miami’s downtown financial district (about a 15-minute drive from the beach), so it’s better suited for business travelers. But it compensates for its lack of beach access with a lively pool scene. The Grand Pool Terrace covers two acres on the seventh floor. Three heated pools — a main pool, shade pool and whirlpool — plus an ample supply of chaise lounges offer plenty of room in which to sunbathe. Guest rooms feature the typical Four Seasons contemporary furnishings with blond wood, and dark green granite in the bedroom and bathroom. Plus, many of the rooms provide some of the best views of Miami’s Biscayne Bay and the city.
As one of the chicest hotels in Miami, The Setai is the place to see-and-be-seen on South Beach — that is, if you happen to see anyone at all. Because although celebrities flock to this hotel, it is designed so that rooms feel like secluded enclaves, and outside of the pool area, you just might feel as if you were on your own desert island. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel spreads out over two buildings and features the smaller studio suites in the refurbished Art Deco building and a modern 40-story glass tower that houses the more expansive suites and privately owned condo suites. Inside, however, it’s more Asian-inspired minimalism than Art Deco. You won’t find a color that even comes close to Miami teal or coral here; the sleek, angular furnishings ooze deep blacks, jade green and rich teak woods, right down to the hardwood floors in each room and the black granite bathtubs with matching black tiles.
Not only can you expect The Ritz-Carlton’s signature service here, but this hotel on South Beach offers a few little extras that make a big difference. The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach features a stunning permanent multimillion-dollar art collection and the world’s only tanning butler — a person whose job is to make sure you have just the right amount of sunscreen in all the right places. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel itself is awe-inspiring, thanks to its storied history; the building, which sits at the foot of Lincoln Road, was restored from the original 1953 Morris Lapidus-designed DiLido hotel. The guest rooms feature dark cherry-wood furniture highlighted with a pretty deep deep-blue-and-beige color scheme. Make sure you book an ocean-view room to fully experience the hotel’s location or just spend time at the elevated infinity pool, which provides a lovely vista of the Atlantic — another tiny touch that makes a monumental difference.
The expansive Loews Miami Beach Hotel sits amidst the sea of small Art Deco hotels that pepper South Beach. And although it’s still done up in Art Deco Style, the ornate façade and winding driveway give away the fact that it’s a newcomer to Miami Beach (its main building was erected from the ground up in 1998). When you arrive at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, retreat to your island getaway of a room — the mostly cream décor pops with ocean-blue armchairs and wicker chairs, while a flat-screen television and iPod docking station give you those can’t-live-without extras you won’t find out on the sand.
The soaring 32-story tower that houses the Trump International Beach Resort is a sight to behold. Situated in Sunny Isles, a prime location that provides easy access to the best attractions in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel offers everything you'd expect from a Trump property: high-tech gadgets (including jet skis to enjoy on the pristine Atlantic Ocean), modern and comfortable décor, delicious eats from the onsite restaurant Neomi's restaurant and a full menu of indulgent spa treatments at the Four-Star Aquanox Spa. Relax by one of two pools, or pick a spot on the private beach to work on your Florida tan — one of the best souvenirs to bring back from any trip to this luxury hotel.
Island vibes and city style come together at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel located on Key Biscayne, the southernmost barrier island in the United States. Oceanfront property and leisurely services at the Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Key Biscayne put this hotel high on our list of must-stay spots near South Beach, but that's not all we love about this luxury property: we're also impressed with its thoughtful amenities for kids. Young travelers are all too happy to mingle with other kids at The Ritz Kids club activities, and there's even a separate pool just for families — and, yes, that means there's also a pool just for adults traveling sans pint-sized companions.
Where to start when talking about The Betsy — South Beach? We could go on for days about this luxury South Beach hotel's stunning Florida-Georgian architecture, which speaks to the classic luxury seen throughout each amenity of this historic landmark. We could also talk about its coastal charm and close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the romantic roof-deck solarium or the mouthwatering menu at BLT Steak, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel's onsite restaurant. Perhaps the best way to sum up a stay at this beauty, though, is to simply state that its address on Ocean Drive puts you in the driver's seat. Whether you choose to use the hotel as your home base for the best nightlife in Miami or that perfect spot on the beach is up to you.
The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami is a darling among the many hotels in the Miami area. Each guest room and suite in the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel comes with its own private balcony, offering you a glimpse of the famous Miami skyline and jaw-dropping views of Biscayne Bay and Coral Gables. Another perk of this luxury hotel is its 24-hour pool and fitness center — we're thrilled that this hotel offers the opportunity for a quiet swim in the moonlight, a rare indulgence that can be just as enjoyable as a night out in the famous nightlife district of South Beach.