The variety of options made it nearly impossible to choose the best in this city of ever-more-tempting accommodations. But these ten hotels exemplify their kind, whether it's budget, luxury, hip, historic, or somewhere in between. You won’t regret them in the morning.
10. Faena Hotel Miami Beach: The "It" Spot
This glittering beachside lure for the South American rich and Euro-famous has ranked on endless top-ten lists since its globally covered grand opening. Its expanse of gardens, opulent open-air lobby, and red-carpet-ready crowd are so quintessentially South Beach they have us searching with our magnifying glasses for a flaw. But there isn’t one to be found. The emerald-green lawns, limpid light pool, and cheeky red pool furniture create a dazzling palette. The restaurants are sumptuously decorated, while the patio spaces feel like little fantasy casbah gardens. This color theme plays out in the room decor as well, albeit more subtly and balanced by taupe and cream.
3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Visit faena.com/miami-beach.
9. East, Miami: The Swanky Brickell High-Rise
In the neighborhood known for sleek, sophisticated high-rises, East has edged out the other hotels and luxury condo towers by being newer, more ambitious, and — in keeping with its parent company Swire’s pedigree — slightly more Hong Kong-haute. From its posh lobby bar to its hipster rooftop cocktail hangout to its secret invitation-only lounge, East is an intriguing new addition to the Brickell landscape. Rooms are done in an understated natural-tone palette — somewhere between beach resort, modern minimalist, and China rich.
788 Brickell Plaza, Miami. Visit east-miami.com.
8. The Vagabond: The Coolest Motel
You know how usually when someone says they’re staying in a motel, you assume they’re slumming? Not in Miami. This rumored former Rat Pack hangout is ready to reclaim the coolness quotient of its glory days. Its combination of neon decor accents visible from the street, '50s-inspired furniture throughout the property, and modern guest-room luxuries fill the desire for fun and funky lodgings in the MiMo District. Why should the deco era get all the throwback love?
7301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Visit thevagabondhotel.com.
7. The Delano: South Beach Deco Chic
In the 1990s, this Ian Schrager/Philippe Starck partnership redefined the Miami Beach art deco hotel trend, with a breezy pop-luxe Wonderland approach that immediately became iconic. The white-on-white façade and back pool area are a dazzling contrast to the dramatically lit lobby, where every piece of furniture, from the pool table to the Salvador Dalí chair to the Murano chandeliers, could be part of an art museum installation. The lack of signage, though intentional, is a bit confusing — you'll probably lurk under the gauze curtains and randomly stumble into the Rose Bar before finally winding up in your intended location.
If you stay at the Delano, you reorient quickly by looking out your guest-room window, where the beach suddenly dominates your vision. You learn to cut through the courtyard to make a beeline for the prime pool loungers in the back garden. Most people stay here for the sexy, low-key, indoor/outdoor party vibe. All things change with time, and we’ve heard that due to new ownership, some of the decor and programming might change, but they’d be foolish to tamper with the Delano's spirit.
1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Visit morganshotelgroup.com.
6. The Betsy: SoBe's Arts Haven
While most Miami Beach hotels strive to throw the model-friendliest pool parties or create the most expensive cocktail menus, the Betsy quietly excels in an altogether different spectrum of culture: This is the sophisticate’s choice for a refined Ocean Drive experience, with Colonial-meets-deco decor and a very intelligent and eclectic programming slate. In fact, the Betsy’s salon-style events are so different from everything else in the neighborhood that there’s something daring about them. Head here to listen to live chamber music, browse international photography collections, attend poetry readings, and otherwise feed your soul. This hotel even has a writers’ room for its many visiting authors. On the more hedonistic front, the new rooftop pool opens in November.
1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Visit thebetsyhotel.com.