‘Welcome to Miami…’
Watch out for the Elderly. NHYM 2015
The other day, I ran into an acquaintance with her 4 month old strapped to her Babybjorn and an Under-3 toddler running around her when I asked how she was doing. I saw that look on her face, which gave it all away, where life is a Tsunami between feeding a newborn and placating 2 year old tantrums. ‘I’m surviving’, she stammered, with an exhausted face that revealed many sleepless nights under her roof. A part of me felt her pain and wanted to hug her, but another part of me was just relieved to have emerged on the other side and have kids that were old enough that I could confidently leave them for a long weekend without feeling too guilty with my mother-in-law for an adults trip to Miami. But were we just too old to do Miami?
Art Deco District. NHYM 2015.
So, off I went to Miami for an ‘Adults Only’ trip to meet some of my best friends who also were ‘Kids-Free’ for the weekend. Miami is an interesting place, which causes polarised opinions. Before I went, one friend called it ‘a sterile, charmless place full of replica restaurants and hotels, but not as good as the originals,’ whereas another friend described it as ‘so much fun, just go with an open mind, where you will see plastic everywhere; lips, bums, boobs, but you can have a great time.’ I missed going to Miami in the 90s when the gays and slebs were sun drenching all over the Delano, where you would go for the weekend from New York. But since then, some would argue that it has become a little too frat-house-meets-bachelorette-party for some, but nonetheless, I went excited and open minded.
Art Deco District, Miami. NHYM 2015.
When I arrived in Miami, the best way I could describe it was Vegas-meets-Cuba; uber-touristy, Vegas style mega-monster hotels, bachelorette/bachelor party people, every restaurant around the globe (Nobu, Zuma, Cecconis, Smith & Wollensky’s, Hakkasan coming soon..), mixed with a Latino vibe, Cuban sounds, whirling overhead fans, sandy white beaches and blue, aquamarine waters with people dressed in the skimpiest outfit you could imagine. You would fit right in wearing a see-through Russian ice-skating leotard with sequins just barely hiding your privates. This is reminding me a little of ‘Monaco on the East Coast with better beaches.’
Art Deco District Hotel. NHYM 2015.
Turns out I had a great time in Miami, mostly due to the outstanding company ;), and for a few gold nuggets amongst the sea of tourist madness. The highlights: I absolutely loved the Art Deco district http://www.artdecoweekend.com/ which featured great architecture (although the restaurants were relentlessly touristic with tourists drinking margaritas at 9am), the Boardwalk where everyone guilted me into walking-workouts, the beaches which are so large and wide, unlike any in Europe and places like Espanola Way, which is a pedestrian street which reminded me that Miami was originally a Spanish colony.
The lowlights: the mega-monster hotels of Fontainebleau and Eden Roc are just petrifying, I felt like one of the kids in ‘Honey, I shrunk the kids,’ and the frat boys on the beach throwing footballs and spraying sand all over me. In any case, Miami is great fun if you know how to do it and where to go.
Here are my Top 10 Travel Tips on where to stay and eat:
The Delano. NHYM 2015.
1. The Delano:
The Delano is one of the original trendy, modern Art Deco hotels which sparked off a number of knock-offs, like the Shore Club, SLS, W etc… But it was ‘the’ hotel of the 90s, where no other place in Miami was doing it like the Delano. It is slightly dated and in need of some refurb but still oozes ‘white,’ cool and trendy Miami. Mostly an adults hotel which pumps music on Saturdays and Sundays, it turns into a day-club when its pool is filled with inflated, bikini-clad ladies, sipping fruity cocktails and loud, brash men of all ages and proportions ogling them, it is a perfect spot to see-and-be-seen. The waitresses wear only the flimsiest of white ‘bathing suits,’ barely hiding their assets, which encourages the men to keep drinking and spending. It’s got a great private beach as well, so if it’s your first time in Miami, it’s a highly recommended hotel. Just don’t look at the value for money, which only has downsides. https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/delano/delano-south-beach
Cecconi’s Miami, Courtesy of the internet. 2015.
2. Soho Beach House & Cecconi’s:
I just loved Cecconis, a prime example of a replicated hotel and restaurant, bringing London’s finest to the beach, but that really works. What more could you ask for than Soho House on the beach? Cecconi’s is pretty much like Shoreditch House’s rooftop terrace with its hanging lights in jars, which is already a favourite of mine https://nottinghillmummy.com/2014/04/30/shoreditch-house-hotel-and-restaurant/ but in a garden on the beach with an almost identical menu as the rest of the Soho House franchise. The hotel is uber-cool and there is a rooftop pool and a bar just for the adults. It is slightly removed from the madness of prime South Beach, but that is a good thing. http://www.sohobeachhouse.com/
Miami, St. Tropez Style at La Piagga. NHYM. 2015.
3. La Piagga Restaurant:
With its location in South Pointe, la Piagga is a bit hard to find, but when you’ve found it, you will never want to leave. Known mostly to the locals and those in the know, you won’t find any touristy, fat, balding men with fanny packs; this is the St. Tropez of South Beach. The owners were the founders of La Voile Rouge in St. Tropez (before it burned down) but it successfully exported the St. Tropez concept to Miami. With tables in the sand, bikini ladies doing a fashion show as you eat, its own small private pool, dance music on Sundays, a delicious Mediterranean menu and grumpy, rude French waiters, I felt right at home. ‘Sunday Funday,’ is the only day to go, and I could have stayed there all day long, especially when the party really starts to kick off at 4pm. A few blocks away is Nikki Beach for the real party-goers, but for the real trend-setters, La Piagga is the way to go. http://www.lapiaggiabeach.com/
Miami vibe at the Delano. NHYM 2015.
4. Metropolitan by COMO
The Metropolitan would be my choice for those who like sleek, boutique style hotels. As mentioned before some of the Miami hotels are just so overwhelmingly big (ie. Fontainebleau/Eden Roc), they make me want to run away, but a few like the Metropolitan reminds me that there are some great boutique hotels here as well. It is housed in an Art Deco styled building of manageable size, so is a good alternative to the Delano. It only opened last year, but already has won the Conde Nast Award of Top 100 Hotels in the US, so it is still brand spanking new, impressive and just shows that Miami is still as trendy as ever. http://www.comohotels.com/metropolitanmiamibeach
The Delano Lounge Area, NHYM 2015.
5. The Setai
Another great hotel, the Setai has all the Asian influences and spot-on service that you could ask for. Stylistically, it is not very ‘Miami’, with its Asian influences of dark, brown wood instead of minimalist white, but it is nonetheless still a great hotel for its service, its three pools, and it lovely outdoors lunch area where you can watch the passerbys on the Boardwalk. The Ceviche there is un-missable, it is one of the best ceviches Mr. X has ever tasted. It is a good hotel for teenage children, since it is less club-like and therefore less debaucherous than its counterparts. It is still really gigantic in proportions, so for those who prefer an intimate setting, this one would be a ‘pass.’ http://www.thesetaihotel.com/
Delano Pool, NHYM 2015.
6. The Shore Club
The Shore Club is part of the Morgans Group and sister hotel to the Delano, so has the same floaty, white-curtains-feel to it, although its pool is just slightly less cool. It does get points though for the in-house Nobu, which would be my go-to for comfort food in Miami. It also has the Skybar for drinks, which has 4 bars, including one which is described as an ‘outdoor living room.’ https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/originals/originals-shore-club-south-beach. (For the real party-goers hotel, check out the SLS which has a buzzing bar and nightclub).
Skybar, courtesy of the Internet. 2015.
7. Joe’s Stone Crab House
Joe’s Stone Crab is a Miami institution where you go for… crab. You don’t go for the decor, nor the ‘vibe,’ as it does fall into the ‘touristy’ definition, but if you are a crab-lady, you must go, as it has some great East Coast crab that you just cannot get in Europe. Just as with everything in the US, everything is just bigger here, including the crab. For once, it is not due to Genetic Modification. http://www.joesstonecrab.com/
Best looking toilets in Miami. NHYM 2015.
8. Casa Tua Restaurant
Casa Tua is nestled in a Mediterranean-styled villa, behind wrought iron doors, which offers Northern Italian food in an outdoor-garden setting with lamps hanging from the trees. The food may be over-rated, but it is another Miami-must for the garden setting, if you want to get a feel of where the ‘exclusives’ go to. There is an upstairs loft/lounge that has welcomed Andre Balasz. And if it’s good enough for him, it’s probably going to be good enough for you. http://www.casatualifestyle.com/miami/
Breakfast at the Delano. NHYM 2015.
9. Prime 112 Restaurant
This one is purely for the boys: what it lacks in charm, it makes up in meat. It is a boys Steakhouse featuring huge plates of beef to satisfy any red-meat-junkie. It’s another Miami institution, although high on the tourist list, it may just be one to do just to check it off the list. Although, some of my London friends have praised it as their ‘favourite restaurant in Miami,’ so bring on the Ribs, the Ribeyes and the lobster, and your mister is sure to be pleased. http://mylesrestaurantgroup.com/
Miami Art Deco District. NHYM 2015.
10. Art Basel
This isn’t a place to stay or eat, but is an essential Miami event and is the perfect excuse to go to Miami (December). Sadly, we didn’t make it to Basel last year, but did manage to fit in the Miami Boat Show, which can be equally fun, trying out the new 86 Ferretti in the Miami marina and sunshine, but anyway, I digress. Art Basel is the best time to visit Miami, where there is a buzz in the air that ends the Miami year in Style. The concierge explained to me that Miami revolves around 5 big events a year including the Miami Boat Show, the Winter Music Conference, the Food and Wine Festival and Art Basel. Friends went to Basel a few years ago and ended up rubbing shoulders and befriending Pharrell Williams, this is how cool its become. Art Basel has turned Miami into more than a party town and into a cultural hot-spot, and it is one to add to the Bucket List. ttps://www.artbasel.com/