The best hotels in Miami

Gabrielle Sander
The Standard Miami: Adrian Gaut

Bling, beachy, artsy Miami has plenty of places to bed down in style. Here’s our list of stand-out stays to get you started.

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EAST, Miami

Neighbourhood: Brickell, downtown Miami

You can always go downtown for chic aesthetics (EAST, Miami)

There’s much for the design-lover to swoon at in this downtown Miami hotel. Brutalist concrete punctuated by pops of orange in the spacious outdoor pool area; lush alfresco garden dining spaces slung with terracotta light fixtures; and sleek modern guest rooms, with floor-to-ceiling, multi-aspect views across the financial district to Biscayne Bay and the Everglades. So good you’ll resist drawing the curtains. Epicureans will rejoice in the on-site offerings: Quinta La Huella, with a juicy selection of Parrilla-grilled, South American flavours in an equally delicious setting; rooftop garden bar Sugar, where 40th-floor vistas complement excellent cocktails and tapas; and Hong Kong cocktail bar-inspired Tea Room, where free-flowing champagne Night Brunches draw in the crowds. EAST, Miami also connects to Brickell city centre, a four-level shopping, dining and entertainment precinct.

Doubles from $259

The Standard Spa Hotel

Neighbourhood: Belle Isle

There is nothing standard about this spa hotel (Adrian Gaut)

Tucked away on Belle Isle, looking across the water to downtown, The Standard Spa Hotel is an adults-only spot offering respite from the buzz of South Beach. Start the day with a water-side yoga class, circle the island on a SUP session, dip in to the palm-surrounded saltwater pool at any hour (it’s open 24/7) and enjoy the music playing underneath. That’s before you get to the complimentary hydrotherapy spa, including a mud lounge, aroma steam room, waterfall hot tub and space ship-like heated marble hammam. Rooms are comfortable and well-considered, with many including the fun extra of an outdoor freestanding bathtub, for (somewhat risqué) soaks.

Doubles from $250​

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Neighbourhood: Mid-Beach Miami

Sweet relaxation with candy cane-themed poolside parasols (Faena Hotel Miami Beach)

Hidden behind this chalk facade is a riot of fun: scarlet velvet, sparkling chandeliers, Art Deco flamboyance, and hark backs to the 1950s, when Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin were among the talent to walk through these doors (in its former guise as the Saxony Hotel). It’s exactly what you’d expect when charging Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge director and costume designer duo, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, with the interior design. Damien Hirst’s 3m tall, gilded woolly mammoth skeleton is among the many stars of this sumptuous show, which includes candy cane-striped poolside parasols and beach cabanas; a Living Room cocktail spot that’s all brass palms and tiger stripes; and the gloriously kitsch Tree of Life bar, sporting a punchy underwater scene that’s borderline The Little Mermaid. Kids are welcome, but you’ll want to leave them at home to fully immerse yourself in this wonderland.

Doubles from $749​

Freehand Miami

Neighbourhood: Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach

Homely: Freehand Miami’s design has a 1970s influence (Justin Namon)

Walking into the courtyard of Freehand Miami on a balmy evening feels like arriving at the coolest neighbourhood party in town. You’ll find a mix of old and young, locals and travellers, lounging around the central pool under a canopy of tropical flora strung with fairy lights, with cocktails in hand, accompanied by a soundtrack of laidback beats. To the side, there’s an organic herb, fruit and vegetable garden, which serves both the multi award-winning cocktail bar, Broken Shaker, and 27 Restaurant, whose South American and Middle Eastern flavours are as moreish as the crockery they’re served on. Inside, it’s a joyful fusion of 1970s oranges, quirky grandma’s living room and Mad Men sleek. Embrace the hostel way and book a bunkbed in a shared room, or reserve one of the well-priced private rooms and enjoy a king to yourself. Complimentary perks include all-day iced coffee and bicycle hire. Mid and South Beach are a block away, but the feeling here couldn’t be further removed.

Bunks from $35; standard king from $150​

The Setai Miami Beach

Neighbourhood: South Beach

Coastal views: beachside living at its finest (The Setai Miami Beach)

Rooms at this Collins Avenue five-star are split between the Art Deco section – housed in the 1936 Dempsey-Vanderbilt building – and the 40-storey glass skyscraper, atop which sprawls the penthouse (Miami’s most expensive suite, at $40,000 a night). East Asian influences reign throughout, from the enveloping Burmese teak, Indonesian bronze and black granite, through to the lush courtyard dotted with celestial animal statues inspired by Beijing’s Forbidden City. Three temperature-controlled infinity pools, ranging from 23C to 35C, sparkle with glass tiles made from recycled wine bottles, and are laid east and west-facing so you can enjoy both sunrise and sunset laps. Just on from there lies the private beach, where everything from the signature white truffle pizza to freshly cracked coconuts can be ordered via a mobile app and delivered to your sunbed.

Doubles from £410​

Life House

Neighbourhood: Little Havana

You don’t need to splash the cash to stay in luxury (Life House)

This homely, guava pink 1920s mansion is a decorative ode to its immediate surroundings in the heart of Miami’s Cuban neighbourhood, Little Havana. Afrocuban art, ceramics, textiles and photography meld with mid-century modern Danish furniture and punchy House of Hackney wall coverings, to delicious effect. Rooms are small but perfectly formed, with plump beds and luxury touches from Le Labo and Dyptique. For groups, there are plush bunkbed rooms, with full-size beds and proper stairs to access the top. Vegetarians and vegans will delight in the largely plant-based menus served at both the Parcela lobby cafe and the Terras Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, featuring ingredients grown in their nearby urban garden and onsite herb patch, along with low intervention wines and herbal cocktails. If you can peel yourself away from the courtyard hammocks, Little Havana awaits. Family-run spots selling freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice, Cuban sandwiches and heart-jolting cafecitos, plus domino players on Calle Ocho, cigar-rolling displays, and live jazz and salsa at the famous Ball & Chain.

Doubles from $79​

The Betsy

Neighbourhood: South Beach

A dog-friendly hotel, though you may want to keep the bathroom to yourself (The Betsy)

Golden retrievers Betsy and Rosa are quite the welcoming duo at the dog-friendly Betsy hotel, where four-legged friends enjoy perks from Scooby snacks to massages, and owners are invited to do downward dogs at complimentary sunrise yoga sessions. Sunny rooms echo the seaside setting at the quiet end of Ocean Drive, with a laidback, colonial beach house feel: wooden floorboards, plantation shutters, raffia ceilings, and sweet touches like poetry bookmarks at turndown, made of biodegradable paper filled with seeds to sow back home. The Betsy’s other love is the arts, with a packed library, an artist-in-residence programme, rotating exhibitions, a Poetry Rail adorned with written odes to South Florida, and the Betsy Orb, which hangs below the bridge built to connect the Betsy with the old Carlton Hotel it merged with in 2016.

Doubles from $250​

Cardozo South Beach

Neighbourhood: Art Deco District, South Beach

Cardozo South Beach is the work of Gloria and Emilio Estefan (Maurizio Leoni)

This new kid on the Historic Art Deco block is the latest hospitality hit from musical duo Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Though that isn’t its only claim to fame – scenes from movies including There’s Something About Mary and Marley & Me were shot here. Opened in May 2019, following a $15m renovation, the neon pink-lit 1930s shell is a serene scene of all-white inside, except for the fine-dining Italian restaurant, Bice Cucina, on the ground floor. Right in the centre of the buzzy Miami Beach nightclub action, the Cardozo is in prime position for you to head out and “shake your body baby, do the conga”, before returning to one of the 41 peaceful rooms to rest and reset.

Doubles from $127​

The Biltmore Hotel

Neighbourhood: Coral Gables

The Biltmore Hotel has an 18-hole championship golf course (The Biltmore Hotel)

A designated National Historic Landmark, The Biltmore is a palatial behemoth, where everything is super-plush and super-size: vaulted ceilings, hand-painted frescoes, vertiginous stone columns, 150 acres of tropical gardens, 10 tennis courts, an 18-hole championship golf course – where everyone from Al Capone to Tiger Woods has teed off – and the largest hotel pool on the East Coast, surrounded by private cabanas. It’d be impossible to get bored here. Or hungry. There are four restaurants, including the widely-acclaimed French, Palme d’Or – the sort of white tablecloth and silver cloche affair worth donning the obligatory glad rags for – and Cascade, a more casual poolside spot, tucked under a 23ft waterfall. Downtown Miami is a mere seven miles away, should you want to venture out of the old-world Biltmore bubble and explore.

Doubles from $299 a night​

The Gabriel Miami

Neighbourhood: Downtown Miami

The Gabriel Miami is a great base for exploring Miami's cultural offerings (The Gabriel Miami)

There’s more to Miami than its famous beaches. Downtown is home to a host of cultural spots, including the Frost Science museum, which encompasses a fantastic three-level aquarium and an 8K planetarium; the Perez Art Museum next door; and the American Airlines Arena, home to Miami Heat. A little further along is Wynwood, a neighbourhood inked with the murals of more than 100 local and international street artists, and featuring gems such as Miami’s first food hall, 1-800 Lucky. The Gabriel Miami is within walking distance of it all. Part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, it’s a great hotel for those wanting to spend as much time exploring the city as lingering beside the 14th-floor infinity pool. Expect bright, art-packed rooms, some family-friendly connecting, with all the necessary mod cons and floor-to-ceiling views of Biscayne Bay.

Doubles from $199​