I always had a preconceived idea of Miami as a city with a shiny exterior and nothing below the surface. I never had the urge to visit and could think of about a thousand places I would rather go first.
Well I was wrong.
My introduction to Miami came through the wonder of Art Basil. The giant art fair takes over the city once a year and with it exposes all the hidden qualities this city has. Its charm has stuck with me ever since and during my years living in NYC this became my winter weekend getaway. A sample of all the things I discovered in my cool guide to Miami below!
Miami is overrun with design hotels and I am the last person to dissuade you from a “design” hotel however this mega structure has fond place in my heart. I have stayed here a number of times and each time I discover something new. The hotel is vast and with it comes a myriad of events, moments and experiences from honeymooning couples to sweet sixteens or giant DJ extravaganzas. The people watching is priceless. 15 minutes in this lobby and you literraly feel like 40 different nations have walked past you. With this comes a selection of restaurants and surprisingly for such a giant place they are all of a high standard. La Cote which overlooks the beach is my favourit it serves fantastic fresh seafood and is the perfect afternoon hang out or meeting spot. The pool at this hotel is vast and comes with a little movie history having had a cameo in Goldfinger. To top everything off the service at the Fontainebleau is impeccable, I have always been checked in promptly and accommodated like im the only person staying there. Love that feeling.
Versailles claims to be Miami’s most famous Cuban restaurant whether it is or isn’t who cares. This place is the best, famous for its giant menu and award winning café con leche. The atmosphere here is fantastic with a live band and dozens of families from all walks of life tucking into the ridiculously well priced and tasty Cuban goodies. This is a Miami experience not to be missed and even if you do there is a tiny replica at the airport too. The original is the best though!
My second favorite restaurant in Miami is the Dutch with a branch in NYC too this place is always buzzy and full so make sure you book for dinner. The famed chef Andrew Carmellini makes this place extra special his NYC Locanda Verde is one of my city staples. From the jalapeno enfaced cornbread to my favorite shrimp salad its hard to make a bad choice.
Versace House aka Casa Casuarina
Rumour has it that Versace’s former mansion and the location of his tragic shooting in 1997 has sold just a few weeks ago. Formerly a boutique hotel and event venue this place is fantastic and breathtakingly beautiful. Check with local media or the web on its latest re incarnation and I hope you get a chance to see this slice of fashion history like I did. If all else fails check out these fabulous pictures courtesy of The Telegraph.
20 000 feet of pure shopping bliss. The Webster is one of the best shopping experiences, the buyers here really know what they’re doing, the accessories collections are always right on the mark and if your looking for a little Miami glitz to change into during your stay this is the place to pick up a frock and dance the night away. Head to the roof for a great view and a much needed post shopping pick me up. Perfect.
This quirky and affordable hotel had recently been taken over but hasn’t lost any of its charm. If your looking for a unique, boutique hotel this is your spot. The gardens and pool area are super relaxing and feel like a tropical oasis in the middle of the city. This place also has one of my favorite hotel key chains ever. You will be sure not to take one of those home by mistake!
Lady Gaga, De La Soul, Ghostface Killa, there is always a major buzz around this fantastic event and this year is no different. Although the original art fair held in Basil Switezerland feels like a stuffy collectors gathering Miami couldn’t be any different, the fashion, music and art world descend in full force on the unsuspecting town and transform it into a 24 hour life changing event. There is so much to discover and experience at this fair it is really any travelers dream event. Believe the hype! For more information check out the official site here https://www.artbasel.com/en/miami-beach
Paper Mag is also running this excellent and very indepth guide on their site Papermag.