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The 18 Essential Miami Hotels, November 2014 Edition

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And now, an update to the Curbed Miami Hotel 18, our map of the 18 'Essential' South Florida hotels. These hotels aren't the flavors-of-the-month, but rather hotels that are in it for the long haul. They're Miami's classic hotels, Miami's most reliably good hotels, Miami's iconic hotels, Miami's historically significant hotels,the hotels that define certain important aspects of our city's culture in the way that only a bustling hotel can.

We'll be updating the map again in due time, so if you have a favorite that wasn't included, please mention it in the comments or tip us for next time. If you spot a hotel unworthy of the Hotel 18 distinction, we want to hear about that, too.

The list has had fewer changes since its last incarnation in March, with the only subtraction being the Shore Club, most of which will soon be converted to condos. The Fisher Island Club was promoted to replace it. At first glance, one might find a few exclusions, like the wonderful Raleigh Hotel and the superlative Setai, surprising. With the list capped at 18, we had to be shrewd. The Raleigh was dropped from an earlier list because major alterations to the property are in the planning stages, making its future somewhat of a mystery. Meanwhile, the Setai has certain similarities with the neighboring W Hotel, as far as glamour, beauty, and a desire for exclusivity go, but the W is oriented outwards, with public rooms facing the street and a large, welcoming public lobby. The Setai is basically a cloister. Managerially, the W also appears to embrace its community much more than the Setai, which itself has experienced major managerial upheavals in recent memory, thus the Setai was dropped.

· Hotel 18 archives [Curbed Miami]

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1. The Fontainebleau

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4441 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140
(305) 538-2000
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The most famous, and perhaps most notorious, of Miami hotels, the Fontainebleau has played host to everyone from royalty to mobsters, and was even featured prominently in the James Bond classic Goldfinger. The Fontainebleau is the greatest work of iconic Miami Beach midcentury resort architect Morris Lapidus, whose masterful design still shines through despite a more recent billion dollar renovation.

2. The Eden Roc

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4525 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140
(305) 531-0000
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[Photo via Curbed Miami Flickr Pool/Phillip Pessar]

3. The Mayfair

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3000 Florida Ave
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
(305) 441-0000
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Originally called Mayfair House when it was designed in the 1980s by iconic Miami architect Kenneth Treister, the Mayfair is distinctly unique and also extremely localized to its Coconut Grove environment. Intricate carved-wood, tile, and metal details are evocative of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, but faintly art nouveau-esque, in a way that Wright's architecture never was, . The urban hotel is centered around two atria with elaborate interior gardens and fountains, and it has a rooftop pool.

4. The Biltmore Hotel

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1200 Anastasia Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 445-1926
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The grand, towering 1920s Mediterranean Revival Biltmore Hotel is probably one of the greatest hotels ever designed by Schultze & Weaver, architects of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The hotel sits on the edge of the Riviera Golf Course, and features the country’s largest hotel pool (once the largest pool in the world) where Johnny Weissmuller was a swimming instructor prior to staring as Tarzan in Hollywood.

5. The Standard Spa Hotel

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40 Island Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 673-1717
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The Miami Beach incarnation of Andre Balazs’ chain of ‘Standards’, the Standard Spa took over the midcentury ‘Lido Spa’ on Belle Isle, within walking distance of the heart of South Beach but still quietly removed from it all. The exhibitionistic ethos of the Standard brand is carried out here with very public bathtubs on the guest room terraces, which are separated from the hotel’s public walkways by nothing more than breezy white curtains. The Standard has a very relazing and un-South-Beach-like bayfront pool as well as a steamy hamam in its upstairs spa.

6. The Delano

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1685 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 672-2000
Visit Website

Named after FDR, the Roosevelts kept a suite at the art deco Delano for their trips to Florida in the good old days. Originally designed by B. Robert Swartburg, the hotel’s deco styling is more provocative than most, with sharp angles, and a towering verticality. It was one of the earliest and most successful of the hotels to be redone during South Beach’s revival, when Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager hired interior designer Philippe Starck to gut the entire lobby floor and install flowing white curtains to capture the breezes. Although not the most historically sensitive of renovations, Starck created a magical space that is unmatched among Miami Beach hotel lobbies to this day. Also magical: the heavy iron garden furniture that Starck put in the shallow end of the pool decades ago is still there.

7. W South Beach

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2201 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 938-3000
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One of South Beach’s hottest hotels, the W is admittedly of-the-moment, but has been called the Starwood brand’s signature W, and stands out with its spectacular lobby, leading restaurants, and popularity with celebrities and creative types alike. Even starchitect Zaha Hadid purchased a double unit in the residential portion of the building, which she lives in a part of every year. Unlike some other very posh hotels that cut themselves off from the outside world, the W has embraced its civic presence and is always hosting conventions and parties.

8. InterContinental Miami

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100 Chopin Plaza
Miami, FL 33131

The grand dame of Downtown Miami hotels, the InterContinental, dripping in marble has gone through a recent renovation. Along with new guest rooms designed by Venus Williams, and a successful new restaurant, the hotel has dressed up its facade with huge digital display screens above the front entrance and thousands of LED lights. But don't worry, the InterContinental is just as stately as ever, more or less.

9. Mondrian South Beach

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1100 West Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Mondrian is the last, and most recent of the Miami Beach hotels under the Morgans flag. This time Morgans went bayside, converting a midcentury apartment building into a chic and spacious hotel. It has elements that seem to be signature to a Morgans Miami Beach property, like the white lobby, and new elements adding a bit of surprise, like the floating head on the wall, and a heavy black staircase that totally underlines the sheer whiteness of the white.

10. The Sagamore

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1671 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Renowned for its art collection, the Sagamore’s owners—the Taplins—have been filling the hotel with art since opening it in the early days of South Beach's revival.

11. The Loews Miami Beach

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1601 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

The largest hotel in South Beach, and the only one built from scratch during the South Beach revival (except for the hotel’s annex, the historic St. Moritz), the Lowes is a large convention hotel that evokes the area’s art deco roots. It comes complete with an impressively large pool, a grand breezeway leading through the property and an oceanfront ballroom.

12. Mandarin-Oriental

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500 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131

The Mandarin’s rankings are as near to perfect as they get (it has like a million diamonds, or stars, or whatever), and has been a signal of Brickell’s apotheosis as a luxury urban destination - along with contemporaries the Conrad, the Four Seasons, and the JW Marriott, since it was built.

13. Gale South Beach

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1690 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

A graduate of Curbed Miami's first Hotels Heatmap, and a subject of much Curbed coverage (not all of it positive, we should add) the Gale South Beach has proven itself to be a fast mainstay in the Miami hotel scene. Although we were in shock by the extent of the alterations during construction, the end result proved excellent and very sensitive to South Beach's art deco fabric. The rooftop pool is beautiful, and the hotel's Regent Cocktail Club is a favorite South Beach haunt. Across James Avenue, we're eagerly looking forward to the hotel's upcoming expansion, the Gale Suites at the Kaskades.

14. Soho Beach House

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4385 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140
(786) 507-7900
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A private British club for young creative types that rents its rooms to the public for very high prices, the Soho Beach House has become a mainstay in the too-cool-for-school Miami social scene. Although we were originally put off by the exclusivity, Soho is here to stay and is unlike almost any other obsessively trendy Miami Beach offering. In fact, the intimate hotel, which seems to be packed to the rafters with all sorts of surprises, is almost the total opposite of its next door neighbor, the Fontainebleau. The tower addition to the historic art deco Sovereign Hotel by architect Allan Shulman is also very well done. The interior decor is also rather intense, but lots of fun.

15. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

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9703 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
(305) 993-3300
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The St. Regis Bal Harbour may have meant the destruction of one of Morris Lapidus' most classic midcentury beach resorts, the Americana, but move on one must. The combination hotel and condos have been around for a few years by now and, in addition to singlehandedly boosting Bal Harbour's tax rolls by a whopping %31.4, the hotel embodies everything about Bal Harbour: tasteful luxury on an absolutely huge scale. Just walking from the front entrance to a modest poolside party, one is immediately offered a flute of champagne practically upon stepping out of one's car, and then escorted by no less than four attendants on the way to the event.

16. Hyatt Regency Pier 66

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2301 S.E. 17th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 525-6666
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The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 is perhaps that most architecturally iconic of Fort Lauderdale hotels, rivaled only by the Yankee Clipper. Sure there are fancier joints, Ritz Carltons and Ws, but Pier 66 has the combination of high-flying midcentury showmanship, location, "Venice of America" nautical nature (it has a marina and is practically surrounded by water), and dependability that make it a winner.

17. The Breakers

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1 South County Road
Palm Beach, FL 33480

The Breakers, Palm Beach's grand dame, is glorious in her maturity. One of Palm Beach's original hotels, the Breakers was founded by Henry Flagler as the Palm Beach Inn. Its current structure was designed in the 1920s by the greatest hotel architects of the era (they also designed the Waldorf-Astoria and the Biltmore in Coral Gables) Schultze & Weaver and, although expanded over the years, remains very much her old self.

18. Fisher Island Club

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Once the winter estate of William K. Vanderbilt II, the Fisher Island Club is a tropical island resort that feels like you're staying in someone's grand and very private home... because, well, it used to be Mr. Vanderbilt's home. Having recently undergone an extensive renovation, many of the various resort amenities are located within Vanderbilt's original structures including (of course) the main house, the sheltered harbour, the airplane hangar (which contains the spa) and a collection of guest and service cottages.

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1. The Fontainebleau

4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

The most famous, and perhaps most notorious, of Miami hotels, the Fontainebleau has played host to everyone from royalty to mobsters, and was even featured prominently in the James Bond classic Goldfinger. The Fontainebleau is the greatest work of iconic Miami Beach midcentury resort architect Morris Lapidus, whose masterful design still shines through despite a more recent billion dollar renovation.

4441 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140

2. The Eden Roc

4525 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140
[Photo via Curbed Miami Flickr Pool/Phillip Pessar]
4525 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140

3. The Mayfair

3000 Florida Ave, Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Originally called Mayfair House when it was designed in the 1980s by iconic Miami architect Kenneth Treister, the Mayfair is distinctly unique and also extremely localized to its Coconut Grove environment. Intricate carved-wood, tile, and metal details are evocative of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, but faintly art nouveau-esque, in a way that Wright's architecture never was, . The urban hotel is centered around two atria with elaborate interior gardens and fountains, and it has a rooftop pool.

3000 Florida Ave
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

4. The Biltmore Hotel

1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

The grand, towering 1920s Mediterranean Revival Biltmore Hotel is probably one of the greatest hotels ever designed by Schultze & Weaver, architects of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The hotel sits on the edge of the Riviera Golf Course, and features the country’s largest hotel pool (once the largest pool in the world) where Johnny Weissmuller was a swimming instructor prior to staring as Tarzan in Hollywood.

1200 Anastasia Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33134

5. The Standard Spa Hotel

40 Island Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Miami Beach incarnation of Andre Balazs’ chain of ‘Standards’, the Standard Spa took over the midcentury ‘Lido Spa’ on Belle Isle, within walking distance of the heart of South Beach but still quietly removed from it all. The exhibitionistic ethos of the Standard brand is carried out here with very public bathtubs on the guest room terraces, which are separated from the hotel’s public walkways by nothing more than breezy white curtains. The Standard has a very relazing and un-South-Beach-like bayfront pool as well as a steamy hamam in its upstairs spa.

40 Island Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

6. The Delano

1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Named after FDR, the Roosevelts kept a suite at the art deco Delano for their trips to Florida in the good old days. Originally designed by B. Robert Swartburg, the hotel’s deco styling is more provocative than most, with sharp angles, and a towering verticality. It was one of the earliest and most successful of the hotels to be redone during South Beach’s revival, when Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager hired interior designer Philippe Starck to gut the entire lobby floor and install flowing white curtains to capture the breezes. Although not the most historically sensitive of renovations, Starck created a magical space that is unmatched among Miami Beach hotel lobbies to this day. Also magical: the heavy iron garden furniture that Starck put in the shallow end of the pool decades ago is still there.

1685 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

7. W South Beach

2201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

One of South Beach’s hottest hotels, the W is admittedly of-the-moment, but has been called the Starwood brand’s signature W, and stands out with its spectacular lobby, leading restaurants, and popularity with celebrities and creative types alike. Even starchitect Zaha Hadid purchased a double unit in the residential portion of the building, which she lives in a part of every year. Unlike some other very posh hotels that cut themselves off from the outside world, the W has embraced its civic presence and is always hosting conventions and parties.

2201 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

8. InterContinental Miami

100 Chopin Plaza, Miami, FL 33131

The grand dame of Downtown Miami hotels, the InterContinental, dripping in marble has gone through a recent renovation. Along with new guest rooms designed by Venus Williams, and a successful new restaurant, the hotel has dressed up its facade with huge digital display screens above the front entrance and thousands of LED lights. But don't worry, the InterContinental is just as stately as ever, more or less.

100 Chopin Plaza
Miami, FL 33131

9. Mondrian South Beach

1100 West Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Mondrian is the last, and most recent of the Miami Beach hotels under the Morgans flag. This time Morgans went bayside, converting a midcentury apartment building into a chic and spacious hotel. It has elements that seem to be signature to a Morgans Miami Beach property, like the white lobby, and new elements adding a bit of surprise, like the floating head on the wall, and a heavy black staircase that totally underlines the sheer whiteness of the white.

1100 West Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

10. The Sagamore

1671 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Renowned for its art collection, the Sagamore’s owners—the Taplins—have been filling the hotel with art since opening it in the early days of South Beach's revival.

1671 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

11. The Loews Miami Beach

1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The largest hotel in South Beach, and the only one built from scratch during the South Beach revival (except for the hotel’s annex, the historic St. Moritz), the Lowes is a large convention hotel that evokes the area’s art deco roots. It comes complete with an impressively large pool, a grand breezeway leading through the property and an oceanfront ballroom.

1601 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

12. Mandarin-Oriental

500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL 33131

The Mandarin’s rankings are as near to perfect as they get (it has like a million diamonds, or stars, or whatever), and has been a signal of Brickell’s apotheosis as a luxury urban destination - along with contemporaries the Conrad, the Four Seasons, and the JW Marriott, since it was built.

500 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131

13. Gale South Beach

1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

A graduate of Curbed Miami's first Hotels Heatmap, and a subject of much Curbed coverage (not all of it positive, we should add) the Gale South Beach has proven itself to be a fast mainstay in the Miami hotel scene. Although we were in shock by the extent of the alterations during construction, the end result proved excellent and very sensitive to South Beach's art deco fabric. The rooftop pool is beautiful, and the hotel's Regent Cocktail Club is a favorite South Beach haunt. Across James Avenue, we're eagerly looking forward to the hotel's upcoming expansion, the Gale Suites at the Kaskades.

1690 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

14. Soho Beach House

4385 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

A private British club for young creative types that rents its rooms to the public for very high prices, the Soho Beach House has become a mainstay in the too-cool-for-school Miami social scene. Although we were originally put off by the exclusivity, Soho is here to stay and is unlike almost any other obsessively trendy Miami Beach offering. In fact, the intimate hotel, which seems to be packed to the rafters with all sorts of surprises, is almost the total opposite of its next door neighbor, the Fontainebleau. The tower addition to the historic art deco Sovereign Hotel by architect Allan Shulman is also very well done. The interior decor is also rather intense, but lots of fun.

4385 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140

15. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

9703 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

The St. Regis Bal Harbour may have meant the destruction of one of Morris Lapidus' most classic midcentury beach resorts, the Americana, but move on one must. The combination hotel and condos have been around for a few years by now and, in addition to singlehandedly boosting Bal Harbour's tax rolls by a whopping %31.4, the hotel embodies everything about Bal Harbour: tasteful luxury on an absolutely huge scale. Just walking from the front entrance to a modest poolside party, one is immediately offered a flute of champagne practically upon stepping out of one's car, and then escorted by no less than four attendants on the way to the event.

9703 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL 33154

16. Hyatt Regency Pier 66

2301 S.E. 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 is perhaps that most architecturally iconic of Fort Lauderdale hotels, rivaled only by the Yankee Clipper. Sure there are fancier joints, Ritz Carltons and Ws, but Pier 66 has the combination of high-flying midcentury showmanship, location, "Venice of America" nautical nature (it has a marina and is practically surrounded by water), and dependability that make it a winner.

2301 S.E. 17th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

17. The Breakers

1 South County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480

The Breakers, Palm Beach's grand dame, is glorious in her maturity. One of Palm Beach's original hotels, the Breakers was founded by Henry Flagler as the Palm Beach Inn. Its current structure was designed in the 1920s by the greatest hotel architects of the era (they also designed the Waldorf-Astoria and the Biltmore in Coral Gables) Schultze & Weaver and, although expanded over the years, remains very much her old self.

1 South County Road
Palm Beach, FL 33480

18. Fisher Island Club

Miami Beach, FL

Once the winter estate of William K. Vanderbilt II, the Fisher Island Club is a tropical island resort that feels like you're staying in someone's grand and very private home... because, well, it used to be Mr. Vanderbilt's home. Having recently undergone an extensive renovation, many of the various resort amenities are located within Vanderbilt's original structures including (of course) the main house, the sheltered harbour, the airplane hangar (which contains the spa) and a collection of guest and service cottages.