It is no secret that Miami, like New York and LA, is a hideaway for stars of all stripes. Need a holiday from the stress of that recent concert tour? Overworked from the film shoot? Is the fashion world exhausting you? Bienvenido a Miami! For any in search of celebrity, being in the vicinity of the beach is the cure, and the hotel circuit the antidote.
As R Kelly so eloquently put it, “After the show it’s the after party. After the party it’s the hotel lobby. Round about four you gotta clear the lobby.” Here is the roundabout way I got to thinking about this.
Years ago, my cousin Joby Jones introduced me to the aesthetic of the hotel in the Valley of the Sun – Phoenix Arizona. He would take me on tour. “Just one more,” he would say before we limped home late, much to the chagrin of his wife. We would visit the Boulders, Wigwam, Biltmore and W Scottsdale to look at landscaping, restaurant design, sofas and bars. I confess, I was awestruck.
Fast forward. Living in Miami makes one a distinctively more popular relative and friend than if someone were living in say, Kalamazoo, so everyone in Miami has a goto tour ready for guests. With this in mind, here is the first annual Sweet Miami Hotel and Lobby Column.
Predictable as it is, the Delano is the classic and original. For un-history buffs, its lobby was the Miami Beach game changer. That is, after it was created, to some degree, after picking up the jaw from the floor, everybody had to keep pace. Soft lights, massively flowing white curtains, hardwood floors, and massive columns make this a must visit if you are composed enough not to feel intimidated. In other words, don’t enter in white sneakers and socks if your shorts are khaki. Semi good news in this vein: If you don’t belong at the Delano, someone will make you feel it. These days, their restaurant and bar scene reveals more wannabes than celebs, but ever so often you might see Queen Latifah or Paul Kalkbrenner there. Unless you are a guest, you are barred from the pool.
Next to the Delano is The National, itself an early rehab, sporting more brown than Frank Lloyd Wright or UPS. The pool is long and thin like a model or fettuccine.
The Shore Club gets high scores for its lovely garden, day beds and happy colors. Blue and gold flowerpots give way to orange and fuchsia bedspreads, Moroccan lamps, low tables and candlelight. (At dusk, no place in Miami offers a better, more impressive, poolside glass of $18 yellow tail, an approximate markup of only 1800 percent. We are talking looks here, not value.) Unlike the Delano, no one will ID you if you sit by the pool.
Also on Collins Avenue, The Setai is heaven for fans of anything Asia. It’s lobby, restaurants, pools and chaises all have that wabi-sabi thing. If you are cruisin’, its grounds ooze Zen. Walk through the lobby and into the water garden; 10 minutes sitting outside will make your out-of-towners newly respect you.
It is easy to get your swag on if you stick to Collins or near the beach, but extra credit goes to those who know the nooks and crannies. For this, try The Standard Spa. This write-up cannot replicate the upside down logo, but this should give you a clue to how this spot rebirths the cool. Trendy, fashionable hipsters never quit advancing the cause; if only they controlled the government, there would be a free range chicken in every pot. The lobby, bar, ping pong table, hidden fire bowl, pool and bayside restaurant all reveal the manner of the moment. Nearby is Sunset Harbor with Panther’s second outpost, Lucali, and the Pubbelly empire if you are thirsty, hungry or crave further validation.
Last but not least this time around is my new favorite, The Betsy. Not long ago, my friend Katarina Dietrich turned me on to this telling me that she saw Mick Jagger and Keith Richard hanging there. So I went and there Mick was by the pool sporting a bright red Speedo. Satisfaction! I was so stunned that even the presence of the young Paul McCartney seemed secondary. The Betsy, deeply engaged in caring for the local Arts and Poetry community, has graciously hosted many of Miami’s finest. Its BLT Steak and rooftop deck are first class sans attitude. All said, the Betsy is a credit to its pedigree.
There are others like Artecity Governor, the Redbury, Cadet and Angler’s, but they will have to wait.
Carl Rachelson is a teacher at Palmer Trinity School and a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune. He may be contacted by addressing email to <email@example.com.