With a buzzy design district, an eye-popping array of murals, a handful of new museums, two historically-designated areas devoted to distinct architectural styles, and the week-long Design Miami showcase for high-end furniture and interior accessories, the Miami area has morphed into a premier destination for the most discerning of design devotees. Booking a room at any of these five luxurious hotels will ensure the most stylish of stays.
Part of the Art Deco district (known more formally as the Miami Beach Architectural District), located between 5th and 23rd streets, the Delano South Beach is a good example of the city’s distinct brand of Art Deco. Rather than the chrome, limestone and sharp angles of New York’s 1930s-era skyscrapers, this style offers the undulating curves and creamy stucco exteriors found in the beach-side Bauhaus buildings of Tel Aviv. In 1995, hip hotelier Ian Schrager re-opened the Delano as we know it today, turning to French designer Philippe Starck to create a fantastical Lewis Carroll-inspired lobby and all-white guest rooms that ushered in the city’s boutique hotel explosion.
Fast-forward 20 years and Schrager (in partnership with Marriott International) was at it again, this time with the Miami Beach Edition, a revamp of another older hotel. Hospitality design firm Yabu Pushelberg used the white marble floors and gold mosaic columns of the existing historic building as a jumping off point to fashion a tropical playground adorned with giant indoor plants and banana leaf-patterned wallpaper. For a touch of old school Miami Beach, be sure to check out the Matador Room, a favorite Rat Pack hangout that’s now run by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
The Hollywood Touch
At Faena, the notion of hotel-as-set-design takes on a literal meaning, thanks to the filmmaking husband-and-wife team of Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, the visionaries behind its theatrical spaces. Eschewing the cool-and-white that dominates so many area hotels, the duo opted for the hot-and-colorful with a jungle fever mashup of animal prints and opulent ruby and gold furnishings. A new, souk-inspired artisan marketplace designed by starchitect Rem Koolhaas is the latest piece of the Faena District, which includes the hotel and performing and event spaces.
Blend of Old, New
For the recently-opened Four Seasons Hotel at The SurfClub, celebrated architect Richard Meier seamlessly merged a Mediterranean Revival landmark with a new building. Parisian-based interior designer Joseph Dirand kept the material palette fresh and serene, infusing the public spaces and 77 guest rooms with sun-lit wood furniture and watery blue and green fabrics.
Miami Beach Classic
If nothing but a classic will do, then Fontainebleau remains your best bet. Designed by Morris Lapidus, the architect most synonymous with Miami Beach flash, this massive property (1,500-plus rooms) has received millions and millions of dollars in renovations, and several expansions, since it was first unveiled in 1954. But the exuberant Lapidus details — fat columns, swooping curves, abundant signage — remain. No design pilgrimage to town would be complete without a visit to see his work, which has been recognized with a separate design district (Collins Avenue, between 44th and 53rd streets) and includes his neighboring, almost as iconic, Eden Roc resort.