Miami Beach is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The city was incorporated on 26 March 1915. Miami Beach has been one of America's pre-eminent beach resorts for almost a century. Miami is a world unto itself. Miami's South Beach is home to the übermodel fashion scene and ultra-exclusive nightclubs-within-nightclubs where the in-crowd parties all night and all day. But whether it's the scent of fine cigar tobacco along Calle Ocho in Little Havana, or a hint of Chanel wafting amid the elaborately expensive Bal Harbour Shops, a Florida vacation in Miami can literally take your breath away.
South Beach (also known as SoBe, or simply The Beach the area from 1st street to about 25th street) is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach. Topless sunbathing is tolerated on certain designated areas of the beach. Before the TV show Miami Vice helped make the area popular, SoBe was under urban blight, with vacant buildings and a high crime rate. Today, it is considered one of the richest commercial areas on the beach, yet poverty and crime still remain in some places near the area.
Miami Beach lies on a barrier island, with beaches on the Atlantic Ocean side. Most of this stretch is bumper-to-bumper hotels and condos, but public beach access is plentiful, with lifeguards, bathroom, and concession stands.
The sands are hard packed, but a wooden beachside boardwalk runs from 21st to 46th streets. On the north end of Miami Beach, you’ll find Haulover Beach, home of the only clothing-optional stretch of beach in town. Lummus Park (aka South Beach) is a swath of star-studded white sands from 5th to 15th Street. Here you’ll find supermodels on their Miami Beach vacation sunbathing topless. The 12th Street stretch is a popular gay beach.
If you come to Miami South Beach is the place to see and be seen. Along the sparkling Miami shores at the Nikki Beach Club, supermodels slip out of teepee cabanas wearing only the bare necessities. The ultra hip crowd comes to Mynt to chill against a backdrop of sleek space age décor and cool-hued lighting.
You’ll reach nightclub nirvana at the multi-level dance floors of Opium Garden, with its lush Asian themes, and the exclusive Prive lounge. Three poolside theme rooms converge at the Shore Club’s Skybar. DJs rule at Crobar, featuring three state-of-the-art dance floors. Mansion is home to events like the Winter Music Conference and White Party benefits. If you’re into the gay scene, you can rave on till dawn at Score or Twist.
In a landmark-studded city where even the trendy clubs have beds, choosing a Miami hotel can be daunting. But for beach hotels Miami can’t be beat, and in this town even a cheap Florida hotel can be chic.
In Miami, even where you stay is a fashion statement. Miami hotels are a living museum of twentieth century architectural style. The charmingly restored historic clapboard houses of the Miami River Inn date back to 1906. The 1926 Mediterranean revivalist Biltmore Hotel features a bell tower modeled after the Cathedral of Seville, and the largest hotel pool in the continental U.S. Now the Setai, the 1930s Art Deco Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel has been fully remodeled inside with teak-and-silk Asian glamour. The 1940 Art Deco masterpiece Raleigh Hotel has had its interiors redone with a bygone Cuba theme, and it’s highlight is a palm lined swimming pool once featured in Esther Williams movies. The 1953 Art Moderne DiLido Hotel is now the Ritz Carlton South Beach, featuring ocean liner themes and synchronized swimmers in the pool. The postmodern interiors of the Delano Hotel were designed by Philippe Starck in 1995 to evoke Greek islands.
Half the fun of staying at a Miami hotel is the chance of rubbing shoulders with a superstar in the lobby. The beautiful beachside Shore Club is rightly famous for hosting the famous. You’ll never know whom you might run into at its popular and trendy Skybar. The ultra-cool Hotel Victor offers lacquered ebony furnishings and satin headboards, and features a jellyfish theme: from the sculpted crystal light fixtures to the real deal swimming in the lobby aquarium.
For a taste of the superstar life, you might invest in a night at Casa Tua, an exclusive club that accepts reservations – albeit far in advance. Overstuffed sofas with cashmere throws, mid-century Italian furnishings, Chinese antiques, and imported toiletries round out your pampering. For the atmosphere of Paris, try the Hotel Place St. Michel featuring European antiques, wood floors and paneling.
Two hotels in the Brickell Avenue district take care of business in style. The Mandarin Oriental features suites with private media rooms and suites overlooking Biscayne Bay, and offers optional dining at either Azul or Café Sambal. The Four Seasons Hotel And Tower Miami, features Botero sculptures, secretarial services, and a Turkish steam room, a martini bar, and an open-air lounge.
Only in Miami
Half hostel, half urban art gallery, The Creek in South Beach offers low budget lodging with poolside parties. The Pelican Hotel has themed rooms in almost every imaginable décor, from casino to bordello to psychedelic.
While most Miami resorts are adult-centric, kids are more than welcome at the Sonesta Beach Resort Key Biscayne, which is known for its complimentary children's activities and field trips to museums and movies.
Finding a bargain hotel in Miami Florida is some trick. But try the affordable yet chic Hotel Astor, with its marble bathrooms and popular restaurant. Another great deal is the Crest Hotel suites, which has excellent service.