Home to some of Miami’s most luxurious and design-forward skyscrapers, Downtown is no stranger to a world-class hotel.
From Asian-inspired island resorts in Brickell Key to award-winning design in the heart of Downtown, here are some of Culture Trip’s favorite places to rest and recharge in Miami’s most fast-paced neighborhood.
The Gabriel Miami
Art and design figure prominently in the decor at The Gabriel Miami | Courtesy of The Gabriel Miami / Booking.com
Hilton’s The Gabriel Miami is one of Downtown’s newest luxury editions. This contemporary bayfront hotel forms part of Hilton’s sleek, ultra-modern Curio Collection, featuring floor-to-ceiling views of Biscayne’s turquoise water, smooth wood flooring, and white and beige-gold accents throughout. Art and design play a big role in the hotel’s decor, too, with every ocean-facing suite, meeting room and poolside bar featuring custom-curated fashion photography and coffee table-worthy art books. Though new on the Downtown scene, the location is spot on: major sites such as the AmericanAirlines Arena, the Frost Museum of Science and the Pérez Art Museum are all within walking distance.
When you name a hotel EPIC, you’re setting the expectation bar pretty high. But when the Kimpton group opened its latest South Florida addition, the hotel chain was confident it was a hit in the making. And the group was right: since its opening in 2008, this riverside stay has been featured in several top hotel lists, including Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2018. The Cheryl Rowley-designed guest rooms feature nine-foot long beds (this is the home of the Miami Heat basketball team, after all), honey-gold and beige furnishings, and – the pièce de résistance – sleek glass balconies overlooking the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The two on-site restaurants, Area 31 and Zuma, are lunchtime hotspots for entrepreneurs and celebrities wanting to wow clients with dishes like Cuban bahn mi, yellowfin tuna poke and smoked beef tartare.
The Mandarin Oriental may be connected to mainland Miami by a short bridge, but this man-made island resort feels more like a Maldivian getaway than a Downtown hotel. The Brickell Key location gives guests a sense of isolation and tranquility, all while being a stone’s throw away from Downtown’s various cocktail bars, restaurants and museums. The decor, as the name suggests, is Asian-luxury inspired: the lobby is drenched in shiny marble, dark wood flooring and decadent gold sculptures. Meanwhile, suites feature bamboo plants, patterned bedspreads and orange marble tiling. Other highlights include a 15,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, a sun-soaked oceanfront swimming pool and a private bayside beach peppered with luxurious cabanas. The weekly Peruvian-inspired brunch by star chef Gastón Acurio – think quinoa omelets, lobster in aji sauce and crispy mahi-mahi – is pretty famous among Downtown residents, too.
Most Miami hotels have a pool, spa and maybe a rooftop cocktail bar. But an NBA-approved basketball court isn’t so common. At the 41-story JW Marriott Marquis, guests can shoot hoops in a Miami Heat-worthy arena, as well as enjoy a game of golf, air hockey, foosball, table tennis or lengths in the lap pool. The in-room facilities are no less impressive at this high-rise Bayfront hotel, with suites boasting whirlpool tubs, glass rainfall showers and television screens inlaid into bathroom mirrors. The Boulud Sud restaurant – the brainchild of French chef Daniel Boulud – serves Mediterranean dishes such as crispy artichokes with Spanish aioli, octopus with almond and orange flakes, and short ribs with swiss chard and parmesan cheese.
If you’re looking for all the glamour of Downtown without the hefty price tag, then Atton Brickell Miami may be the perfect choice. This sleek, glass-fronted hotel is in the heart of Brickell’s up-and-coming Financial District, where you’ll find some of Downtown’s best shops, bars and restaurants. Many of its 275 rooms – elegantly decorated with geometric wall designs – look over the lush grounds of the Simpson Park nature preserve and the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay. Like any good Miami hotel, Atton Brickell also has a rooftop swimming pool and cocktail bar, both of which offer sweeping views of Downtown’s skyline and the Bay. The best part? With extremely reasonable room rates, the Atton gives you the biggest bang for your buck around these parts.
Ever taken a dip inside a 300-foot-long pool? At the W, guests can tackle a length of Miami’s longest rooftop infinity pool all while taking in one of the best Biscayne Bay views Downtown has to offer. Record-holding swimming pools and movie-worthy panoramas aside, this 50-story high-rise has a lot of style, too. With decor by LA designer Kelly Wearstler, suites come in a mint-green and silvery-grey palette and feature an unusual blend of Asian-inspired artwork, animal-print chairs and geometric-tiled flooring. Other highlights include a state-of-the-art spa (featuring a “floating library”) designed by Philippe Starck and the apple walnut waffles served daily for breakfast.
The amenities are deluxe at the SLS Brickell Hotel and Residence | Courtesy of SLS Brickell Hotel and Residence / Booking.com
Boasting four swimming pools, a rooftop spa and a restaurant by a James Beard Award-winning chef, the SLS Brickell Hotel and Residence stands out for its five-star amenities. But the real reason people come here is for the hotel’s playful design. Thought up by the creative dream team of Jorge M Pérez (from the Pérez Art Museum), Philippe Starck and interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg, SLS Brickell features guest rooms with candyfloss pink and chrome-white fittings and a bar with animal-print chairs and giant vintage map rugs. The pool areas are no less flamboyant in their design: expect brightly striped lounge chairs, a mix-match of colorful patterned tiling and original artwork by contemporary artists Fernando Botero and Fabián Burgos (including a 10-foot aluminum rubber duck). If you do get lucky enough to stay here, don’t miss chef José Andrés’s salt-baked red snapper and deconstructed key lime pie.
Following huge success in Beijing and Hong Kong, Swire Hotels – a Hong-Kong based luxury hotel brand – opened its first North American EAST hotel in Downtown Miami in 2016. And, thanks to its sleek East-meets-West design and smart positioning atop the $1 billion Brickell City Centre, it looks like this Asian-inspired luxury hotel is here to stay. Paying homage to its Asian roots, the decor is minimalist and ultra-elegant: natural stone, smooth brown marble and intricately carved wooden furniture feature prominently. The rooms – 89 of which are equipped with a full kitchen, walk-in closet and breakfast bar – boast views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline, as well as walk-in rain showers, wrap-around balconies and plush king-size beds. Head to the hotel’s Uruguayan restaurant, Quinto La Huella, for a flame-grilled rib eye with chimichurri. Or, take the elevator down to Brickell City Centre, where you’ll have your choice of some of Miami’s best restaurants, bars and boutique shops.