Most hotels have rooms with a view and the all-important pool, so how to choose the best one for a South Beach getaway? These top ten hotels may look similar at first glance, but a variety of perks and quirks helps each stand out from the pack.
Two additional hotels worthy of a spot on any “Best of South Beach” list are currently under construction: The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is scheduled to reopen in 2019, and the legendary Raleigh Hotel is also undergoing a full-scale revamp.
1 Hotel South Beach
The 1 Hotel has LEED certification, so you can feel good about your hedonistic stay.
Courtesy 1 Hotel South Beach
It’s one of the biggest hotels in Miami Beach — with airy, spacious rooms — but the 1 Hotel’s main claim to fame is its eco-friendly ethos, from the salvaged driftwood accents to the cold-pressed juices available in the lobby coffee shop.
The roominess extends to the amenities too. There are four pools — including one on the roof, 18 stories above the beach.
The rooftop’s bar and restaurant, Watr, is a popular sunset cocktails spot for locals, and more substantial sustenance can be found at clean-eats-centric Plnthouse and signature restaurant Habitat (helmed by one of Miami’s favorite chefs, Jose Mendin, who created the popular Pubbelly restaurants).
Naturally, yoga and meditation classes are on tap for guests, along with other feel-good community-focused activities.
SLS South Beach
Picture the quintessential Miami pool party: that’s what you’ll find at Hyde Beach, the poolside day/night, indoor/outdoor club at the SLS South Beach.
For guests seeking a slower pace, there’s a second pool and the breezy patio that’s part of The Bazaar by José Andrés — whose menu of Spanish-influenced Latin flavors is reason alone to visit SLS, if not check in.
The hotel’s other restaurant, Katsuya, also brings the flavor, with a focus on high-quality sushi and sake, and a sleek private dining room, the Dragon Lounge, for private dining.
Rooms here are small but stylish, designed by Philippe Starck in shades of white and dusty pink, with illustrated walls inspired by French aristocracy. A more bohemian style can be found in the Villa and Presidential Penthouse, both curated by rock star-slash-interior designer Lenny Kravitz.
The Setai Miami Beach
Jaya, the Setai’s signature restaurant, is famous for its striking courtyard and sprawling Sunday Jazz Brunch.
A haven of sophistication, The Setai is upscale and understated. It has the hushed ambiance of a truly high-end hotel and a chic, minimalist, Asian-inspired design that feels refreshing in the heart of showy South Beach.
The Asian influence extends to the suites in the hotel’s historic Art Deco building, while those in the soaring beachfront tower are more modern and spacious, with the option of one to four bedrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows for jaw-dropping Atlantic Ocean views.
A small, peaceful spa overlooks the hotel’s triptych of infinity pools (each set at a different temperature), and beyond those is The Ocean Grill and its elevated deck.
W South Beach
One of the latest additions at the W is outdoor bar Irma’s (yes, named for the 2017 hurricane).
Courtesy W Hotels
When it opened in 2009, the W South Beach shook up the Miami Beach hotel scene, then dominated by boutique properties in historic buildings with “cozy” rooms.
A brand new building gave W the opportunity to create residential loft-style rooms, with staggered balconies to give everyone at least a partial view of the Atlantic Ocean.
A decade on, the hotel still feels fancier than many in its brand family, partly due to the owner’s personal collection of modern art, which rotates throughout the property’s public spaces.
The W is home to Mr. Chow, an outpost of NYC favorite The Dutch, Wall nightclub and a lively WET Pool Deck.
The Betsy South Beach
It sounds like an oxymoron, but The Betsy is a peaceful, elegant escape with a prime position on Ocean Drive.
The hotel now consists of two buildings, the original Colonial Wing and the Art Deco Wing (on Collins Avenue), connected by a passageway within a dramatic orb — a popular backdrop for Instagramming tourists who stroll down the alley that houses the hotel’s pizzeria.
The Betsy is artsy and proud of it, with regular poetry readings and live musical performances in the Lobby Bar.
Signature restaurant LT Steak & Seafood serves exactly that, but Chef Laurent Tourondel’s most in-demand dish may be his decadent take on the bread basket: delicate, buttery popovers that melt in your mouth.
Loews Miami Beach Hotel
One of the few hotels in South Beach that can truly describe itself as family-friendly, Loews Miami Beach underwent a full-scale renovation completed in 2017, bringing it in line, design-wise, with many of its more nightlife-oriented lifestyle hotel neighbors.
SOAK Cabanas, including new adult-only options, are serviced by a Bloody Mary cart, which can help to offset the kid-dominated vibe of the pool deck.
The new-look Kids Club also balances things out when mom and dad want a night out at Bar Collins or seafood restaurant, Lure Fishbar. The hotel has one of the most convenient locations on the beach — a short stroll to Lincoln Road’s restaurants and shops and just steps from the beach.
Loews also has an exhale Spa with yoga and barre classes; daily meditation classes are free for guests.
Delano South Beach
Philippe Starck’s original design lives on at The Delano, but has been refreshed by Banjo’s Tim Andreas.
Yes, the Delano, one of the original players of the boutique hotel craze, is still drawing devotees with its white-on-white rooms and clubby pool scene.
The playful backyard with oversized chess piece sculptures and a long, palm-lined pool is arguably the Delano’s biggest draw and South Beach’s best spot for people-watching.
The restaurants here have gone through numerous iterations, with Leynia, an Argentine grill, being the latest. Other options for bites and beverages include Umi Sushi and Sake Bar and the compact but beautiful Rose Bar.
For a break from the EDM beats by the pool, guests can escape to the hotel’s rooftop agua Spa, or linger in the Alice in Wonderland-style lobby.
Marriott Stanton South Beach
The Marriott Stanton’s beach at this end of South Beach is often quieter than farther north, and great for kids.
Jeff Herron Photography
If you’re a Marriott Rewards member, this may be one of the best places to redeem your points.
It’s one of the few hotels in the posh South of Fifth neighborhood of Miami Beach, close to South Pointe (a great sunset and cruise ship-watching vantage point) and numerous bars and restaurants beloved by the well-heeled locals.
The Stanton also has its own spots that surpass “hotel restaurant” expectations — the Michelin-starred concept Azabu Miami Beach, for excellent sushi and Japanese cuisine, and the more casual Lolo’s Surf Cantina for tacos, tostadas and tequila. Rooms have a fresh beachy feel and the real thing is just steps away.
There’s also a heated pool overlooking the ocean, and a spa.
COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach
As part of the wellness-oriented COMO Hotels brand, COMO Metropolitan offers a calm counterpoint to the fast pace of South Beach.
Intimate in scale, with just 74 rooms, the hotel honors its Art Deco past with decorative accents and preserved terrazzo floors.
Modern touches and a soothing neutral palette make for a chic escape that could pass for the Delano’s more mature, sedate cousin.
Likewise, the pool scene here takes things down a few notches than most of its South Beach neighbors. The best part of the hotel can be found on the eighth floor — the site of the COMO Shambala Urban Escape, a holistic spa and terrace with hydrotherapy pools overlooking the ocean.
The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
The Standard Hotels are known for their tongue-in-cheek sass, but the Miami outpost balances that hipster feel with a surprisingly laid-back vibe.
Rooms here feel like beach bungalows and the lush, maze-like garden provides soothing green nooks for meditative moments.
The Spa, with its Turkish hammam, sauna and baths, is a focal point — for both hotel guests and local members — but the large pool and the deck of The Lido Restaurant and Bayside Grill are worthy of just as much attention, thanks to a popular Happy Hour featuring frosé, spectacular sunsets and dolphin sightings.
The Standard, situated on Belle Isle, is just steps from the fitness-focused Sunset Harbour neighborhood, and hosts an impressive lineup of yoga classes and workshops from some of the best in the wellness biz.
Rebecca Wallwork is a freelance writer based in Miami Beach. She loves dogs, books and hotels and is the author of the 33 1/3 book “Hangin’ Tough” (Bloomsbury Academic).