©Kris Tamburello
January 29, 2016

The much-anticipated Faena hotel in Miami Beach is finally open—it’s a zip code unto itself, with a gigantic retail complex, cultural center, residences, and two of Miami’s hottest new restaurants. T+L checks in to see if it’s worth the hype.

The Concept

A highly-designed (and profoundly personal) luxury hotel, Faena is a collaboration between namesake hotelier Alan Faena, costume designer Catherine Martin, and her husband, film director Baz Luhrmann. The ambition is off the charts; this isn’t just a hotel, it’s an entire cultural complex that happens to have fabulously designed hotel rooms.

The Room

The spacious 169 rooms and suites start at 400 square feet—perhaps the first thing you’ll notice before you take in all the red velvet incorporated in the décor (even the hangers are wrapped in red velvet). The bathrooms have beautiful Travertine counter-tops and high-tech Toto toilets, and some have deep, wondrous bathtubs. Sure, this is over the top design in full color saturation mode, but it’s also incredibly luxurious.

The Scene

Faena is intended for a sophisticated, well-heeled international crowd, and at its best, the hotel has a kind of loopy glamour. The Library Lounge features Catherine Martin rugs, similar to rugs in Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. The Saxony Theatre, Faena’s nightclub revue, is a blend of old school Miami Beach and Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! But unlike so many other Miami venues, you’re not here to party as much as you’re here to eat. Faena is drawing the epicurean crowd with its Francis Mallman restaurant, Los Fuegos—the Argentine chef’s first in the United States. And Pao at The Dome, helmed by Austin hero Paul Qui, has a giant gold dome in the dining room that adds a touch of pure theater.  

The Service

Each floor of the hotel has its own 24-hour, around-the-clock butler, and guest requests are met with an attentive flair; the front desk staff is also unfailingly polite. Even the staff uniforms, some of which were designed by Ximena Caminos of Faena Art, play into the hotel’s distinctive retro-glam sensibility.

The Perks

Guests of Faena never have to leave (if they don’t want to). The hotel is the cornerstone of a four-block long district called—what else?—the Faena District. Included: a Foster + Partners-designed condominium and two upcoming Rem Koolhaas buildings, the Faena Forum (a cultural complex), and a retail center, Faena Bazaar.

What We Loved

The Living Room—a cocktail bar featuring a soundtrack of tango music, vintage Edith Piaf songs, and live singers doing numbers like Besame Mucho—is a blessed refuge from the usual throbbing house music on South Beach.

What We Wish Had Been Better

Security guards in dark suits and headsets are everywhere, which adds an oppressive note. And there are moments where the over-the-top feel goes from playful and fun to full on indulgent. For example, the “Cathedral,” or what most people would refer to as the lobby, features a coat of arms for Faena, complete with a reference to the owner’s personal sartorial trademark—a feathered fedora. The corporate brand image of a fedora and feather is everywhere, even on the throw pillow in every bedroom. Faena Hotel Miami Beach could have used less ego and a bit of aesthetic editing.  

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