Courtesy of W South Beach
Carla Torres
August 21, 2014

Famed comic Lenny Bruce believed that “Miami Beach is where neon goes to die,” but its pervasiveness in the Art Deco District—an adult playground to tourists and locals alike—is perpetual. Miami Beach is on everyone’s bucket list, and the constant demand has triggered a wave of hotels to sweep across the shores of South Beach. From swanky resorts to ultra-modern boutiques, there’s no shortage of prepossessing pastel roofs over the heads of those looking for a great escape. So how do you pick your perfect shade of coral out of the city’s profusion of tropical-hued hotels? Look for accommodations that fuse Miami Beach’s exuberant personality with a splash of chic glamour. The best take full advantage of the city’s most sought after zip codes, from pristine waterfront vistas to modern high rises that tower over the teeming thoroughfares. Here are my top picks for the hotels and resorts that shell out the amenities, stake their reputations on unflinchingly good service, and emphasize Miami’s electric hues and personality.

Fontainebleau

When The Fontainebleau was built circa 1954 it was the most luxurious hotel in Miami Beach. After a $1 billion-dollar renovation in 2008, The Fontainebleau’s legacy continues. Touches from the golden era remain—gold tier chandeliers and sprawling marble floors accented with black blow ties. With 1,504 guestrooms, a private high-end boutique, and exclusive island cabanas, this hotel is its own miniature metropolis.

The W South Beach

The stunning oceanfront W South Beach is a whimsical utopia. The swanky Wall Lounge throws one hell of a party for club-goers, while those looking to relax can order handcrafted cocktails at the bohemian Living Room Bar. Need something else? The W’s signature Whatever/Whenever team is on hand to fulfill any request it receives, whether it be for courtside tickets to the Heat or a new designer suit. 

The Setai

Once the famed Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel, The Setai inhabits the iconic Art Deco landmark and an adjacent 40-story glass residential tower for those who can afford uninterrupted luxury year round. Hotel guests can cool off or warm up in one of the three pools, each set at a different temperature, and enjoy complimentary yoga on the silky white sands of Miami Beach. 

Delano

Waterfalls of white chiffon make The Delano’s soaring lobby feel like the entry to hotel heaven, and the all-white theme carries over into the oceanfront guest rooms. At ground level, the Orchard is a green wonderland with amusements such as a life-size chessboard and a sprawling 7,000-square-foot pool. Head underground from Cloud 9 for a party at FDR, a subterranean haven for music-lovers. 

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