Thursday, February 2, 2017

Travel Guide: Miami

One great thing about working in the design industry is that most firms and companies stay closed between Christmas and New Years, allowing everyone to take an extended vacation.  This year I took advantage of my time off after Christmas by visiting friends in Houston, spending New Years in Nashville, and finishing with a few days in Miami before heading home to New York.  My college bestie Grace met me in Miami on New Years Day, and we checked in to the Loews Hotel on South Beach. We had traveled to Miami together 7 years ago to see OU play in the Orange Bowl, but hadn't been back since.  It was so fun to rediscover the city and relax on the beach before heading back home to face reality.  To recap our experience and share my favorite spots with you, I've compiled a Miami travel guide below!

Where to Stay:

As I mentioned above, Grace and I stayed at the Loews Miami Beach on this trip.  The hotel has sentimental value to us, because we also stayed here when OU played Florida in the 2009 Orange Bowl football game.  However, when we arrived, we discovered the entire hotel had undergone a 50 million dollar renovation in 2016.  The new design is beautiful and sleek, and we were delighted to discover that the overall experience continues to be exceptional.  The staff at the Loews go completely above and beyond to make your stay comfortable and memorable.  Every morning we'd walk down to the beach and order a few froses to get the day started.  PS- if you stay here, DEFINITELY order the frose (frozen Elouan Rose wine, vodka watermelon puree peach schnapps) .  I'm still dreaming about how delicious it tasted.

The Raleigh Hotel

I originally discovered the Raleigh Hotel because of their unique pool design, which was named the "Most Beautiful Pool in America" by Life Magazine.  Designed in 1940 by famed architect L. Murray Dixon, it's a perfect example of the Art Deco beauty Miami is known for, situated right on the beach on Collins Avenue.  Although I've never stayed here, I'm dying to on my next Miami getaway.   I did stop in and see the hotel and pool though, and it did not disappoint:

{image via my iphone}

{image via my iphone}

1 Hotel South Beach

The 1 Hotel South Beach is the new hottest spot to stay in Miami.  The hotel is gorgeous;  thoughtfully designed using reclaimed materials and focused on total wellness- with 4 pools (including 1 adults-only pool on the rooftop) and 4 restaurants.  Each 650 square foot + room features custom hemp-blend mattresses, organic sheets, and expansive views of the ocean.  The airy lobby design is full of plush neutrals and natural elements, and connects guests to a few high-end shops.  My favorite part of the hotel, though, was the spa- more on that below! 

{image via my instagram}

For the Spa:

While in Miami, I treated myself to a deep-tissue massage at the Bamford Haybarn Spa, which is located inside the 1 Hotel South Beach. It was honestly the best massage of my life.  Before the treatment, my therapist let me choose an aromatherapy scent from 3 laid out in the room.  The design of the spa is also gorgeous, so I sat inside and read for a bit, and then spent time in the sauna.  Even if you don't stay at the 1 Hotel, I definitely recommend stopping by for a spa treatment.

For Dinner:


Located inside the Soho Beach House, Cecconi's is often called "the most beautiful restaurant in Miami."  Designed by Martin Brudnizki, the decor features an open patio oasis underneath Silver Buttonwood trees.  Lights hang above you from the trees, and the vibe is absolutely magical.  Not to mention, the Italian food is to die for.  I snapped this picture before we were seated for dinner: 

I ordered the agnolotti del plin with black truffles, and it's one of the best dishes I've ever eaten:

If Cecconi's isn't romantic enough for you, head to Casa Tua.   Grace and I ate in their garden on our second night, and the ambiance was dreamy- think tea candle lights, Spanish guitar music- the whole nine yards. I [again] ordered truffle pasta because you can NEVER have too much truffle pasta, and we both had a few glasses of prosecco.  All in all, a very lovely dinner and a spot I highly recommend.  

For Casual Drinks:

Broken Shaker Bar at the Freehand Hostel was one of my absolute favorite spots we visited.  Tucked behind the hostel, the laid-back bar features casual seating around the pool and delicious cocktails with seasonal, fresh ingredients.  

My Coral Castle cocktail (Polish Standard Vodka, Meyer Lemon Cordial, Kumquat Puree, Aperol, Citrus, and Prosecco) posing for a pic by the pool:

For Fun Nightlife:


I'd heard this was a cool spot to check out from several of my friends, so when we arrived I was a bit confused.  All we saw was an air-stream trailer serving tacos tucked inside a building, and then what appeared to be a port-a-potty door next to it.   Eventually we realized this was a speak-easy, and the door led to the nightclub portion of Bodega.  It was packed inside and a DJ was playing great music.  The walls were lined with plush sofas and the bar was bustling.  

Here's an image of the exterior of the club, where the taco truck serves up tortas and Mexican street food:

And here's an image of the speakeasy/club portion:

Mango's Tropical Cafe

Admittedly we did not make it to Mango's, but this was another locale everyone told me to check out, if only to see the Brazilian samba or live belly dancing performers.  Apparently it's pretty "ratchet," if that's a word you like to use, but one of those quintessential Miami experiences that you can't pass up (unless you're old and boring and want to go to bed by midnight, like me)!


Recently named one of the most instagrammable places in the United States, Wynnwood Walls showcases some of the most interesting and beautiful graffiti art murals in the world.  Wynnwood was once just a sketchy warehouse neighborhood in Miami, but now has roughly 70 art museums and 20 restaurants, thanks in large part to Tony Goldman of Goldman Properties.   In 2006, Tony bought up 20 buildings in the neighborhood and began to transform the area in to a cultural epicenter.  Goldman is also responsible for the transformation of Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood in the 70s and Miami Beach in the 80s.  Wynnwood Walls is an open-air museum in the heart of Wynnwood that is free to the public and perfect for photo backdrops.  If you're staying on South Beach, you'll need to rent a car or take an Uber, as Wynnwood is about a 20 minute drive.

{image via my instagram}

Zak the Baker in Wynnwood is across the street from the open air museum, and features a vibrantly painted exterior:

Versace's Mansion on Ocean Avenue- Casa Casuarina

Casa Casuarina is an ornate mansion situated on Ocean Avenue that was originally built in 1930.  The residence was designed to look like the colonial palace of Christopher Columbus's family, Alcazar de Colon.  It was also once owned by famed fashion designer Gianni Versace in the 90s, and was the setting of his 1997 murder- when a serial killer tragically shot him on his doorstep.  I recommend checking out the residence to see the lavish interiors and the ornate architecture as well as the pool and gardens  (pictured below), which were added on during a 33 million dollar renovation by Versace in 1992.  If you're brave enough, Casa Casuarina also has a few suites that you can book for a pretty penny.

Want more travel inspiration?  Check out my guide to the Upper East Side here in Manhattan, and my guide to Tulum, Mexico.

Happy Thursday!

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