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Then and Now / Edition Hotels / Miami Hotel Mambo / Miami Beach Hotels / Hotel Construction / Hotel Openings / → All Tags
A tipster on the ground in Miami Beach snapped these shots for us a few weeks ago and all we can say is WHOA. Like, in a good way. WHOA.
Of course, there still is a lot of work to be done but it is looking rather crazysexycool already. For comparison, here's what the hotel looked like back in February 2012.
The Freehand Miami won over HotelChatter contributor JetSetCD last year with their "funky fresh" hostel rooms and amenities, all at a very reasonable rate ($21 a night for a shared bunk room when JetSetCD was there) And it looks like other folks have been equally impressed because the Freehand just expanded its property.
The hostel acquired the building next door and has opened it up as the "Guest House" with nine Private King Rooms, five King Suites (a new room type) and one private Bungalow which can sleep four.
The Guest House is accessible through the existing Freehand courtyard so the lobby, the Broken Shaker bar and the pool aren't very far away at all. It's also across from the building that will house the Freehand's restaurant, which still hasn't opened but we're hearing it should debut later this year.
Rooms in the Guest House start this weekend at $60 for a dorm room and $224 for a private king room.
[Top Photo: Freehand Miami; Gallery Photos: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]
Miami might be one of the few places where the hotels are just as hot as the visitors staying there. We wanted to get to know this hotel hotspot better, so we spent three days in Miami visiting some of South Beach’s hottest hotels, “speed dating” if you will, and found something to love about each one.
Best Hotel Staff: Loews Miami Beach Hotel
While Juan Pablo might have been a jerk to this season’s contestants of The Bachelor, we’re sure the ladies received 4-star treatment from the hotel staff at Loews on, and off, camera. The South Beach hotel was the setting for two episodes of The Bachelor this season, and it also served as the host hotel for Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
We stayed at Loews for SoBeWFF, and at every customer touch point, from valet, the doorpersons, to the front desk and housekeeping, we were greeted with a genuine smile, a happy-to-serve-you attitude and speedy service. Quite the accomplishment considering the influx of picky foodies and celebrity chefs staying at the hotel.
Miami Hotel Mambo / South Beach Wine and Food Festival / Food Festivals / Miami Beach Hotels / Hotel Events / → All Tags
While the rest of the country deals with snow, windchill and other miserable weather conditions Mother Nature throws their way, foodies from all over the world are migrating to Florida for the winter, to South Beach's Wine & Food Festival to soak up the sun and enjoy bites from their favorite Food Network chefs.
The SobeWFF (Thursday, Feb. 20 to Sunday, Feb. 23.) isn't your usual food festival. The upscale festival isn't on fair grounds, in a hotel pool area or parking lot. The Food Network-sponsored event immerses its attendess in a delicious feast of bacchnalian proportions for four days in and around some of the trendiest Miami hotels. Indeed, the host hotel is the Loews Miami Beach.
Did we mention that its main event, the Grand Tasting, takes place right on South Beach?! As in the sexiest beach in America. As in, you're rubbing elbows with Bobby Flay, Giada, [insert every celebrity chef name here] with your feet in the sand and the Atlantic Ocean right there.
Yeah, it's kind of amazing. And, if you haven't already chosen a hotel, there are still a few places where you and your food coma are welcome. Whether you have the appetite for a value meal or a champagne shower, we've rounded up a list of hotels equipped to cater to all travel tastes.
The best thing a hotel could do for its website is to make everything easy. Easy to book. Easy to look up hotel photos and information. Easy to view on a mobile device. The new website for South Beach’s Raleigh Hotelgets all these right.
The Miami hotel opened in 1942, and with the help of old Hollywood starlets like Esther Williams, it became one of the hotels that encapsulated the South Beach allure we know today. Fast foward 60 years later to 2012, when hip hotelier Sam Nazarian of sbe bought the historic hotel for $55 million (previously, Andre Balazs had managed The Raleigh.)
Since then, the Raleigh has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation. And, though the hotel and website have undergone some major changes, neither has lost any of its vintage glamour or charm.
Sweet Suites / Hilton Hotels / Miami Hotel Mambo / Miami Beach Hotels / The Kardashians / → All Tags
When Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian took Miami back in 2010 they holed themselves up in a top-floor suite at the all-suite Hilton Bentley South Beach hotel which had two bedrooms, a living and dining room, two and a half baths, a kitchen, and a 1,500-square-foot rooftop terrace with a private Jacuzzi. But like Khloe and Lamar's love story, that's all gone now.
The Hilton has revamped the suite to include a rooftop pool, three bathrooms, a stainless steel kitchen with a personal wine chiller and a living room with an all-encompassing Dolby surround sound system (hey-yo!) which can be controlled, along with the electric privacy shades and the room temp, via the in-suite iPad or from the guest's own iPhone. Not to mention, those sick drop-down flat-screens in the ceiling.
Alas, rates for the new penthouse suite will cost about the same as a Kardashian's handbag (not the ones they sell in Sears but you know, the ones they would actually be seen with)--from $2,500-$7,500 a night.
[Photo: Hilton Bentley/Facebook]
Art Basel happened last month and it's taken our resident (Culture) Club Kid Brandy Alxander, and Art Basel Virgin, a while to process all that she saw and did. (Also, we kinda forgot about it in the holiday mix.) Nevertheless, here are some useful observations and tips to keep in mind for next year.
Every year for a week in December, Miami transforms into a city full of galleries and open bars for Art Basel. Thousands of artists and art enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the city, home to the U.S. branch of Art Basel since 2002. The art show originated in Basel, Switzerland in 1970, and last May, Art Basel expanded to Hong Kong.
After I was publicly shamed for not knowing what Art Basel was (I just moved here a few months ago from Vegas), I decided to venture into South Beach and check out the Basel bacchanal. Here's what I learned:
What to do for New Year's Eve? That's the question that's on everyone's mind this week. After, "Omg, I was so drunk at the holiday office party. Do you think my coworkers noticed?" of course.
For those of you heading to Miami, the rates are looking very similar to New York, that is to say they really expensive. The Hilton Bentley/South Beach is going for $1,299 on December 31 on Expedia.com. There are other smaller hotels open for one night but they are averaging about $300 a night. Also like NYC, most hotels are requiring a two-night stay. We found the Gale South Beach on Collins for $459 a night. The Surfcomber across the street is $629 a night while the Shore Club is about $729. The Lord Balfour is just $449 but apparently, there's only two rooms left at this price.
As we said yesterday, availability may change as we get closer New Year's Eve and rates could go down depending. But they could also go up. If you're holding out for a good deal, then you will be better off booking through HotelTonight or another last-minute hotel deal site.
On the other hand, if you're ready to party and ready to part with some money, we've got 5 hotels with happening parties to consider. Happy New Year!
Best Room to Book / Miami Hotel Mambo / Miami Beach Hotels / South Beach Hotels / Yabu Pushelberg / → All Tags
Yes, once upon a time the Hotel Victor hosted a party with P. Diddy and penguins, in the middle of South Beach no less, but today the hotel has a decidedly upscale beach house vibe, rather than over-the-top party spot, all thanks to the new interiors from Yabu Pushelberg.
We got to peek at the $8 million worth of renovations in person the other week and right away we were impressed with the bright and airy lobby area which features communal tables topped with shiny new iMacs and plenty of other comfy lounge seating. (This is a vast improvement from the old days, aka 2006 when a bouncer stood watch at the door and the lobby had weird, dark and stormy vibe, complete with jelly fish sconces.)
At the front of the hotel, near the old entrance, (the new entrance is just off to the side of the existing one and leads guests right to the elevators) is a small but mighty bar that during the day, folds up and looks almost look like an ordinary cabinet. But at night, and during other lobby events, the cabinet unfolds to reveal a beautiful mirrored bar.
Peruse the photos below and keep reading for the Best Room to Book!
Just the other week, we were in Miami looking for a seriously last-minute hotel deal. We're talking 2pm the day of. Our usual go-to site for last-minute bookings, HotelTonight, didn't really have any good options. See, we like deals but we also like cool hotels so finding that perfect combination of affordable-ish and hip can sometimes be difficult.
So we turned to the giant search engine that is Expedia and found a room at Kimpton's Surfcomber Hotel on Collins Avenue for $239 a night. Not bad but we had to cross-check that with what the Surfcomber's own site was showing. And to our surprise, we stumbled upon Kimpton's Last Minute Deals.
Hotel Happenings / Hotel Art / Miami Beach Hotels / Hotel Concierges / Art Basel Hotels / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / → All Tags
Art Basel, one of the top art shows in all the world bringing international modern masters and emerging talent together, is now on in one of the hottest cool capitals in the world, Miami. And of course, the city's vibrant hotel scene is getting in on the party. Here's a shortlist of what's happening at which hotels this week. Stay tuned tomorrow when we round-up some last-minute hotel options:
The Gale Hotel believes in starting early with their "Brunch Before You Basel" special featuring a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar. The party can start as early as 10 a.m. by calling 786-975-2550 to make a reservation.
Irish-born, London-based street artist Fin DAC will be making a splash at the Lord Balfour Hotel during Baselpalooza (yep, that's ours). Early last week the artist started working on a mural of a modern-day geisha on the hotel's interior courtyard wall. Visitors can watch art being created and may even get spray painted if they stand too close.
Miami Beach's Hotel Astor is launching the pop-up lounge Drinking Room on December 3. It will be run by the Food Network winner of Chopped, Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli and, aside from such intriguing cocktails as the "Grow a Pear" and small plates including "Carbonara Croquetas," during Art Basel famed chef Janice Wong of Singapore will partner with Rapicavoli to create edible art installations that will hang on the walls. Oooh... gooey. If patrons get involved it could quickly turn into Performance Art. For a reservation, call 305-531-8081. '
If you're heading to Miami Beach sometime soon for Thanksgiving, Art Basel, Christmas, New Year's or just a general getaway, you should be aware of some major construction that's going on.
This is the scene along Collins Avenue, home to a boatload of hot hotels. A lane of Collins is ripped up from about 5th Street up to 15th Street. It ends just before The Sagamore, The Delano, SLS, Surfcomber and Catalina Hotels begin. Construction started last June and isn't expected to be finished until sometime next summer. That means hotels along this route--The James Royal Palm, The Loews, The Dream--and many others have front-row seats to the construction and its noisy players.
However, the good thing about the beachfront hotels (The James and The Palms) is that out back they have access to the beach path which you can take instead of walking along the street. Plus, you can get some exercise by renting a bike.
Meanwhile, the hotels along Ocean Drive are construction-free. Well, for the most part. Thanks to constant renovations and remodelings, Miami is never really construction-free.