Miami is a city of vibrant diversity: the opulence of soaring, marble-floored 5-diamond hotels are juxtaposed beside Spring Break-loving, neon-clad partiers slurping Ocean Drive's famous fishbowl margaritas.
But there is so much more to South Beach and beyond when it comes to exploring Florida's most southern city; famously fabulous for both its sizzling culture and residents (WAGS Miami, anyone?), Art Basel Miami Beach, which just wrapped up a few short days ago, is arguably one of the biggest -- if not for certain the most glamorous -- art fairs in the world.
A-list celebrities, the filthy rich and those that are so impossibly (and impeccably) dressed gather to gawk at the art on display and for sale, and probably check out fellow fair-goers in equal measure. Whether you're escaping the brutally bleak Canadian winter this holiday season, planning your spring break getaway come April or devising the best way to get on the list for next season's Art Basel, here's where to stay and play in the searingly sexy city.
Epitomizing the essence of all things art, The W Hotel South Beach is about as authentic as you can get while staying in South Beach. Not to be confused with Miami city proper, which is a short trip across the causeway, South Beach is situated on the golden, sandy shores of Miami Beach. This enormous property is the place to stay if you're keen on both luxury and design -- each and every room is perfectly situated for sprawling ocean views; the art decorating the lobby is currently (and impressively) a private collection of Andy Warhol originals; and the insanely gigantic and stunning swimming pool, appropriately named Wet, is so expansive and comfortably equipped with designer chaise lounges and cabanas, the sinking sun at day's end is hardly reason enough to leave.
Other highlights include The Grove, a lush, fragrant garden with ample seating and one of the most enjoyable places on earth to enjoy a cocktail; The Living Room bar, where said cocktails are crisp, sophisticated and the setting is one in which I aspire to recreate as my own living room one day; Swish & Swing, a state of the art tennis and basketball court which is situated on the rooftop; and the resort's private beach, Sand, the most perfect place to catch an afternoon snooze (or pretend to while enjoying some of the best people-watching views in the city... Is that a real Birkin I spotted as a beach bag?!).
For a more laid back yet still artistic and fantastically plush stay, head down to the other end of Miami Beach and book into the boutique Blanc Kara Hotel. Set slightly back from the incessant buzz, stepping into the lobby immediately instils the sense that you're in a well-kept and very chic home. Bookshelves are stocked with fabulous fashion books from the likes of Chanel and YSL and tons of adorable and lust worthy knick-knacks (think teapots, jewellery and candles); oversized couches beckon the moment you enter the lobby; the hallways evoke vintage glamour with their huge and beautiful black and white photography and 60s-esque floor-tiling, and the rooms are all king-sized suites complete with a kitchenette.
Evoking a Parisian-type ambience (feel free to stock your pantry with Bordeaux and baguette), the understated yet glamorous spaces throughout the Blanc Kara are airy and refined at once. The all-white theme conjures a feeling of freshness, which translates throughout the hotel and in-room. The suites all boast a large, comfortable sofa and bed, which are both all white, as is the gleaming and ultra-modern bathroom. The serene, breezy outdoor space also warmly welcomes you with a daybed so big it could fit a whole family, and offers ample sunshine and shade, which benefits both guests and the beautifully tropical plants and flowers decorating the space.
Back in the the middle of South Beach, just try and step into the Delano's lobby without complete astoundment, as it's a near impossible feat not to gasp in all its glory: soaring, billowing curtains look as tall as mountains and as luxurious as royalty would expect. Situated on the famed and extremely well-heeled Collins Avenue, the Delano is as dramatic as it is extraordinary. Host to some of the best parties in Miami, the hotel's beach club welcomes nightfall with an understated decadence that is sure to thrill and bring a delicious sense of ease in equal measure. The highly acclaimed and whimsically designed Alice in Wonderland garden -- complete with a life-size chess board, a sprawling, impeccably-kept emerald lawn and garden and scattered lighting that casts a perfect, magical ambience -- leads to the enormous pool, which is equipped with tables and chairs in which to sit and sip your cocktail while swishing your ankles around in the water.
The Rose Bar, which is tucked away in near-secrecy, masterfully mixes some of the city's most unique and palate-pleasing drinks. The exquisite design oozes glamour, and is the perfect place to post up to people watch as all the beautiful people stream into the Delano Beach Club. Dazzling, party-ready Jimmy Choo's and a designer bag aren't a prerequisite, but isn't it fun to look the part?
During Art Basel and beyond, the design district in Miami is home to the city's best designer shopping, events, and galleries; this is especially true for the supremely special and unique outdoor art haven, Wynwood Walls.
Iconic and notoriously fabulous Patricia Fields hosted her packed-out fashion show there during the art fair last week, and major glossy store Dior threw one of the biggest and most successful parties in their neighbouring flagship store. Miami is all about enjoying the high life, which is always achieved with flair, fun and bit of spicy flavour; the city's inspiring, intriguing and provocative inclinations are what keep me always coming back for more.
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