You don’t have to be named Lopez, Estefan, or Kravitz to visit the best hotels and restaurants in Miami.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t like to be pampered. Bring on the 15-course tasting menus, the über-luxe spa treatments with cocoons of gold leaf, the vintage bourbons from a distiller’s private stash, the backstage passes, and so on. But let’s be realistic. When I’m traveling, I know how to make the dollar stretch―but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up 500-thread-count sheets and Bulgari toiletries. That’s why I love Miami, a city rife with indulgences.
This 69-room boutique hotel might not have all the flash of other luxury properties in South Beach, but its Art Deco aesthetic is playful and stylish (all white, with bright accents throughout). Best of all, it’s only steps from the water. Insider tip: Book a room on a lower level; the vibrant rooftop lounge stays open late on Friday and Saturday. 150 20th Street, Miami Beach; www.townhousehotel.com or (305) 534-3800.
Mandarin Oriental, Miami
The luxury Asian hotel group is famous for its glamorous style and attention to detail, and this outpost doesn’t disappoint. Spacious guest rooms in muted colors rely on understated elegance to impress: clean lines, bamboo hardwood floors, Spanish marble baths. Make sure to stop by the newly opened Shanghai Tang boutique in the lobby. Insider tip: Snag a cabana near the infinity-edge pool for killer downtown views. 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami; www. mandarinoriental.com or (305) 913- 8288.
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
Chef/owner Michael Schwartz is a star of the city’s Design District. His homey bistro strips pretension from the menu, and the food―locally sourced―comes first. Try dishes that range from succulent pork belly in a sweet-and-spicy broth, garnished with kimchi and crushed peanuts, to smoky wood-fired pizzas topped with roasted tomatoes and aged Gruyère. Insider tip: No reservations? Offer to sit at the food bar overlooking the kitchen for the best view in the house. 130 NE. 40th Street, Miami; www. michaelsgenuine.com or (305) 573-5550.
Bourbon Steak, Miami
In a land known for its seafood, James Beard-recognized chef Michael Mina serves beef. The dramatic setting complements the ambitious menu of artisanal comfort food and (really big) steaks: from duck fat fries and truffled macaroni and cheese to melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef tartare and dry-aged rib eyes. Insider tip: It’s named Bourbon for a reason. Brown water aficionados will find a great selection of hard-to-find single-barrel bourbons, such as the 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve. Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, 19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura; www.michaelmina.net or (786) 279-6600.
Talk about refined cuisine with anyone in Miami, and you’re bound to hear one name: Michelle Bernstein. At this local girl’s low-key neighborhood joint, all the simple pleasures of fresh, clean flavors―from escargot-style Turks and Caicos conch to fall-off-the-bone short ribs―come together in each bite. Insider tip: Most menu items are available in half portions, perfect for trying several dishes and still keeping the tab to a minimum. 6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; www.michysmiami.com or (305) 759-2001