Some moan about The EDITION’s location being too far from Lincoln Mall, but if I ever have to walk down that miserable strip of homogenised street again, it will be too soon. My god, there’s still a Balans there for goodness sake – has anyone eaten in a Balans since 1994? – along with all of the usual hawkers: H&M in what was once a glorious mid-century movie theatre (the refurb’s quite clever, but you don’t go to Miami to shop at H&M), probably an Emporio Armani, definitely a Sketchers – I mean, who? – and a Shake Shack with a queue down the street. Depressingly bleak. (With one exception being the incredibly-located Alchemist boutique, sat in a glass box on the fifth floor of a Herzog & de Meuron-designed multi-storey car park overlooking the city).
There’s an elegance, but there’s also fun. You’re in Miami, bitch
So, we decided to spend a full 24 hours in The EDITION: using every amenity and food and beverage outlet we could find, seeing just how many extras we could add onto our $642 room rate (a bargain at the time, but the prices for an ocean-view standard king, off-season, are sitting at about $359 per night, currently).
Ian Schrager – whose last Miami outpost was the Delano, which then, too, redefined the hotel scene in the city – has taken over the old Seville Hotel and employed the talents of Yabu Pushelberg to decorate the 300-odd rooms and communal areas, which include an ice skating rink, spa, bowling alley and a – now-mandatory-in-Miami – nightclub. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, French superchef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, oversees three “dining destinations” for the hotel – with a deft handling and a nod to the location. As well as the F&B offering, the pale colour scheme, splashes of gilt and tropical planting – at its best on the terrace of the Matador Room – evoke Miami. There’s an elegance, but there’s also fun. You’re in Miami, bitch.
We checked in early, pushing our luck. We’d driven from Key West and headed straight for the hotel. The lobby is, as you’d hope from a Schrager property, a real show-stopper. There’s a bespoke Le Labo fragrance wafting through the check-in area, and the staff are glorious. Design wise, there’s marble upon marble – including a rather fine pool table – tropical plants and a modern-meets-Sinatra vibe. All of the communal areas are on the money: drenched in light, on a vast scale and beautifully furnished with bespoke pieces. If you look closely, you’ll still spot some of the original Melvin Grossman details.
One pool is for families, one, thank god, is not
The rooms, as is often the case in this kind of beach resort hotel, are there for the sleeping and not much more. But they’re well sound-proofed – there’s not a peep from the busy hallway outside the room – the bed is comfy and big, the room is a decent size, we had a sliver of the Atlantic in our view. The electronic gadgetry was pleasingly straight-forward to use, the bathroom was large and, well, that’s a hotel room for you.
The hotel itself is sat on the beach, and its three acres include two pool areas. One pool is for families, one, thank god, is not. There’s a lovely, shaded, tropical ping pong area which we scared the kids away from for our sole use which doubles as an outdoor cinema in the evenings. The pool bar, with staff seemingly more interested in discussing the previous night’s conquests and human resources gossip than serving us straight away (although once we finally did attract their attention, by waving dollar bills, they were charming), was our go-to destination.
The food is great down at the pool-side bar (it’s from the Vongerichten kitchen). For our first lunch we had the ubiquitous kale salad (actually rather good, with a delicious yoghurt-y, tahini dressing which we now make regularly at home), plus a healthy take on a burger – way better than the sad and sorry Shake Shack burger we endured on our way through Miami the week before – and a couple of Tropicale beers, which are brewed exclusively for the hotel by the Miami Brewing Company. We drank a lot of beer during our stay: with notes of coconut and mango (bear with me), it was the perfect tipple for a hot day on Miami Beach. Designer Eric Chase Anderson’s illustrations for the bottle and pool bar branding are evocative of the location.
I’ve been to Miami countless times, using it usually as a hub destination to send me off to further climes with guaranteed sunshine on my layover. I rarely make it to the beach, so we decided to utilise the Miami Beach EDITION’s private stretch of white sand and grabbed ourselves a lounger and a couple of piña coladas. Again, the service, if you can grab the staff’s attention, is terrific. Once snapped into the zone, they’re attentive, warm, fun and chatty.
The highlight of our stay was dinner at the Matador Room. Hotel restaurants headed up by famous chefs can be fabulously dismal when the chef’s not in town (see Aman Venice), but Vongerichten has made sure that his right-hand man, executive chef and Florida native Jeremy Ford, has his hand firmly on the tiller when he’s off visiting his other 30-odd ventures.
The Matador Room’s focus is on Latin flavours – the term fusion terrifies me, and often disappoints, but Vongerichten nails the premise. Of a three-week trip, starting in New York and travelling down the east coast of the States – with planned stops based on the location of lauded restaurants – this was the best meal we ate. These are bold, strong dishes (in other words: tasty food, simply made, with great quality produce) using Mexican, Italian and Caribbean flavours, as well as a few reliable dishes from Vongerichten’s NYC joint, ABC Cocina. The stand-out dishes included arroz con pollo, elevated by the addition of crispy chicken skin; a creamed corn dish studded with jalapeños and oily chorizo which I’ve been striving to reproduce since I returned home; grouper tacos, given a kick with habanero chillies and made with super-fresh locally-landed fish; and peekytoe crab fritters with fresh sweetcorn which were salty and sweet and demanded to be picked up with the fingers.
After dinner we headed into the basement for more Tropicale beers and a few rounds of ten-pin bowling. We had the alleys to ourselves.
With a late evening flight ahead of us the next day, the concierge stored our bags, got us towels for the pool and kept our rapidly-increasing bill open for us, so we could have another lunch by the pool and squeeze in a last day of sunbathing before heading off to the inevitably grey skies of London. The staff continued to chirrup and schmooze right up until the bellboy insisted on re-packing our car as he was unimpressed with our appalling piling up of the suitcases. It might be a big brand hotel with a giant hotelier at the helm, but The Miami Beach EDITION nails detail and warmth – in a stunning setting – at every turn. C
The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140, USA
+1 786 257 4500; editionhotels.com