Sunday, February 15, 2009

City guide: Miami

For V-day, me and Inaki went down to South Beach to live a little.

It was pretty awesome -- gorgeous weather, great food, kickin' drinks, and so in honor of the fact that this blog has basically become a travel log, here's a mini-guidebook to MIA:

Where to stay on a human budget:
  • Obviously, if money is no option, you should stay at the Delano. If beds and a bar on the beach and a pool that this picture truly cannot do justice are not enough for you, then go for the beautiful people: it's a favorite hidey-hole of movie stars and fashion designers.

  • Since money IS an object for most of us, the South Beach Marriott is reliable, and conveniently located next to Nikki Beach
  • The South Beach Group owns 8 hotels, all of which are insane party magnets (don't stay at any if you like sleep)
  • The W is opening a new branch (happy day!!) in May, supposedly. Get your Starwood points ready.
  • Hotel Nash. Water babies, rejoice! This boutique hotel/spa has 3 little pools: a freshwater one, a saltwater one, and a mineral water one. And Nash guests get swimming privileges at the nearby Carlton hotel.
Going Out: A way of life in Miami. Note that, unless it's a music-convention weekend, the city doesn't have a critical mass of revelers, so every "hot" club is only hot 1 night/week:
  • The Delano pool and orchard. Can't afford to stay? The Delano's bar is open to all. Drink a few of the world's best mojitos, lie on one of the beach beds and watch the stars...or the tourists taking pictures hugging their besties in the pool's shallow end, conveniently located near the bar.
  • Mynt Lounge. I don't think it's that well-designed or interesting a space, but apparently, this is where the real clubheads go out. Last time I was there, I would have seen a girl dancing on a table with a vodka bottle balanced on her foot and a couple having sex right in the entrance if I hadn't been passing out in a booth. I think this was on a Thursday. Judging from this last trip, Mynt's big night is Saturday. Take from that what you will.
  • Skybar. Laid-back and fabulous. The perfect place to go and enjoy a mojito if you've sunburned yourself that day.
  • Pearl. A chic, sexy space. Good place to kick off an evening.
Food and Drink:
  • The News Cafe. Versace used to go here for coffee and the paper in the mornings. Open 24 hours, with amazing coffee, great caipirinhas, and serviceable food.
  • Big Pink. Ignore the somewhat-suggestive name. I have to physically restrain myself from going here every time I'm in Miami. Open almost all the time (I least, I've never seen it closed, but I've heard rumors), Big Pink describes itself as serving "American comfort food with a gourmet twist." It's the grub you've seen at a thousand Starlights and Moonbeam Diners, as if it were cooked by a cordon bleu. Oh, and the portions? Massive. The perfect brunch, late night snack, lunch, dinner...hell, just go here.
  • Devito's. This restaurant, on Ocean Drive, has a large, breezy outdoor space with comfy armchairs. Italian waiters bring you huge portions of delicious food at reasonable prices, but, whatever you do, DO NOT ORDER THE SPECIALS WITHOUT ASKING THE PRICE. They will cheat you here ($35 for one stone crab claw? Nice try). Go, enjoy, but realize that you have been warned. Off-menu detours will present themselves at every turn in your meal here. Save your wallet and avoid them.

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