First impressions: Loews Miami Beach, which describes itself as a ‘South Beach icon’, is actually an amalgamation of two hotels, the art deco, 100-room St Moritz, which first opened in 1939, and a more modern beachfront tower, built in 1998. The whole property has recently undergone a $50 million renovation, the result of which is a hint of art deco glamour combined with cool sophistication.
Guests enter via a large, circular lobby with lifts and escalators in the middle and the reception desk, concierge services, lounge, bar and restaurants and a shop around the edge.
As you’d expect at such a large hotel, the lobby is busy 24/7, but check-in was quick and efficient and there seem to be enough lifts to cope with the number of guests.
Location: This hotel has bagged the best spot in Miami Beach, it’s right on the sea-front, separated from the sand only by a narrow boardwalk that runs all the way along South Beach. It’s on Collins Avenue, right at the end of Ocean Drive, so you’re only a short walk from the buzzing nightlife but far enough away not to be disturbed by the noise. Lincoln Drive and its many shops are just a few blocks away.
Bedrooms: Each of the 790 guest rooms has been refreshed and ours was bright, reasonably spacious and came with a small sofa, dressing table and flat screen TV. It had light wood floors, which I preferred to carpet, and the walls were adorned with interesting, colourful canvases that brought the Miami vibe inside. The table was fitted with USB charging facilities, so no need to faff about with phone chargers and adapters. The shower room was small but tasteful, spotless and well-lit.
Our room faced Ocean Drive, but when we stepped out onto the small balcony and turned 90 degrees, we also had a sea view.
Wining and dining: As you’d expect from such a large hotel, there is a choice of dining areas and my favourite was breakfast at Preston’s Market, which is a lovely way to start your day in Miami. It’s sleek, modern and has a covered outdoor dining area where you can have breakfast overlooking the pool and garden. A varied buffet offers tons of choice, including freshly cooked omelettes and pancakes, and there’s an extensive al a carte menu too. The restaurant is clearly very popular with locals as well as guests, and when busy the service is a little slow, but we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
If you just want to grab a quick snack or a coffee, there’s Miami Joe Coffee Co in the lounge, where you’ll also find the casual indoor-outdoor Bar Collins, which serves burgers, pizzas and other bar snacks for lunch and dinner.
Lure Fishbar is the hotel’s signature restaurant, housed in the separate St Moritz building, which looks unpromising from the outside but inside the vibe was that of a smart gentleman’s club in the Caribbean. The menu is loaded with seafood, including a sushi bar, and our waiter, who called himself ‘Dennis the Menace’ was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the menu, and attentive without being intrusive. My grilled octopus starter was delicious and my husband thought his main dish of daurade (sea bream) stuffed with lobster was one of the best he’d ever eaten. We ordered only one desert, Key Lime Pie (when in Rome eh?) but Dennis also brought us the Chocolate Fondant Cake with dark chocolate sorbet too ‘ just to try’. It was divine.
Facilities: There’s a large, butterfly-shaped pool, a deck area with plenty of sun-loungers, and a separate SOAK area with VIP cabanas boasting daybeds and rooftop sundecks for those who want some privacy. From the pool area you can access the beach, where the hotel has a designated area with lots more sun-loungers, a children’s play area and waiter service for hotel guests.
In addition to providing a range of treatments, the Loews’ exhale Spa offers free meditation classes every morning at 9am on the rooftop Zen terrace.
The shop in the lobby sells useful beach items and souvenirs, and there’s a Europcar rental outlet onsite, perfect for hiring a must-have Mustang convertible for cruising Ocean Drive!
Family-friendly: Kayaks, paddle board and boogie boards are available at the beach, where you’ll also find buckets and spades for kiddies. There are also banana boat rides from 10 to 11 every morning. Family facilities include a kids’ club for children aged four to 12. Each of the restaurants has kids’ menus and room service offers milk and cookies in the afternoon.
Highs: The location right on South Beach is second to none; the Lure Fishbar is pricey but worth it for a treat and Preston Market is a great place to start the day and Bar Collins is buzzing in the evening.
Lows: As this is one of the larger hotels in Miami, it is quite busy and if it weren’t for the many guests wandering around in skimpy beach wear it might feel more like a business than a leisure hotel, especially in the lobby and dining areas.
Verdict: If your choice of hotel is all about location, location, location, then this is the place to stay in Miami Beach.
Rooms start at $370.50 a night including taxes and the daily resort amenity fee.