The Delano—the hotel that arguably brought South Beach back to life in the mid-‘90s with its celeb-splashed lobby scene—is reaching a milestone in October.
It’s finally turning 21.
In its early days, stars like Madonna, J. Lo, Diddy and Lenny Kravitz along with scores of models propelled the hotel into the legendary stratosphere. It still draws a crowd of bold-faced names whenever Art Basel rolls into town and it’s been a favored hideaway of Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and Jamie Foxx.
The sumptuous space is inspired by a surreal trip down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland as dreamed up by hotelier Ian Schrager and French designer Philippe Starck—both proven enduring heavyweights in the industry (see The Miami Beach EDITION and SLS South Beach below).
While there are certainly newer and buzzier hotels on Collins Avenue today, there’s something classically South Beach about the Delano that simply doesn’t go out of style. It’s still worthy of at least one $18 cocktail at Rose Bar to take in the scene and ogle at (or sit on) museum-quality furniture by the likes of Gaudi and Dalí. In fact, it reappeared this year on our Top 10 Hip Hotels list.
Delano represents the quintessential South Beach lobby experience, so in honor of its 21st birthday, we’ve rounded up the best hotel lobbies to follow that have effectively created their own world-within-a-world—and we’ve pegged them to every type of traveler.
1. 1 Hotel South Beach
Best For: Business Travelers
With its eco-chic mission and aesthetic, 1 Hotel, which stretches an entire city block, takes full advantage of the spaciousness of its lobby. Awash in natural wood with a frescoed “living wall” and artful terrariums by Plant the Future, there are ample cushy vignettes for lounging, featuring low-slung ghost sofas by Paola Navone lined with pillows and faux fur throws. With hassle-free WiFi (i.e., no password needed) and a healthy grab-and-go café just off the lobby, it’s the perfect place to sit down and open your laptop for a few hours inside the Zen-like atmosphere. There’s also a farmstand table stocked with an ever-changing selection of complimentary fresh fruit and pressed juice. By night, the space turns into a buzzy cocktail lounge with occasional live music and Tom on Collins cocktail waitresses circulating through the scene.
2341 Collins Ave.; 305-604-1000
2. Faena Miami Beach
Best For: Contemporary Art Buffs
Faena Miami Beach is nothing if not a feast for the eyes. With creative direction by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer, Catherine Martin, the hotel’s public spaces offer a strong point of view full of surprises with a flair for the dramatic. In fact, the lobby is not a lobby at all, but a marble cathedral. It’s lined with golden columns and eight “neo-Romantic” murals by Spanish artist Juan Gatti that illustrate life’s ideals in utopian scenes blending nature and industry. The long red carpet, punctuated with gilded benches, points towards the Atlantic Ocean through floor-to-ceiling windows, framing the hotel’s most notable piece of art on a perfect axis. It’s Damien Hirst’s Gone But Not Forgotten, the skeleton of a woolly mammoth dipped in 24-karat gold, resting casually inside a glass case by the pool.
3201 Collins Ave.; 305-534-8800
3. Gale South Beach
Best For: Foodies & Cocktail Hounds
Step inside the moody Art Deco lobby of the Gale with its dark hardwood floors and tufted leather banquettes, and you’ve basically walked inside the dining room of Dolce. The clubby Italian restaurant serves up some of South Beach’s best pizza and pasta. From the lemon ricotta cavatelli with spring vegetables and pesto to the broccoli rabe and Italian sausage white pizza, the menu is stacked with craveworthy dishes. For a pre- or post-dinner cocktail, head towards the rear of the lobby and down a short flight of stairs where you’ll find the Regent Cocktail Club, home to some of the most expertly mixed classic cocktails on the beach.
1690 Collins Ave.; 305-673-0199
4. The Standard
Best For: Yogi Hipsters
With spa and fitness programming that tows the line between New Age and nouveau riche, The Standard’s lobby is a languid haven for its local members. Whether it’s pre-yoga or post-bayfront lunch, catch Miami’s budding entrepreneurs and freelancers pow-wowing on the low-slung tufted sectional by the ping-pong table and stained glass window or tucked away in the back lounge by the bookshelf. And those people shuffling around the lobby in their hooded spa robe and slippers? Don’t mind them. They’re just taking a breather from the hammam to grab a juice and get some fresh air at Lido Bar by way of the outdoor labyrinth.
40 Island Ave.; 305-673-1717
5. Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Best For: History Buffs… or Party People
With its iconic bowtie tile floor and stairway to nowhere conceived by original designer Morris Lapidus, the Fontainebleau oozes Mid-Century glamour. You can almost see Elvis, Sinatra and the Rat Pack sauntering across the lobby as they did in the 1950s. Today, though, with a pair of show-stopping chandeliers by Ai Weiwei presiding over the scene, the lobby is swarmed with families and conference-goers by day and partygoers by night. Flanked by the sunken Bleau Bar glowing in neon, the notorious LIV nightclub and Michael Mina’s Stripsteak, there’s always plenty of reason to crisscross the lobby at the Fontainebleau.
4441 Collins Ave.; 305-535-3283
6. W South Beach
Best For: Celeb Sightings
W South Beach is a notorious celebrity magnet. (I’ve personally spotted the likes of Ice Cube, Derek Jeter, A. Rod, Lindsey Vonn, the entirety of the Swedish House Mafia and real housewife NeNe Leakes there through the years, so… ya know). With an impressive contemporary art collection on rotation, including work by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and George Condo, the Living Room lobby bar makes for a moody spot to sip on a menu of artisanal cocktails by San Francisco-based mixologist Scott Beattie. The vibe is sexy and high energy with ample area for lounging on tufted leather beds or Mongolian sheepskin chairs. When you’re ready to turn up, head outside to see if Wall still delivers on a wild night out.
2221 Collins Ave.; 305-938-3000
7. The Miami Beach EDITION
Best For: Schrager Devotees
Anyone wondering whether Schrager still has the Midas touch when it comes to hotels should look no further than The Miami Beach EDITION. In collaboration with Marriott International, the hotelier’s luxury lifestyle hotel is easily the hottest spot on the beach at the moment. With a spacious lobby covered in white marble punctuated by potted palms and glittering gold mosaic columns, it’s flanked by a pair of Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants, as well as the sumptuous Matador Bar and the subterranean delights of Basement, which boasts an ice skating rink, four-lane bowling alley and nightclub. There’s even a marble pool table in the lobby, a playful wink to the Delano. So, yeah, Schrager’s still got it.
2901 Collins Ave.; 786-257-4500
8. SLS South Beach
Best For: Starck Fans
SLS South Beach not only opened next door to the Delano in 2013, but it also tapped its designer Philippe Starck for the project. The SLS lobby is full of Starck’s trademark whimsical touches, from mounted bull heads with bright pink Lucha Libre-style masks in Rojo to an enormous seashell encrusted chandelier in The Bazaar by Jose Andres’ dining room. Head out towards the pool deck to Hyde Beach where you’ll find plenty of surprises, from the surf shack-themed bar to an oversized silver rubber ducky resting on the Spanish tile deck.
1701 Collins Ave.; 305-674-1701