Epic Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Downtown, Miami, Florida

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • 3 large pools on a sun-filled 16th-floor terrace
  • Great gym and spa
  • Excellent Italian restaurant and swank outdoor lounge
  • Internet-equipped desktop computers in every room
  • Enthusiastic and thoughtful service
  • 15-minute walk from the Bayside Marketplace shops and restaurants

Cons

  • No off-site stores or restaurants in the immediate vicinity
  • 20-minute, $25 cab ride to South Beach

Bottom Line

Opened in 2009 by the Kimpton hotel group, this is a relaxed, luxurious alternative to humdrum Downtown business hotels like the Hyatt or Intercontinental. The hotel's 411-room, 30-floor glass tower sports a broad terrace on the 16th floor, three pools, and the excellent Italian restaurant Area 31. It literally overshadows neighboring hotels.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A ritzy new alternative that has quickly attracted an impressive see-and-be-seen contingent.

Excellent view of Biscayne Bay
Excellent view of Biscayne Bay

A member of the Kimpton hotel group, the Epic opened in early 2009, about the same time as the Mondrian hotel across the bay in South Beach. Built in a soaring glass tower in the heart of Downtown Miami, it literally casts a shadow over the neighboring Hyatt Regency, dominating the waterfront with an excellent view of Biscayne Bay and Brickell Key. Or, as one woman I spoke to put it, "Here I can actually feel like I'm on vacation while my boyfriend's at work."

From the time it opened, the hotel has been buzzing. During my visit, there was a photo shoot in the lobby, a model working a ball gown by the pool, and an excited mix of locals and visitors at Area 31, the hotel's Italian restaurant. Still, what is most impressive about the hotel is its consistently polite and thoughtful service.

 Service

Employees are visibly proud of the hotel -- as reliable an indicator of quality as any.

Porters outside the lobby
Porters outside the lobby

The minute my car arrived, a porter was ready to gather my bags, and the manager personally checked me in. Throughout my visit, the staff happily identified me by name whenever I called, be it for an extra batch of toiletries (delivered within five minutes) or advice on the best running path. (They helped me plot a route!) Yes, it's only a matter of caller ID, but this simple gesture is often missing at competing hotels like the Hyatt Regency or the Intercontinental.

 Location

Downtown convenience, with a great view of South Beach and other surrounding neighborhoods.

With its crystal spires along the waterfront, Downtown Miami looks like the planet Krypton. By day this part of the city is bustling with business, though you have to walk several blocks to find stores or restaurants that aren't affiliated with some colossal hotel or office building. Then again, if you're here for work, you're probably headed to a meeting in one of these glass-and-mortar confections anyway. At night the skyscrapers light up with a tropical range of pinks, yellows, blues, and greens. But for all the shine, there's very little life on the streets. If you're going anywhere, you'll have to drive.

Still, if you have a car -- or flag down a cab -- you'll quickly realize that the neighborhood makes up for in convenience what it lacks in character. The Epic is in the heart of Downtown, but also on its very tip. Right on the water, the hotel is a five-minute drive north of classy Brickell Key and bohemian Coconut Grove. It's directly adjacent to the more residential Coral Gables and 20 minutes (at the most) from SoBe and the beach (though parking here can be a nightmare). These neighborhoods can all be surveyed from the Epic's 16th-floor terrace, as can the manatees in the channel below.

 Rooms

Pretty hooked up, with gadgets galore, comfy beds, a huge bathroom, and an even bigger closet.

Desktop computer is the City View Premier Room
Desktop computer is the City View Premier Room

Guest rooms and suites start on the 18th floor and go all the way up to the 30th. This means every room is guaranteed to have a breathtaking view of either the waters of Biscayne Bay or the looming Downtown towers. There are several room types, from the 475-square-foot City View Premier Room (with two double beds or one king-size) to the 700-square-foot Junior Suite (with pull-out sleeper sofas) to the 950-square-foot One Bedroom Suite. The Epic even has 13 special rooms for tall guests (finally!), with longer beds and raised showerheads. Finally, the top two floors are reserved for Club Level Rooms. Guests here enjoy a private lounge, a separate concierge, and various other goodies.

All rooms include:

  • An iHome iPod dock
  • Large flat-screen TV
  • A desktop computer to browse the Internet as well as the hotel's various features.
  • Great beds -- pillow-top mattresses really do make all the difference!
  • Top-of-the-line Acqua di Parma toiletries
  • Well-stocked mini-bar
  • Tremendous closet space

The bathroom in the Premier rooms is separated from the main room by a sliding door with a translucent screen, much like the bathroom at the nearby Mandarin Oriental, except without a cut-out window looking into the bedroom (meaning there's a bit more privacy here). The bathroom itself is as large as the bedroom, if not larger, with more than enough space for a shower stall, a separate deep tub, two sinks, and a toilet.

 Features

Three relaxing pools on an amazing 16th-floor terrace, but there's no hot tub.

Lounge area on the 16th-floor terrace
Lounge area on the 16th-floor terrace

The 16th-floor terrace is the main center of activity. From here you can see all of Downtown, a glimpse of Brickell Key, and South Beach, across the waters of Biscayne Bay. It's also a great spot to watch manatees as they make the pilgrimage from the bay out to the ocean.

The terrace has three pools, each a different shape, but they're all about the same length and rather shallow. The largest is just about long enough to swim a decent lap in. But if you're looking for a workout, forget about it. With lounge chairs and private cabanas hooked up with flat-screen TVs, this is a place is meant for relaxation. Every guest is even offered a complimentary fruit plate. But the lack of a hot tub is a pretty major oversight.

As with the Four Seasons, near-constant sunlight makes the terrace warmer here than at most other Downtown hotels. But with the scaffolding of another building hulking in the corner, this may yet change.

The fitness center, which shares the 16th floor with the terrace, it isn't enormous (unlike Sports Club/LA at the Four Seasons), but it's still plenty large, with enough space to comfortably stretch beside the high-end cardio and weight-training machines. A row of treadmills and cross-trainers face floor-to ceiling windows that look out onto the terrace and allow plenty of light.

Exhale, a huge spa that opened in 2010, features 14 therapy rooms, a coed lounge, and a hammam detox chamber. Its extensive menu includes facials ($90-$380), body treatments ($90-$280), manicures, and waxing, as well as some less common services such as acupuncture, herbal cleanses, fertility consultations, and guided meditation sessions.

 Cleanliness

Very clean -- it even smells nice -- and seemingly built to last.

Hotel is sparkling clean
Hotel is sparkling clean

The hotel opened in 2009, and it still sparkles. I didn't find a spot of dirt anywhere. Every surface was polished and literally gleaming, and a delicious but subtle perfume wafted through the public areas -- not at all like the overpowering room freshener that gagged me at the Best Western. The furnishings are obviously new, but they seemed to be made out of quality wood and metal, unlike the resins and plastics at many other hotels that show wear almost immediately.

 Family

More resources than the stodgy location would indicate, including night-lights on request and "welcome gifts" for kids.

For a hotel in businessy Downtown, the Epic is surprisingly kid-friendly. Free cribs and playpens are available, and the restaurant has plenty of high chairs. Toilet latches, night-lights, and outlet covers can also be provided. Children get a special "welcome gift" (there's a stash of toys and coloring books in the back) and an animal-print robe, and the hotel can also refer you to a baby-sitting service.

 Food

Great Italian restaurant, with a sumptuous view and cuisine to match.

Dinner at Area 31 Restaurant
Dinner at Area 31 Restaurant
  • The 16th-floor fine dining Italian restaurant,Area 31, offers expertly cooked meats in unexpected combinations (much like slightly more expensive Azul restaurant, at the neighboring Mandarin Oriental hotel).
  • For guests in search of a swank bar and lounge scene, the hotel's River Lounge is a popular night spot among locals. Like Area 31, its floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami River, and an outdoor seating area lets guests sit right next to the water.

 Bottom Line

Opened in 2009 by the Kimpton hotel group, this is a relaxed, luxurious alternative to humdrum Downtown business hotels like the Hyatt or Intercontinental. The hotel's 411-room, 30-floor glass tower sports a broad terrace on the 16th floor, three pools, and the excellent Italian restaurant Area 31. It literally overshadows neighboring hotels.

Things You Should Know About Epic Hotel

Address

  • 270 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • EPIC Hotel - a Kimpton Hotel
  • Epic Hotel Kimpton

Room Types

  • Cityview Junior Suite
  • Cityview One Bedroom Suite
  • Cityview Premier Room
  • Club Level Cityview Junior Suite
  • Club Level Cityview Premier Room
  • Club Level Waterview One Bedroom Suite
  • Club Level Waterview Premier Room
  • Tall Room
  • Waterview Junior Suite
  • Waterview One Bedroom Suite
  • Waterview Premier Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 411
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Downtown, Miami
Address: 270 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131
(See Map)
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