What we call Downtown Miami is really a combination of three strictly non-residential neighborhoods -- the Design District to the north, Midtown in the (er) middle and the Financial District to the south.
The city's pet project, untold millions have converted the Design District into a shopping mecca for high-end furniture, art, jewelry and clothing. The Living Room and Moore Building -- where Design Miami is held each year -- are the district's most iconic structures. But since it's mostly stores and galleries, it's pretty dead most evenings.
Separated from the Design District by the road to the airport, Midtown is what its prettier sister up north looked like before her makeover. This former rail yard houses the Rubell Family Collection ( one of the world's greatest private collections), Miami collector Martin Z. Margulies' famed Margulies Collection, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. But like its fair sister up north, it's completely deserted at night.
Miami's financial center occupies downtown's southern tip. This is where business travelers are most likely to find themselves. With glittering skyscrapers reaching to the heavens, the skyline is especially impressive in the evenings when the towers are lit like the massive prisms. If you're a sports fan, you can catch a game at the American Airlines Arena or take a cultured turn at the Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts (a triple threat of opera, philharmonics and ballet).
If you're staying Downtown, it means two things. One, you're here for business (don't tell us you want a beachless vacation!); two, you're staying in the Financial District -- the only part of town where there are enough hotels to actually make a choice. This, by the way, is a good thing -- your hotel is guaranteed to be close to virtually every corporate office in Miami. And you'll find a room to suit pretty much every wallet, from the standard Holiday Inn Port of Miami, to the convention-friendly Hyatt Regency, to the luxuriously glossy Epic Hotel. If you want to stay away from the hubbub, consider a hotel on Brickell Key, a small island just off the mainland with manicured gardens and a jogging path that follows the water. Populated by towering condos, it's where you'll find some of the richest and most successful locals... and also the most expensive hotels. But even if you're staying at Brickell Key's posh Mandarin Oriental, remember -- there still ain't no beach.
Price alone doesn't cut it -- what we're looking for is iconic design, beautiful rooms, overindulgent service, and the best food in Miami. Here's a list of downtown hotels where you can live in the lap of luxury.
Just because it's an upscale hotel doesn't mean the service is great. Here's our list of the most attitude-free hotels in Downtown Miami, where you will be waited on hand and foot throughout your stay -- from check-in to checkout, from the beach to the pool, and from your room to the restaurant.
|Airports:||Miami Int'l (15-20 min., $12 taxi)|
|Ft. Lauderdale Int'l|
|Peak:||Jan. - Apr.|
|Off-Peak:||Jun. - Sep.|
|Hurricanes:||Jun. - Nov.|
|Visa:||No, for nationalities included in the Visa Waiver Program|
|Electricity:||120 V, 60 Hz|
|Tipping:||15-20% at restaurants|