The Setai Miami Beach Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Striking but sober mood-lit design; impeccable service; huge, immaculate rooms; three pools, each a different temperature; and a prime beachside location make the Setai one of the best hotels in Miami. Its restaurants are more about design than food, but several of Miami's best restaurants are just half a block away.
The Tides South Beach Rating: 4.5 Pearls
A beautifully designed hotel with pomp-free service at all levels -- from housekeeping to porters to private designated assistants -- Tides South Beach brings rarely seen substance to the price tag. Though the small pool is less than breathtaking, the huge, immaculate rooms more than compensate. Plus, the beach is just across the street.
The Betsy – South Beach Rating: 4.0 Pearls
A drop-dead gorgeous hotel with plantation-style shuttered windows, colonial columns, and ceiling fans, The Betsy provides a rare dose of tranquility on Ocean Drive. The hotel is a study in tasteful luxury: rooms, albeit not very big, are comfortable, bright, and well-appointed; the popular BLT Steak restaurant is on-site; the pool, while unspectacular, is accompanied by potted orchids and is long enough for morning laps.
Angler's Miami South Beach, a Kimpton Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Separated from busy South Beach by lush gardens, this 46-room art deco hotel is a low-key oasis. There's a top-notch restaurant, free off-site gym passes, and a small but serene pool. For the price, other hotels offer more features or direct beach access, but the massive, Wallace Tutt-designed rooms are hard to beat.
Mondrian South Beach Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Debuting in 2009 and designed by Marcel Wanders, the off-the-beach Mondrian is as stylish as its party-centric South Beach siblings, the Delano and Shore Club, but lacks the hyped-up clubbers. Its impeccable service, kitchen-equipped rooms, and notable after-parties at the Sunset Lounge draw well-heeled singles but also families seeking more than the PG-13 blandness of most kid-friendly hotels.
Hotel Victor Rating: 4.0 Pearls
With eccentric furniture, a jellyfish aquarium and a coed, clothing-optional hammam, the Victor packs sexy glamour into a small Ocean Drive boutique (just across from the beach). Though the pool and rooms are small, the Victor compensates with an excellent spa and a restaurant that even locals frequent.
Delano Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Delano's 195 all-white rooms don't come cheap, but you're paying for surreal, Philippe Starck style and all-night parties at the "water salon." To some, its hip factor has been bested by the Gansevoort South, the Shore Club, and the Mondrian, but their style doesn't compare, and good times are still to be had.
Pelican Hotel-Miami Beach Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Diesel jeans joined the hotel game about a decade ago with the Pelican boutique. The 32 unique rooms -- like the stripey Executive Zebra or the trippy Psychedelic(ate) Girl -- are fun, though worn. There's no pool, no on-site gym, nor is there even much of a lobby. But the hotel's location -- right across from the beach -- is ideal, especially for the price.