Located on posh stretch of Collins Avenue, with direct beach access
Enormous rooms (average 600 square feet)
Handmade Duxiana king-sized beds, flat-screen TVs, and minibars in all rooms
Multiple restaurants and a vast wine cellar
Luxury spa and state-of-the-art fitness center
Free yoga on the beach
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Restaurants are very expensive
Paradise doesn't come cheap. Striking but sober mood-lit design, impeccable service, three pools (each a different temperature), and a prime beachside location make the Setai one of the best hotels in Miami. The 133 rooms are huge and immaculate, with handmade Duxiana king-sized beds, espresso machines, rainfall showers, bathrobes and slippers, stocked minibars, and free Wi-Fi in all. Food and drink offerings range from the modern Asian restaurant Jaya to the poolside Ocean Grill, plus several of Miami's best restaurants are just half a block away. For even bigger rooms and a more kid-friendly vibe, consider 1 Hotel South Beach.
Ultra-sleek style and an attentive, discreet service ethic
Though undeniably gorgeous and filled with thoughtful details, though the Setai’s somber decor and understated exterior feel more super-luxe urban high-rise than beachfront resort. Opened in 2005 on the site of the 1930s Art Deco Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel, the Setai says it strives for an "Art Deco fusion" design concept; lead designer Jean-Michel Gathy used antique gray bricks imported from Shanghai (indeed another capital of Art Deco architecture), Burmese teak latticework handmade by Chinese craftsmen, and a bronze Balinese fireplace to achieve this effect in the hotel's two lobbies (one for the original Art Deco hotel building, and one for its construction, a 40-story residential tower).
But the hotel arguably missed the mark in terms of embracing local color. In fact, the Setai looks more like an anonymous office building than an Art Deco landmark. The original white and cream building has no noticeable signage, and without the ring of luxury cars parked in front, you probably wouldn't recognize it as a hotel. The Setai attracts a well-heeled international clientele, including families, singles, and stylish business travelers. Celebrity sightings at the Setai, where the enormous rooms easily accommodate a posse, are really too numerous to mention.
In northern South Beach, where the new scene makers dwell
The Setai has an uber-convenient location directly on posh Collins Avenue and with direct access to public South Beach. There, expect a different group of matching umbrellas every 100 feet or so, as the neighborhood is loaded with hotels, like the Raleigh, the Delano, and the equally trendy, slightly louder Shore Club. Ritzy restaurants and shops are located within half a block, and the hotel is about a 25-minute drive from Miami International Airport.
Rooms may lack SoBe flavor and direct ocean views -- but they're gorgeous, gigantic, and filled with luxe amenities
The Setai's 133 luxurious suites are enormous and richly decorated. Dark teak floors, built-in couches with ash-colored micro-fiber cushions, and heavy Oriental rugs are high-end, but decor is uncommonly dark for the area's usual beach-y vibe. The dark, heavy mood continues in the sexy bathrooms, where soaking tubs are made of black granite and enormous and strangely austere rain showers feature floor-to-ceiling black tiles.
Rooms start at an astounding 600 square feet, and the suites in the residential tower range from 900 to 3,500 square feet. All feature flat-screen TVs, handmade Duxiana king-sized beds from Sweden, espresso machines, and fully stocked minibars. Bathrobes and slippers and bath products from Acqua di Parma are provided. Wi-Fi is free in the rooms and throughout the property.
Three splendid pools, a world-class spa, and beautiful restaurants
On the features front, Setai guests want for nothing. The hotel's grounds are possibly the most beautiful in South Beach, with three beachfront pools -- yes, three. How else would you be able to swim first in a pool of 75 degrees, then 85 degrees, and finally 90 degrees? The hotel's spacious fitness center includes a Pilates studio and personal training sessions and a luxe Asian-themed spa offers facials, massages, nail and waxing services, and treatments for couples. A Lenny Kravitz-designed recording studio, where everyone from Jay-Z to Cat Power has laid down tracks, is located in the Art Deco building. The hotel regularly plays host to major fashion and entertainment events.
The hotel's main dining spaces exhibit some of the best restaurant design in Miami; the food impressive and often excellent, but also overpriced. Ditto for the informal dining area behind the pools. The Asian-influenced Jaya serves daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, as well as Sunday brunch. The Bar and The Courtyard offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as cocktails, and the Setai's wine cellar features a 40-plus-page wine list. The Mediterranean-inspired Ocean Grill serves breakfast and light lunch fare.
The Setai’s clean, quiet patch of beach is as posh and exclusive as it gets in South Beach
Considering how crowded South Beach can get, the Setai's amazing beach is almost shockingly empty. Luxurious teak lounge chairs (covered in plush, slate-colored cushions) are spread a comfortable distance apart. The army of attentive staffers will keep you refreshed with misty spritzes of Evian water, and is of course happy to deliver cocktails and snacks so that you never have to lift a finger except to venture into the surf. Other service items include towels and magazines. While the staff works to keep non-guests off the beach (and out of the fancy chairs), there's little it can do to shut out noise from nearby hotel beaches, particularly the livelier Shore Club next door.