If you live in a place where it snows in the winter, then you know just how brutal a winter can get. It’s all fun in games in late October and November, when the leaves begin to change colors and you need a light jacket if you’re planning to be outside for longer than a few minutes. You might even find yourself getting a little sad as Christmas inches closer and there’s no signs that snowflakes will be falling. But listen closely – there will come a time in early February, after there’s been 17″ of snow and icicles have formed on your eyelashes as you run to the subway, where you will curse the day you ever complained about it not being cold enough. That day, my friends, will come. Believe me.
That’s why I’m eternally grateful that I’m only a three hour flight away from the ever-beautiful, always hot weathered Miami. The minute you step outside of the airport, you can feel the difference in vibes. Especially coming from NYC where everything is go-go-go and you literally want to murder someone after the 3rd announcement of “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors Please” (seriously, GTFO lady with the massive tote bag). I had the opportunity to take a much-needed 5 day getaway to the City of the Sun (is that a thing?) the first Friday in February, and it was just what I needed!
The Hall South Beach Hotel
My boyfriend and I flew down together and checked in to The Hall South Beach hotel. The experience went beyond my expectations from the beginning, starting with the concierge that checked us in. He was personable, friendly, and extremely helpful. He helped us change rooms so that we could check in early (we arrived around 9am and check-in isn’t until the afternoon), and gave us tickets for a couple of free drinks. Once we checked into the room, we were greeted yet again with a pleasant surprise. The room was bright, clean and well-decorated, and the bathroom was stocked with tons of Jonathan Adler products. The hotel has a restaurant called Sunny’s, which we found to be perfect for grabbing breakfast outside by the pool- it’s worth noting that the menu has a healthy amount of options, but the food wasn’t as great as it could’ve been, and it was a bit pricey. It definitely could use a few more people on staff, as it seemed as though the handful of servers were extremely overwhelmed, but they were all really helpful and sweet. Though we spent most of our time outside of the hotel, I did notice that there were some other great perks that The Hall offered. First, their pool is great! It’s quite large for a smaller hotel, and it has little cabanas along the edges for guests to relax in when they want some time away from the sun. Also, the hotel is located across the street from the beach, but they have an area staked out on the beach designated for their guests. Overall review: This is a great new spot on Collins Ave that’s reasonably priced with a fantastic staff. If the only downside is that their food could use some improvement, there are wore problems to have!
The Delano Hotel
The Delano is a real Miami treat. While we were spending the first few nights over at The Hall, my mom and her friends were staying at the Delano, which was right on the beach and conveniently located just a 5 minute walk from us. We spent most of our time here (hey- if my mom is willing to pay for my over-priced Strawberry Dacqueri and umbrella chairs, who am I to say no?), and I seriously fell in LOVE. The rooms are all-white, spacious, and super chic- the only thing I have to say about that is that there was no dresser drawers in the rooms and I’m sorry but that’s the weirdest thing ever to not have at a hotel). The hotel’s entire first floor is breathtaking. The front area where the reception sits is open and bright, and the staff were quick to help us with anything we needed. As we moved through the hall towards the back, I became increasingly impressed. The hall was open and roomy, but quite dark. There was almost an exclusive feel to it, as there were thin white curtains hanging from the tall pillars lightly blowing from the wind and hiding the intimate seating that’s placed all along the sides.
As you walk through the hall and then out to the back, you see the outdoor restaurant. Because the hotel is right on the beach, it has a casual feel to it. The setup is well-designed, and the seating is quite comfortable – a huge plus in my book! The menu (for lunch, at least) isn’t as extensive as some other places, but they do a great job with what they serve. It’s expensive, yes, but if you’re already staying at the Delano, you’re probably not too concerned with counting your pennies. As you walk beyond the hotel, you’ll see a sign letting you know that access beyond that point is for hotel guests only. It’s a much-appreciated touch for the guests who are spending a lot to ensure a certain kind of vacation.
The pool itself was interesting – different from what you’ll typically see at most other hotels. Part of it only goes about 1″-6″ deep, and there’s a table with a set of chairs and a candelabra in the center – totally random and weird, but also kind of amazing if you’re looking for the perfect Insta photo- and let’s be honest, you are. The poolside service is what really stood out to me. The perimeter of the pool is lined with chairs and behind those chairs, there are cabanas available by reservation (and additional cost). I’m not sure what additional services are provided if you have a cabana -beyond the added bonus of privacy and shade- because sadly, I’m def. not bougie enough for that. I do know that the attentiveness of the staff for those of us peasants who were in the regular chairs was absolutely wonderful. I’m looking @ you, Jeremy the Bartender and Silver the Pool Guy. By day three, these guys were reading my mind when I went to order. Literally, I flagged Silver down and before I opened my mouth, he told me a Pina Colada was on its way and when I went to ask for chips + guac, he turned around and goes “and I’m assuming some chips + guac as well?” BTW it was 10am so that shouldn’t have been so predictable, but that’s a personal problem that I’m working on. Beyond the pool, the beach was gorgeous. But there’s not too much to write about there, because it’s the beach and it’s Miami, and I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. Overall review: This place is a must-stay if you’re willing to pay for it. Yes, it’s weird that the rooms don’t have dressers + yes, the drinks are very pricey. But the staff is INCREDIBLE and the views are unmatched. I’d stay here in again in a heartbeat! (As long as I’m going with my mom – ya girl doesn’t have that kind of champagne budget just yet.)
Barton G’s Restaurant
Ahhh, Barton G. I almost didn’t even want to write about this restaurant, because nothing will prepare you for the experience you have here. I really mean that – nothing will prepare you. No matter what you order here, what you’re served will go far beyond just a meal. My boyfriend, for instance, ordered a Below-The-Belt martini. It was served on a wooden board that had an actual miniature wrestling ring set up, and a massive boxing glove to the side. And that’s just the beginning! My pasta dish came out with a disco ball and strobe lights, with a speaker that was playing Stayin’ Alive a a pretty audible volume. And for dessert, the Dolla’ Dolla’ Bills Y’all is a MUST. gold-dusted chocolate, s’mores that are torched right in front of you, gold coins, etc. This place does not disappoint, and it’s a must-see when you go.
Ola is a Latin American restaurant that was so nice, we had dinner their twice! There’s virtually nothing on the menu that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve been known to be a picky eater, but I do try to give foods a chance, especially when I’m on vacation. That said, I tried their ceviche, a dish that I wasn’t too confident I’d like, and legit had to order seconds. It was THAT good. The staff on hand are really knowledgeable about the menu, and we found them to be quite helpful when deciding between dishes. I could go on and on about the food here, but you can’t go wrong with anything you order. I’d be hard-pressed to recommend one dish over another, and I’d jump at the chance to be able to go back here a third time.