Champagne Taste: Miami's 5-Star Hotels

acqualina pool

The Pool at Acqualina

Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club

Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental Miami

faena lobby

Lobby at the Faena Hotel

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort


The beautiful Setai

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By: Melina Martinez-Echeverria

If you have Champagne taste when vacationing, Miami offers the crème de la crème of places to stay. Every year, the Forbes Travel Guide releases a list of elite hotels that receive its coveted Five-Star rating. In 2021, five Miami hotels snagged a spot on the Forbes Travel Guide’s Five-Star list. (This is a real-deal rating system where a global team of inspectors remain anonymous and pay their own way, so they have the same experiences as a typical guest.) From flawless service to spectacular amenities and standout experiences, here’s a list of where you can check-in for a Five-Star experience.

Faena Mammoth
Discover the art at Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Opulence and over-the-top luxury reign supreme at Faena Hotel Miami Beach located in the burgeoning Mid-Beach neighborhood. The brainchild of Argentine developer and hotelier Alan Faena, and imaginative filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his Academy Award-winning designer wife Catherine Martin, this hotel offers Old Hollywood glamour with dashes of fantasy. It’s also smack in the middle of Faena’s arts and cultural mecca called the Faena District, spanning the surrounding blocks from 32nd to 36th streets. Forbes was immediately impressed upon entry, where guests sashay down the dramatic red carpet of “The Cathedral” past gold-leafed columns and vibrant floor-to-ceiling murals by famed Argentine painter Juan Gatti. That’s just a preview of what lies ahead: jaw-dropping art pieces like the enormous 24-karat-gold woolly mammoth skeleton by Damien Hirst, rooms and suites draped in dramatic reds and animal prints, and a palm-lined pool area and beach club, Faena Playa.

The hotels also boasts the Living Room, a lounge that feels like the set of an old Hollywood movie. It’s a cozy gathering space, featuring small plates, bespoke cocktails and a broad array of wines to enjoy over live evening entertainment; Faena Theater, where shows range from a seductive cabaret show to a jazz series; and South American-inspired Tierra Santa Healing House spa, equipped with a co-ed wet room, herbal steam room, waterfall therapy alcove and an expansive hammam. Dining is elevated thanks to the Asian-fusion restaurant Pao by Paul Qui and live-fire cooking at Los Fuegos. For a taste of the Yucatán in Miami, Gitano's offers signature tropical vibes, gipsy-disco sounds, refreshing cocktails and authentic Mexican flavors.

The Setai
Admire the Asian-inspired aesthetics of The Setai

The Setai

With its sophisticated service and Zen-like atmosphere in the middle of bustling South Beach, The Setai is a sleek hotel that has earned consecutive Five-Star ratings since 2014. Forbes gave the oceanside hotel high marks for its soothing colors and Far East aesthetics that are seamlessly weaved into its original Art Deco façade — and for its residential feel with elaborate rooms decked out with rainfall showers and Bose surround sound systems. The centerpiece of the hotel is the courtyard filled with towering pergolas and a serenity pond flanked by palm trees and dining tables where locals and guests mingle under the stars at night.

With three temperature-controlled pools, sun worshippers have a variety of spots to take a dip, or simply lounge on posh daybeds. They can also spend a day at Valmont for the Spa at The Setai, where posh spa suites boast their own bathroom and steam shower. Treatments are based in the tradition of Swiss medicine and the latest cellular cosmetic research findings to formulate the utmost anti-aging skin care products to make you feel and look years younger. Indulge at modern-Asian restaurant Jaya, known for its long-running Sunday jazz brunch, or snag a seat at The Ocean Grill where water views are visible in every direction and guests can enjoy the fresh breeze of the Atlantic Ocean.

St. Regis
Experience the iconic amenities at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami Beach

Perfectly situated in swanky Bal Harbour, with the action of South Beach just 15 minutes away, St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort offers the ultimate in beachfront luxury and impeccable service to fulfill your every whim. Forbes highlighted the hotel’s plush rooms with spacious terraces and oversized lounge chairs with breathtaking ocean views, thanks to the building’s zigzag configuration. In typical St. Regis style, service is always on point, with thoughtful touches like a welcome glass of bubbly to a plate of macarons and a handwritten note with turndown service. The 260-guestroom hotel is located across the street from the ritzy Bal Harbour Shops, but you’ll be tempted to spend all day in one of the opulent oceanfront day villas outfitted with premium plush furnishings.

Dining means a Greek affair at Atlantikos. This restaurant exudes a truly authentic Mediterranean ambience. Designed by the renowned Michael Wolk Design Associates, this indoor-outdoor restaurant features delectable meze plates such as grilled octopus made with fava from Santorini, and a roasted manouri cheese from Greneva with honey and pollen. Retreat to The Spa for a romantic treatment in the couples room, which includes a luxury soaking tub for two; or hop between the lower level pool and the upper level pool that’s for adults only.

Enjoy unobstructed ocean views at Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach

Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach

Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach, perched on quiet Sunny Isles Beach, received top billing from Forbes for its top-notch service — a smiling staff who always remembers guests’ names — and all of its many amenities that make for a perfect getaway for families or couples looking for romance. With nothing blocking those stunning Atlantic Ocean views, guests flock to the resort’s St. Tropez-style living room on the grassy dunes dotted with bright red umbrellas and lounge chairs. Guestrooms feel like Mediterranean villas with a full sitting room complemented by a roomy bathroom. If you really wish to indulge, spring for one of the new three-bedroom suites that come with a slick Rolls Royce for a day.

Bounce between three oceanfront pools, enroll your restless children in the kids' club or book a decadent massage at Acqualina Spa by ESPA (also with a Forbes Five-Star rating) where you can also upgrade to a stylish day in The Royal Spa Suite fitted with Fendi furniture. Take delight in Acqua Experiences, a collection of highly curated lifestyle offerings available at the resort and around Miami with options for families, couples and solo travelers. Experiences include painting by the ocean and etiquette classes for kids. When it comes to dining, choose from Il Mulino New YorkAQ by Il Mulino, Costa Grill or the full sushi and raw bar from Hiro’s Yakko-San.

Mandarin Oriental
Take in glitzy city views at Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Tucked away on tranquil Brickell Key, just a quick bridge away from bustling Brickell/Downtown Miami, Mandarin Oriental, Miami is a glitzy oasis, loved by Forbes for its easy access to everything Miami has to offer. The shining star of the lavish hotel is the sprawling private beach, a 20,000-square-foot stretch of white sand overlooking Biscayne Bay sprinkled with day beds, lounge chairs, an infinity-edge swimming pool and a pool bar. (Tip: There’s a convenient button on your lounge chair to push for drink or food service.) Guests are treated to grand rooms with stunning views of the Miami skyline and Biscayne Bay, and Forbes loved the oversized tubs that “are perfect for soaking after a day in the sun.”

Share a Peruvian feast at Lar Mar by Gaston Acurio, then sip sophisticated cocktails at the chic MO Bar + Lounge. Escape to the tranquility of their three-story Spa, where luxury is taken to another level and guests can enjoy the 90-minute 24K Gold Facial Ritual, which invigorates the skin with unique ingredients to boost collagen production, plus the restorative powers of 24K gold leaf. This sensory experience revives the skin and gives a youthful glow.

Le Sireneuse
Stay at the historic Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club

Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club

Exquisitely calm while teeming with history, the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club is a revived gem in the neighborhood of Surfside, just minutes from famed Bal Harbour shopping.  Once a private club that served Hollywood royalty like Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor (as well as Prohibition-era spirits), you will feel transformed and inspired.

This oceanfront oasis offers 77 inviting rooms and suites, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Miami cityscapes. The rooms are minimalistic, with accents of sleek marble, elegant gold and calm wood features—everything has its purpose, while inspiring a sense of peace and tranquility.

Dining at the Surf Club feels like you’ve been transported to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Enjoy the chic and elegant ambiance and Southern Italian cuisine at Le Sirenuse Miami for dinner and the more casual elegance of Mare by Le Sirenuse for lunch. The Surf Club is also home to the Surf Club Restaurant where world-renowned, Michelin-Starred Chef Thomas Keller honors the grandeur and spirit of a bygone era, through his continental cuisine and classic libations.

For some well-deserved pampering, the luxurious, world-class Four Seasons Surfside Spa provides six soothing treatment rooms, an ocean-facing lounge and a traditional hammam. With a wide range of treatments and relaxation experience offerings, aligning and unwinding will come easy.

Even the kids have been considered. They can hop in and out of the “Kids For All Seasons” club, where specially trained staff are waiting to entertain them—another great complimentary amenity to inspire your relaxation without worry.

No matter your style or budget, check out more great places to stay in Miami.

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