Champagne Taste: Miami's Luxe 5-Star Hotels

acqualina pool

The Pool at Acqualina


Hammam at Tierra Santa Healing House

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental Miami

faena lobby

Lobby at the Faena Hotel

Los Fuegos

Los Fuegos at Faena Hotel

mandarin spa

Spa at Mandarin Oriental

Pao at Faena

Pao by Paul Qui at Faena Hotel


The beautiful Setai

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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

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 their coveted Five-Star rating, and in 2019, 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 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 Faena District, spanning the surrounding blocks of 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 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, where guests can have their toes in the pristine white sand while taking frequent dips in the ocean. The hotels also boasts the Living Room, a lounge which feels like the set of an old Hollywood movie; Faena Theater, where shows range from a seductive cabaret to a jazz series; and South American-inspired Tierra Santa Healing House equipped with a coed wet room, herbal steam room, a 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 by Argentine super-star chef Francis Mallmann.

The Setai, Miami Beach

With its sophisticated service and zen-like atmosphere in the middle of bustling South Beach, this sleek hotel has earned consecutive Five-Star ratings since 2015. 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 The Spa by THÉMAÉ where posh spa suites boast their own bathroom and steam shower, and treatments are inspired by tea. Indulge at modern-Asian restaurant Jaya, known for its long-running Sunday jazz brunch, or snag a seat at The Ocean Grill where you’ll sip from a fresh coconut flown in from Thailand every day.

St. Regis Bal Harbour

Primely situated in swanky Bal Harbour, with the action of South Beach just 15 minutes away, this hotel offers ultimate beachfront luxury and impeccable service to fulfill your every whim. Forbes highlighted the hotel’s plush rooms with spacious terraces and oversized lounge chairs and its 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 Roche Bobois premium furnishings. Dining means a Greek affair at Atlantikos, or spend an elegant Sunday sipping bottomless rosé and Champagne while dining on extravagant brunch items like king crab legs and caviar at the hotel’s “Rosé Sundays” brunch. Retreat to Remède Spa for a romantic treatment in their couple’s room, which includes a luxury soaking tub for two; or pool hop between the lower level pool and the upper level pool that’s adults-only.

Acqualina Resort & Spa

This resort perched on the quiet beaches of Sunny Isles 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. As the only South Florida resort with nothing blocking those stunning Atlantic 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. And 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, one dedicated to adults and a separate family pool; enroll your restless children in the kids' club packed with activities; 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. When it comes to dining, choose from AQ Chop House by Il Mulino, a modern steakhouse with Italian flavors, or the full sushi and raw bar from Hiro’s Yakko-San.

Mandarin Oriental Miami

Tucked away on tranquil Brickell Key, just a quick bridge away from bustling Brickell/Downtown, this glitzy oasis is 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 to push for drink or food service at your lounge chair.) 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 one of the most indulgent facials, the 90-minute Glacial White Caviar Facial Ritual.

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

More About Miami Hotels


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