I was eagerly anticipating my stay at the SLS Hotel South Beach, excited to take on board the much touted glitz and glam and be dazzled. I was not disappointed. ‘Only in Miami’ as they say, and for this particular city and this particular hotel that oft-repeated and over-used expression actually holds true, for me at least.
The SLS South Beach could exist nowhere else. Created and designed for Miami and about Miami, it is situated right in the heart of the South Beach strip of hotels – on Collins Avenue – mere steps away from the infamous Lincoln Road where some of the best people watching in the world is on offer under this city’s sunny skies and upbeat vibrancy. Opened in 2012, the SLS is located in a historic art deco building, the sight of the former Ritz Plaza Hotel.
It is, without a doubt, one of the ‘in’ places to stay and be seen in town and while the hotel attracts a younger and more party-friendly crowd than some of the other hotels in the vicinity, with only 140 rooms it feels a lot more intimate than many of its competitive set. Think global concept here however as although it is indeed very South Beach, the hotel also favours other cultures, mainly through its cuisine, namely Latin America, the Med and Asia.
Originally built in 1939, the building has been extensively redesigned under the watchful eye of the grand master of ‘cool’, Philippe Starck. Rooms are a homage to Madame de Pompadour, mistress to Louis XV back in the 18th Century, with fun little twists like mirrors on the ceilings and hanging wall prints giving the rooms a “boudoir” effect.
For those looking for something extraordinary, the Villa Penthouse or Tower Penthouse, designed and created by musician and actor turned creative genius Lenny Kravitz, may be just the ticket. Kravitz has used his design capabilities to create a rather different style of décor for these top suites.
The public spaces here are stunning. As are the restaurants: Bazaar by chef José Andrés, and Katsuya by Master sushi chef, Katsuya Uechi as well as the incredible cocktail bar in the lobby which attracts the local Miami crowd as well as tourists. The beach club, Hyde Beach, is popular with the late night party crowd. This hotel never slows down so for those looking to immerse themselves in the Miami scene, this is definitely the place to be.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Continental breakfast served in the restaurant
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Food & Beverage credit
- US$100 credit to be used during your stay
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
Pulling up outside this hotel, I felt like I had ‘arrived’ in South Beach as my feet touched the red carpeted staircase leading up to the entrance. The welcome was friendly and I was shown to the reception where I was helped almost immediately by a staff member behind the desk, who was chatty, friendly and efficient. As I had arrived early, my room was not ready but as I was going out this was not a problem and by the time I came back a few hours later, my bags were waiting for me in my room.
The lobby is busy most of the time due to the open kitchen, the bar and several long bench-like wooden tables where people sit for breakfast, lunch or a casual dinner. It’s a unique space which is functional and interesting to look at. I rather liked the area but there is nowhere to really sit should you be so inclined or be waiting for someone.
Rooms and suites
Entering the room, I noticed it was decorated exceptionally well in tasteful hues.. At 265 ft² (24.5 m²) this is a fairly small room but it seems spacious due to the white décor, with touches of grey and pink in the soft furnishings. The king-size bed was large and very comfortable, with a full-length chaise longue dominating one full side of the room by the window which looks out to the ocean beyond. Above the bed is a mirror, on an angle so as to save your blushes, and the clever painted tapestry-style wall covering gives a clever impression of a French boudoir back in the day. The décor is very chic, maintaining a fresh, contemporary look. Well what else would you expect from Philippe Starck?
There is an open plan closet which also houses the minibar and a fridge. There is not much hanging or storage space but as most people would not be staying in this sized room longer than a few nights, it should be ample for a weekend wardrobe.
The technology in the room is not anything impressive but there is a large 42-inch flat screen TV on the wall, high-speed WiFi internet and an iHome music system with a USB connector for charging or playing music. Sockets are fairly limited.
I was disappointed with the bathroom which was functional but very small. Cloaked behind a sliding door was the WC, a single vanity and a shower cubicle with an impressive rainfall shower. It would be very difficult for more than one person to be in the bathroom at the same time. The lighting was good and there was an illuminated makeup mirror on the wall.
CIEL amenities in decent 50ml sizes, shampoo, conditioner, soap and shower gel, plus a body lotion and vanity kit.
Celebrity chef restaurants in luxury hotels is de rigueur everywhere now and the SLS Hotel South Beach is no stranger to the concept with two great offerings: Katsuya by master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi and Bazaar by José Andrés. I dined that night with a colleague in the sleek Katsuya Restaurant, designed by Philippe Starck, the choice dinner destination of many celebrities in Miami. That night we dined alongside Miami Heat basketball player Goran Dragić, the team’s Point Guard and although I had no idea who he was he certainly turned a few heads.
Over the years, Chef Katsuya has been a recipient of top Zagat reviews for his fresh take on classic sushi and robata dishes. We dove into the likes of spicy tuna rolls, miso-marinated black cod (my favorite), rock shrimp tempura, sashimi and wagyu ribeye and ordered a sauvignon blanc wine by the glass which was perfectly chilled and paired wonderfully with our order. The service was impeccable even though the restaurant was full and we were, next to the basketball player anyway, nobodies.
Pool and beach
The two swimming pools at the SLS are part of the 8000 ft² (743 m²) space of Hyde Beach, the popular nightlife destination which comprises the pool, the beach and both indoor and outdoor spaces. Numerous themed pool parties are hosted throughout the year with DJs and party-goers enjoying the moment night and day. Designed by Philippe Starck yet again, cabanas can be reserved (at a cost) with a private stairway leading into the pool.
Do note that if you are looking for a relaxing moment by the pool, this probably is not the venue for you. For those looking for the true pool party experience however, this is the ‘place to be’. Check the calendar of events.
The beach here, accessed from the hotel grounds via the Hyde Beach Club, is large and offers full beach service complete with sun loungers and umbrellas.
Staff and service
Throughout the hotel, the staff were all super friendly, courteous and efficient. Those working in the food and beverage outlets really shined through, happy to chat at length and comfortably discuss the food on the menus, offering insight and often recommending items, including some delicious signature cocktails.
Although, not as sophisticated as some of the other hotels in Miami and considering the guests at the hotel are much younger than those at other luxury properties, the staff are adept at giving the hotel a relaxed and professional feel while still maintaining the Miami vibe.
Young professionals, models, design and fashion industry folk; this is the hotel for the young and cool. For those looking for the signature Miami hip and trendy party scene and a chance tocatch a glimpse of an A list celeb or two, this is the place to stay.
Check-out was very quick and as it was the same staff member on the desk as when I arrived, she asked me lots of friendly questions about myself and my stay. It was a nice farewell.
How to get here
25 minutes by road from Miami Airport
140 Rooms & Suites