Nothing says “get me outta here” faster than a walk down SoBe’s trendy Collins Avenue on a busy weekend; yet as everyone eventually finds out, relief is just a fashionable hotel lobby away. Miami’s main drag teems with far too many overamped hotspots – so for us the stress level only starts to subside when we propel ourselves a block or two away from it all.
It’s why, in our most recent attempt to escape the daily hustle of NYC, we made our homebase the charmingly retro-fabulous new Plymouth hotel. In a striking Art Deco building and nicely located across the street from the stately Bass Museum of Art and Collins Park, it’s just the sort of chill oasis we prefer – with its own private slice of beach – and much to our delight, was not stingy with the pampering and fancy-pants amenities.
Hitting the beach was priority #1. But after soaking up the sun, we had a quick prosecco at The Cafe at our fave Lincoln Road literary destination Books & Books.
But we were also excited to check out the brandy-new outpost of NYC’s Employees Only. When it opened in New York in 2004, its sophisticated take on cocktail preparation and presentation blasted through the prevailing “Cosmotini” culture that had dominated the bar scene. Their weeks old operation in Miami offered a similar experience, a classy, grown-up respite from so much cheesy club culture. As with the original, the drinks are smashing (the Fraise Sauvage is Fords Gin shaken with wild strawberries and Tahitian vanilla), the select bites distinctive – we loved the bone marrow poppers – and per their moniker, hospitality pros (as in “employees only” – get it?) tend to gather there, making it a lively scene – as those people really know how to get their drink on.
Late mornings we indulged in the Plymouth’s so many special touches, from poolside breakfast, to a languid dip in the gorgeous pool to a lazy hang in one of the antique cabanas. A lunchtime cocktail at the tiki-like lobby bar motivated us up and out one day to the Design District (pictured above) where high fashion window-shopping can be taken to wallet busting extremes, if you’re not careful.
A short cab ride south from the Design District took us to once scruffy Wynwood, which seems to become more populous and stocked full of fabulous galleries, boutiques and trendy watering holes with each visit. Out latest favorite turned out to be with the new Wynwood Yard (pictured below) a pop-up food, music and general hangout space that even has a edible garden (ask first, don’t just start munching).
But we never leave Miami without getting our Cubano on in Little Havana, a short trek west of Miami’s business center Brickell. Strolling down 8th St east of 17th Ave you’ll find cigars being rolled in storefront windows, plus mariquitas, tostones, and Cuban sandwiches on every corner, and the best bar in town, the Ball and Chain, which has been open since the ‘30s. It was also where Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Chet Baker played at impromptu jam sessions in the ‘50s. The real thing.
Back at the Plymouth, another New York City icon had recently made its Miami debut: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill. Dinner at this newest outpost of the Bromberg Bros. exalted mini-chain is just as sublime down south, with delectable Maki dishes like Negi Hama, Karai Kaibashira and Ebi Tempura – and a serious sake selection.