Openings: The Plush New Notary Hotel Philadelphia



It’s coincidence, surely. But the new wave of Philadelphia hotel openings would almost seem to have happened in the spirit of cooperation. There is the playful, less-servicey Aloft (Starwood’s original entry into the burgeoning micro-hotel trend); over in Fishtown, WM. Mulherin’s is an archly hipsterish B&B above an archly hipsterish restaurant; and the Four Seasons at the Comcast Center, well…it’s a Four Seasons.

Nestled ideologically between them is the classy new Notary Hotel, a revamp of the former Courtyard Marriott – which was, in fact, in need of a little dazzle. It makes a statement from the moment you pull up, with its imposing N. Juniper Street building (the restored 1926 City Hall Annex) holding a hallowed spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The entrance’s dramatic arches and the lobby’s beautiful coffered ceiling have been left magnificently intact.



Part of Autograph Collection Hotels, the brand has craftily found an in-between niche (which Hilton is now trying to match with Curio): 4-star amenities and service, plush interiors nearly always fitted into historic architecture, with low-key, non-sceney (but great quality) restaurants. They also tend to be mostly hipster no-go zones – so don’t come looking for fixie lender bikes and Stumptown coffee.

Service is also taken very seriously, as, arriving for the Notary’s opening bash, we were greeted at check-in with earnest smiles and comforting banter –  decisively mitigating the previously terrible day we were having. We were graciously upgraded to a corner room with what was arguably the most prized view in all of Philadelphia: the awesome City Hall building to the left, the dramatic, 1873 Masonic Temple (with its Norman style architecture) to the right – and a straight eye-shot down Market Street to the Beaux Arts elegance of 30th Street Station.



Handsome rooms boast neo-neo-classical headboards, oversized chairs, chicly mismatched patterns and artfully-adorned shelving space. Tapping into a particular current trend, the feel is comfortably residential, meaning you might find yourself preferring to stay in with room service.

Speaking of caffeine, we were particularly thrilled with the on-site outpost 0f La Colombe, Philadelphia’s coffee sensation, where you can start your day with a flavor-packed Nizza or Rouge Organic. Down the hall, Sabroso+Sorbo serves sherry-based cocktails and sangria, as well as plates of Spanish ham and cheese, and creatively realized tapas (albondigas, red snapper ceviche) in an evocative, light-wooded space.

The Notary Hotel could not be better located, as its decisively immersed in the buzz of Center City, with Reading Terminal Market and the trendy S. 13th Street restaurant corridor just a few blocks away – making it ideal for a Philly weekend getaway…which is becoming more of a thing every day.


From Cartagena to Portugal to Marrakech: Three Blissed Out Fall Yoga Getaways


Admit it, your recent trips have included tequila binging in Mexico City, underground clubbing in Berlin and Budapest, and champagne-for-breakfast in St Tropez. Your body, mind and soul are all in need of some, let’s call it…spiritual repair.

That being the case, we might just recommend skipping that Loire Valley wine tour this autumn, to get your vinyasa on in somewhere transformationally exotic and inspiring. Being the ardent internationalists that we are, we discovered absolutely glorious yoga/wellness getaways on three different continents, with each destination offering something uncommon and incomparable (as well as distinctly Instagrammable) to go along with all those holistically restorative activities.



Surely one of the BlackBook destinations-of-the-moment – Lonely Planet had already dubbed Colombia “the 2nd best country to visit in 2017” – Cartagena is a city of mystery, discovery, and almost ineffable beauty. And Blue Sky Yoga, led by Marion Mahima Jackson (from Jivamukti and Greenpoint’s Usha Veda Yoga ) and Elissa Marshall, has organized a remarkable five-night-retreat (October 9-14) in a private mansion within the 17th Century walls of the Old City.
The experience will include candlelight yoga and meditation classes, sound baths, Rosario Islands excursions, a walking tour, sound healing and mantras, and healthy, tasty meals. Free time can be used to explore what BlackBook has called “Latin America’s most alluring city.”
And no one will mind if you pull a couple of late nights over a few rounds of aguardiente cocktails.




For something a bit more more plush and luxurious, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech offers the best of both worlds: luxe pampering, and the possibility for far-flung, life-altering discoveries. And let’s face it – Morocco is one of the ultimate “I need to get there one of these days” destinations. So what better time?
The hotel itself sits on 20 hectares of fragrant gardens, just outside the city center. It offers private yoga sessions which can be taken in the studio or those aforementioned gardens (seriously, is that even a decision?), as well as Zumba and belly-dance classes. There’s a classic hamman for body-cleansing rituals, as well as endemic, traditional treatments like the Moroccan Caracal and the Berber-inspired Mour Akouch.
MOM is currently offering a Detox Break in Marrakech package, including yoga and meditation classes, private training sessions and exercise programs, plus daily healthy menus and detox drinks. One option includes a stay in your own private villa.


If you really, really want to clear the city smog from your lungs while you do the vajrasana, the Vale de Moses yoga retreats, in Portugal’s Serra de Estrela mountains, are serene and secluded, without actually requiring a connecting flight. Indeed, Lisbon is the closest EU capital to America, and it’s just a scenic, three-hour drive from the airport.
Something like an upscale camping excursion (run by husband and wife Andrew and Vonetta Winter, and voted a “Top 25” retreat by the Guardian), it includes silent forest meditation walks, yoga classes and workshops, Tui Na massage, swimming and mud baths in the Zêzere river, lots of healthy, home-cooked feasting, and even a Friday night dance party. The scenery, of course, is beyond breathtaking.
And do consider spending a couple of days in stylish Lisbon, one of Europe’s truly beautiful yet unspoiled cities – with plentiful sunshine, an exciting culinary scene and absolutely electric nightlife.


The Greece Less Traveled: Peaceful Kea to Urbane Athens



For a reasonably exotic get-a-way, the Greek Islands are once again all the rage. The trip is just enough of a hardship – 9+ hours from NYC to Athens, then various cars and ferries  – to be able to proclaim globetrotter status. And once there, you’re close enough to the cradle of civilization that the abundant ancient temples, and the magnificent myths that go along with them, casually become the day’s talking points – temporarily erasing the nightmare back home from the front of your consciousness.

We recently spent a glorious week on Kea, seemingly the closest island to the Greek mainland, and one that has, so far, very much escaped the onslaught of rich partiers who keep the Dom flowing and the cheesy house music cranked on Mykonos (“Mickey Mouse,” as one yachting traveler we met snarkily renamed it), and the other more popular and trendy rocks.



Life is pretty simple on Kea, and that was fine with us. The day was spent deciding what restaurants to go to for lunch and dinner, and what beach to flop on. Rent a scooter and you can get ’round the whole place in a day. For historical gravitas, it has the surreal ancient city of Karthea (or Carthaea), home to the Temple of Apollo, which takes hiking down, and then up, a mile-long dusty trail to get to. The reward was worth it, however, as the trail opens up to a pristine beach we had only to share with a brace of fancy catamarans.

We climbed up to said temple, which overlooked the valley and beach, imagining life on the ethereal island 2500 years ago. Back in the picturesque hillside village of Loulis we strolled the whitewashed streets, stopping for a traditional dinner of salads, olives, chickpea mash, feta, and grilled fish.



Access to all island hopping is of course through the Greek capitol; and on our last night we decamped to Athens’ cooly modern Perianth Hotel. Located in the center of town just north of the grandiose Acropolis and the hilly streets of the district, the Perianth is a minimalist marvel located in the newly hip Monastiraki district, all sleek lines and muted greys/blacks. Our impressively spacious room, boasting an incredibly comfy king-size bed, even had a balcony that looked directly out on the two thousand year old citadel. The hotel also has an excellent Italian restaurant, Il Barretto.

Strolling the buzzy area around Monastiraki Square, we discovered more shopping than our bank account could handle. Crossing into Plaka, we were especially impressed by glittering wares at long-time jeweler Byzantino. Our final dinner was down a graffiti strewn alley that opened out into a small square in the adjacent Psiri, another burgeoning hood, where locals gathered to drink and laugh the night away. At Kafeneio Ivis we again feasted on the simple but satisfying Greek trio of olives, feta salad and fried fish.

Our only regret was not having time to immerse ourselves in the Athens Zen Center, which, amazingly, is also part of the hotel. But a couple of days in Kea had already decisively done away with all our urban stresses – those which surely awaited us once again, just a 9-hour flight away.


Above images: Perianth Hotel

The Coolest European Cities You Don’t Know: Antwerp & Maastricht



We’ve been plenty busy in 2019, gallery hopping in London, Champagne sipping in Reims, and falling in love with everything about Copenhagen. But cultivated Europhiles that we are, we’re always feeling the call of some of our more below-the-radar, yet still favorite cities on the Continent.

Nothing beckons us to Europa quite like the winding down of summer, and the promise of autumn, with its exhilaratingly crisp evenings, stylishly scarfed locals, and those transcendently evocative fragrances that fill the air of each city. The latter is a particular treat for those forced to breath the noxious fumes of New York and LA every day.

When fall arrives, we can often be found beating a path to fashionable Antwerp (Belgium) and sophisticated Maastricht (The Netherlands). Take note, if you’ve yet to fall under the spell of the Benelux, after a couple of October days in each city, you’ll never want to leave.



Clockwise from top left, The Jane Restaurant; Antwerp architecture; Hotel Julien; MoMu


If fashion has held a central place in your life and you haven’t yet been to Antwerp, you should seriously consider remedying that situation. From the Antwerp Six on to today’s new guard of Belgian design, the exalted Royal Academy of Fine Arts continues to turn out some of the most astonishing talent, whose creations can be found in the vanguard boutiques in and around Nationalestraat – where you’ll also stumble upon the hallowed flagships of the likes of Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester. Nearby, as well, is the MoMu, the city’s incomparable fashion museum, which, though currently closed for renovations, is still hosting MoMu Fashion Walks the first Saturday of each month. (Between boutiques, stop in for a de rigueur lunch at Verso Cafe, within the concept shop of the same name.)

Antwerp is also a place of staggering physical beauty, with its gothic-looking Flemish Renaissance cityscape and majestic harbor. The latter is now home to industrial-chic restaurants like Het Pomphuis (in a grandiose former pump house) and the sleek, Michelin-starred ‘t Zilte, on the top floor of the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom).

And speaking of vanguard, the thought-provoking M HKA museum, and independent galleries such as Valerie Traan, Stella Lohaus and Annie Gentils are central to Antwerp’s thriving contemporary art scene. If it’s architecture that sets you atingle, plan a leisurely stroll along the Cogels-Osylei, a street in the Zurenborg district where art nouveau, neo-Renaissance, neo-gothic and Tudor-revival styles (amongst others) all come together in a strange but elegant sort of harmony.

Antwerp nightlife, it must be said, is amongst Europe’s most unfettered. Start with a glamorous dinner at The Jane, in an epic 19th Century former chapel; the 13-course prix-fixe menu is €140, but the upstairs bar has much more agreeable prices, and seats you closer to God. Continue on to the extravagant scenes at over-the-top dance clubs like Red & Blue, Publik and Cafe D’Anvers. Expect a significant degree of mind-altering.


The August, just opened in April, is fitted into a former Augustinian cloister, with a top class restaurant and a private chapel turned bar. Hotel Julien is a smart, mostly-minimalist guesthouse with an intimate subterranean spa; De Witte Lelie is the joining of three 17th Century townhouses into a place of utterly ethereal beauty (and favored by notable fashion designers).



Clockwise from top left, Kruisherenhotel; River Meuse; Stijl boutique; Maastricht streets


Famous as the place where in 1992 the modern European Union and the euro were born (the anti-Brexit, if you will), Maastricht is actually a seductive mix of international college town and exquisitely cosmopolitan city. And seriously, nearly everyone seems to have a head-turning sense of style here. With its right and left banks straddling the majestic Meuse River, the ethereal setting might easily have you thinking it can’t possibly all be real – but it most definitely is.

Wedged almost covertly between Belgium and Germany (Cologne is just 70 km away), history and modernity play very well together in this comely Southern Dutch town. Roman cathedrals bookend narrow 17th Century streets, which are abuzz with urbane cafes, indie fashion boutiques and intimate contemporary art galleries. And to be sure, one of the most recommended activities is just…walking around.

Remarkably, for a relatively small city, Maastricht packs in rather a lot of Michelin stars. Tout a Fait, Beluga loves you, Toine Hermsen, Au Coin des Bons Enfants and the glorious Chateau Neercanne, just outside the center, all boast at least one – and chefs can be wildly experimental. But there are also more bars per capita than even Amsterdam – so a jenever (gin) soaked night on the tiles requires little planning. Still, make sure to hit The Lab for more perception-altering cocktails, and Complex for bleeding-edge dance music.

Culture vultures should make time for the architecture and design gallery Bureau Europa, as well as the Bonnefantenmuseum, with its fascinating mix of Italian and Flemish Renaissance and baroque works, and cleverly curated – Richard Serra, Sol Lewitt, Neo Rauch, Gilbert & George – contemporary collection.


The Kruisherenhotel (a member of Design Hotels) might literally be the most spectacular hotel in the known universe, built as it was into an awe-inspiring, 15th Century former monastery and cathedral; the Beaumont, right on the buzzy Stationsstraat, has minimalist rooms and the chic Harry’s restaurant; Hotel Dis is an artistic 7-room guesthouse with its own contemporary gallery.





Greek Island Chic: The Stylish Parilio Hotel Opens in Paros



In the last few years, the Greek Island holiday has become de rigueur for in-the-know sorts, whatever your pleasure. But if you find the throngs of tourists in Santorini and Mykonos just a bit too much, considering joining the de-stressing cognoscenti in Paros, nestled just in-between the two. Dotted with quintessential fishing villages, pastoral farmlands, and low-key tavernas, the vibe is considerable more tranquil.

And tucked serenely away on the island’s northeastern coast, between the tiny town of Naoussa and the small sandy coves that make up Kolymbithres Beach, is the recently opened Parīlio hotel. A member of the exalted Design Hotels group, the 33 suite property marries traditional Cyclades whitewashed block architecture with touches of understated, contemporary luxury. Carved stone arches and concrete columns mix with custom furnishings by IDLaboratorium, resulting in a cooly stylish oasis with captivatingly old-world charm.



The visually appealing suites feature modern and vintage pieces with neutral colors accented by terracotta, marble and wood, and concrete bedside tables by Copenhagen 101. Some also boast mountain views.

In addition to all that peace and quiet, the hotel offers all the amenities coveted by the 21st Century epicure: a breezy terrace, pool and bar nestled amongst subdued gardens, where long, lazy afternoons turn into Instagrammable sunsets; Mr.E, a modern Greek restaurant with dishes cultivated from the bounty of the island; and a fully equipped gym and spa.

Travel + Leisure names Paros its top Greek island for 2018. And with temperatures in the high seventies and eighties throughout September and October, it remains an alluring getaway well into autumn.


BlackBook Rooms w/ a View: The Whitby Hotel, New York



When MoMA closed in June for several months of renovation, it left something of a cultural hole in the area of Midtown that straddles east and west. Yet in summer, the prospect of a “Central Park staycation” remains undiminished in its appeal – especially considering that the business crowd clears out of the area on the weekends.

To be honest, as devout Anglophiles, we would never really need another reason to spend time at a Firmdale Hotel, other than that it exists. And at The Whitby Hotel, their second in New York (opened in 2017), it’s a totally reasonable strategy to check in and simply never leave the premises.

We were there recently to celebrate Kit Kemp’s groovy new fabric/wallpaper creative partnership with Andrew Martin. Kit and husband Tim, by the way, are the heart and soul of Firmdale, with her fantastical design philosophy setting the tone for all eleven of their properties in London and NYC.



But the visual treat extends decisively beyond the four walls of the Whitby, with awesome views of the surrounding edifices and, yes, that very big park just a few blocks north.

Fabulosity bonus? For a small, independent hotel brand, Firmdale has dynamically courted, and decisively won over Hollywood. So the Whitby has already played host to the likes of Laura Dern, Charlize Theron, Taraji P. Henson, Shailene Woodley, Kate McKinnon and Cate Blanchett – making the people watching absolutely aces.

Here’s what we love about the hotel.



Central Park

Considering its breathtaking expansiveness, you could likely spend a week roaming Central Park and still not see it all. The hotel is located just a short stroll away, so you can basically fall out the front door and find your feet planted firmly on the park’s well-groomed grass. We always make a point to pop in to the Central Park Zoo, specifically for those fashionably dapper penguins. But Belvedere Castle – yes, Central Park has a castle – was just given, as the New York Times so succinctly put it, a “fairy-tale makeover”…so it’s very much worth a visit.
Even better, what’s left of the CP SummerStage schedule holds some genuine gems, with King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard bringing the nu-prog on August 28, Marina (without her Diamonds) gracing the stage September 16, followed by Bloc Party on the 20th, and the lineup of The B-52s/OMD/Berlin throwing what will surely be a mad new wave party on the 24th.



The Rooms

The thing about each and every one of the Firmdale Hotels…it’s like a dazzling surprise each time you step into a new room. Think of the feeling as being like that of a child breaking open a piñata to reveal all the glittering prizes contained within. And at the Whitby, Kit Kemp’s daring but always playful – and a little eccentric – style is tempered by a cool, understated elegance.
To wit, furnishings change color midway, bright reds play nice with dignified greys, wildly patterned headboards rest against subduedly painted walls…and whimsy is wedded to exceedingly good taste at every turn. Best of all, natural light floods in through massive, factory style windows, which also frame the majesty of the eclectic Midtown architecture.
Our recommend: book a Terrace Junior Suite – one of the absolute finest rooms we’ve ever experienced – and invite a few friends up to share a good bottle and the ethereal views at sunset.




The Whitby Bar & Restaurant

Far too cool to bother about luring in some or other headline-generating chef-of-the-moment, Firmdale run all their own restaurants in New York and London. And the Whitby Bar exhibits the same signature hospitality ideology: a significant bar area – in this case 30 feet long and made from pewter – that is constantly abuzz (honestly, even at three in the afternoon), whimsical design elements that result in a kind of contradictory harmony, art that actually creates a narrative, and unpretentious food that somehow never fails to surprise.
It’s a great lunch scene over yellowfin tuna tartare, beet smoked salmon and miso marinated eggplant; in the evenings, grab a Whitby G&T or a pisco based Life on Mars cocktail along with a well chosen selection of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie – and just enjoy the terrific people watching.
It’s New York, obviously, but it all feels distinctly English – like you might be in Mayfair or Marylebone.



The Afternoon Tea

Some clichés are very much worth upholding – and a proper afternoon tea is one of them. Thankfully, the Whitby doesn’t try to quirk it up, but rather presents a cool, contemporary take on tradition. So you get scones with clotted cream, lemon-poppy chiffon cake, cucumber and smoked salmon finger sandwiches…but also selections from The Rare Tea Company – Wild Rooibos, Jasmine Silver Tip – which allow for going off script a bit. The gracefully outré surrounds make it extra special – as in, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find this room somewhere in the Cotswolds, but you’d definitely know it was designed by Kit Kemp.


First Images: Paris’ ‘Sacrilegious’ New Sinner Hotel



One could make a reasonable case that naming your hotel “Sinner” might just be trying a little too hard. After all, when checking in for a bit of naughty time, one hardly needs more encouragement/assistance than a roomy bed and a fully stocked mini-bar.

As it turns out, the reference to sinning has apparently to do with corresponding stylistic elements artfully woven into the provocative new Paris hotel’s design (though you’re free to believe it was inspired by the Judas Priest song of the same name) It is sister to the elegant Nolinski near the Palais Royal, and the Philippe Starck designed Brach in the 16th. But the Sinner hotel (at 116 Rue de Temple in the Marais) will likely lure a more dark-hearted, nocturnal clientele, those who would find nothing unusual about the check-in desk boasting adjacency to a candlelit crypt.

Elsewhere, no gothic flourish was left unindulged, with stained glass windows, vaulted archways, lavish candelabras, knocker-adorned room doors, and, because why not(?), a serious looking installation of chained metal pipes hovering near the elevators. Naturally, then, a cabinet of curiosities doubles as a concept store, offering an appropriately analogous collection of souvenirs.



Upstairs the rooms, reached via a caliginous, lantern-illuminated hallway, let up a bit on the shadowy aesthetic manifesto. In fact, some sport eye-popping reds, greens and yellows. Though the Justine Suite (a nod to de Sade?) is styled for all manner of mysterious goings on.

Of course, even crypt-dwellers need to eat (and drink). And the Sinner’s namesake bar and restaurant will be lorded over by Adam Bentalha – formerly of Le Ritz and the Shangri-la Paris – whose menu draws global inspiration from North Africa to South America. Accordingly, the main dining room has a bit of the vibe of a modern chapel (brush up on saying grace, just in case).

To keep guests engaged, there’s a spa named Ablutio (not a Shakespeare character) with a Roman inspired pool, plus a planned program of cultural diversions, courtesy of the worlds of fashion, art and music. But we recommend packing as much Poe and Baudelaire as you can, and settling into in a corner of the aforementioned crypt – until the proper opportunity for transgression presents itself.

Just be ready for the repentance, afterwards.


Openings: London’s Swish New Berkeley Bar and Terrace



Post-Millennium, the Blue Bar at The Berkeley Hotel was one of London’s hottest of hotspots, the gorgeous, David Collins designed watering hole where the likes of Kate Moss and Victoria Becks could be found swapping gossip and sharing fashion tips.

The Berkeley, of course, is still one of the capital’s most reliable celeb-magnets. Though with the unveiling of its new Berkeley Bar and Terrace this week, the mission seems to be one of luring more sybaritic sorts, regardless of just how boldfaced their names may be.

First off, what you’ll be sipping will very likely come with a heritage, or at last a certain measure of epicurean gravitas. Vintage champagnes (may we recommend that Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut 1996?), an impressive international collection of rare Grand Cru wines, and in-the-know/under-the-radar high-end spirits like Ichiro Japanese whiskey, Fortaleza tequila and Trois Rivieres rum are all on offer. And should you doubt their commitment to said program, the Berkeley has collab’d with Scottish distillers Gordon & Macphail on an exclusive 1972 whisky – a reference to the hotel’s birth year.



Considering its posh Knightsbridge postcode, the connoisseur’s selection of caviar – Petrossian Imperial Beluga, for instance – and uncommon cigars is reasonably obligatory. But to be honest, we’re most intrigued by the possibility of exciting our taste buds with the Iberico ham toast and (would we kid you?) their signature camembert chicken tulips.

Like all committed Anglophiles, we also do love a bit of history with our exquisite tipple. And Bryan O’Sullivan’s design smartly references the British Army Grenadier Guard, whose stables were built on the grounds the hotel now calls home. There’s also a stylish half-moon marble bar, plush leather seating, and elements of 300 year old walnut wood – pure class.

So, what better excuse to skip the Hoxton hipsters on your next trip to London, for something decidedly more urbane, cultivated and just all around more swish and sophisticated? We’ll see you there, surely.


BlackBook Rooms w/ a View: W South Beach Hotel, Miami



It’s no secret that things change in the blink of an eye in trend obsessed Miami. But a decade after its debut, the W South Beach still finds itself at the epicenter of the scene during everything from Swim Week to Art Basel. At any give time, supermodels, contemporary art stars, glamour hunters, and the media cognoscenti will still be descending on this significantly design driven hotspot hotel.

We checked in during Miami Swim, while the W SoBe was playing host to some of the most anticipated shows of the season, as well as all manner of star power parties, beachside soirees, model-led fitness classes and even a few enlightening wellness conversations. We enjoyed a bit of genuine South Beach living in our Wonderful Studio Suite, where the ocean views were, must say, truly and absolutely wonderful.

Here’s what we loved.


The Location

Sitting just across the street from Collins Park (at 22nd and Collins), this gleaming glass beacon lords over South Beach, commanding unobstructed prime oceanfront views, and easy beach access. It’s not just a hotel, but a full-service resort – so outside of our scheduled meetings and parties, we hardly felt the need to leave the premises. But it’s also within walking distance of all the Downtown, all-night nightlife.



The Rooms

The Wonderful Studio Suite, is, we can confirm, exactly that. Feeling more like a lofty studio apartment than a hotel room, it’s got a home-away-from-home vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a stark modern design that make the generous living space, from the wet bar to the sitting areas, feel even bigger.
Generous closets and a sprawling dressing space adjacent to the marble bathroom was great for our quick outfit changes. But after all the parties, we slept like an all grownup baby on the signature Heavenly Bed, topped with comfy Egyptian cotton sheets. When we weren’t out schmoozing, we spent a lot of time on the private glass balcony taking in the life-affirming, panoramic ocean views.



The Beach or The Pool

We soaked in the blazing South Florida sunshine at the lush, outdoor pool area, surrounded by poolside cabanas, and shaded by sweeping palm trees. But the beach is so close it takes little effort to find yourself dipping toes in sand on a pink and white striped chaise lounger…or floating in the cool, turquoise waters of the Atlantic.
A couple of times, we were craving daytime cocktails and a little light lunch fare; and, as happened, the beach and pool areas were fully serviced by the Wet Bar & Grille. So without even leaving our chairs, we were soon drinking rosé sangria and their signature Watermelon Krush cocktails and Skinny Wet Margaritas. When paired with a brick oven pizza and buttered lobster rolls, it was seriously winning.



The Restaurants

With its white brick walls, pendant lamps and all around artful atmosphere, we found The Restaurant at W South Beach a cool place to indulge in the daily happy hour of half price oysters and bubbles. But if you tend towards a bit of celeb-spotting/people-watching, the scene at haute Chinese eatery Mr. Chow is one of Miami’s best – as is the specialty Velvet Chicken.
But most nights we could be found prepping for an evening on the town, or grabbing a cultivated nightcap in the W’s signature Living Room Bar. There amongst the furry chairs and zebra pillows, impressive DJ talent could be counted on to rock us well into the morning.