4.5-Star Art-Deco Hotel Steps from the Beach
If the façade of Esplendor Hotel Breakwater South Beach looks familiar, it might be because it frequently appears in movies and commercials filmed on this historic strip of South Beach's Ocean Drive. The famous ads for Calvin Klein’s Obsession perfume starring Kate Moss were shot on the rooftop terrace here—a campaign that helped cement South Beach’s popularity in the 1980s.
Built in 1936, the 4.5-star boutique hotel recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation to preserve its art-deco exterior as well as the lobby’s colorful marble floors. Everything else received a 21st-century upgrade, including the installation of a plunge pool with an infinity edge. Brand-new guest rooms come furnished with white patent-leather benches and elaborately patterned headboards, as well as 47-inch flat-screen TVs and bathrooms with rainforest showers.
Just steps away, you’ll find Lummus Park and its popular beach—a hangout for the likes of Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and other celebrities. Hotel Breakwater provides beach chairs and towels for free. The palm-studded pathways lining Lummus Park are perfect for cruising on one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles. After working up an appetite playing beach volleyball or touring the surrounding art-deco district, you can grab dinner at one of the hotel’s two restaurants. Il Paparazzi specializes in Italian cuisine prepared with pastas and cheeses made in-house, and Ocean’s 10 serves an eclectic mix of American food at indoor and outdoor dining areas, with nightly live entertainment ranging from musical performances to fire shows.
South Beach: World-Famous Beach Parties and Art-Deco Icons
Just east of downtown Miami, on the southern tip of the barrier island that forms Miami Beach, South Beach is one of the world's epicenters for nightlife. The clubs along Ocean Drive are legendary for their all-night blowouts, and for good reason—between the rum-soaked mojitos, colorful neon, and celebrity sightings, it feels a bit like you've stepped into an endless party. Perhaps that's why the area pops up so often in film and TV, including Burn Notice and ¬_The Birdcage_.
South Beach's actual coast is known as Lummus Park, which Frommer's calls Miami's "best beach for people-watching." While the bleached sand and curving palms are gorgeous, they're almost overshadowed by the chiseled beach-goers dotting the sand. From here, a wood-slat boardwalk runs all the way up to North Beach, attracting joggers and roller bladers. You can also head about a mile south to South Pointe Park or to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park across the bay for quieter, more secluded shores.
It’s easy enough to spend the entirety of a trip to South Beach face-down on a beach towel, but that would mean missing out on the city's other trademarks. The historical art-deco district boasts iconic, streamlined hotels in pastel shades. Every morning at 10:30, local experts from the Miami Design Preservation League lead a 90-minute walking tour that highlights the neighborhood's signature architecture.