Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Before the holidays, I did a poll on Instagram and realised that people wanted to see travel content from me...I have to admit, as I've sat at home for the past year, wonderlust has kicked in and I've been planning trips and drooling over pictures of tropical islands from my sofa too. My bucket list has grown from as long as my arm to the length of my leg (granted, I don't have very long legs sadly).
In response to my poll, I have decided to write a bi-weekly journal entry based on somewhere I have previously visited, and include the obvious 'must-sees' as well as any health & wellness related spots, or experiences I particularly loved.
First up on my list, is... Miami.
I never thought I'd like this city before I went, which makes one realise how important it is to make your opinions based on personal experiences rather than taking someone else's as the truth. My pre-conception couldn't have been more wrong - I could live in Miami... big statement I know!
The amalgamation of cultures, people and traditions is part of the reason why I love it and the way it makes me feel, as well as the geography of where it lies. These 4 aspects make it colourful, exciting and buzzy which is what draws people in from all over the world. The weather also plays a big role, it is essentially sunny for 300 days a year, and everyone is always tanned.
Reggaeton has always been one of my favourite music genres, and it is played everywhere in Miami because of the huge Latin influence - to dance, there is an open air nightclub called 'La Victoria' which immediately teleports you to Colombia or Mexico (helped by the fact that everyone is from there) and I can safely say I've never danced more in my life, nor wanted to leave somewhere less. Luckily, there is a food truck at the exit (a bribe for those who don't want to leave) which sells 'tequeños' - a hot Venezuelan snack that looks like a mini, swirly pastry roll filled with melted cheese. Whether it tastes like heaven because it's 6am and you've been dancing non-stop for 6 hours, or it is actually good - is up for debate.
It is a huge city, and the workout spots are endless, for all levels and easily accessible via apps such as ClassPass. They have all the big studios that you'd expect to find in New York or LA (Soul Cycle, Barry's Bootcamp etc.) but also have their own studios such as Rise Nation, Sol Yoga and Anatomy which BURN (I did wonder how everyone on the beach looked quite so good). Renting a bicycle to cycle the board walk that runs parallel to the beach would also be a great option, as would running or walking it!
To sleep, Soho House in South Beach is great and has the cutest cabanas by the pool which are perfect for WFH or chilling. The rooms are how you'd imagine any Soho House room to look, but they look onto the blue ocean rather than the streets of London or Berlin. In addition to the pool area, the hotel also has it's own section of the beach which they manage and one can order food / drink to sun-beds. (You can take advantage of all these things as a Soho House member even if not staying in the hotel FYI).
The Setai Hotel is exclusive, glamorous and where I hope to stay one day... a visual treat with it's perfect umbrellas and immaculately kept gardens. I've heard that the spa treatments are out of this world, and as a non-guest you're able to spend the day by the pool if you book one. Like most of the hotels, it is also in South Beach on the long strip of white, sandy coastline that you'll see from the aeroplane on landing.
Faena is another cool place to stay, its rooms are colourful and comfortable and you'll probably bump into a celebrity in the lobby. It is heaving during Art Basel and the line up of cars waiting to be valet is like something out of Fast & Furious. Great food, a perfectly curated boutique and 1 min walk to the beach. Pretty ideal if you ask me.
To shop, Westwood is your area - you'll find galleries, cafes and high-end or less expensive boutiques lining the perfectly maintained avenues. If you're hot get an ice pop from Morelia's, they are the best ice lolly/creams I've ever tasted and have been craving them for all 3 lockdowns. This area is also home to some of the coolest graffiti walls I've ever seen, with bright pops of colour springing up on every corner.
Miami has grown, and spread to many areas in the past few years - you have the famous area of South Beach, Brickel where the financial area and shopping centres are, Westwood for art and shopping, Coral Gables where families live and go to school... Palm Beach is about an hours drive away and the Everglades surround it and provide a totally different type of water sport and wildlife to discover too.
For food... it is hard to refine this list, but If I don't we could be here all day.
For a juice / Acai bowl vibes, the cafe on the ground floor of the W hotel or Green G are my favourites.
For lunch, Mandolin or Le Jardinier in the design district, and Bellini at Mr C are all gorgeous, fresh and delicious. Soho House also does a great brunch.
For drinks, the Faena is great pre dinner (make sure to book) or you could visit the Versace Mansion (yes where he lived and was shot) for a trip back in time. It oozes 'old school' Miami vibes and was the closest thing I found to feeling like I was living in a movie scene (something I really wanted to experience).
For dinner, The Surf club at the Four Seasons Hotel (order the popcorn and don't ask) , Kyu in Brickel (order the ribs and the cauliflower), Swan (their house cocktail is to die for) or Carbone (get the spicy vodka rigatoni and the ceasar salad) are my favourites.
For dancing, La Victoria or Bodega
Miami is a great city, there is so much rooting for it and it attracts people from all over the world who want to have a good time, and live well. However, there is also a huge environmental threat which looms over the city and not many people talk about it. I wanted to know more about this situation after a taxi driver mentioned that the reason why the streets were so uneven and we were bouncing around in the back of her cab because the city 'is literally sinking'. Granted, her driving skills also had something to do with it... but thats besides the point. After researching a little, I found and read this book, and highly recommend it - Disposable City by Mario Alejandro Ariza
Miami is magical...like a grown ups Disney Land almost, and I absolutely cannot wait to go back. If you haven't been, add it to your 'to-go' list.