When visiting Miami, picking the right hotel is one of the most crucial check-points on your travel list, since the city has so much to offer. Our choice was The Betsy Hotel—a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World—and boy did we strike gold.
The first thing that catches your attention while arriving at the entrance of this property is the quaint and beautiful patio that is bustling with people, drinks and a rocking vibe. The doors spring open by the friendly doormen and you are greeted by the smiling staff who welcome you to The Betsy. And there you have it: nirvana.
Jazz or blues is playing in the background and a neon installation of Val Kilmer’s artwork immediately catches your eye. Purple orchids grace every table and art is seen in literally every inch of the hotel.
One might say that when you come to The Betsy Hotel, the greatest attraction is not the hotel room but the hidden gems that are found within the premises. We are not trying to take away from the rooms, by the way, which are exceptionally spacious, feature featherlike beds and offer comfort at its finest), and where you can find true peace and curl up with your pick of a book (all rooms come with a fantastic selection of reads).
Should you like to step out of the comforts of your bed, The Betsy actually has its very own library. Yes, you read that right, a private library of its own. During our stay, the committee of the Art Basel Miami was actually planning their next project and here’s a great tip—the library is available to be rented out to host your own private meetings! It’s a perfect pairing of corporate privacy and luxury.
Speaking of luxury, The Betsy Hotel is also home to the LT Steak & Seafood restaurant, with Laurent Tourondel as the head chef. The place is open all day long with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, but the true highlight is dinner time. Let me just stress, the food is insane. From the homemade sushi (you have to try the spicy tuna roll and the king salmon rolls), to the charred bone in short ribs and the fish which was the highlight of the night. And let’s not take away from the spinach and potato gratin sides that make the perfect side dish to any main course pick.
There was one tiny detail that also pleasantly surprised our taste buds: chef Tourondel’s homemade cheese and black pepper bread. Let’s face it: nothing starts your dinner better than fresh, steaming, homemade bread that feels like you are eating clouds. Minor details are exactly what The Betsy is known for, and these come together to create one perfect mix.
Another important note—The Betsy has recently expanded and added a second building to its repertoire, so the two areas are separated as Art Deco and Colonial Wings of the hotel.
The Colonial Wing is home to the LT Steak & Seafood, a hidden room with a moving ceiling (you need to go there to see what I mean), a garden with a dipping pool, the spa and rooftop deck where you can enjoy a fantastic aperol spritz or a Pina Colada, and the entrance to the beach where you can have your own chairs, towels and umbrellas that are provided by the hotel.
The Art Deco Wing is home to the rooftop pool with a fully stocked bar and option to order food as well, incredible views of the beach and sunset, the library, a coffee shop which serves Panther Coffee (incredible roasted coffee, definite must try for coffee addicts), various reception halls for private events, a gorgeous piazza with a traditional Italian fountain and so much more that I cannot even fit into this one article. Just off of the rooftop pool is yet another hidden area which is a replica of the New York High Line walkway (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, book your trip immediately first to NYC and then to Miami)!
Art, food, poetry and music are the four main ingredients of what makes The Betsy such a gem. Throughout our stay, we had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Plutzik, the owner of the property and spending a day with him in his heaven.
He gave us a tour of his incredible hotel and showed us all the hidden spots that were not to be missed. Let touch on some highlights:
- POETRY: Plutzik’s father, Hyam Plutzik, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, is a huge inspiration for the design and soul of what The Betsy Hotel stands for. When I first arrived at The Betsy, I was handed my room key and something that caught my eye was the phrase that was printed on the back of the card which read: “Expect no more, this is happiness”. After chatting with Jonathan Plutzik about this particular quote that really struck a chord with me, he explained the meaning and history behind the words. His father was battling cancer and a piece of paper with these words was found in his wallet after his passing, that he scribbled for himself as a daily reminder of happiness. It was a way to highlight that what he had right then and there was And that is essentially the summary of what The Betsy really is. As mentioned before, books can be found in every corner and a beautiful book mural can be seen in the elevator that brings you to the rooftop pool in the new wing (it’s basically Instagram central).
- MUSIC: this is another important aspect of the hotel. There is music everywhere you go that ranges from jazz to blues to the Beatles. Each playlist is carefully selected by Plutzik’s wife who also chooses the live bands that perform in the lobby of the Colonial Wing. From originals to perfect covers of popular songs, music plays and warms your heart as you indulge in a delicious dinner at LT Steak & Seafood, or simply grab a drink at the lobby bar.
- FOOD: I’ve already mentioned the LT Steak & Seafood but watch out pizza lovers: The Alley is a must try if you love Italian food. Make sure to try the Shrimp Scampi pizza or the Insalata, and finish off the meal with the incredible homemade gelato. If you don’t feel like having a full sit-down meal, stop by the little window “Ventanita” and grab a gelato to go!
- ART: Art exhibits can be found in the hallways, lobby and all over the hotel, 365 days a year. “Mi Musica” by Ricardo Cavolo was the one that fascinated me the most (and also happens to be in the room with the moving ceiling). The Betsy Orb connects the old wing with the Carlton extension and is located next door to the parabola-shaped roof that is inscribed with words of 13 incredible poets, including Muhammad Ali and Hyam Plutzik. Throughout the year, light installations are projected onto the Orb, countless exhibits and shows are held at the hotel, and a full events calendar can be accessed on the hotel’s website.
All in all, as I said before—you do not go to The Betsy Hotel to stay inside your room, you go there to explore! And those experiences stay with you forever.
Enjoyed this story? Read our review of another Small Luxury Hotels of the World member—Villa Real in Madrid, Spain.