Miami CITY GUIDE

Whether burnished gem or crazy diamond, Miami has something for everyone. This is a city where it’s possible to kick back and relax while making a fashion statement. On one side lies one of America’s most dazzling downtowns, a nexus joining the worlds of media, sports and modern art. On the other, a whole ocean full of water, the plaything of motorboats, yachts, and jet-skis.

It’s hard to fit Miami into a single sentence. It is no more the American Riviera imagined by its founder, railroad tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler, than it is the scene of urban dereliction painted by Oliver Stone and Brian De Palma in Scarface. It’s both less, and more, a city where business blends with an almost liquid ease into leisure, and where night and day, aided by the ambient temperature, merge seamlessly.

Others may point to New Orleans, Boston or San Francisco, calling them America’s “foreign” cities, but Miami, as much as anywhere in this great country, stands out on its own. So let First Class Traveller take you by the hand and lead you through the city of the Heat, Tony Montana, Sonny Crockett and Grand Theft Auto.

Breakfast/Brunch

Brunch isn’t the deal here that it is in New York or Los Angeles. Deals are done here over late lunches or even later drinks. But if you’re meeting with someone while the sun is still waxing, make it The News Café, a properly old-fashioned sidewalk brunch palace-cum-newsstand at the corner of 8th and Ocean Drive in Miami Beach’s Art Deco district. Open 24 hours a day, the whole panoply of life is on view here, from sunseekers to rollerskating fashionistas and their pedigrees pooches.

Lunch

Lunch is done properly here. Though this is still mainland America, everyone is expected to eat well and, more importantly, enjoy life – something that everyone coming here on business should remember. So think carefully and – more importantly – plan ahead.

The best place to start is Collins Avenue, home to the Setai Hotel. Serving seductive Asian cuisine, this is a great bet for lunch: regularly voted one of the city’s best outdoor eateries. A popular destination for business customers, this place fuses the best of the West and the Far East.

Over on Washington Avenue sits Joe’s Stone Crab, a classic restaurant founded a hundred years ago Joe’s serves the best stone crab claws you’ll ever eat. Follow it up, of course, with key lime pie. A final thought is Red the Steakhouse, a great place for a hearty meal, boasting Angus beef, chops and seafood. This classic surf-and-turf restaurant, with three private dining spaces and room for up to 60 guests, regularly hosts America’s sporting greats: Michael Jordan is a regular visitor.

Dinner


Only one meal is more important than lunch in Miami, and that’s dinner. In some cities, the evening meal bookends the day; here, it merely acts as a staging post for the rest of the night. A great starting point is Azul, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Elegant and chic, the floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of Biscayne Bay. Wash down crispy confit duck leg and chargrilled octopus with a wine list of more than 700 names.

Over at the Chophouse Miami, you find old-school Miami, reminiscent of the steakhouses of New York or Chicago. Stuff drinks and a menu filled with classics – calamari, shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, porterhouse – sit alongside a surfeit of seafood. In the Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue, Hakkasan is a place for the well heeled. Go here to impress a client seeking both privacy and some of the best cuisine in town, sipped down with elegant and classic cocktails.

Another great standout restaurant – famous without breaking the bank – is Prime One Twelve, a South Beach hotspot with an international celebrity following. Come here and dress to impress your clients with huge steaks, giant lobsters in a dining room that crackles with talent and money. Finally, there’s The Forge, with its futuristic enomatic wine bar, the best happy hour in town, and a menu that will make your eyes pop.

Cocktails

Area 31, located on the 16th floor of the Epic Hotel’s Bar, can’t be beaten for news and views. There’s a lively happy hour and a great snack menu, but most come here to greet-and-be-greeted. A great meet to take old clients and mingle with new ones. Another high-flying Miami watering hole is The B Bar at the Betsy, all rich colours and Vegas-style overload. Great music, great drinks, but also a bar that doesn’t shout about its presence: located in the basement, it’s reached via a discrete staircase.

Finally, there is the Bancroft Supper Club on Collins Avenue. Part sleek restaurant, part highfaluting night club, this wonderful place ticks an awful lot of boxes. The Bancroft goes on late: with that in mind, it makes sure that it dishes up an inventive list of global dishes with its signature cocktails and deep bench of quality wines.

Bed Down for the Night

The Mandarin Oriental, also home to Azul, can’t be beaten for elegance and atmosphere: it is the best place (as Mandarin Orientals so often are) in town to do business. Over at the Raleigh on Collins Avenue, you’ll find a more old-school view of Miami, and a great place to cut that important deal.

Finally a pot luck option: the W South Beach, a beachfront oasis at the heart of a celebrity playground, and a great business-oriented hotel. The W also remains one of the best places to hang out in the city. Once the sun goes down, and the evening breezes drift in off the Atlantic, this remains one of the best places in town to go.

Insider Knowledge

Days pass in a flash in Miami. Before you know it, it’s tomorrow, in large part because there’s so much to do here, from ocean tours to glass-bottomed boat rides, to beach trolling and celebrity spotting, particularly in the city’s high-end restaurants.

One attractions few people see in Miami is the Little Havana district, named after the Cuban capital. Full of buzzing cafes and bars, Little Havana also hosts the Calle Ocho every March, one of the world’s largest street festivals.