Mondrian South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
With a fairy tale–inspired design by Dutch superstar Marcel Wanders, the Mondrian is a sexy outpost of manufactured South Beach hipness. But scratching beneath the still-shiny surface (the hotel opened in December 2008) reveals some serious flaws. Guest rooms—there are 335, total—are large and comfortable, with even the smallest taking up over 500 square feet. All have kitchenettes and whimsical Wanders touches, such as Delft-style tiles painted with modern Miami scenes, boldly patterned rugs and wallpaper, and a chandelier that doubles as a showerhead in the mosaic shower. Unfortunately, that wallpaper was installed with a sloppy hand; doors bang into each other; the room's only full-length mirror is located in the shower; and spartan furnishings (a sofa but no coffee table, for example) limit the suites' entertaining potential. Public spaces fare a bit better. There is much to admire in the lobby, including gleaming white columns shaped like chess pieces and a floating staircase of filigreed black steel. Beyond lie a large bar and lounge, an Asia de Cuba restaurant, and the pool area—by far the most successful design element. The deck's subtle arc faces west, guaranteeing good sight lines and plenty of afternoon sun (on the beach, high-rise buildings often block the rays); its curtained-off seating areas, set up like outdoor living rooms with large floor pillows and red rococo chairs, are terrific for socializing. The scene at night, particularly on Fridays, is enjoyably boisterous…despite the abysmal service. Even by South Beach's diminished standards, the staff is slow, clueless, and minimally helpful (friendly, yes, and good-looking, of course—but that gorgeous smile isn't going to help you get a drink any faster). So, should you stay here? It is a great-looking hotel, and the bayside location (unlike its oceanfront brethren the Shore Club and the Delano) makes it a good place to avoid the madness of Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Anyone sensitive to lapses in service and design or concerned about value should look elsewhere (rates start at $495 in high season, and extra charges, like $37 a day for parking, are brazen). Peter J. Frank
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Despite its name, this 335-room newcomer on West Avenue is several blocks from the South Beach melee. What the curved tower lacks in SoBe Deco charm it more than makes up for with a Biscayne Bay view and Marcel Wanders's surreal decor. His theme is Sleeping Beauty's castle, which would be pretentious were it not transfixing: Giant chess-piece pillars grace the glossy white lobby; a black filigree staircase sweeps up from the bar area; and the beauty, presumably a manga-style cartoon waifpops up everywhere from the lobby to the suites. Pool cabanas, with Louis XVI chairs and piles of cushions, look like stage sets, and rooms have a monochrome palette and the odd splash of yellow in the form of a Droog (Wanders's design firm) armchair or sofa. The Sunset Lounge joins the usual Morgans Hotel Group staples: an Asia de Cuba restaurant and an Agua spa.2009 Hot List
When to go: Rub elbows with A-listers during Art Basel (Dec. 36, 2009).
Which room to book: If you're feeling flush, a Tower Suite for a vast terrace with a dining area and a hot tub.Subscribe now to Condé Nast Traveler for just $1 an issue! ›
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