One of Miami's best hotels, The Setai's oriental inspired design sets it apart from other luxury South Beach hotels and makes for a welcome change that is being enjoyed by celebrities across the globe. Sexy, cool, yet discreet, the hotel's unrivalled calm and hushed atmosphere held within its seemingly fortified walls gives the utmost sense of privacy and intimacy. Like no other hotel in Miami, the sophisticated Setai proudly boasts a Leading Hotel of the World label and banks its success on simple, calm and soothing elements throughout, making it a perfect little haven of peace and quiet for guests needing to get away from it all whilst still having access to Miami's buzzing nightlife and beach scene. Although the hotel does welcome families, it is recommended that the children be extremely well-behaved to avoid any steely glares from Miami's high-society.
The Setai is located in South Beach, or SoBe' as it is known, but further up Collins Avenue, which is the main road that runs across Miami Beach up to Aventura. The hotel is thus not located at the heart of the Art Deco district - guests need to travel via taxi in order to get to the centre of South Beach as it is about 20 minutes' walk away. Downtown is a 20 minute taxi ride away and the airport is 30 minutes away by car (traffic-depending). The hotel is however located on the promenade that lines Miami Beach and has its own private access to the beach meaning that guests don't have to walk all the way around to get there. There isn't much in the way of things to do in the direct surroundings.
If you are planning on visiting Miami by car, do enquire about parking beforehand as it can be extremely expensive in Miami (up to $40 a day). Hotels usually have their own car park and the cost depends on the season. Although the hotel doesn't quite turn away families, be aware that you may not feel completely at ease here with screeching children. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, including in the rooms. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the hottest celebrities like Beyoncé or Lenny Kravitz who has set up a recording studio somewhere within the hotel. Also good to know, and on a more serious note, is that the hotel has obtained the Green Globe Certification.
The Setai is part of the GHM luxury group, which runs various hotels around Asia and the Middle East, including the memorable The Chedi, Muscat, Oman.
Inaugurated in 2005, The Setai is one of Miami's best hotels in that it sits self-confidently alongside Miami's brasher, louder, more emblematic hotels without the need to constantly attract attention. The Setai knows that it doesn't really do the whole Art Deco thing and it doesn't really want to anyway. The hotel's Art Deco facade is where the South Floridian 1930s architecture ends. It was a welcome addition to an already brimming funky scene which was screaming out for a more sophisticated alternative - and The Setai has managed to fill that niche just perfectly.
As you enter the dark lobby, you step into an entirely other world that is daunting and comforting all at once. As you set foot on the polished cobblestones, which originate from China's Lost City, a weight lifts as you know that you are about to embark on a holiday not like any other. The pace here suddenly slows down. The only audible noise is the quiet soothing oriental lounge music and the occasional clink of champagne glasses being tidied away by the bar staff.
The lobby is the most impressive area of the hotel. With its play on light and texture that is a recurring theme throughout the hotel it absorbs any intruder inside its fortress walls. The dark tones used in the lobby are offset by strategically placed oranges exhibited like art work. Use of fruit in this way emphasises an ironic message about nature's place in our world.
The hotel bar is located behind the behind lobby area where mixologists will happily stir up a little something to drink with the macerated fruit in the jars set along the bar. The bar has a beautiful outdoor area with smart poolside furniture set up around a pool feature (obviously not for swimming so don't jump into your swimmers just yet). This area is most beautiful in the evenings by candle light. Events take place here all the time, so even if you're not planning on staying at the hotel, check out what's on and book a table for the bar.
The rest of the hotel is a maze of rooms divided up into two buildings. The pool is also a favourite celeb hangout, as is the pool side beach bar (it has beautiful views of the beach that lies just across the promenade) and really comes alive at night under the stars. Another favourite hang-out of our at The Setai was its fabulous Asian fusion restaurant on the ground floor - sit at the bar and watch while your food is being cooked by chefs from all over Asia.In the way of facilities, the hotel has everything you would expect from a five star hotel, including a gym and spa, which are on par with the rest of the hotel.
The rooms are a lot more tones down in comparison to the rest of the hotel. However, a lot of attention to layout and use of colour and textures has gone into the overall design. Some guests may find the rooms fairly plain and others may find the plain decor soothing.
The Setai has two buildings; the first, the Art Deco building, has eight floors, whereas the second entirely glass building, has forty floors. The original building is where you will find rooms with a more refined decor whereas the other rooms have more of a contemporary atmosphere. Guests who stay as a family prefer the more modern rooms, which are more spacious and come with PlayStations. These rooms are also fitted with full kitchens including a washing machine. All rooms have a wonderful panoramic view of the iridescent South Floridian waters down below. The high-thread count Swiss linen looks soothingly crisp and clean. The rooms have all the expected mod-cons, including large flat screen televisions, Bose surround sound systems, iPod and docking stations, kindles, espresso machines as well as the small touches making the stay extra special, like a goody bag containing a sarong, umbrella, sandals...For the full Setai experience shell out a little extra and get yourself a corner room - the views from the floor to ceiling windows are worth it. The bathrooms are well-appointed and jus as tasteful as the rooms. All toiletries are of The Setai brand. All rooms have a bath tub for bath friends.
The hotel has a main restaurant, The Restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here you will find various Asian delights blended in with European touches. Be prepared to sample the crème de la crème of fusion food rustled up by the restaurant's Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian and European chefs. Sit at the bar and watch as the nimble chefs prepare your meal with precise and delicate movements. The restaurant is one of the most popular addresses in Miami so don't be surprised to see a couple of familiar faces. The breakfast in renowned for being the most elaborate in town and includes over 100 specialities. Don't miss Sunday brunch (11:30am-4:30pm), which is usually graced with live Jazz. You'll find a range of European, American and Asian dishes on offer as well as champagne on tap all afternoon. It is worth noting that Miami's largest wine cellar is here at The Setai, and is comprised of over 3000 wines, sparkling wines and champagnes.
The restaurant's decor is as soothing as the rest of the hotel, but for the full experience, go over relax by the zen pool feature adorned with tall elegant palm trees just outside.
As an alternative dining option, why not try the Grill (open evening only), where you will be pleasantly surprised by the restaurant's array of grilled food, from red meat to fish and seafood. You can also order small bites like the restaurant's range of sophisticated tapas à la Miami: fois gras with a light apricot marmalade, black truffle risotto, kiwi and black chocolate salad...Sample a unusual (bordering on bizarre) cocktail - bacon and sage infused in Bourbon anyone? Go on, give it a try.
At lunchtime the pool bar offers lots of Mediterranean alternatives to The Restaurant's more sophisticated dishes, and you will find your usual selection of pizzas, salads, all à la Setai, of course. And for a cocktail or two, the bar inside or by the zen pool, is a great way to unwind after a hearty meal or a long night out.
The beach is right across the promenade that lines Miami Beach. The hotel has its own access leading to the beach. The beach is clean, wide, golden, sandy...all the things one would expect from Miami! The hotel has a designated beach area where guests have access to sun loungers and parasols (beach service is included in the room rate). However most guests tend to go for the chic 'at the pool' look (who would want to get a Dior bathing suit all sandy anyway?), where they can get all the service and privacy they want.
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