Travel: The Hotel of South Beach

We found The Hotel of South Beach for our long weekend in Miami and couldn’t have been happier. A boutique, art deco hotel one block off the ocean with a perfect rooftop pool? Perfect.

The rooms aren’t big – boutique art deco means small – but gorgeous, fully adequate and very Miami feeling. The rest of hotel was magical as well. Even more so, the service was mind-blowing. The guys at the desk, the bell hop, the valet, the other guys in the lobby — all went out of their way to take care of us.

Miami isn’t known for its service, but these guys were impeccable. I call them “guys” because they were literally all guys and joked with Leo about having the guts to wear a Cavaliers jersey in Heat-country, made sure I never lifted a bag on my own, held doors and shot the shit with Leo at every chance they had. Loved them.

This kind of service isn’t midwestern hospitality – it didn’t feel coached or like it was expected. It was almost an unspoken bond between Leo and the staff, which I didn’t need to be in on, but they all were. The team at the Hotel of South Beach treated us like royalty and their old friends at the same time. Perfection. The service alone would draw 5 stars from us, but add in the room, bathroom, pool and reserved chairs on the beach? Is more than 5 stars even possible?

Possibly the best part? Roof top pool overlooking the ocean that never had more than five people on the deck, a bar and cabanas for sipping cocktails and towels brought to you as needed. Of course, I forgot to take even mobile pictures of the pool or the hotel. Oh well, you get the gist.

This is living.

Lounging at the pool looking at the ocean. Utter peace with service as needed.
Lounging at the pool looking at the ocean. Utter peace with service as needed.
Apparently you aren't supposed to wear Cavs jerseys in Miami? Didn't slow Leo down.
Apparently you aren’t supposed to wear Cavs jerseys in Miami? Didn’t slow Leo down.

Travel: Sunrise on South Beach

Following dinner at the delicious Havana 1957, we headed to meet with a friend of Leo’s from high school and his girlfriend. We went to their apartment complex – equal to a resort in my eyes, with the views and the pools (yes, plural) of the nicest resorts – and partied late into the night. Meeting folks I can only describe as classic Miami – models (yes, really) and entrepreneurs – was a blast and relaxing on a patio overlooking the beautiful city and the water couldn’t be beat!

While we were leaving, our friends suggested heading back to the beach to enjoy the sunrise and breakfast back on the side of the island where our hotel was. We had a romantic morning goofing around on the beach, watching the sun come up, wading into the ocean and watching as the city slowly woke up before we’d even gone to bed!

This is South Beach Miami.

A quiet South Beach bright and early in the morning.
A quiet South Beach bright and early in the morning.
I'm not one to stay up all night, so I requested proof in the form of a photograph....
I’m not one to stay up all night, so I requested proof in the form of a photograph….
Which turned into a little photoshoot!
Which turned into a little photoshoot!
Leo managed to capture me at my best angle despite being up still at 7 am!
Leo managed to capture me at my best angle despite being up still at 7 am!
Trying to keep the purse dry, but hardly caring because the water was so warm.
Trying to keep the purse dry, but hardly caring because the water was so warm.
Love him and love Miami. Just lots of love.
Love him and love Miami. Just lots of love.
Cell phone in hand about to be a photographer.
Cell phone in hand about to be a photographer.
Watching the sun come up with the love of my life. Amazing.
Watching the sun come up with the love of my life. Amazing.
This sums up the whole trip - relaxing.
This sums up the whole trip – relaxing.

Travel: Havana 1957

While this place was on the beaten path of South Beach's popular Espanola Way, the flavors and impeccable service did not disappoint.
While this place was on the beaten path of South Beach’s popular Espanola Way, the flavors and impeccable service did not disappoint.

I dream of one day going to Cuba, but due to some, ahem, restrictions, it isn’t happening anytime soon. My May visit to Miami, almost a celebration of our engagement, only fueled that desire even more!

One of my favorite evenings of the trip started on Espanola Way on South Beach. The strip of restaurants has everything you can imagine, but we landed at Havana 1957 at the suggestion of our wonderful hotel staff. Our wish was for authentic Cuban cuisine without venturing too far from where we were staying.

They suggested reservations. We ignored, not wanting to commit without scoping the place first. But the enormous smile of the hostess and her warm welcome pulled us right into this open air Cuban restaurant. All the wait staff, dressed in white and red,  sauntered around the crowded, though not overly so, restaurant, bar and patio with a rhythm that my Anglo ancestry will never afford me. Bummer.

The staff humored me with the assumption that I spoke Spanish (my recently colored dark brown hair and hispanic fiance may have helped my case, but I think they were just being kind) and Juan Carlo, our waiter, charmed us completely. At his suggestion, we each ordered a standard Cuba Libre with a selected rum. With real Coke in a glass bottle poured over a tasty rum, I was sold before even eating dinner!

Alas, we were there to eat. I was craving seafood being so close to the ocean from land-locked Denver, but Leo wanted red meat. I ordered the Pescada a la Plancha, again at Juan Carlo’s suggestion, and was not disappointed. Fresh food with light flavors absolutely hit the spot on a hot evening on South Beach. The dish comes with a side salad, but I recommend swapping it for the black beans which are absolutely incredible.

Leo chose the Churrasco a la Cubana, a flank steak with grilled onions, white rice and black beans. It is amazing what the chef makes white rice and black beans taste like. Words would fail me, and disappoint the chef so I won’t try.

Anyways, the restaurant was a perfect dinner out, and we finished it with a walk up and down Espanola Way before heading out on the town for a Friday in South Beach.

Located right on the corner of Washington and Espanola Way, this is a perfect place for a romantic dinner with a uniquely Cuban flair.
Located right on the corner of Washington and Espanola Way, this is a perfect place for a romantic dinner with a uniquely Cuban flair.
At night, this lights up with all the restaurants and bustle of visitors to South Beach.
At night, this lights up with all the restaurants and bustle of visitors to South Beach.
Leo and I so happy after dinner and a walk along Espanola Way.
Leo and I so happy after dinner and a walk along Espanola Way.