Story and Photos by Helen Hewetson
We recently had the pleasure of heading to one of Miami’s most fascinating historic hotels: The Eden Roc Miami Beach.
Located at the north end of the South Beach strip, it was still a bustling part of town, but a welcome relief from the hectic pace of the other hotels further south. Right on the beachfront board- walk, the location was convenient for almost everything we wanted to do. It took about 45 minutes to walk to the Art Deco district, and it was a similar distance to the Lincoln Road Mall (an outdoor pedestrian-only shopping and dining area).
Walking was the most fun – if only for the people-watching – but there was an easy bicycle-rental just outside the hotel and with no hills around, it was a great way to get about. The bus was also quite convenient (and, air-conditioned!) but exact change ($2.25) was necessary. Cabs or limos are plentiful if you’d prefer a car and driver.
The hotel itself is stunning. The architecture is Miami Modernist – or MiMo – style. Popular in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s and now a protected cultural touch point, MiMo is specific to Miami and has a great deal of similarity to Art Deco.
The Eden Roc’s grand lobby has many of the original Miami Modern features (inlaid Terrazo tiles, beautifully ornate pillars, wrought-iron railings and sunken floor), and there are some classy additions – funky furniture, a spectacular chandelier, and a feature bar. Where, it must be said, the mojitos are truly divine.
The hotel has a fascinating history – with famous guests and storied tales of business relationships gone sour. The original tower was built in 1956 by Morris Lapidus (the father of the “MiMo” movement) and that’s where we stayed. Every room has a view of the ocean – the sunrise was gorgeous – and the room amenities were wonderful. Super comfy beds and linens, a massive bathroom with gorgeous glass tiles, Aveda toiletries, plush bathrobes and slippers. It was a delight.
The onsite spa was also quite amazing. I sampled a relaxation massage and found myself nearly falling asleep.And as a bonus, if you book a spa appointment you can spend hours using the steam room or sauna, the hydrotherapy baths, the jacuzzi, or the rainforest shower. When you’re done you can relax on the comfy seats in the sunny spa lounge, either overlooking the pool or curled up by the fireplace, this calm oasis was full of thoughtful features: soft blankets to curl up under, magazines to flip through and even apple-infused ice water. It was all very sumptuous.
But the very best thing about the Eden Roc Hotel was the on-site farm-to-table restaurant, Fifteen Steps. The new(ish) chef, Jeremy Ford, is passionate about his cooking – explaining that he knows all of his suppliers so well that he can now trust them to call him when there’s something particularly noteworthy. He puts in his fish orders at midnight so he has the freshest possible catch.
His enthusiasm was infectious, and by the end of our short chat I had learned about all sorts of mangoes (apparently there are dozens of varieties), was excited by the thought of fresh snapper, and wanted to try fishing for myself.
The true test was his food, which lived up to our expectations. Everything we ate was outrageously good, from the homemade preserves at breakfast to the ridiculously yummy tuna crudo (fresh, raw tuna with Meyer lemon vinaigrette and citrus bubbles) at dinner. And the shrimp and grits I had one night were so good I briefly considered licking the plate.
The Eden Roc provided excellent, understated service – it was never stuffy or snooty – and the clientele were friendly and laid-back. Just what I’d expect from a hotel with the Eden Roc’s history: Nat King Cole reputedly sang “Unforgettable” here the first time it was performed in public – because another hotel didn’t want a person of colour on stage.
The Eden Roc has always been a classy place and it lived up to all expectations.
Go to www.edenrocmiami.com/ for more information or to book.