Sometimes you want to visit a place that’s simply picture-postcard perfect, and fortunately for you, the new Esmé Miami Beach is the kind of hotel that’s a throwback to an era when people actually sent postcards. Occupying a full block on Miami’s famed Española Way, a few blocks from the ocean, Esmé’s five-year, $40 million dollar renovation is a lesson in how to create a place that is utterly new and yet completely timeless.
Opening any new business, let alone a hotel, in the middle of a pandemic is not something that Infinity Hospitality, Esme’s owner, would wish on anyone. Supply chain issues, permit delays, and staffing were all among the myriad challenges the company had to overcome. But overcome them they have, and the result is a stunning Miami Beach escape that pays tribute to its nearly century-old roots as a bohemian artist’s colony.
In order to stay true to the original spirit, the Esmé team enlisted Jessica Schuster to design all elements of the hotel. In keeping with the individualistic artistic nature of the location, no two suites are the same, and features a striking combination of jewel tones, textured mahogany, rich rose, sparkling emerald, and gold accents and warm, velvety light throughout – think Art Deco era Miami by way of the Mediterranean.
That Miami-Med approach also applies to the Esmé’s restaurant and bar offerings. The hotel features five unique properties – their proprietary El Salón, Bar Pintxo, and The Roof at Esmé – and two others – The Drexel and Tropezon – that are operated by some of Miami’s most successful and innovative restaurateurs. El Salón is like no other place I’ve seen – their bartenders, led by the brilliant Chris Hudnall, have created a cocktail program that defies convention, blending their own spirits to create categories like Traditional, Versatile, and Extraordinary, and a cocktail list divided into elements that include an extensive Martini section, as well as Retro (think Singapore Slings and Harvey Wallbangers), Citrus (Margaritas and Cosmos), and Tiki (Mai Tais and Pina Coladas).
Chef Fabian DiPaolo, a veteran of top kitchens including those of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, oversees the food at El Salon. His menu showcases small plates that celebrate the diversity of cultures and flavors in Miami, with nods to Venezuelan arepas, Cuban Medianoche sliders, and Argentinian empanadas. Bar Pinxto is DiPaolo’s take on a traditional Spanish tapas bar, with assorted snacks, beers, wines, and Spanish ciders, and is perfect for a casual, quick bite on your way out to the beach.
And what Miami experience would be complete without days spent lounging by the pool? Esmé’s is not to be missed. Situated on the hotel’s expansive roof, replete with cabanas, a full bar and restaurant, and wellness areas for guests to enjoy everything from yoga to “working” remotely. It’s quiet, but not too quiet; sexy, but not sleazy; and overall, my new favorite spot to sip a tequila while writing a story.
I think what I love about the Esmé Miami Beach is that it’s the kind of place where you could spend an entire day (and night) and feel like you’re exploring an entire neighborhood. It’s not a resort, at least not in the traditional sense; rather, it’s a new breed of hotel that subtly draws you in and makes it so that you never want to leave.