At a Glance
Decadent and fantastical, the Baz Luhrmann-designed Faena Hotel brings a sense of fabulous Latin heat and glamour to Miami Beach. It’s one of Miami’s most unique properties, and its candy-red-and-white umbrellas—and sumptuous arts, dining and entertainment venues—are practically considered local landmarks.
- The whimsically over-the-top design, emphasizing gilded details, vibrant murals, pops of bright red and leopard print, velvet and jewels
- Los Fuegos restaurant, which serves Argentine fare from celebrated chef Francis Mallmann
- The calming spa—a bright, full-floor oasis overlooking the ocean
The Faena Hotel Miami Beach, from the famed Argentinian developer Alan Faena, brings a sense of drama to Mid-Beach (also home to the Edition hotel, located just a few minutes' walk south along the boardwalk). Guests of this sparkling hotel enter not through a lobby, but through “The Cathedral,” a cavernous and columned space lined with 632,000 mosaic tiles and gold-leaf murals by Argentinian painter Juan Gatti. The back doors of The Cathedral open to the gardens, where Damien Hirst's Gone But Not Forgotten, a gilded 24-karat wooly mammoth skeleton, stands nearly 10-feet tall inside a glass cage. Movie director Baz Luhrmann—responsible for the theatrical films The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge—leant his over-the-top aesthetic to every aspect of the hotel. The result, indeed, feels much like a Luhrmann spectacle come to life.
The Faena is the centerpiece of the billion-dollar Faena District, an arts and culture quarter envisioned by Alan Faena. The district encompasses the oceanfront blocks on Collins Avenue from 32nd to 36th Streets in the city’s burgeoning Mid-Beach neighborhood. The District also comprises Faena House, a condo building designed by architect Norman Foster; the Faena Versailles residential towers; Faena Forum, a culture and performance center designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA; Faena Bazaar, a retail space also designed by Koolhaas; and Casa Faena, a historic hotel that’s been reborn as an artsy 50-room guesthouse.
If you’re looking for cookie cutter rooms, go elsewhere: the 179 guest rooms and suites at the Faena are lush in details, textures and personality. Still, accommodations are decidedly more understated and functional than the fantastically sumptuous common areas (and rooms are comfortably sized, with the smallest starting at 463 square feet, with a partial ocean view—while the Penthouse Suite is staggering at 14,507 square feet, with ample amenities). White walls and linens provide just enough soothing balance to the flourish of mahogany armoires, teal-coral lamps, leopard print ottomans and red textiles.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, Los Fuegos, is the first American opening from famed Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann. The steakhouse is asado-style, and guests can sit al fresco to order wood-grilled meats and rustic accompaniments while smoke from the fires billows overhead. Come evening, the restaurant’s lounge area, The Living Room, becomes a buzzy bar and nightclub, where DJs play their sets to a crowd of glamorously-dressed revelers. The Faena also houses Pao by Paul Qui, a modern Asian restaurant that sits in a dome-shaped room opposite the gardens from Los Fuegos. Despite the casual buzz and (another) golden Hirst sculpture in the center (this time, a horse/unicorn), the space and atmosphere of Pao provides a more serene departure from the rest of the hotel.
The holistic Tierra Santa Healing Spa is another refuge, with a shot of Faena’s playfulness. A pure white backdrop sets off a multicolored chandelier and directs attention to the ocean views. The beautiful hammam spa is Miami Beach’s largest at 22,000 square feet, with multiple hot and cold pools, waterfalls, steam rooms, ice chambers and scrub treatments worthy of spending a day; the gym is likewise well-equipped. Here, there is also a fantastic boutique for any last-minute, high-fashion looks that may be needed. For down a spiral staircase off the Cathedral, The Faena Theater hosts a regular cabaret-style dinner show, with a private Art Deco bar tucked away next door. Plus: Don't miss the newer addition of El Secreto, a six-seat omakase experience, also by Paul Qui.
And outside, to the left of Hirst’s wooly mammoth, the pool is one of Miami’s most photogenic, with red lounge chairs and plenty of palm trees. Guests also have access to a prime stretch of sand, with retro-style, fringed red-and-white umbrellas providing much-needed shade from the South Florida sun.
Who Should Stay
Those looking to embrace Miami at its most dramatic, and travelers who want a nightlife scene and prime beach access at their hotel—with a side of fantastic Argentinian cuisine. The hotel welcomes families (and it does offer connecting rooms), couples, friends and solo travelers alike; however, the décor and atmosphere are decidedly adult and skew lively yet sophisticated.
— Original copy by Meredith Santonelli
Written by Indagare