Miami Beach: The Setai
An Asian-influenced Art Deco hotel is a calming oasis overlooking the South Beach scene, with stellar dining options that range from expertly aged steaks to upscale comfort food.
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The Setai, Miami Beach2001 Collins Avenue 33139 Miami, FL, United States 305/520-6000 thesetaihotel.com
Sunrise yoga on the beach
Cocktails in the courtyard at night
Art Deco details and a stunning art collection
- The Spa at Setai
- Four restaurants
- Beach lounge chairs and day beds
- Rainfall showers and black granite baths
- In-room dining
- Wireless Internet
When I stepped into the Setai's lobby, the scent of jasmine and neroli wafting through the air had an instant calming effect on me. I was greeted by the friendly staff with a refreshing iced mint tea, and sat down to admire the hotel's interior while I waited for my travel companions to arrive. Though recently updated, recycled materials give the 1930s building a grand, centuries-old feel, and subtle design touches reference South Beach's Art Deco history as well as the movement's international reach—refurbished bricks from a Deco building in Shanghai make up the floor, and wall panels behind the bar and throughout the building are made with lattice from a Deco building in Belgium. Asian art, including cast metal statues from Thailand, antique pottery, and original paintings by Christian de Laubadère give the interior a lush, exotic feel that's underscored by rich material contrasts such as hand-woven rugs, bronze wall hangings, white jade, and stingray leather door handles. A huge table in the lobby is made from pavement salvaged from the royal city palaces of the Forbidden City of Beijing. The only reminder that I was still in Florida were the oranges displayed on pedestals throughout the courtyard and in bowls in the lobby.
My room was similarly well-appointed, with one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in (the pillows and bed linens were so cloud-soft I actually made a point to ask where they were from—a Singaporean brand called Ploh). After ditching my belongings, I was appreciative of a handsome woven beach bag and stylish black sandals that were waiting for me in my closet. I set out for the beach, and though the hotel has its own section with a sea of chairs and towels, I never made it past the pool area, where I relaxed with a glass of rosé and a spectacularly fresh Maine lobster salad.
The Setai's above-par food offerings were also a pleasant surprise. Breakfast is served buffet-style at The Restaurant, and includes a European-style breakfast, omelet bar, a particularly well-equipped yogurt and cereal bar with thoughtful additions like homemade jams and lavender sugar, and everything in between. By night, The Restaurant serves up Asian-inspired dishes such as Peking duck out of the expansive open kitchen, making dinner quite an event. Under the direction of executive chef Mathias Gervais, the revamped Setai Grill offers unabashed richness, sourcing top-shelf ingredients from around the world, including 30-day aged La Frieda & Sons steaks flown in from New York, Spanish Cinco Jotas ham, Maine scallops, and truffles used in more than one dish. The result is an upscale, New York-style steakhouse with European technique that seamlessly fused luxury and comfort. Favorite dishes included garden heirloom tomatoes with black mission tree figs, micro basil, and aged balsamic, and a 30-day dry-aged steak served Béarnaise sauce and a truffled potato gratin.
IN THE AREA
- The Broken Shaker: In the back of a newly trendy Freehand Miami hostel, this Miami Beach bar pumps out cocktails composed of fresh-pressed juices, as well as syrups, bitters, and infusions made from garden herbs and spices. 2727 Indian Creek Drive; tel: 305/531-2727; thefreehand.com
- Luminaire Lab: Though primarily focused on furniture and lighting design, the small selection of kitchenwares offered by this contemporary store in Miami's newly overhauled design district make it worth a visit. 3901 NE 2nd Ave; tel: 866/579-1941; luminaire.com
- Khong River House: Sourcing Thai produce from nearby farms in Homestead, FL, Khong serves up authentic, farm-to-table dishes from along the Mehkhong River region. The beverage menu is gin-focused, with over 40 different bottles available. 1661 Meridian Avenue; tel: 305-763-8147; khongriver.com