Cutting a fine art-deco figure above Miami’s golden sands, Nautilus by Arlo has all the laid-back charm of a beach house, but one with eight floors of mid-century-inspired rooms, a palm-fringed pool flanked by breezy cabanas, and a glitzy cocktail bar for the sun-seeking jet set.
Double rooms from £120.16 ($165), including tax at 14 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $44.46 per room per night on check-out.
Rates exclude breakfast; à la carte dishes are available rom US$6. The hotel charges a daily resort fee of US$39.90 excluding tax, which includes internet access, unlimited local calls, access to the gym and two beach loungers.
Idiosyncratic architect Morris Lapidus designed the hotel in the Fifties. Much of its original art deco flavour has been retained: look for his trademark ‘staircase to nowhere’, a quirky way to make a dazzling descent from a cloakroom into the sunken lobby.
At the hotel
Lounge, WiFi (included in resort fee). In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar, Ren toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Kitted out with vintage trunks, studded headboards and glass-walled marble bathrooms, rooms are fit for a mid-century jet-setter. King Superior rooms are sleek and cosy, and some have floor-to-ceiling views of Collins Avenue. You can spy on the Miami-Beach action from King Oceanfront Balcony rooms, but if you’d rather indulge in some solo sunbathing, the Penthouse has a sprawling terrace and unbeatable city views.
Take a dip in the 170sq m swimming pool, a heated saltwater affair with an underwater sound system. Set between two rows of gently swaying palm trees that lead right down to the beach, it’s an idyllic spot to soak up Florida’s rays. Its teak deck has inviting sunloungers and day-beds, but if you’re planning on staying a while, book one of the eight poolside cabanas, which have their own dining table, minibar and entertainment system.
Get into the bold Miami spirit with brocade, Balmain and itsy bitsy bikinis.
King Superior rooms and King Junior suites have been adapted for disabled guests, who also have ramp access to all the public areas.
Welcome, but extra beds are not available. Free baby cots can be added to all rooms and the suites and studios have a sofa bed that’s free for under-18s. The restaurant has high chairs and staff will happily arrange babysitting for US$20–$40 an hour.
Bag a table on the terrace to catch the balmy ocean breeze.
For Don-and-Betty poolside chic, pack relaxed shorts and a high-waisted bikini. In the evenings, bring out bold Missoni prints and crisp button-downs.
Inspired by the glorious sea views through its floor-to-ceiling windows, the Nautilus Cabana Club rustles up Mediterranean cuisine from fresh Floridian produce; it's a polished spot for a cosy tête-à-tête. Take a seat at the Pool Bar for light bites and ocean views. There's also round-the-clock coffee available for caffeine junkies at the Nauti Grind Bodega in the lobby, where you can also stockpile empanadas and other baked goods.
Who doesn't love a speakeasy? Barbershop by day, decadent cocktail den by night (yes, really), the Blind Barber gives patrons coming for a close back and sides a complimentary beer or cocktail to get them into the spirit (literally) – making it all too tempting to pop behind the salon chairs, past the 25-foot curtains and into a bygone South Beach bar with way more glamour (and rotating DJs), aka Backroom. And just steps from the beach, the palm-and-pebble Pool Bar whips up a mean frozen cocktail; they’re best sipped on the beach or in one of the Bolivian hammocks hidden among the palm trees.
Breakfast is served 7am–11.30am in Nautilus Cabana Club, which continues to serve food until midnight. Drinks are poured at the juice bar and pool bar until 6pm.
A selection of dishes from the restaurant is available around the clock.
The hotel stretches from Collins Avenue to the beach, at the heart of Miami’s buzzy oceanfront district.
The nearest airport is Miami International, a hub with flights from London, New York and other American cities. A taxi to the hotel takes 25 minutes and costs around US$40. Additional flights operate into Fort Lauderdale International Airport, a 40-minute drive away. A taxi from there costs around US$70.
Miami station, a 25-minute drive away, serves Amtrak trains from Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers.
You won’t need a car to explore the lively neighbourhood but, if you don’t mind Miami’s congested roads, hiring one is the best way to go further afield. Valet parking is available for US$40 a night excluding tax.
Worth getting out of bed for
Up-and-coming Mid-Beach may be the talk of the town, but South Beach is still where the action is. Once you’ve had your fill of poolside lounging, set out on foot to experience the neighbourhood’s laid-back buzz and vibrant food scene. Take a stroll down Lincoln Road, a pedestrian hotspot lined with interesting shops and eye-catching galleries. It’s also home to the Colony Theatre, a newly restored art deco venue. Nearby, Oolite Arts hosts artists’ residencies and cutting-edge exhibitions. If you’d rather play out on the water, the Boucher Brothers have a fleet of jet skis, waverunners and, yes, banana boats at your beck and call.
In South Beach, Stubborn Seed serves up a seasonally changing menu dreamed up by Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford; favourites include lavash bread with chicken-liver butter, tea-cured cobia and strawberry doughnuts with passionfruit sabayon. Book lavish multi-course tasting menu dinners or leisurely brunches; the 18-minute Southern-style biscuits are a can’t miss at the latter. Chic grey banquettes and tactile wood panelling nod to classic Italian films at Dolce, but, frankly, anywhere with a mozzarella bar would get our vote. Upland in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighbourhood echoes its sister New York City eatery in style and substance; its wood-fired pizzas steal the show at lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. For brunches that would do a Southern mama proud, head to Yardbird’s Miami outpost on Lenox Avenue and order your fill of maple-glazed bacon doughnuts, chicken’n’waffles, fried-green-tomato BLTs and savoury plates of shrimp n’grits.
From dive bar to swanky rooftop hangout, Miami has a drinking den for every taste. A good spot for a serious cocktail, The Broken Shaker on Indian Creek Drive muddles fresh garden herbs and Florida’s famed juices in heady concoction. We love the tropical outdoor areas at the Shore Club’s Skybar, festooned with oversized plant pots, Moroccan-inspired day-beds and hammocks just begging for louche behaviour. Sweet Liberty is a much-buzzed-about hotspot with a 4am kick-out time and a cocktail list to get stuck into – the signature piña colada comes with a Pedro Ximenez float.
Pro tip: when travelling in South America, never rely on the hotel clocks. Having just spent the week working in the blazing heat of Medellín, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to flying back to the blizzard wreaking havoc in New York. On my last night in Colombia, I got back to my room at 3am and set my alarm for an hour later, to give myself time to pack and head to the airport. But, as is not unusual, the power had gone out at some point during my doze, and my clock had reset.
I was woken up, fully clothed, just after 5am by the hotel bellboy pounding on the door. My driver was pacing anxiously in the lobby below. We drove through the dark at an uncomfortable speed, up the mountains surrounding Medellín to José María Córdova International Airport. I made it onto the flight just as they were closing the gate. But then… my early morning connection to JFK was via Miami. In my sleep-deprived state, the temptation was too great. I made the not-very-difficult decision to ‘miss’ my flight back to the snow. I cleared customs, and strolled out into the sun.
I checked in to Nautilus by Arlo in South Beach, and headed straight up to my room – it was artfully designed to resemble the cabin of an elegant yacht. The expertly stocked bar was built into a split luggage chest that looked like it belonged in the cargo hold of a Pan-Atlantic steamship. It was glorious. But something smelled off… and it was me. Thirty minutes later, after a shower and a gin and tonic, I was a new man. I ventured down to the pool to scope out the scene and find something to eat. It was a Monday morning, so it was quiet; I realised I'd need a companion for the two days that lay ahead.
I called Mrs Smith, back in snowy New York, and convinced her to skip out on work and book a last-minute flight to Miami. Meanwhile, I swam some laps in the pool and tucked into a grapefruit mimosa and a grilled-chicken sandwich, then napped happily on my lounger till late afternoon. Eventually, I relocated to the lobby bar with my laptop – ostensibly to work, although the art, palm trees and constant coming and going made it pleasingly difficult to focus. At a few minutes past eight, Mrs Smith walked through the doors and ordered a margarita, and soon we were off to meet friends at Nobu, nestled off the lobby at the Eden Roc hotel.
Three hours later, the four of us were still drinking 1942 on the rocks and downing Nobu's famous crispy rice. (If you’re Nobu-bound yourself, we particularly enjoyed the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, quail egg with tobiko, and sautéed scallops with wasabi sauce.) No one was in a rush to go home, so our next stop was the Faena hotel for a nightcap. We ordered another round of margaritas in the Living Room, Faena's decadent lobby lounge, and sipped them on a sofa while the DJ spun an upbeat remix of the Meters’ 1969 classic, Cissy Strut.
The sun was beaming when we woke up (late) so we breakfasted by the pool from the Nautilus’ Driftwood room. Celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli has turned it into a place all of her own, sourcing local ingredients to create a Mediterranean cuisine inspired by her roots in the French culinary-arts scene. After breakfast, Mrs Smith and I walked the boardwalk to Soho Beach House to use the gym and book a couples’ massage for later that afternoon. We spent the remainder of the morning on some beach chairs by the ocean, making plans to avoid next year's New York City winter at all costs. By the time we headed back for our massages, we were both convinced that next year we'd be moving to Central America in December.
By 3pm, we were back at the Nautilus, napping poolside in a cabana – there’s really nothing like it to help you recharge before a big night. Later, we made our way to the Edition hotel for drinks and a memorable dinner at the Matador Room, followed by a trip downstairs to Basement for some late-night bowling (and another round of cocktails). Our party ended the night back at the Nautilus, where we snuck into the pool with some beers smuggled from the room. I'm pretty sure security knew what was going on… but they played it cool and let us be.
As we were packing up the next morning I realized I’d left my credit card at Soho Beach House so sprinted up the boardwalk… and managed one more ocean dip before the flight to New York.