All aboard Palihouse Miami Beach in Florida, a stylish steamliner that will teleport you to a much more golden age. The palm-lined pad is dazzling white outside, but the interiors are a playful mix of pastels, striped headboards and terracotta walls, with letterman-jacket-style Ps monogramming the cushions, dressing gowns and hanging fixtures. The pool bar bears the words ‘swim club’ – it might be more appropriate if it said ‘mezcal hatch’, but either way, you’re in for a good time, especially during one of the regular events on the social calendar.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability and a fee (US$100 for 1pm; US$150 for 2pm, after which an additional day rate will be charged). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £81.77 ($103), including tax at 14 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $25.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (from US$14 a person).
The hotel has a monthly events calendar, with things like patio cookouts by the pool, canine-friendly Yappy Hours and Mezcal Mondays to make everybody’s least favourite day of the week better.
At the hotel
Valet parking, bicycles to borrow, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: HD TV, tea and coffee kit, air-conditioning and Palisociety bath products. Studios have a kitchenette.
Our favourite rooms
Who needs the ocean when you can have the Indian Creek? Request a room overlooking this stretch of half-naturally-occurring, half-man-made water for the classic Floridian view, and you’ll get sunset thrown in (since they’re also helpfully west-facing).
There’s a heated outdoor pool that’s part of Greenbrier Swim & Social for guests to use.
There’s no spa, but the hotel can arrange for guests to visit the one up the road at the Edition. In-room treatments can also be arranged.
There are some serious vintage vibes – Mrs Smiths, bring your best pin-up-worthy swimwear; Mr Smiths, let Vilebrequin do the stylish-shorts selecting for you.
The communal areas are easily accessible for wheelchair users and there are specially adapted King Rooms available.
Petite pooches (weighing in at under 30lbs) are welcome; for US$150 a booking, treats, bowls, beds and a dog’s guide to Miami will be provided. There are even regular ‘Yappy Hours’ on the calendar, where neighbourhood hounds come along to join the fun. See more pet-friendly hotels in Miami.
All ages welcome, but the hotel isn’t especially family friendly. Extra beds and cots can be added for US$40 each a night, and children are welcome in the bar and restaurant at all times (though there’s no special menu). Babysitting can be arranged.
There are plenty of spots to choose from, but nothing can beat a poolside bottle of rosé (although the creek-side patio comes close).
All-out Americana: letterman jackets, pleated miniskirts and pretty pastels to match the retro interiors; pompoms, too far.
Greenbrier Swim & Social is a pool, bar, restaurant, creek-facing patio and lobby lounge all in one. The menu sticks to the tried-and-tested hotel and American classics: Paliclub sandwiches, grilled cheese, lobster rolls and the hearty Greenbrier salad with cheddar, chicken, beets and bacon. Breakfast highlights include the house-made banana bread with mascarpone and jam, and the buttermilk waffles with berries and maple butter.
Steel yourself for tequila- and mezcal-based mixes: potent Mexican firewater is king around here, but there’s a whole host of other crafty cocktails up the bar wizards’ sleeves, too. There’s a bar counter in the lobby lounge and one by the pool. Try the Sharp Little Guy: rye whiskey, vermouth, sherry, lapsang souchong and smoke (just don’t expect to be so sharp afterwards). Bar snacks are served between 3pm and 9pm, at which point a late-night menu takes over until 11pm. Local beers are also on hand for anyone wanting to play it safe.
Food is served all day until 11pm, with breakfast hours from 7am to 3pm (hello, lie-in). The bar stops serving at midnight.
A selection of lighter plates, salads and sandwiches can be served in-room.
You’ll find this Palihouse outpost in the Sunshine State’s party capital: specifically, in Miami Beach’s Mid-Beach area.
Miami International Airport is a 25-minute drive away; hotel transfers can be arranged, or just hop in an Uber or Lyft.
College Bayside Metromover – the city’s free automated-train system – station is a mile away; from there you can hop around the city.
It’s about a 10-minute drive to South Beach, and about half an hour or so on foot to the top of Ocean Drive. If you want to see more of Miami Beach and the mainland, it’s worth hiring a car – but taxi apps make getting around the city easy and parking-hassle free. Parking at Palihouse is $25 a day including tax.
Worth getting out of bed for
Spend the day at Palihouse’s sociable swim club, where mezcal and tequila tipples get the parties started, as does the convivial calendar of events, which include cookouts on the patio and bring-your-pup cocktail hours. It’s only a couple of blocks to the beach, but the hotel’s convertible Moke is clearly the superior way to get there. Beach butlers will drop you off, set you up with chairs, parasols, towels and lunch-filled coolboxes, then come to collect you when you’ve had enough sea and sand. Or borrow one of the hotel bicycles to explore your new ’hood. The hotel driver will also drop you off in any of the nearby neighbourhoods in the Moke if you ask nicely.
The Bass on Collins Avenue is the city’s prime contemporary-art museum, set in a historic, 1930s building, and the place to catch various major exhibitions. Stroll the Miami Beach Boardwalk if you’re a fan of the city’s famous candy-coloured lifeguard stations; the elevated part runs from 24th to 46th Street, with a paved bit taking over all through the Ocean Drive Promenade down to 5th Street. The palm-lined open-air mall Bal Harbour Shops has been giving Miami’s designer-clothing fans somewhere to shop since 1965. Bal Harbour Beach is a little quieter and wider than Miami, but if you prefer to leave the swimwear at home, try the ‘clothing-optional’ Haulover Beach. See the makeover bestowed upon a previously gritty quarter of Midtown Miami with a trip to the now-flashy Design District to check out the elaborate architecture, monolithic public artworks and glamorous galleries. It’s also a great place to shop, with boutiques by American brands like Alice & Olivia and Rag & Bone.
If you love art deco architecture, you’ve come to the right place: join a walking tour to have someone helpfully point out the city’s prettiest, pastel-coloured heritage buildings.
Southern comfort classics (fried chicken, biscuits, shrimp’n’grits) are on offer at Yardbird; for almost-as-good-as-NYC pizza, head to Lucali, the Miami outpost of a Brooklyn favourite. Seafood lovers will enjoy the Stiltsville Fish Bar ‘tackle box’: oysters, lobster tail, royal red shrimps and snapper ceviche. As for the best Italian food on Miami Beach, that can be found at Macchialina and Sylvano’s.
Good times are pretty much guaranteed at Sweet Liberty, where a cocktail-loving crowd keeps things entertaining. Or go for a short back and sides at Nautilus by Arlo’s Blind Barber, and try to find the Backroom (tip: it’s behind the 25-foot curtains) so you can stick around for some local libations.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this art deco hotel in Florida and unpacked their retro swimwear and sunglasses, a full account of their Stateside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Palihouse Miami Beach…
Bienvenidos a Miami and welcome aboard the good ship Palihouse, a sleek steamliner of a stay in a quieter corner of Florida’s party capital. The dazzlingly white deco design has a row of palm trees out front, with lots more greenery by the pool. The rooms have terracotta walls, striped headboards and diamond-tiled floors, and retro details that the hipsters out there are going to love: curtained kitchen sinks, phones that have cords and clocks that make a ticking sound. The olive-green pool bar proudly bears the words ‘swim club’ and this is definitely a set you’ll want to fall in with. Luckily, there are regular events where you can meet some Miami residents (and their dogs) and taste enough mezcal to make Hunter S Thompson proud. You can show your hand by wearing the monogrammed dressing gown, emblazoned with letterman Ps for Palihouse. There’s a reason why Will Smith always winded up stayin’.