Tried & Tested: EAST Miami, USA
Home to the second largest financial district in the United States, the area of Brickell in Downtown Miami has traditionally been where the suits and business-types might stay. Holidaymakers? Not so much. But thanks to a burgeoning nightlife scene and the rise of upscale hotels like EAST Miami, travellers are now looking beyond the palm-lined streets of Miami Beach - it seems Downtown Miami is the place to be. What makes EAST Miami so special and why should you consider it when booking a sunshine break to the Magic City? Let us show you.
- What makes EAST Miami special?
- Room types
- What's the food like at EAST Miami?
- Things to do at EAST Miami
- Tried and tested tips
What makes EAST Miami so special?
EAST Miami opened in May 2016, and is the first Swire Hotels property to open in North America. Its sleek eastern-inspired design (masterminded by Clodagh Design, NYC), has been inspired by its sister properties across Asia.
One of the hotel's biggest draws is its location, right in the heart of a shiny new mall called Brickell City Centre. You can access this swanky inside-outside shopping centre from various entrances on the ground floor, or direct from the hotel, on level five. So guests are just steps away from designer brands, restaurants and entertainment.
Check in is quick and simple, and door staff are on hand to help you with your luggage. Once that's sorted, you'll get your first experience of the hotel's sophisticated, hi-tech approach when you use the touch-screen navigator to call your lift. The journey up is a psychedelic experience of twinkly lights projected through clever mirroring, which just about everyone wants to snap on their smartphone on their first visit. It's then a walk through smart, carpeted corridors to your room.
What are the rooms like?
Guestrooms at EAST are elegant and business-like with plenty of wooden and marble surfaces, and geometric-inspired lamp shades. Designed using Feng Shui principles, the rooms are simple, with minimal fuss. All the essentials (electronic safe, coffee and mini-bar facilities, iron and ample storage) are neatly hidden behind wooden doors and our room was kitted out with a 50" Samsung Smart TV, smart armchair and Malin & Goetz bath products.
The pièce de résistance is the floor-to-ceiling windows that allow light to spill in and offer incredible views over Miami. Our room, on the 35th floor, also had a wrap-around balcony with outdoor seating. The bathroom had a large monsoon shower cubicle and separate 'bath with a view' - complete with electronic blind. Yes, this place has the 'wow factor'.
"The pièce de résistance is the floor-to-ceiling windows that allow light to spill in and offer incredible views over Miami."
There are seven room categories at EAST varying from the 300-350 sq ft Urban Double to the 1.600 sq ft East Suite, which has the best views over Biscayne Bay. Aside from the Urban Double (which features a roomy shower), all rooms come with both a shower and bath, while one-bedroom suites (640-750 sqm) have luxurious living areas and some even feature a second bathroom. The hotel owns a collection of private residences, which are available to book on a short or long-term basis.
What's the food like?
The restaurant, Quinto La Huella, is first and foremost, Uruguayan. Interestingly, it's the first international outpost for the original Parador La Huella - a chic beach restaurant in the seaside town of José Ignacio that's won some coveted awards. Thanks to the footfall via a nifty entrance from the shopping mall, the restaurant has a buzzy ambience that so many other hotel eateries seem to lack. And the South American-inspired textiles, copper pottery and quirky artwork give it a trendy yet traditional vibe.
When it comes to the food, chef Nano Crespo serves up a range of Mediterranean-inspired dishes and, like Parador La Huella, there's a strong influence seafood theme. In keeping with EAST's Asian roots, you'll also find a sushi counter. But the biggest talking point here is the traditional wood-fired parrilla (grill), which is used to cook mighty fine meat and pizza.
"The restaurant has a buzzy ambience that so many other hotel eateries seem to lack."
I can highly recommend the chipirones - a flavour-packed starter of baby squid with punchy cherry tomatoes and salad leaves. Both this, and the Entrecôte ribeye steak (Uruguayan grass-fed) are gorgeously chargrilled and packed with flavour (my only criticism is the over-generous use of rock salt), served with a chimichurri sauce on the side.
The rack of lamb was a hit - deliciously tender (more so than the steak) - and the side orders of smashed potatoes and wood-oven baked vegetables were excellent. We couldn't possibly fit in desserts (the portions here are huge). Instead, we lingered on excellent glasses of Argentinian wine. My advice: arrive very hungry.
As for breakfast, guests staying at EAST can visit Quinto La Huella for a continental breakfast buffet, which children aged 4 to 9 can receive a 50% discount on (tip: the pastries are a hit). Alternatively, order a variety of pancake, fruit or egg dishes from the à la carte menu (go for the eggs benedict).
Downstairs in the lobby, you'll also find Domain, a sleek coffee shop-cum-bar, where you can pick up pastries and a cup of Java, made from the locally-roasted Panther coffee beans.
Sugar Rooftop Bar & Garden
For a night time tipple, bypass the crowds who eagerly queue for a table at the hotel's rooftop bar (guests get priority access). Located on the 40th floor, Sugar has quickly become the place to be seen after-hours in Downtown Miami. And despite the hype, it's not overly pretentious either, offering an interesting menu of Asian style tapas, beers, wines, spirits and cocktails, served by super friendly staff.
The Balinese-inspired outdoor garden is stunning and, if you like cocktails, try the sake-infused Lychee Blossom for a taste of the east. Feeling bold? Try a high-powered Nashi - a heady mix of Macallan 12-year-old whisky, cognac and Lillet Blanc, flavoured with tangerine and Nashi pear.
What activities are on offer at EAST Miami?
If there's one thing you stay in for at EAST, it's the innovatively-designed rooftop pool and deck set within an 'urban jungle' on the 5th floor. Made up of a bubbling Jacuzzi and spacious hot and cold pools, it's packed with bright orange parasols and sun loungers, cushioned concrete platforms and wicker chairs, spread across a leafy 20,000 sq ft space.
If you fancy a workout with a view, head to BEAST (Body by East), the 24-hour onsite gym where you'll find a good selection of fitness equipment and free weights.
When you're ready to head out, it's a short taxi ride to Miami's top sights such as The Wynwood Arts District, Adrienne Arsht Centre, Perez Art Museum Miami, and the American Airlines Arena (book ahead to catch the basketball) while South Beach is a 20 to 30-minute drive. The Shops at Mary Brickell Village are a few hundred yards away and the upscale boutiques of Brickell City Centre are merely steps away from your room. One of the highlights is a 'dine-in' movie centre that opened last year.
Tried and tested tips
If you're not sure which steak to order in the restaurant, talk to the waiting staff. They'll offer honest advice on which cuts are right for you.
Download the EAST Miami app when you arrive. It offers an extensive guide on things to do and places to see in the city.
If you want to see a different side to Miami Beach, book a guided look around with Art Deco Tours. This three-hour walking tour offers a fascinating look at the city's 1930s' architecture.
EAST Miami FAQs
Is there free wifi?
Yes, free wifi is available across EAST Miami at no extra charge and there is a strong signal throughout the hotel.
Is EAST suitable for families?
Yes. EAST does have a selection of room types (such as the Bay King rooms), which offer connecting rooms and they can include rollaway beds for an additional $40 per night as well as a list of local babysitting services. The hotel's private residences are also suitable for families and come with 1, 2 or 3-bedroom options and kitchens fitted with mod cons.
Where is EAST Miami located?
EAST Miami is located in the heart of Downtown Miami, overlooking Brickell Key and Biscayne Bay, It's a 20 to 30-minute drive from Miami Beach.
Is Downtown Miami walkable?
Downtown Miami and the Central Business District is very walkable; however, you may want to hop on the Miami Trolley, a free shuttle service that connects the city. Download the app at miamigov.com/trolley. Alternatively, it's easy to book a cab and both the light railway and Brickell railway station are close by.
What is EAST Miami's address?
EAST Miami, 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, FL 33131, USA, (+1 305 712 7000)
How do you get to EAST Miami?
EAST Miami is located a few minutes off the primary I-95 road and the I-396 road which leads to South Beach in Miami. It is a 15-minute drive from Miami International Airport and the Central Business District, and 40-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale International Airport. EAST can arrange airport pick-ups via MiRide from Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports from $75 and $127* respectively. EAST is adjacent to a Metromover light railway station and minutes away from the nearest Metrorail station, which connect Brickell to the rest of the city.
What are the room rates at EAST Miami?
Room rates for an Urban King at EAST start from $219 / night in low season and the EAST suite starts from $3,400 / night in low season*. For more information and booking, please visit EAST Miami's website.
If EAST Miami sounds like your kind of place, get booking online today. Don't forget, you can find out more about the weather in Miami and when we think is the best time to go to make full use of that gorgeous rooftop pool.
Weather2Travel.com stayed as a guest at EAST Miami in January 2018. All opinions are those of the writer. *All rates correct as of February 2018.
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