Like any piece of art, there are layers to this hotel, and by no mere coincidence, their relationship with art is what fuels the hotel’s decor and ambiance. The moment you step up onto the veranda and the front doors open for you, you know that this is different from any other Art Deco hotel on Ocean Drive. Inviting and classy immediately spring to mind; with a distinct mansion-on-the-beach vibe, you wend your way through the art filled corridors and up to the roof, discovering the rich textures that evoke nothing short of deep feelings of being truly welcomed into this space. You to begin to create a deeper relationship with the art of relaxing and enjoyment. Having had the original oceanfront hotel in the family for well years and years, the proprietors decided to expand and with that expansion being recently completed, it allows more of us to partake in its, now almost extinct, upscale Ocean Drive ambiance. The Betsy is the embodiment of the classic South Beach experience that made Ocean Drive a destination. It is part art, a piece of music, lined with poetry, and steeped in history, all while maintaining its pole position as a modern hip hotel. To say it’s everything would be an overstatement but to say that it’s great would actually hit the nail on the head.
Positioned at the tippy top of the strand, you overlook Ocean Drive with ease, yet are worlds away from the now pervasive blasts of music and hecklers found only a couple of blocks south of here. At The Betsy, things are the way South Beach was when it first became a destination, but before two beers in a giant margarita glass was even a thing, much less a thing to be caught doing. This is classic class and casual refinement. Somehow being on the veranda, inches from the sidewalk, you’re elevated and away from the passing crowd but still in prime position to people watch. Admit it, it’s a guilty pleasure and as long as we aren’t being mean to others, no harm done. Plus, from here you can see the fresh and fabulous arrive, in addition to the cast of characters that make South Beach an eclectic sensory experience. From fast cars and people to couples strolling along, you get to see it all. The Lamborghini and Bentley crowd make sense this high up on the street. Close the top they say the cream always rises and here it holds to be true. If you’ve been to Miami lately, you’ll know what this means and if you haven’t you’ll have to come and see the magic for yourself. You can find almost anything you want here, but sometimes it’s good to know what you’re getting and when you know what you want, you’ll definitely put The Betsy on your list of places to stay. Have no fear when leaving the comfort of the hotel itself.
When the weather is in the 70° range and breezy, you can’t help but fit in as much outside time as possible and with the beach club style offerings for their guests, the sand and sea call. Not to worry, although you’re well taken care of on the sand with chairs, umbrellas, seat covers and towels, you’re on the beach with access to a great mix of people, so you won’t feel like you are in a bubble, but rather mixing and mingling with those who make Miami so colorful and lively. We did it on two of our days on South Beach. You have to get in as much time on the and as possible, but sometimes there are other options tugging at you.
In this boutique hotel, there are tons of choices, but you can’t go wrong no matter what mood you are in. Opt for the beach club feel or pick from either of the two pools. There’s a rooftop option and a courtyard pool. All three in a day are very doable. This is Miami and the weather is mostly fabulous all year long. Our spur of the moment plan was to spend the morning on the beach, grab a front row seat, lunch back on Ocean Drive and a chill afternoon dip by the pool in the courtyard. Sunset had to be spent swimming in the rooftop pool. Being there as the sun sets is like being in a painting. The coloring of the sky…sublime as the sun settles over the bay, the ambient light over the Atlantic is soft and its reflection appears to dance against the rhythmic pulsations of the waves that are just beyond the tree line. Meanwhile, the pool is bathed in the same pallet.
When it all fades to black, we were more than ready for dinner and drinks at LT Steak & Seafood. Just a little while back in the room to bathe, relax and change into something delicious for dinner, and we were off. Almost as though stuck on repeat, I insisted we take a table back on the veranda; although the main dining room of the restaurant is in the lobby, I couldn’t resist. It has become one of my favorite spots. Sipping on a Bordeaux blend, we began with soy-wasabi tuna tartare on a bed of avocado. LT prides itself on being true to every word in its name. The seafood tops the steaks and the steaks outdo the seafood. It’s a match! Wagyu steak atop crispy rice followed that starter, then came a crab leg; it seemed like an ongoing competition between dishes, each one equally as delectable as the last. Then we got to the black garlic charred short ribs and that took the cake. Heaven falling off a bone is what we nicknamed it…every tender morsel more delicious than the next. As fattening as all of this sounds, I assure you, there’s a gym on property, but really who cares? Gazing up at the moon as it rose over the palm trees, zero calories came to mind as the meal came to an end. A col and cleansing Meyer lemon sorbet was just the thing to do the trick. This couldn’t be the end though. Surely we had enough energy in us for a nightcap, and the Literary Cocktail list was definitely inviting. We certainly did, or found room to make it happen, and then found the energy for a stroll on the beach, and another cocktail before bed.
Back at it the next morning, but it was our last day, so we stayed in and enjoyed ourselves. The lobby has a familiar feel of an elegant beachside drawing room and this early afternoon found us sipping mint tea with lemon and honey as the world passed by and the palm trees swayed easily to the Miami breeze. A baby grand piano is tucked in the corner and today is a cozy hideout for a Golden Retriever as his master sips a cool cocktail at the bar, a few feet away. With the windows touching the ceiling, and potted palms dotting the room, next to oversized settees, the space is a cool oasis from the heat of the beach and the thought of heading home. There’s Nat King Cole playing in the background and the glasses clink over soft laughter and gentle conversations. It’s art in and of itself. This dreamy scene will have to remain captured in my memory for now, as it is time to go. We need to get going but we know we will be back. We are wanderers.