New hotel gives Miami Beach its own little slice of Spain

Of the many things Miami is synonymous with – excess, party, glitz, sex and the sea – cute isn’t the one that comes to mind. Mignon, or his charming brother, asks for restraint. But on Miami’s South Beach, on a street whose Old World buildings were the epicenter of the Roaring Twenties and later the backdrop of miami vice is a new hotel, the Esmé, which embodies cuteness and charm.

This is the latest selection in Beast Travel’s series of exciting new hotels, Room Key.

During the height of the Roaring Twenties, a pair of real estate developers turned a slice of Miami Beach into a Spanish town square. Entering Española Way with its arched stucco facades was like being transported to somewhere other than the “new” town of Miami Beach. But over the years it became a den of iniquity where mobsters like Al Capone did business, and then it fell into disrepair. Decades of work to restore it and turn it into a place for pedestrians have returned it to the intentions of its creators.

At the center of it is the Esmé, a set of eight buildings that house 145 rooms, which opened last fall, and five restaurants and bars.

The original developers of Española Way envisioned this neighborhood as an artsy, bohemian village, so the hotel owners have tried to honor that in a variety of ways, including small lanes paved with travertine and decorated with colorful tiles that connect the complex.

The swimming pool and the cabana on the roof.

Courtesy of Esme

The hotel entrance is in the white stucco Spanish Revival building facing Washington Ave. with cornerstones and salmon-coloured painted trim and green and white striped canopies. The balance of traditional revival styles with fashionable woven elements makes the magic of this place, and it’s a harmony that begins as soon as you enter. You’re greeted by a warm burgundy carpet, dark wood paneled ceiling, diamond-paned windows, and checkerboard-patterned fireplace in green marble.

In Miami Beach hotel rooms, you usually get a rate limited to Art Deco or Sleek Modern. The rooms here are a stark contrast, decorated by Jessica Schuster Design with a variety of flair that makes you wonder how it can ever be too much. In the main resort called Esmé Village, rooms are playful pink and juniper green, and seem geared toward a younger visitor. Across the square from Casa Mantanza are rooms and suites with a warmth one would expect to find in a boutique hotel in Tuscany rather than in the heart of one of the towns. party americans. They’re bathed in rich colors like wine red or burnt yellow that blend with mahogany furniture and gold hardware. The suites achieve a particularly high aesthetic, fully embracing the village developers’ Spanish obsession with richly decorated tiles and tapestries.

L’Esmé and surrounding areas are a bit of a weekend scene and therefore not necessarily for those who go to bed early to get up early.

It’s Miami Beach so you’ll be wondering at this point where the hotel stands in relation to sun and sand – just a five minute walk away and the hotel has its own section with towels and chairs provided and most importantly drinks. If you’re more of a pool-goer, you can go up to the roof and sit in one of the poolside cabanas – there are only a handful and they’re first come, first served, so get there early – to grab a bite from the all day menu while soaking up the sun. Come back in the evening on Friday and Saturday as it turns into a dance floor under the stars. One note, however, is that between the square and the rooftop terraces, the Esmé and surrounding area is a bit of a weekend scene and therefore not necessarily for those who go to bed early to get up early.

Food and cocktails at El Salon.

Courtesy of Esme

Like any good village, Esmé has its fair share of food and drink options. Bar Pintxo, the hotel’s modern interpretation of a Basque pintxo bar serves small bites, beer, sparkling wine and of course Basque cider. For a cocktail, El Salòn is the place to go. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize any of the liquors behind the bar, they only offer their own proprietary blends of spirits under their own label. At Casa Matanza, you’ll find the latest from the founder of Mandolin, one of Miami’s most popular restaurants. Nicknamed The Drexel, its menu is simple with wood-oven pastas and pizzas but keeps pace with Mandolin’s legendary reputation.

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