Nearly hidden behind a tall row of hedges is Delano South Beach, a landmarked hotel built in 1947 and renovated by Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck in 1995. Schrager and Starck wanted Delano to feel like a home; to that end, Starck created a series of discrete “living spaces,” with mismatched furniture, in the hotel's common areas. Each of the spaces is intended to evoke specific images and experiences from his childhood, such as a wall of nightlights. The Delano's backyard and pool area are an extension of the lobby's “living room,” and that's why a table and two chairs sit in a shallow section of the pool, and why the hotel's veranda features the kind of comfortable furniture usually found inside a building, rather than outside it. In rooms, guests will find oversized marble bathtubs, said to be a favorite among NBA players because of their seven-foot length, along with Malin + Goetz toiletries.
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Since getting a turn-of-the-century spiff-up, South Beach has been hot, hot, hot. In particular, it's a magnet for the see-and-be-seen set who love to party, especially during big events such as the annual Art Basel fair, held in December. Like most hotels in the neighborhood, Delano has plenty of spaces to indulge the social whims of guests, and it sees its fair share of celebrities. If guests want to vary their party locales, it's easy to walk a block or two—or even just across the street—to another hotel's club or bar. Its location, a block from the beach, is another attribute that makes Delano popular, as is its proximity to a variety of South Beach restaurants. Finally, the neighborhood is pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and is well served by taxicabs and car services.
Need to Know
Rooms: 208 rooms, from $409. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Enjoy sushi and sake at Umi's communal table, just beyond the hotel's main entrance, or modern Italian at Bianca. Bars and lounges include the Delano Beach Club pool bar; Rose Bar, a cocktail lounge; and FDR, a nightclub with premium bottle service. A bar featuring cocktails inspired by—and infused or decorated with—candy is the newest addition, opened in late October 2014. Spa and gym details: Club Essentia is Delano's wellness spa, and its signature treatment is the milk and honey massage. In addition to the usual relaxing areas of any spa, guests are also invited to take a soak in the sun by visiting the spa's solarium. Delano also has a small gym with up-to-date Technogym equipment.
Who it's for: Philippe Starck fans. Our favorite rooms: Penthouse 3, with stark white floors and furniture, has the best beachfront views in the hotel. Unique art:Ask a hotel staff member to explain the significance of design pieces found in common areas. The clear piano, for example, is one of only two of its kind, and it was gifted to Delano by musician Lenny Kravitz. The hotel also owns Gaudí and Dalí pieces.