Fontainebleau is perhaps Miami's most legendary hotel, dating back to the mid-20th-century golden age of South Beach's social scene. Opened in 1954, the hotel has seen a number of celebrities—as well as scandals—over its six decades. Frank Sinatra filmed the movie A Hole in the Head here, and the Black Tuna Gang used the hotel as a front for its drug-running activities. Fontainebleau has had several owners over the course of its existence; it closed in 2006, only to reopen again in renovated splendor two years later. Common areas have Vegas-like glitz and glam, with lots of gold accents and sparkly chandeliers (made by, of all people, Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei). The hotel's art collection is enviable; besides Ai, there are Sol Le Witt and Damien Hirst pieces. Rooms are full of attentive design elements, too. Turquoise-and-green color schemes evoke the ocean, and high-tech amenities include 20-inch iMacs. Concerts take place at several venues on the property, including poolside and at the nightclub, and the hotel has some serious star pull. Recent concerts have featured Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Pitbull.
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Fontainebleau, while on Collins Avenue, isn't competing for attention with Miami Beach's other hot hotels, as it's located somewhat north of the busiest part of the Collins strip. The particular area Fontainebleau occupies is known as “Millionaire's Row,” and gazing across the street at all the luxury yachts that have dropped anchor, it's not hard to see why. Those fancy boats are just one indicator of the wealth in this neighborhood; others are the ultra-luxe homes of celebrities such as Calvin Klein, Jennifer Lopez, and Ricky Martin. The neighborhood sits on the waterfront, and exploring on foot is a good way to get to know the area.
Need to Know
Rooms: 1,504 rooms, from $359. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: The gigantic hotel keeps guests sated with 12 restaurants, bars, and lounges. Michelin-starred Hakkasan serves contemporary, upscale Chinese; James Beard Award–winning Scarpetta specializes in Italian. Spa and gym details: Lapis is Fontainebleau's 40,000-square-foot spa, with 30 treatment rooms in which guests are lavished with massages, facials, and mud and mineral soaks. The spa menu includes several couples' packages as well. The fitness room, while smaller, is similarly impressive, stocked with machines to keep every part of the body in top form for the bow tie–shaped pool, visible through the gym's windows.
Who it's for: Travelers who want the abundance of facilities and amenities that comes with a massive resort-style hotel. Our favorite rooms: Any of the oceanfront balcony rooms are lovely, with floor-to-ceiling windows and furnished balconies keeping the ocean in constant view. Hotel fee:Don't be surprised by that extra charge on the bill. The Fontainebleau imposes a daily “hotel fee” that covers unlimited Internet access, gym privileges, beach chairs, daily newspaper delivery, and free local phone calls.