Last week my husband and I took a quick trip to Miami for a (fabulous) wedding. We decided to add an extra day to our trip as we hadn’t been to Miami in a long time and wanted to see some family and do a little sightseeing in addition to the wedding fun. We were booked on a 7 am flight from LGA which required a 4:30 am start time ensuring that we were in for a long day.
Thankfully it all went smoothly and we landed in Miami before 10 am, and at our hotel by 11:00. The wedding was to take place in Surfside, so we reserved at the Four Seasons Surfside along with many other wedding attendees. One note to keep in mind, we booked our room as part of the wedding block, which had the benefit of a desirable rate, but no added perks. Upon check-in we were pleasantly surprised to learn that our room was actually ready, an unexpected bit of good news. The staff at reception could not have been nicer or more professional, though we turned down their offer of champagne opting instead for water as it was surprisingly hot and humid.
Our first impression of the hotel was that it was exceedingly grand though not imposing in any way.
As we approached our room I expressed my concern that we were located right next to the elevator on the 8th floor landing which is generally never tolerated, but I was assured that the rooms were completely sound proofed, so I decided to go with it. Upon entry to our Bay View King (room 807) I realized that I should have paid closer attention when booking the room. While it was clean, bright and lovely (credit for the interiors goes to French decorator Joseph Dirand), the Bay was only visible in the distance, a view interrupted by unsightly rooftops. If I were to return I would surely opt for an Ocean facing room.
We didn’t linger long in the room because given our early wake up call we were starving. Desirous of a Cuban food fix, the front desk advised that nearby Sazon Cubano would be just the place to fill my black beans and rice craving. Sazon Cubano was bustling, and although the servers were very friendly, the beans were not particularly good. I also ordered tostones which were piping hot and salty. At least we were sated, even if the food was lackluster.
Following lunch we took a quick drive to the Design District to do a little shopping and check out the area. All the major luxury stores were represented in this high-end shopping destination as well as some engaging art installations. As previously mentioned, it was unseasonably hot, so after an hour or so we decided to head back to the hotel to do some further exploration.
When we returned to the hotel we were able to wander and appreciate the common rooms as well as check out the restaurants and bars. The original Surf Club dates back to 1930, and much of that old school aesthetic can be seen today. There are four restaurants on property, Thomas Keller’s much acclaimed Michelin starred The Surf Club Restaurant, The Italian inspired Lido Restaurant and Terrace as well as The Champagne Bar and Winstons on the Beach for poolside dining and they each have their own distinctive style.
As I mentioned it was exceedingly hot and humid and I was reluctant to venture out too much (hair issues) so I left the outside exploring to my husband. He said the beach was beautiful, but unfortunately did not come back with any photos.
We dined with friends for dinner and had a terrific experience at Hiyakawa which bills itself as a contemporary Japanese restaurant rooted in tradition. Everything about the meal was appealing, the servers were passionate and knowledgable, the decor simple yet beautiful and the fish incredibly fresh and expertly sliced and presented. While there is the option of an Omakase dinner we instead decided to craft our own very bountiful array of sushi and sashimi as well as some excellent starters (and tasty desserts) and indulge in a real feast. I know there are many choices in Miami, but I don’t think Hiyakawa is on everyones radar yet which may not be a bad thing. Our meal was excellent and I would absolutely give it a try if you are a sushi aficionado. We even learned that the chef brings his employees to Japan in order to inspire them and instill the understanding of the level of perfection that he strives for.
Although we over-ordered (as usual) we were not stuffed when we left the restaurant, just very happily satiated. After a very long day we headed back to our hotel and went right to sleep.
While the hotel was indeed VERY nice I had an issue in the room that was making me a little crazy which I discovered upon arrival. The bathroom was decked out in endless white marble and had double sinks, a shower, a large bathtub and a separate water closet. The wc had a very heavy door that unfortunately failed to stay closed which was very disconcerting to me. When we left for dinner we asked someone to take a look, as it seemed that the magnet that held the door closed was not connecting. Unfortunately they were unable to address the issue, even when I requested another attempt the next day.
I don’t like to complain (too much) but it struck me as kind of an engineering fail that they couldn’t figure this out. A little ingenuity led me to thread the belt from the robe through the door handle in order to hold it closed, and get a gentle work-out at the same time. If you decide to visit the hotel just a gentle reminder: get an ocean facing room, and be sure that your wc door stays shut.
We opted to stay local for breakfast and took a short walk from the hotel to what seemed to be a popular local spot in Surfside, Josh’s Deli. Mentioned in the Michelin Guide as a classic Jew-ban (Jewish Cuban) destination we had high hopes, but alas the food was subpar. My son’s homemade corned beef hash was good (not great) and my scrambled eggs and home fries were nothing to write home about.
Lunch too was a disappointment, we ended up at Hillstone at Bal Harbour looking to have just a quick bite. The Bal Harbour Shops is a high end mall and a destination unto itself which offers several restaurant choices. Unfortunately we made a bad one as my Salade Niçoise was a rendition like nothing I had ever had before, it was completely unappealing. Please don’t waste your time or money.
Out of respect for the bride and groom I am not going to post any photos of the incredible White themed Cuban party held in the Champagne Bar, but it was fantastic. Following the party we decided to grab a light meal at the Lido Restaurant which was packed with both wedding party revelers and regular diners. The staff was definitely overwhelmed but tried valiantly to accommodate everyone. We appreciated the effort but the service was very spotty and the food was served lukewarm. They realized it and offered us several desserts on the house. I feel it would have potential if not of the crush of diners, though they really should have been able to handle it. Oh, and the a/c wasn’t working, which was a whole other problem.
The following morning I dined alone in the Champagne Bar which had been restored to its pristine state following the party the night before. Again, the service was very accommodating but the omelet was just eh.
The wedding itself was later that day and it was held at Indian Creek Country Club and it was STUNNING, both the club and the celebration itself.
Call us gluttons for punishment but the following day we returned to Sazon Cubano for breakfast. We had a midday flight and couldn’t find any other option close by that was open early enough on a Sunday morning. We had enjoyed coffee at the hotel but wanted something “authentic”. We should have dined at the hotel, lets leave it at that.
As we headed for the airport I had a few thoughts, first and foremost, I don’t think I could live in Miami. We had an amazing time celebrating with friends and seeing family, but I am not made for hot weather. The FS Surfside is a beautiful hotel and the service is great (aside from the pesky wc problem) and while I enjoyed the location in the quieter end of Miami Beach there is a real dearth of restaurants nearby.