If I have any criticism, it’s not the easiest of hotels to get to. It’s on a tiny, mostly residential island called Brickell Key, connected to the horribly busy Biscayne Boulevard by a bridge that clogs at peak times. But once you’re there, that can also be a good thing. You feel like you’re isolated in a private, tropical oasis away from all the hassle – there’s none of the noise and craziness of South Beach and you’re actually only a short walk or cab ride to some fabulous new restaurants, bars and shops in the Brickell financial district, one of Miami’s hottest new areas.
Huge by Miami standards, all 326 rooms and suites give outstanding views across the water of Biscayne Bay, to the city skyline, Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. All have balconies or terraces. The décor is Asian themed, suites have bamboo hardwood floors and the bathrooms are fitted with Spanish marble, yet there’s a clean, contemporary feel with high-end giant flat-screen TVs and Bose surround sound audio systems included after an extensive renovation programme last year.
The first view you get walking into the lobby is simply breathtaking, a waterfront panorama of the Miami skyline through huge windows. The lobby’s expanse is symbolic of the rest of the spacious hotel. No matter how busy the hotel gets, there’s room to spread out.
Eating and drinking
As befits a five-star hotel, the restaurants are world class. Azul’s white marble open kitchen allows you to watch the chefs preparing your dinner, but you won’t spend too much time on that when the water views from the table are so stunning. Azul’s fine Mediterranean/Asian menu is backed up with an impressive wine list of more than 700 choices.
Café Sambal is the less formal alternative and serves breakfasts and lunches too, with many Oriental dinner dishes to savour. It’s a fine restaurant inside, although I always prefer an outside table on the waterfront terrace.
M-Bar at the other end of the lobby also overlooks the city, and the pool, and is a fine choice for a nightcap. When you come down the next morning it has miraculously transformed into a delightful little coffee shop.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental emerged from a four-month renovation as possibly the most diverse in greater Miami. It is the city’s only five-star spa and, as you’d think, its signature treatments are heavily influenced by Asian cultures and customs, from Bali, Thailand and China among several others. The recent expansion also gave more room for the good-sized fitness centre, where you can even learn belly dancing.
Unique for its downtown position, the hotel has its own exclusive, private beach (although you can’t swim from it) and while the pool isn’t as large as you might expect for a hotel of this size, it’s attractive and appealing. There’s a picturesque jogging trail around the island and into the city.
You will experience the very best of Asian hospitality.
Who stays there
Many families looking for that little bit extra, many Europeans, and a surprisingly high number of locals.
There are good package rates for families, and free nights for those booking suites. Brickell Key has a secure public car park a short walk away that’s $11 cheaper a night than the hotel’s valet.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Business travellers
- Families with younger children
- Mature travellers
- Great views / scenery
- Special occasions
- No fuss
Pros & Cons
- Amazing city views
- Many children's activities
- Close to trendy downtown shops and restaurants
- Top end luxury
- Getting there
- Can feel a little too business orientated