Being pleasantly surprised defined my whole stay at the Fontainebleau in Miami. The Fontainebleau is the most iconic hotel in Florida, if not the world. It hardly needs any signage, as the curvilinear design is immediately recognizable. I recently got back from a vacation there and was impressed.
The Fontainebleau is a massive hotel with over 1,500 rooms. You can get your daily workout just by walking to and from the pool area. Now, I don't like large hotels. They usually remind me of long lines and two hour waits to get room service. Most of the stories I had heard about the Fontainebleau were of its heyday when it first opened back in 1954. It used to be the place to be in Florida. Every major celebrity and movie star ranging from Judy Garland to the Rat Pack either stayed or performed there. Much has changed since then and the hotel recently went through a billion dollar renovation to restore it and make it even better than before.
When you renovate any property that has been around for so long you want to preserve the qualities that make it unique and add touches that make it modern. The lobby of the Fontainebleau is a great example of that. It's a huge lobby that's meant for hanging out and people-watching. On one end of the lobby there is the "Staircase to Nowhere" which is a Fontainebleau original and on the other end is the new nightclub Liv that since opening has become one of the top earning and most popular nightclubs in the world. The iconic columns and bowtie-patterned floor are basically original. Morris Lapidus who was the Architect of the hotel was always wearing bowties so that's why the floor has the bowtie pattern. Part of the marble floor was replaced but a section of the original remains and it's hard but not impossible to tell them apart.
One of the best features of the Fontainebleau is that it's so massive and self-contained. You don't even have to leave the hotel to get a New York Post. There are boutiques, a state of the art spa and 11 great restaurants. The coffee shop in the lobby makes everything in house and is ten times better than Starbucks. It's convenient because while everything in Miami short car ride away the hotel is not the most centrally located. For dinner all the restaurants are amazing and some of the best in Florida. If you are craving Chinese you should check out Hakassan. It's the only location of the London-based restaurant in America. The food is wonderful with a setting to match. There are great views of the beach and the kitchen is one of the largest restaurant kitchens I have ever seen.
Hands down though Scarpetta is my favorite. The Italian food is just a scrumptious as the Manhattan location but the vibe is much more low- key. It's a pretty restaurant with lots of action and if you go once you will end up eating the luscious spaghetti with tomato sauce every night of your trip. Scarpetta is located in the Sorrento, which is one of the two brand new condo towers. You should try to stay in the condos when you go. The rooms are all suites and it's much quieter than the main building. All the rooms in the Fontainebleau have brand new iMacs as well as wifi to keep you connected. It's also a very pet friendly hotel so you don't have to worry about leaving your dog at home. I was hesitant about staying at the Fontainebleau before my trip. Nothing is worse than being on vacation and getting stressed out because the hotel is so massive you just feel like a number. One of the reasons that the hotel is unique that it's so easy to be under the radar there yet the accommodating service and surroundings will make you feel anything but forgotten.