06/06/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What's Worth it: The Setai Hotel, Miami

It is said that Miami isn't a city where glamour and excess are lacking... personally, I find Miami a tacky, glamour-less place with little taste and 'class.' Amidst all of the many supposedly high-end hotels, there is not much choice (if any!) for a more subdued option that has not just style, but lacks the ever so annoying unsophisticated manner and tiny rooms that most every other property has...It is refreshing to walk into the Setai and feel the sense of calm that exudes from its America-meets-Asia décor. Staff are polite and helpful -- the huge spaces leave you feeling anything but cramped.

Outside, it's all Art deco extravagance, the former Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel built between 1936 and 1938, extended with an incredible 40-storey, undulating glass tower. However... inside it is dark, sexy and sleek. Unmistakably the vision of hotelier Adrian Zecha, founder of Aman Resorts.

Miami might usually be all about all-white, bright and beautiful, but the Setai is all about black. And brown and beige and gold... Deep Indonesian and Asian palettes, decorated with granite, brick and polished woods. Many rooms look out over the sea, and even the smallest (in the old Dempsey building) are still pretty spacious. All the usual amenities, plus an amazing black granite, open-plan bath. It's all very relaxing after a day in the hectic world that is Miami. (although NB : baths are in the actual guest room, not in a separate bathroom which I found odd and a bit irritating rather than cool)

The same colours and textures are evident in the Restaurant where a mixture of Asian cuisines complement the dark browns and bronzes. For something lighter, try the Mediterranean fare at the bar, or the expertly prepared meats at the Grill. Yum! Breakfast is great, lunch poolside or in the Setai's wonderful waterworks atrium a must but for dinner, I'd venture out to one of the local greats.

This is the place to come to mingle with the South Beach social scene at times like Art Basel Miami. Everyone who's anyone slips next to the three pools by day or the Bar at night, to see-and-be-seen, and enjoy the live acts at the weekend, or worldwide DJs. The hotel opens directly onto the sands, so is fab for living the beach life, but not too far from the room so you can stay polished rather than parched.

Yes, yes, I hear you say, but there are plenty of reputable Deco-inspired hotels in South Beach. Not so - a hoax - and therefore, not like the Setai. The décor is unique: relaxing and chic, and there are a plethora of touches that make this hotel really worth it: the three pools are each maintained at a different temperature, the service extends out onto the beach, and, of course, there's the spa and its sublime Pacific Rim-inspired treatments. My dear friend and insider Catherine Zarzecki recommends the two-hour Spirit of Bali Ritual...Ahhhh...

Another unique feature: Music fans - or those with teenage kids! - will love the rooftop recording studio, designed by Lenny Kravitz. Now where else can you find that overlooking South Beach?

$550+ a night; Worth it! if you are in Miami and don't want to be in the business district at The Mandarin Oriental...the only other that would compare.

2001 Collins Avenue, Miami, Florida 33139

+1 (305) 520 6000