Moxy South Beach review: forget Miami Vice, this is more Miami very, very, nice
This resort is a stylish and playful celebration of Miami’s cosmopolitan culture
Few hoteliers would dare launch a new venue in the middle of a global pandemic, let alone one that decimated the travel industry to the tune of $4.5trn. From vaccine passports and cancelled flights to mask mandates and international restrictions, the matrix of obstacles would threaten to destroy even the most exceptional product.
Yet, not only did Moxy South Beach survive this pitfall-laden start, it thrived – becoming one of America’s best-performing Marriott properties of 2021. As far as achievements go, that’s nothing short of Herculean. Especially given the circumstances.
Just one year before the launch, governor Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency across the state of Florida. Soon after, he announced a stay-at-home order and demanded all bars and restaurants stop selling alcohol. At one point, the restrictions were so severe that police officers in riot gear were firing pepper balls to disperse crowds along Ocean Drive. Hardly an optimal environment for hospitality.
However, when Moxy South Beach opened its doors in February 2021, its ambition and whimsical glamour triumphed over Covid panic with a tropical, playful vibrancy. As a result, people flocked to the hotel – and, once there, fell in love with its stylish nod to midcentury Havana and contemporary Mexico City.
Leading the charge in a paralysed sector, and doubling as the cavalry to Covid-weary Floridians, Moxy embodied every quality of the all-American hero: fearless, strong, and well-built – a fitting comparison given the hotel’s proximity to Miami’s muscle beach.
The newly-built hotel offers 202 rooms over eight storeys – all of which manage to be both aspirational and affordable. Drenched in Florida sunshine thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, the guest rooms feature sumptuous double beds, rain showers and ingenious, space-maximising storage solutions.
Inspired by the Clyde Mallory Line, an overnight ferry service between Miami and Havana that operated in the 1950s, the rooms are all tinted in a gradient of greens, pinks, and citrus tones. Meanwhile, the floors are tiled in colourful terrazzo while the headboards are upholstered in Shore Rug, an outdoor woven material reminiscent of vintage beach furniture.
Savvy travellers who’ve already been to Moxy’s three venues in New York – Chelsea, East Village and Times Square – will already know to expect something special from the decor. For the first venture in Florida, designers Rockwell Group have personalised every room with custom artwork depicting Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí visiting South Beach.
Bedrooms at Moxy South Beach come in a range of configurations: one king or two queen beds; quad rooms featuring bunk beds; and suites. The latter features a king bed, ocean views, a separate seating area with an L-shaped sofa, a wet bar with sink and refrigerator, bar cart, two 55” wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and custom neon artwork.
Where to eat and drink
Moxy South Beach is not just a hotel, it’s a resort. To illustrate this, there are no less than six dining and drinking venues, developed in partnership with the founders of Miami’s uber-popular Coyo Taco and 1-800-LUCKY.
The stand-out among these is Como Como, which feels reverential and momentous, like the inside of a cathedral. Patrons enter through carved wooden doorways and archways of wrought iron and glass, with shelves displaying Mesoamerican artefacts. Once inside, they can watch chefs prepare their meals according to ancient Mexican techniques: whole fish cooked over a wood-and-charcoal-fired grill; vegetables roasted in cast iron pans in a charcoal-burning Josper oven; tortillas sizzling on a comal, the traditional flat-top griddle used for centuries.
At the restaurant’s centre is a spectacular ‘tequila tree’ sculpture of hand-blown glass and copper pipes, which symbolises the drink’s distillation process. The tequila travels through this dramatically-lit centrepiece and is dispensed by bartenders into moreish cocktails. Impressive stuff.
The site’s other food and drink venues include Mezcalista, a sexy mezcal lounge; Serena, an open-air rooftop restaurant and bar with a casual-but-classy vibe; Los Buenos, a taco bodega in the lobby (which serves delicious quesadillas and home-made ice-cream); Bar Moxy, which doubles as a social hub and check-in desk; and The Upside, a rooftop bar on the eighth floor.
Outside the hotel, guests should venture down to Nikki Beach (1 Ocean Dr), which is America’s first luxury beach club. There, you’ll find sushi boats, sharing platters, oversized salads and rotisserie chickens all paired with organic wines. Think Soho Farmhouse, but in the sand.
What to do
Miami has a thriving art scene to rival Europe’s biggest cities, including London. This is fitting because, over in Ice Palace Studios (1400 N Miami Ave), there’s an entire museum dedicated to Banksy, which includes a full, painstaking recreation of an underground tube platform, alongside 150 of his other pieces.
Conversely, hip art gallery Superblue Miami (1101 NW 23rd St) is Florida’s equivalent to the Tate Modern, but with a focus on light-based displays and digital installations. One exhibition, Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life, invites visitors inside a huge cloud made of soap suds. The Miami Herald described it as “art that you can literally be inside”.
Thankfully, not all of the city’s art is indoors. South Beach’s famous collection of Art Deco buildings is a also must-see, not least because its virtually unchanged since its completion in 1941. Highlights include The Carlyle and The Breakwater.
Depending on the time of year, visitors can also enjoy the international Art Basel Miami Beach fair, which takes place every December, or the Miami Film Festival, of which the Moxy is an official partner. Then again, of course it is. It’s Marriott’s brightest new star.
Moxy South Beach is a stylish and playful celebration of Miami’s cosmopolitan culture. A stand-alone resort with six restaurants, two pools and a gym, plus an open-air cinema on the roof, it anchors the city’s Art Deco Cultural District and is just two short blocks from the golden sands.
Forget Miami Vice, this is more Miami Nice. Very, very nice.
Rooms at Moxy South Beach start from $159 (about £120) per night. Book online at moxysouthbeach.com