This Thanksgiving we decided to give Miami a try. I am a big fan of Instagrammers from Miami so I may have pushed the idea. But Youtube is not great at advertising what to do in Miami like it is places in Europe. This led us to think, maybe its not that cool! As our trip approached, we were losing interest and our expectations lowered, but the tickets were bought. The tickets this time of year are a bit overpriced too! I suppose a lot of people decide to go to warm Miami around Thanksgiving time so the prices were doubled. We saved a few hundred dollars by flying out of New York instead of Philly and got good hotel deal with Priceline Express. Unfortunately driving into New York tends to put me in a bad mood so we were off to a bad start.
We fly into Miami… are greeted by the nice weather and honestly a pretty neat city! Our hotel was the Kimpton Epic in Brickell and I cannot stress enough how much we loved it. Our room had a huge tub and shower… a huge balcony and we were lucky to have a view of the canal and hotel pool. We were handed a complimentary happy hour wine on our way up to the room and started feeling alright about this trip!
We caught a ride to the beach as it was getting dark. Nick was blasting some rap song “Pimpin All Over the World” which referenced Wet Willies on Ocean drive. We went there expecting it to be a super neat place and mind you… this is Thanksgiving day… it was kinda dead. I enjoyed my drink… they specialize in alcoholic slurpees. Nick didnt think his drink was particularly strong for the cost. Still it was neat to walk up and down the beach enjoying the art deco buildings.
I am starving at this point and Nick is proud to have reserved us a meal at Santorini at the Hilton. Dear god, I have nothing good to say about this restaurant! Skip this paragraph to get to the good stuff, but here is my candid review of Santorini. Bottom line up front; DO NOT GO HERE! We show up to this highly rated restaurant expecting some really spectacular Greek food and quite frankly… a fine dining experience! First of all, we had to wait a long time despite our reservation. Nick suggested leaving a couple of times but I was starving. When we have dinner reservations, we usually eat minimally all day to really experience the meal. As we wait, we take in the atmosphere…. nice photographs of Greece… a video playing of a drone aerial view of Greece… and a bellydancer is roaming around…. and two Las Vegas Showgirls? When we are finally seated outside next to the hotel pool, we also take in a classic rock cover band playing live. Kids are running around dancing or splashing the pool. To be honest, the ambiance was confusing and chaotic. We get an appetizer of melted cheese…. which was basic but really you cant go wrong with cheese. Then Nick gets a Greek salad that is completely DIY! There’s a huge block of Feta cheese and a block of salmon… it’s not integrated at all! And MY meal… woof! I ordered Keftedes… greek meatballs that usually have parsley and onions in it…. things that give it flavor! My meatballs were bland! There was no flavor, and it was served with red sauce… like super plain Italian meatballs. We left so disappointed! Nick, who is a big foodie, even said… this sucks lets just cut our losses and go home! Now here’s the real kicker… we wrote it bad yelp and google reviews individually. It was so deceptive that it had near perfect ratings and was so bad! Nick was immediately contacted by the manager essentially begging us to come back and they would give us a chefs table. Nick said no way, you get one chance at a first impression. To MY review, they accused me of being NICK! That he wrote a review under my name as if I have no mind of my own! My theory and I am pretty sure I am right, is that this catastrophe of a restaurant BUYS it reviews… grovells against bad reviews… and if people like us stick to our guns… they attack our credibility! This was the WORST restaurant I have ever been to! I do NOT recommend it!
But moving on… we did not go home! The next day, we got all dolled up for my Instagram picture at the DIOR cafe! I put on a cute romper and Nick says “ooh is that DIOR?”. I say, “no its forever 21” and my judgemental husband says “you’re wearing Forever 21 to the DIOR cafe???”! Fun fact, the DIOR Cafe is above the DIOR store that doesn’t open until 11am! We were at the luxury mall at 8:30 am twiddling our thumbs before we finally gave up and walked to Winwood Walls! That was also not open yet! So my advice to anyone reading this is to check what time things open 😦
We caught an Uber to South Beach and decided to get a vacation drink! We randomly picked a bar called Bice Cucina… it had a great decor! We ordered esspresso martinis and changed into swim clothes. The bartender was awesome, the drink was one of the best I’ve ever had and a hotel guest came out and started to talk to us about places to eat and things to do. He gave us a free drink voucher before we left. It was a fun experience!
We hit up the beach which was pretty and clean and the water was clear! We started to walk along the beach and found an outdoor gym! Right in the sand, they had monkey bars, pull up bars, weights. I think it was free.
Finally we head back to our hotel and conduct a little photoshoot on our balcony because… we’re cool. We are just in time for complimentary hotel wine and a balcony sunset! Nick decides this day we are going to eat downtown. In fact he felt so traumatized by Santorini that he completely revised our dinner reservations for the week. We walked from our hotel to Boulud Sud. This is a Daniel Boulud restaurant. The staff treated us like royalty, the atmosphere was luxurious and the meal presentation was awesome! Nick got an incredible pumpkin ravioli dish, I got lamb on couscous and we shared a fig desert. This meal was AWESOME!
The next day, We woke up early and took a walk around Brickell. We walked to the Four Seasons and along the canal… and could not find coffee! In the east coat you can hold your breath and run from one coffee house to another. I was not prepared for Miami! We finally found a Starbucks! If you are a coffee drinker, beware… the coffee shops are a little hard to find! I hear cuban coffee is a hit, but we never ran into a shop. maybe on Calle Ocho? idk
Next we hit the hotel pool. So the Kimpton Epic has two gigantic pools… one of which is heated jacuzzi hot! I have never seen anything like it, it was awesome! There are lounge chairs and a bar. The pool staff will set up a towel for you and take your order. there are multiple basket lounge beds and cabanas for your picture taking needs! Most importantly, you are surrounded by the Miami skyline! One of my favorite Instagrammers even showed up to the pool and I was too shy to introduce myself! It was a great time… I know you go to Miami for the beach… but I kinda liked our pool party way more!
Our next restaurant was magical! We got an Uber for Bazaar by Jose Andres on South Beach. I had wanted to stay at the SLS hotel on South Beach after seeing the pictures of the rooms online and the massive rubber duck at their pool. I am kinda glad we didnt, the Kimpton Epic felt so much more luxurious. The SLS was super cool looking, but it was a non-stop party and was just a little wilder than relaxing. Also I think our pool was nicer. HOWEVER, Bazaar was something else. The decor was unique with a gigantic seashell chandelier and quirky wallpaper.
Now the food was like a science experiment! We ordered several tappas including PB&J foie gras, Dragonfruit ceviche, coffee rub steak, coconut rice inside a coconut! Even the desert was an incredible deconstructed Key Lime pie. I was blown away… every dish felt like a Christmas present… you didn’t know exactly what you had ordered but you had full faith it was going to be incredible. This was one of the best dining experiences I have had! We walked down South Beach after this and enjoyed the environment but it was CROWDED and a little annoying to have restaurants shoving menus in your face trying to get an edge on a whole street of competition.
The next day, we started at the pool and kept it easy. For dinner we decided to try Strip Steak at the Fountaine Bleu. This hotel was pretty neat although it was way far from South Beach. It seemed resort like… they had a Hakasan and Scarpetta Restaurant, huge pool and beach access. It was far from everything else, but you dont necesarily need to leave it if you have good food and entertainment right there. Strip Steak was great service and good food… just not exactly the best steak I have ever had. I did really enjoy the creme brule afterwards and the ambiance was real nice. As we left this famous hotel… I completely missed the first step in the entrance and wiped out. That was embarassing.
We walked to the Faena next. I was so excited to take pictures in the lobby and near the gold mammoth! Having missed out on the DIOR cafe and Versace Mansion… I was stoked to get one of my picture bucket list items!
Our last day in Miami, my husband practically had to drag me out of the Kimpton. I absolutely loved our hotel! We took our free drink voucher at Bice on South Beach and got food mainly to not be rude. We were super pleasantly surprised by how good the food here was and the service was great. In general, the food right on South Beach looked a little touristy and you really have to do your research. Bice Cucina actually gets good reviews and was great quality and service. We spent a little time at the beach before saying goodbye to Miami and catching out plane home.
Altogether, we came in with low expectations and were blown away by how much we enjoyed it. I highly recommend the Kimpton Epic and Brickell to stay in if you want a more luxurious and relaxing vacation. And definitely research your restaurants with care. Avoid Santorini!
Heres more pics 🙂