Staying at the Lord Balfour and exploring the glamorous Art Deco District of Miami Beach
The timeless glamour of Ocean Drive, Miami
In the early twentieth century, the wealthy from across the US began in greater numbers to seek sun, style and sophistication on the white sandy shores of Florida. Virgin beaches and coconut palm plantations were developed into resort playgrounds for the privileged. Miami Beach and South Beach saw expansive development with the fashionable Art Deco architecture of the era. From the 1920s through to the Second World War, alluring luxury apartment blocks and hotels were constructed with bold architectural lines, decorated with striking design motifs and painted with candy-coloured shades.
Today these emblematic buildings, once threatened with demolition in the 1970s, are said to be the largest single collection of art deco structures in the world. Now called the ‘Art Deco District’, it is home to some of the country’s hottest hotels, beach clubs, restaurants and nightclubs, making the evocatively named Ocean Drive one of the best known street addresses in the world.
It’s a popular spot for celebrities and Hollywood stars, and to cater to design-conscious visitors, hotels in South Beach are not just luxurious but innovative and quirky too. The vibe is sexy, vibrant, eccentric, and slightly bohemian. To experience the Art Deco style first hand stay at Ocean Drive’s Lord Balfour Hotel, a South beach boutique hotel that is now part of the Room Mate group. It’s an impeccably renovated classic Art Deco property close to the beach.
As soon as one enters the lively lobby, chic vintage style embraces you. Innovative art installations by David Zaldin add visual interest to spaces, whilst cheeky design motifs on the walls, and whimsical quotes reproduced with flair on the ceiling are a playful nod to the hotel’s eccentric British namesake.
The lobby bar is the place for cocktails, with a full menu of classic concoctions, as well as the hotel’s signature creations.
Guest suites maximise the impact of the Art Deco modernist lines, with crisp, flawless Corinelli white linens, and uncluttered interiors. The bold, contemporary wall murals add to a creative South Beach feel.
The beach is just steps away for those wanting to get some sun and enjoy the turquoise waters and if you feel like something a little more swanky guests are offered complementary access to the exclusive Nikki Beach.
Miami Beach is the heart of the city’s art scene, and the European Art Basel festival is now an annual event here and further highlights the galleries, art museums and cultural venues of this dynamic and fashionable city.
A stroll down Ocean Drive is like enjoying a vast outdoor architectural museum; but with some of the city’s best restaurants and watering holes along the way, one might not get far before taking a break. For those with an interest in art history and culture there are guided tours of the Art Deco District offered by local historians, showcasing not only the stunning exterior designs but also the beautiful interior features like terrazzo floors in the buildings open to the public.
After all classic style never goes out of fashion.
(This article by Andrew Forbes first appeared in TOUT Magazine – Feb 2014)