Miami’s hottest seaside strip is just north of bustling South Beach.
Called Mid-Beach, the area offers access to the same sparkling aqua colored surf and posh dining options, but with more room to spread out and relax.
Of course, if opulence is more your style, The Setai Miami Beach has you covered with its stunning grounds, rooms and service.
Mid-Beach stretches along the Atlantic Ocean from 23rd St. to 63rd St. Unlike in crowded South Beach, where smaller Art Deco buildings dot the famed Ocean Drive and Collins Ave. and don’t have much room for pools or property, Mid-Beach offers a more secluded vacation away from the hustle.
The Setai, at 2001 Collins Ave., is technically on the northern end of South Beach, but both its vibe and location make for a seamless transition towards Mid-Beach, just three blocks away.
The Art Deco building opened in 1937 as the Dempsey-Vanderbilt Hotel and now the Setai is run by the Nakash family, the same folks who own Jordache jeans. A residential tower built in 2004 also holds larger hotel suites.
Step inside the lobby and you’ll immediately notice the serene, spa-like feel that encapsulates the whole property. Dark Earth tones deck the common areas and rooms and guests are greeted by a large table in the lobby made with pavers from palaces in Beijing.
It’s the first hint that much of place has an Asian aesthetic. Whether you’re staying overnight at the Setai or not, make a dinner reservation at Jaya. The modern Asian restaurant boasts dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, India, China and Japan.
If possible, opt to eat in the covered courtyard, which lets you get the outdoor dining experience without the threat of rain or wind. Tables surround a scenic pool of water with palm trees sprouting from platforms.
Tasty options range from Chicken Panang Curry ($26) to Short Rib Gyoza ($21) and Peking Duck ($39.) Pair any meal with a side of naan bread, served with a cashew curry dipping sauce.
Take a dip in one of the Setai’s three rectangular pools that lead out towards the beach. Each one is temperature controlled, and you can take your pick between 75 degrees, 85 degrees and 90 degrees.
Walk out a little further towards the beach and you’ll spot the Ocean Grill, a dining deck serving up shore views and light seafood for lunch. Try the Mediterranean Octopus ($29) or Ceviche $26. Vegetarian choices include a Bulgur & Quinoa Tabbouleh ($18).
Those indulging in an onsite spa treatment will be treated to views of the pools and beach from service rooms. And the Gallery Shops that opened in October sell high-end jewelry, eyewear and swimwear.
When you tire of sunning and swimming and are ready for some culture, simply walk across the street from the Setai to The Bass (2100 Collins Ave.), a contemporary art museum. General admission is just $10 and half price for seniors, students and teens. Kids get in free.
Inside, the first thing you’ll see is a “Welcome Wall” of LED signs reading “Welcome” in more than 70 languages. Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou created it in 2016.
Other whimsical installations here include “The Haas Brothers: Ferngully,” which is inspired by the 1992 animated kids flick “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” and its magical rainforest setting, and includes a collection of creatures festooned in fur and colorfully beaded animals, mushrooms and chairs.
A four-block walk from Setai is Villa Azur (309 23rd St.), a French Mediterranean restaurant with a glamorous courtyard adorned with tropical plants. Situated between a couple of dance clubs, the hotspot attracts those going out for night and dressed to kill and it turns into a more club-like atmosphere at around 10 p.m.
Main courses include Truffle Farro Risotto ($34) and Wagyu Cheek Canelone ($38), while appetizers range from Baked Truffle Brie ($24) to a Baby Artichoke Salad ($20).
Those who want to stay in a trendy new Mid-Beach hotel without spending a fortune can book at the Generator (3120 Collins Ave.), which opened in September and is the first U.S. property from a group that has more than a dozen in Europe.
Rooms are simple, yet stylish, and start at just $25 for shared rooms, with private rooms starting at $105, plus an additional $22.80 resort fee per person in a shared room, or per private room. Guests range from European families who frequent hostels to 20-somethings on a budget and couples occupying private rooms. Female-only dorms are an option.
Funky art and a pool table fill the lobby and a lounge with pillows for seating overlooks the pool and hosts a limited continental breakfast each morning. It’s a block from the beach and there’s a small pool and lounge area out back, where you’ll also find Driftway, serving up light bites on select days and heavenly frozen drinks that are more refreshing than sugary. You can’t go wrong with a Friesling, or frozen Riesling, or a Frozen Irish Coffee, each $12.
Inside, The Jim and Neesie restaurant is already getting a lot of buzz for its quality eats. Bottles with dim lights in them hang from the ceiling and stellar cocktails include the Negroni Supreme ($13). There’s a burger with white cheddar and caramelized onions for $16, and the Crispy Skin Airline Chicken ($27) is brined for 24 hours and comes with red quinoa and carrot purée.
Other dining options in the area include Bird & Bone in The Confidante hotel at 4041 Collins Ave. Contemporary countryside farmhouse is the theme here and there’s a pretty dining room along with patio seating out back.
Start with the Florida Cheddar and Chive Biscuits, $8 and served with strawberry preserves, or the half-dozen raw oysters ($18.) Then move on to serious Southern dishes like Shrimp & Sea Island Heirloom Grits ($26) or Chef Hales’ Hot Chicken & Waffle ($28).
If you’re looking for a sleek hotel in Mid-Beach that’s not as swanky as Setai but more upscale and expansive than Generator, stay at Nobu Hotel Miami Beach (4525 Collins Ave.), housed inside Eden Roc hotel since 2016.
Like Setai, Nobu is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, a prestigious group of properties with strict standards. To qualify as a Leading Hotel, establishments must have a referral from an existing member hotel and apply for admission, be luxury category, demonstrate remarkably uncommon attributes and meet standards in terms of accommodations, service and cuisine among other criteria.
Those who often stay at these 400 independent properties can consider joining the Leaders Club, in which a $175 yearly membership fee offers perks like upgrades, the chance to earn free nights with points, special rates, complimentary breakfast and more.
While members of the same club, Nobu has more of an upbeat party vibe than Setai. A circular bar sits in the lobby and it’s surrounded by comfy chairs and tables that seem to be packed any time of day with everyone from businessmen to bachelorette parties.
Three pools of different sizes and shapes, along with two hot tubs, fill the multi-tiered patios between the hotel and beach. And a couple of outdoor bars serve up frozen drinks and more.
Of course, there’s a Nobu restaurant onsite, churning out its world-famous Japanese food. The waterfront Malibu Farm is another dining option here, offering inventive veggie-forward dishes in a warm space with an outdoor deck.
Definitely go for the Avocado Pizza ($24), made with jalapeño ricotta, agave, cilantro and lime. There’s also Vegetable “Paella” ($38), packed with tofu, saffron couscous, seasonal veggies and artichoke; and Pan Seared Chilean Seabass ($42.)
Room rates right now at Nobu start at $550 per night plus resort fees and tax, but drop significantly starting in May and can be found in the upper $200 range in summer months.