The party starts before you even reach the lobby at Moxy South Beach, right out there on the pavement - sorry, ‘sidewalk’ - as the ‘welcome’ music reverberates through the heavy glass doors.
Inside, the pace never falters, with fun fun fun on the agenda almost around the clock: free fizz on arrival, pulsating rooftop bars, loud DJs, louder guests, big, cheeky street-art-style wall murals and then - when daylight finally comes a creeping - stylish but compact rooms to share with a friend or two. It’s the place you go to see - and to be seen. Exhibitionists will love it, shrinking violets beware.
Where is it?
Very nicely placed a short stroll from Miami’s dazzling South Beach, with its miles of clean, sun-blazed white sand, warm(ish) sea and impossibly retro, pastel-coloured lifeguard stations. It’s also minutes from the sensuous Art Deco Historic District with its striking architecture: all vertical elements, ‘eyebrows’ above the windows, playful metal poles and nautical themes. It’s seldom quiet; this is where, it seems, the rest of Miami comes to party, to perform burnouts in their Ferraris and Lamborghinis, rev their customised Harley-Davidsons, or strut their stuff.
Neatly sidestepping the local look - Art Deco, Streamline or MIMO - newly-constructed Moxy South Beach is unashamedly contemporary and all the better for it. Glamorous, inviting, sunny, staggered roof terraces - with pools, bars, a restaurant, cabanas, loungers and more pounding music – grace the main building, an attractive, white, partially glass-fronted block, greened up with palm trees, lush tropical plants and strong, vertical, window columns.
Crowning it all - floating high above the stylised ‘Moxy’ script ‘handwritten’ on the wall, and offering stunning, panoramic ocean views - is the come-hither eighth-floor roof terrace, ‘Upside’, all cool lighting, shady canopies, small circular pool, beautifully-patterned almost Moorish floor tiles, more pounding music, very hard-working cocktail waiters and, on several nights of the week, a DJ.â¯
Playful, sometimes daft humour in the bright, stylish, welcoming lobby sets the tone for this sparkling-clean hotel. Images of a bikini’d ‘Bad Girl’ on the wall (repeated on your key card) compete with an all-female table football team, garish Coney Island-style ‘Horoscopos’ phone booth, cheesy Ring pops and Slap Bracelet vending machines, even a three-wheeled delivery bicycle cart.
Look up and - through a porthole in the ceiling - the unwary find themselves gazing voyeuristically at swimmers in the 72ft pool overhead, or catching the phone number mysteriously emblazoned on the ceiling of the signature Bar Moxy (the number belongs to Ernest Hemingway’s favourite Havana bar, the El Floridita. I’m sure he’d approve).
Even the lifts aren’t immune - they’re done up like swimming pools inside, complete with ‘waves’ over your head...
Food & drink
This is a strange one. The hotel’s four main eating points are run independently, so can’t be charged to your room; you have to pay as you go, which is irksome. Even so, the main restaurant - the exquisitely Mexican-themed Como Como - is unmissable, with brilliant service, an intriguingly novel menu (charred octopus marinated in sour orange, or Alaskan crab leg grilled with jalapeno cilantro butter, anyone?) and delicious, beautifully presented dishes.
The cocktails - particularly the Mezcal-based ones - send your taste buds into orbit. So do the prices, which, as in most of Miami, are high.â¯ Serena, the lushly-planted, attractively-designed open-air rooftop restaurant and bar serves more classic fare “combined with a modern interpretation of traditional Latin and Mexican cuisine” (still costly compared to London), while Los Buenos, a taco stand and bodega in the lobby, serves hand-pressed tortillas; burritos, burrito bowls, salads and freshly-squeezed juices, alongside ‘breakfast quesadillas’ a little too heavy for some, first thing in the morning.
The other in-house grab-and-go breakfast option is Bar Moxy, where the offerings are limited, including pre-packaged cereal, or yoghurt with granola, or fruit bowls, all (disappointingly) packaged in single-use plastic. We couldn’t wait for weekend brunch, from 11am at Serena upstairs, so scouted out a local cafe that served oatmeal, tastier yoghurt, better tea and crispier granola.â¯
South Beach itself (Moxy South Beach has its own complimentary lounger section) is a must-see, so too the adjacent leafy 10-block Lummus Park with Beach Walk and the breathtaking Art Deco Historic District on Ocean Drive. The Art Deco Museum, near the beachfront, makes a good starting point. All are a short stroll from the hotel.
No one should leave Miami without cabbing it over to vibrant, wildly uplifting The Wynwood Walls, a former warehousing district taken over by brilliant street artists, their mind-boggling murals so dazzling that they are now preserved and permanently on show. Bustling Broad Street market, next door, is worth visiting too but check the (sometimes unadvertised) prices before forking out for a snack. We inadvertently blew 70 dollars (including tip) on two lobster rolls and lemonades.
Back at the hotel, for something different, book ahead to sample the ‘hidden’ and atmospherically intimate Mezcal bar - with 200 different types. Moxy South Beach also has a gym, free-to-use bicycles and organises jogging, yoga, rumble boxing, ‘salsa and shots’, mat Pilates, Glute Check classes and so on. Don’t leave it too late; you have to be young - or young at heart - to keep up.â¯
There are 202 to choose from, all similarly, stylishly, themed and intended to echo the ‘ocean liner’ feel of the overnight ferry service between Miami and Havana that operated in the 1940s and ‘50s. Apart from the two suites, compactness is the order of the day. The rooms come in one king or two queen bed formats, with ‘quad’ rooms featuring bunk beds. While the quads get a (small) wardrobe, the others have ‘peg walls’ instead, with additional under-bed storage (including a slide-out safe, which is too small for a DSLR camera) for items such as shoes. Storage space is limited.
The fun theme continues, with designer bed trays, a stylish tote bag usefully stuffed with bright, striped beach towels, neat oddment storage pods on the wall and headboards upholstered in Shore Rug, an outdoor woven material reminiscent of vintage beach furniture. There are built-in charging stations, great ‘rain’ showers separated from the room by lavish, curved, Art Deco-style frosted windows, floor-to-ceiling windows letting in loads of light and great custom art works on the wall, depicting iconic artists. At the push of a button on the retro-style phone, guests can hear a 60-second Bedtime Story with a choice of themes (“chill out,” “go out,” or “pass out”). All rooms are bright and fresh, with great light-blocking curtains, although inter-room soundproofing could be better. Some rooms have ocean views but some, like ours, overlook a rear service area.
Party-seeking groups of under-35-year-old friends, looking for the time of their lives in Miami. While showing off the latest fashions (beach and evening wear), topping up their tans and gulping cocktails by the roof pools. Older customers are in evidence, but they look a little bewildered.
How to get there
It’s valet parking only. Probably best to get a cab from the airport.
Lead in rates from $159 (approx. £117), book at moxysouthbeach.com
More on Miami: miamiandbeaches.com