EAST Miami, have you heard of it? If you’re a first-time visitor to Miami, I’d hazard a guess and say this high-end hotel in the heart of the city’s financial district has never really been on your radar.
That’s because when you’re planning a first-time trip to Miami, you’re probably going to gravitate towards the famous Miami Beach as the must-see area of the city. And who’d blame you – thanks to the likes of Miami Vice and a whole host of movies, the glitzy Ocean Drive and swanky South Beach are iconic.
So when I was planning my 48-hour jaunt to the Magic City ahead of my five-day work trip in the Florida Keys, I wasn’t sure whether staying in Downtown Miami was ‘the thing to do’ either.
But after a bit of research and reading up on EAST Miami – found in an area known as Brickell – I realised a few things. Despite the high concentration of corporate business (Miami’s financial district – or ‘FiDi’ as it’s known – is the USA’s second largest after Manhattan) Brickell actually has a fast-growing restaurant, bar and entertainment scene. In other words people, it’s the place to be!
So it was decided. We were going to forgo a stay by the beaches and book a stay Downtown.
EAST Miami here we come…
A stylish stay at EAST Miami
A bit of background on EAST Miami
EAST Miami is a five-star hotel that opened in Brickell City Centre in May 2016. It comes from the Swire Hotels group who have hotels across Asia. This is the first property they’ve opened in North America and is the creative work of Miami-based architects, Arquitectonica.
The Location of EAST Miami
As you drive through the shiny skyscraper jungle of Downtown Miami, you’ll see that EAST Miami looms high above Brickell City Centre, which in case you’re wondering, is a sophisticated shopping mall that opened to the tune of $1.05bn last year.
This innovatively-designed retail centre is filled with designer and contemporary fashion brands, a great selection of restaurants and Latin American taquerias, plus all sorts of entertainment options. There’s a Saks Fifth Avenue steps away from the hotel (I know, amazing right?) and you’ll also find a WeWork co-working place along with a blow dry bar, Victoria’s Secret and all sorts of other fab shops.
They like to go with the philosophy of ‘business meets leisure’ so EAST is ideal for the business traveller. But as we discovered, it’s great for the leisure traveller too.
We had a warm and friendly welcome at EAST after arriving at the hotel late after our flight into Fort Lauderdale. Door staff are super welcoming and offer to take your bags while check-in is super fast and efficient. You’re handed your electronic door keys and away you go.
Taking inspiration from its sibling properties in the Far East, EAST Miami has a high-tech approach. So after check-in you use a touch screen to access the elevator and navigate your chosen floor. Even the elevator was a talking-point, with its mirrors and twinkly lights that cast a bit of an optic illusion as we ascended to the 35th floor…
EAST Miami: The hotel rooms and interiors
There are 352 rooms in total at EAST and a further 89 residence suites. And they’ve all been given a sleek, business-like feel by New York outfit Clodagh Design. The lobby alone makes a lasting impression with the textural walls and sculptural art that protrudes down from the ceiling.
When it comes to the guest rooms, think warm but modern wooden fixtures, wooden floors, clean lines and geometric lighting. The bed sheets are crisp and white. The bathroom is all frosted glass, marble surfaces and innovative lighting. And apparently, the designers used Feng Shui, Biogeometry, Radiesthesia (me neither) and crystal healing methods to curate the guest rooms.
On a practical note, we had loads of storage, an electronic safe, iron, hairdryer, coffee machine (I had to ask for a kettle – Americans prefer coffee!) and there’s a mini-bar which you can access at an extra cost. The wifi signal was great throughout.
The best bits are the floor-to-ceiling windows and wrap-around balcony (which you get in the Corner King and upwards) which allows you to admire the view of Downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay in just about every light possible…..
Oh and how could I forget – the show-stopping ‘bath with a view’. Just wind down the blind using the remote control (or keep it up if you’re that way inclined) and enjoy a bubble bath using the lovely Malin & Goetz bath products.
Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time – it took a while for the bath to fill up…
Breakfast at EAST Miami
Breakfast at EAST is a sophisticated yet laid-back experience and it’s all hosted in the onsite restaurant Quinto La Huella – an outpost of the award-winning Parador La Huella in Uruguay.
We loved Quinto La Huella and had a fantastic evening meal there over the weekend (review coming soon). And when it comes to brekkie, we were just as impressed. The continental breakfast was particularly good, which will set you back $24 per person (children get 50% discount) but the variety is excellent.
You’ll get all the regular fresh fruit, cereals, meats, cheeses and yoghurts with various breads and homemade preserves. They have all the milk options you could ever imagine and, the honey is excellent and the pastries are unmissable (especially the buns which are filled with an oozy dulce de leche filling – they’re insanely good).
Over on the la carte menu, there are things like French toast, quinoa porridge and egg and pancake dishes started from around $12. We ordered the Huevos Benedict and the Huevos poche with chimichurri and avocado. Although the eggs were a little runny for my liking, the ham base for the Benedict was delicious so do order them if you get the chance.
Sugar Bar and rooftop
You can’t visit EAST Miami without heading up to Sugar – one of the reasons Brickell can now claim it is the place to be seen on a Saturday night.
To save you from a super-long read, I’ll tell you about Sugar in a separate post. Located on the 40th floor of EAST, it offers a fantastic rooftop experience and we loved the cocktails.
The Swimming Pool at EAST
The swimming pool is one of the major talking points at EAST and for good reason. This beautiful leafy oasis that adjoins the Quinto La Huella restaurant and stylish shrubbery is like an urban jungle that gangs high in the sky amongst the skyscrapers.
It spreads across an impressive 20,000 square foot space and although we didn’t get to try them out (it was a bit too windy!) there are swimming pools of various temperatures to suit your mood.
Things to do when staying at EAST
One of the things I loved most about EAST was that it was inside the shopping mall! At first, this may not sound very appealing, but trust me, Brickell City Centre is one of the most sophisticated malls you’ll visit. Its inside-outside design and innovative architecture make it a cool place to just have a nosey around.
Beyond BCC, there are dozens of restaurants a few more shops on the doorstep of EAST. Head over to The Shops at Mary Brickell Village for a more traditional eating and shopping feel, with a couple of trendy eats such as Balans, DIRT and Rosa Mexicano.
Beyond the malls, there are more things to do in Brickell than you might expect. This area dates back to the mid 1800s when pioneer William Brickell developed it into a sought-after neighbourhood and you can still visit the historic Santa Maria lot, once a part of ‘Millionnaire’s Row’. Many people don’t know, Downtown Miami is also home to the mysterious Miami Circle, a preserved site that dates back to the Tequesta Indians.
So there you go!
Oh, and definitely check out the hotel’s mobile phone app, which also has some fantastic tips on things to see and do in Miami.
How do you get to EAST Miami?
EAST is super easy to get to (as long as your cab driver knows the roads!). It’s just a 15-minute drive from Miami International Airport and a 30 to 40-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale International Airport. They use Uber in Miami and there are public transport options too. In fact, the Brickell Metrorail station is a five minute walk away (where you can take a train to both international airports) and the Metromover light railway station is literally next door and connects you to other parts of the city. EAST Hotel can also arrange airport pick-ups for you via MiRide, with fares starting from $75 and $127 from Miami and Fort Lauderdale international airports, respectively.
Overall, we loved our stay at EAST. Both check-in and check-out were super quick and easy and we thought the hotel was stylish, yet not too pretentious and really geared to the stylish traveller. Being a five-star hotel EAST is naturally on the high end of the budget, with rooms starting at $219/night for an Urban King during low season (the EAST Suite starts from $3,400/night during low season). We found the food menus were quite expensive and you won’t find there are many ‘frills’ in the room in the way of biscuits or snacks, but we later found out that this is partly due to the fact that EAST has a strong focus on sustainability and minimal waste (so major credit to them for that). That said, we thought the hotel had very high standards, with a beautifully thought-out design and arguably, the coolest rooftop bar in Brickell.
In the words of the hotel, you’re going to be ‘At East’ here. Thumbs up.
Have you been to EAST Miami or have you stayed in Downtown Miami? Feel free to leave a comment and share your travel tips and thoughts.
EAST, 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, Florida 33131, USA. Tel: +1 305 712 7000