Sojourn in South Beach, part one

A northeastern winter is cold, grey and – seemingly – endless. You spend hours plotting an escape to someplace sunny and warm… if only for a few days. Luckily, there are a few options that aren’t overseas but feel a world away. Where to go? With its trendy twist-on-the-tropical vibe, Miami is the place to be.

With the plane ride behind me, it’s only a 30-minute drive over to the Stanton South Beach (stantonsobe.com). Situated in the exclusive South of Fifth district of South Beach, the hotel is one of a handful on Ocean Drive with direct beach access and a brisk walk from the buzzy action of the city. It’s all about the location, yes?

After being renovated over the past few years, all guest rooms, suites, lobby and entryway, outdoor terrace, pools, F&B options (courtesy of Japan-based management company Plan Do See), concierge lounge and meeting spaces reflect an upscale, beach-y/retro attitude.

Welcoming me is a porte-cochere with an outdoor ceiling lined with timber panels and an abundance of lush foliage. Crossing the threshold, the two-story lobby showcases an eclectic art collection, light wood accents and light green and sand-colored terrazzo floors. A quick and friendly check-in and I head off to my room.

The 224 renovated guest rooms (including eight suites) tout a 1960’s SoBe style, done in tones of cream with cinnamon accents. Upholstered headboards, LED flat screen TVs (with Netflix!), work/desk spaces with Wi-Fi access, marble touches in the washroom (glass showers encompass a cut-out in the enclosure to check the water temperature before stepping inside) – thoughtful features to make the stay a pleasant one.

Opening the doors to the balcony, the views are exceptional. To the left, the city, to the right, the Atlantic Ocean (with a one of the few parkettes in the area, directly in front). As much as I want to stroll and enjoy what the South Beach has to offer (take a bike ride or pick up a snack at a cafe, perhaps?), I decide to unpack and relax for an hour, or so. I’m also starving; a packet of airplane pretzels isn’t enough to keep hunger at bay.

Dinner is at Lolo’s Surf Cantina (loloscantina.com), a Baja-inspired Mexican situated on the premises of the Stanton. Named after owner/partner Richard Ampudia’s grandmother Dolores, Lolo’s is reminiscent of a bodega-cum-retro 70’s basement; wood panelling, tile floors, an expansive bar, the occasional kitschy touches (check out the framed toreador poster).

Often referred to as the godfather of Mexican street food, Ampudia’s menu offers classics with a twist. Move past the guac and onto something like shishitos (sautéed mini peppers served with sea salt, lemon and toasted sesame seeds), Baja style fish tacos (modelo battered mahi, red cabbage slaw, shaved radish, serrano aioli) or the chilaquiles bowl (tortilla casserole, your choice of red or green salsa, fried egg, black beans, queso fresco, pico de gallo). Don’t forget the cocktail menu. Order a tequila, mezcal, or a signature cocktail like the white coco sangria (white wine, tequila, coconut water, St. Germain, cinnamon syrup, lime) and el millionario (rum, apricot brandy, sloe gin, lime) for a good time.

After finishing off a still-warm churro, I feel like I could take on the world… or at least the rest of South Beach in the morning.

(Photo of Lolo’s Surf Cantina courtesy of Facebook)

About The Author

Steven Carver
International Editor

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