The Soho Beach House, Miami
I have a particular soft spot for Miami, its the chic Vegas by the sea, minus the gambling and fat people. That Will Smith song “Welcome to MiYami” captures the smouldering feel of the place disturbingly well. Many is the lost weekend I have spent there over the years. Usually when in town, I'll stay in South Beach either in The Raleigh or The Delano. Both offer very different takes on the Miami experience. At The Raleigh, you get a feel for the Art Deco era of the beach, the pool has been used for Vogue photo shoots for decades, its laid back and go-slow with impeccable service and a prefect location. The Delano on the other hand hits you in the face with the party crowd. You will either meet someone in the lift at 7AM just getting in from a night out, or you will actually be that person. That's South Beach for you. Further up on Miami Beach however is The Soho House Cub with its Boutique Hotel attached.
This is the Floridian outpost of the British members only Soho House, which now has branches in multiple countries. Normally to access the club you must be a member, but for an outrageously expensive sum you can now experience the club atmosphere as a hotel guest. The Miami location is oddly less than desirable, the club is flanked by a Holiday Inn and the rather faded Fountainbleau, but then again Soho Beach House is actually the main destination this side of the beach. The rooms are beautifully appointed, each with its own vintage mini-bar, cowshed toiletries and all the accoutrements you'd expect for what you pay. Not that you'll spend much time it in of course, the real draw here is The Scene. As we arrived, two cast members from Friends passed us in the lobby and proceeded to dodge motorcycle riding paparazzi outside, a typical Soho House event. Cecconis the downstairs Italian restaurant is always buzzing and its walls are adorned with selections from the House's famed eclectic art collection.
Upstairs in the members bar, however is where the real action is. Mr. M and I are every house members so have frequented all the various Soho outlets, the cool crowd the clubs attract never disappoints and the same applies here with a delicious Miami twist. Statuesque drag queens sip Rose with beautiful muscle boys in one corner, whilst a seventy year old leather clad rocker entertains his distinguished looking ultra tanned friend in another. Its a great cast of characters and a lovely place to while away a few hours whilst dipping into the excellent cocktails and great bar food. The same applies poolside, you never know who you might see and celebrity here is no great shakes.
Of course all of this glamour comes at a price….Whilst the Soho House: Babington House property in the UK is in essence a hotel first and a Members club second, the same is not true for the Miami outpost. The staff are beautiful, camp and aloof at all the houses which is bearable if you are just popping in for a drink. As a member you usually get treated fairly decently, particularly if you are a regular, as a non member prepared to be humiliated in a multitude of ways. I have seen people ejected for wearing the wrong kind of outfit, made to wait outside until their member friend could be located to bring them in and actually had friends of mineforcibly removed when I left them alone in there for a half an hour. No non member can be left alone….. The staff can be brutal, its part of the exclusivity of the place and gives members that I am Special feeling for being on the inside. Or Whatever…..
As a hotel guest there is nothing worse than paying through the nose and being subjected to this kind of thing. Pretty but aloof and inept hospitality staff have no place at a hotel, particularly when you are paying the same rate you might at a Five Star property. When I stay overnight in a place and pay a premium, I expect to get a nice room but more importantly excellent service, its not too much to ask and thats surely the Hotelier/Hotel Guest deal????? I totally buy into the idea that you get what you pay for,
We arrived fresh off a transatlantic flight at 4PM, only to be told off handedly that our room was not ready. We retreated for an hour up to the bar to wait it out, but it was not until Mr. M threw a massive strop ( in that foxy public school accent of his) that we were finally granted access to our room. We managed to drop our bags off at 5.30 a good four and a half hours after the guaranteed 1PM check in. Of course we had to rush out for a business dinner, immediately bedraggled and frazzled. Apologies were thin on the ground but in the end Mr. M insisted they pick up our tab in the bar while we were waiting. A pretty person assured us they would, but of course upon checkout the charge appeared on the bill, as expected to be honest. This theme continued throughout the stay, the service is just OFF. There is a disingenuous attitude from all of the staff to hotel guests in general, its that Too Cool for School or that: “I am only doing this until my acting/modelling career kicks off” syndrome that you often get at those up their own bums Boutique hotels. This was the second time we'd stayed there and Mr. M and I had a bemused conversation in the lift as to why we had chosen it again, neither of us enjoyed it the first time round either.
On the bright side, the cowshed spa is really lovely, with an irresistible little boutique stocking local designer's beachwear and jewellery. There is a also proper full-on old school barber shop for the man in your life who likes a hot shave. Lastly you can have a whale of a time in the passport photo booth after 5 drinks….small mercies I guess.
Verdict: Soho House is a fun members club all round, we love it and all of the branches, the bar scene is great, the crowd chic and the food is good. But the Soho Beach House is a Dreadful HOTEL. Don't stay here, its not worth the money and you will find better value elsewhere on the much more desirable South Beach.
For Who: Foolish people or those non- members willing to put up with the crap so they can hang out in the club.
The Damage: Emotionally? yes, you'll feel regret and remorse for all the cash you just spunked on your room, its crazy expensive for what you get $400 and Up Up Up…We paid $700 per night. Gaaaaaaaahhh.