This reincarnation of yet another Art Deco beachfront hotel by maestro Morris Lapidus, the 1939 Ritz Plaza was reborn to much celebrity-studded fanfare in 2012. The stylish decor by Philippe Starck (who helped launch the local boutique-hotel trend in 1995 with his work at the Delano next door) mixes elegance with playfulness and a touch of sexy; walls of the white rooms, for example, sport canvas printed with squiggles winking at Louis XV villa paneling (other touches: one of the best rainfall showers I’ve experienced, and an, ahem, artfully placed mirror over the bed). The other big influence is Spanish celebrity chef José Andrés—as in the front-lobby bar accented in red, black, and shots of vintage Spanish divas; and especially in the main Bazaar restaurant, with a masterful menu of Spain-meets-Florida-meets-Latin-America-meets-Singapore. Katsuya delivers sleek Japanese, and out back the social scene snaps, crackles, and pops at a bar, two pool decks, and Hyde Beach, which serves lunch but turns into a nightlife must when the sun goes down. The location is super convenient for various highlights such as Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive, and even the Bass Art Museum.
- David Paul Appell