The Betsy Hotel is an opulent boutique hotel on Ocean Drive in the heart of Miami, Florida’s South Beach. The iconic hotel features 130 luxury rooms and suites, unique architecturally designed public spaces, a plethora of serious art and owners devoted to the Philanthropy Arts Culture and Education (PACE) program. The Betsy Hotel offers all the amenities found in a luxury hotel. It is steps from the beach and a short walk to incredible nightlife.
In 2005 Jonathan Plutzik purchased the historic Betsy Ross Hotel built-in 1941. After a few years of running the hotel and considering how he wanted it restructured, he remodeled and reopened it in 2009 as The Betsy Hotel. The historic Carlton hotel located behind the Betsy Ross was purchased much later. It was renovated and reopened in 2017 as part of The Betsy Hotel. This year, US News and World Report listed The Betsy as one of the top ten small luxury hotels in the world.
I stayed at The Betsy in May, and I perused the hotel with Jonathan. He shared that most people perceive South Beach as a place for beaches and bikinis, but it is so much more. Although some consider the area the sixth borough of New York or the capital of Latin America, Jonathan says, “It is the American Riviera, the crossroads of the world with a diverse and complex group of people.”
Jonathan set out to create a non-South-Beach South Beach hotel. He implemented his PACE program and progressively filled the hotel with real art. He considers South Beach one of the great cultural capitals of the country. Many people do not realize that within a 15-minute walk of the hotel, you can visit The Bass (a museum), Jewish Museum, Art Deco Museum, Holocaust Memorial, and the New World Symphony. A quick ride over the shores of Miami brings you to the Museum of Science, the Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Art and Design, and more.
The Betsy Hotel envelops and celebrates the arts. Jonathan comes from a family of writers and musicians. The B-Bar is a multi-purpose room and often hosts poetry readings. Books curated for guests to enjoy fill the rooms, suites, and public spaces. The hotel boasts a writer’s suite where more than 750 writers and 50 other artists have stayed for three days to a week to immerse themselves in their art. The writers and artists are free to hole up in their rooms and work aside from the one obligation to meet with the public on a single night, usually Thursdays at 5:00 p.m., to discuss their work with art enthusiasts.
Numerous different art exhibits are displayed everywhere you turn inside The Betsy. In one exhibition, the staff rotates over 225 images from the Bob Bonus collection. He was the original road manager for the Beatles and Rolling Stones when they came to the states. Initially planned for a six-month exhibition, the collection was so well received that it has never been taken down after more than ten years.
Jonathan says, “The hotel prides itself on places to hide. When you go on vacation, you want to get away with your partner or from your partner, depending on how things are going.” Nooks and quiet rooms pepper the entire property. Whether it is a hidden space on the side of one of the public areas, the library, or the rooftop spa, you can always find a place for solitude.
The suspended rooftop pool features a 360-degree view of the water and cityscape, and the courtyard pool offers shade and sun to those looking for a more private atmosphere. The oceanfront deck looks out at the water and greets the sun in the morning. It is a beautiful place to start the day or relax with a book. The Wellness Garden & Spa provides a Zen atmosphere where adults can relax or purchase one of the many treatments and therapies available. The fitness center, located on the first floor of the Art Deco wing, is available for those who want to maintain their wellness program while on vacation.
Spectacular food is part of every vacation, and The Betsy has that covered. Award-winning chef Laurent Tourondel creates menus for each dining venue at the hotel. LT Steak & Seafood is a revised version of BL&T Steakhouse in New York. Chef Tourondel is behind Ralph Lauren’s restaurants in Paris and Chicago and the Laurent at Café Royal in London.
Chef Tourondel fuses international flavors from Asia, and Latin America implemented with French cooking techniques in the casual but elegant LT Steak & Seafood restaurant. My friend, Lily, a local in Miami, joined me for dinner one night. We savored a couple of delicious sushi rolls and a delicate tuna poke.
After Chef Tourondel became enthralled with pizza a few years ago, the hotel opened The Alley restaurant at the back of The Betsy. It is a modern trattoria serving Neapolitan-style pizza and other Italian fares. Beer and wine are available. One afternoon I tried the zucchini e rucola, a refreshing zucchini salad with lemon-garlic olive oil, Parmesan, and almonds. I paired it with a glass of Prosecco and finished lunch with a decadent affogato, biscotti gelato, and espresso—yum.
The Carlton Room Café serves local craft beers, juices, pastries, and sandwiches, and the lobby bar offers a variety of alcoholic beverages. The lobby is a lively place to listen to jazz seven nights a week. Ventanita is a walk-up window next to The Alley and serves homemade gelato and pizza by the slice.
South Beach is an exciting place to stay and explore, but if you want to venture beyond the beach borders, take a ride on Miami’s Big Bus. The hop-on-hop-off bus offers three routes escorting explorers to various neighborhoods, past vibrant artwork on the Wynwood Walls, or toward tasty eats in Little Havana. Buy a three-day pass and wander each of the area’s exciting attractions. Make The Betsy Hotel your home base and discover all that Miami Beach has to offer. If you are looking for planning ideas, contact Found in Miami.