First-class trip to Miami is just the ticket
Will Smith once sang about Miami: “I only came for two days of playing, but every time I come I always wind up stayin'.” Spending the same length of time there, I can understand what he means as Miami is a city that leaves you wanting more.
Sweltering temperatures underneath blue skies on golden beaches surrounded by towering skyscrapers with a bustling nightlife, incredible restaurants and glamorous shopping areas, Miami is not just a tropical paradise but a dream for those who want to shop until they drop too.
I flew to Miami with British Airways, which earlier this year increased the number of flights between Inverness and Heathrow from 10 to 16 a week during the summer season. In addition, British Airways is doubling its winter services on the route from seven to 14 return services a week, with the airline operating a double-daily schedule every day of the week from October 27.
It makes the connection to Miami that much easier, as British Airways fly twice a day from Heathrow to Miami.
I was lucky enough to fly first class on a nine-hour flight to Florida. But before my flight I relaxed at the Concorde Lounge at Heathrow Airport, where I had the chance to enjoy pre-flight dining in private dining booths with full waiter service and à la carte menu.
During the flight in first class I enjoyed a menu that would not look out of place in a five-star hotel. A range of fine wines and champagnes with a selection of beers, spirits and soft drinks was also on offer. The airline also offered signature afternoon tea with a selection of sandwiches, delicate pastries and scones, as well as a wide range of tea infusions.
Arriving in Miami, I stayed at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Hotel. As the name suggests, it provided a modern, comfortable setting to relax and enjoy the view of the world famous Miami Beach.
The hotel offered spacious rooms including oversized balconies overlooking the ocean with three distinct pools, beach-front cabanas, award-winning on-site dining and spa treatments in a central location in the middle of Miami Beach.
The hotel’s excellent restaurants included Malibu Farm which offered farm to fork freshness while Nobu Miami specialised in serving up new Japanese cuisine. The hotel mixologists at the Lobby Bar whisked up delicious cocktails while the Aquatica Bar offered a range of food and drinks by the poolside.
On the first day I was given a private tour of Miami by Magic City Adventures. They gave a history of the city that grew out of swamps infested by alligators to a population of almost 500,000 today.
Half of the population is of Cuban descent, with Miami the only major city in the United States where Spanish is the first language. But, surprisingly, around 22,000 residents in the city are of Russian descent.
One of the highlights of the tour was Wynwood Walls, a unique outdoor destination featuring huge, colourful street murals. It showcased more than 40 cutting-edge and dazzling murals created by street artists from around the world including Asia, Europe and Latin America as well as those based in the United States.
We were also treated to a tour of the city’s art deco buildings which Miami’s South Beach has the highest concentration of in the world and are protected to remain that way thanks to years of campaigning by the Miami Design Preservation League.
The following day I was taken on a tour of Española Way. It was the city’s first commercial development on Miami Beach, created in the early 1920s. Española Way was built to serve as an artists’ colony, modelled after Mediterranean villages in France and Spain and it is described as a cultural gem in the city.
In 2017, the City of Miami Beach completed a $2.5 million revitalisation project, making it a pedestrian-only street and it is now an area where locals and visitors enjoy bars, restaurants and hotels.
Afterwards we were taken to Lincoln Road, which is branded as the cultural and social heart of Miami Beach. It is an eclectic pedestrian promenade that welcomes more than 11 million visitors a year with its various shops, cafés, galleries, restaurants, bars, arts and culture, and other businesses.
Considered a hub for arts, architecture and culture, some of Miami’s most popular performance and architectural venues are located on Lincoln Road.
Also famed as an al fresco shopping destination, Lincoln Road is home to high-end boutiques with other recognisable brands along with sidewalk cafés and superb restaurants.
We ate at Chotto Matte, a Japanese Peruvian fusion restaurant combining sushi cusine with a South American twist, serving delicious seafood and barbecue dishes.
The Miami Design District is another celebrated part of Miami. It is a neighbourhood dedicated to innovative fashion, design, architecture and dining experiences. It is home to more than 130 art galleries, showrooms, creative services, architecture firms, luxury fashion stores, antiques dealers, eateries and bars.
High-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Saint Laurent and Hermes are located in the Design District, making it a must-visit destination for shopaholics.
So if you’re looking to party in a city where the heat is on, all night on the beach until the break of dawn, welcome to Miami, Bienvenidos a Miami.
Need to know
For more information flying to Miami with British Airways, see www.britishairways.com/en-gb/destinations/miami