With just 24 hours in Miami on a recent flying visit, time was of the essence.
One of the most famous destination in the United States, if not the world, the city is synonymous with hedonism.
But with so little time at hand it was vital to make sure I saw the best of what was on offer – and fast!
Disembarking at Miami International Airport I am greeted with the usual cheer from the border protection officers before jumping in a taxi to my home for the night – Kimpton EPIC Hotel.
Just 30 minutes away from the runway and situated in the centre of Downtown, the hotel is certainly something to behold, speeding away into the skies at more than 50-stories high.
The property is branded as four-star, but I suspect this might be a ploy to enable business travellers (barred from booking five-star accommodation) to stay at the hotel.
Kimpton EPIC certainly seems high-end.
From every one of its 441 room and suites, all of which include balconies, the hotel offers views over Biscayne Bay, allowing visitors to take in the distant Miami Beach and surroundings.
Accommodation types range from King Premier Rooms to Presidential Suites – while even ‘Tall Rooms’, which feature extra-long beds and raised shower heads, are on offer.
All rooms also house a minibar with gourmet local treats and yoga mats – giving you an indication of the flavour of the area.
Interiors are modern, sleek and fresh – as would be expected from such a cutting edge property – while the lobby is packed to the rafters with contemporary art.
Kimpton EPIC’s four-star rating belies its luxurious feel
Kimpton EPIC is an idea base from which to explore.
While there is not a great deal on the doorstep in Downtown, a short taxi ride takes you to the AmericanAirlines Arena which is home to the biggest shows in town.
Kayne West was performing while I passed through, with Adele to follow shortly.
For a touch more culture, the Pérez Art Museum offers a tour of contemporary international work in a lush garden setting, while right next door is the Knight Concert Hall and a programme of contemporary dance, theatre and ballet.
But it is over the bridge, in Miami Beach, where the real action is.
Driving over MacArthur Causeway – the link between Miami-proper and the far-flung islands – I asked the taxi driver about museums in town.
He seems surprised before grudgingly answering: “That’s not really what Miami is about.”
This is a place purely for partying, and the two-kilometre long South Beach is where it is at.
Sitting between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic, this is the area for its celebrity nightlife and art deco buildings.
Hundreds of buildings line the celebrated Ocean Drive, each lovingly maintained and welcoming thousands of guests from all over the world.
A personal favourite, however, in the backstreets is a world-away from all the glamour.
Mac’s Club Deuce claims to be the oldest watering hole in the city (though it is one of many to seek the honour) and offers a glimpse of an earlier America; an America of cheap drinks, big talk, a well-stocked jukebox and, of course, unlimited pool.
The dive-bar extraordinaire is an institution in its own right and, despite the sad passing of the eponymous Mac earlier this year, offers a welcome, cost-effective, alternative to the mega-clubs which line the seafront.
The sleek interiors of Kimpton EPIC Miami
Heading back to the Kimpton EPIC in the mood to celebrate, the hotel doesn’t disappoint.
Just off the reception is LILT, a buzzing bar which offers a cultured alternative to the Miami club scene.
Guests or passers-by are invited for pre-dinner cocktails, with a well-heeled crowd calling in for a menu of light snacks and heavy drinking.
Two restaurants are also on hand.
Area 31 is situated on the 16th floor and offers an ocean-inspired menu, while ZUMA offers a sophisticated take on Japanese cuisine.
Eating in the later, the informal izakaya-style dining is suitably sophisticated and perhaps not what I had expected from party-driven Miami. A must-see!
Of course, Kimpton EPIC is also home to an onsite fitness centre, a spa, and two rooftop outdoor pools.
Diving into the pool the morning after the night before, it is possible to see over the city for miles around.
It’s certainly one of the highlights of the hotel and offers a great place to relax before heading back to the airport.
In the lobby on the way out Kimpton also offers a complimentary Morning Coffee + Tea Service, the perfect finishing touch for departing guests on the way back to the airport.
Of course 24-hours is not enough time to see even a slice of Miami, but the Kimpton EPIC makes a great location for even the briefest of visits to this vibrant city.
The rooftop pool is a highlight of any visit to Kimpton EPIC
Accommodation in a King Premier Room at Kimpton EPIC Hotel, Miami, starts from approximately US$250 per couple, per night, based on travel during October and November 2016.
To book, or for more information, visit the official website.