Flight changes lengthened our layover, which I decided was long enough to lay our heads at a Miami luxury hotel. I correctly figured our best bet would be Mandarin Oriental, Miami because it’s a hotel near Miami airport, lively enough to dip a toe into the city’s vibrant scene, and would have the amenities we’re used to as longtime fans of the brand.

I would fly back just to stay there again. Also, I love Miami.

Mandarin Oriental, Miami Location

The view of Biscayne Bay from our room at Mandarin Oriental, Miami

This is clearly one of the best hotels near Miami airport on secluded Brickell Key which is a small man-made island about a 15-minutes or so away by car. Our Blacklane driver picked us up in person at baggage claim, assisted us with our luggage and drove us to the hotel. It’s possible to arrange transportation directly through the hotel as well.

The island location translates to water views from most vantage points that make it easy to forget you’re staying in a major city. Miami makes a nice December retreat as, despite the clouds, the temperature read 70° F.

Easy Arrivals Process

As our car rolled to a stop, the bellmen were already there positioned to open our door and unload our bags.

This initial seamless motion—a first impression, if you will—causes my shoulders to relax every single time. It’s a reassurance that everything is about to be fabulous. I was feeling fragile because we’d already experienced a series of flight mishaps, my daughter had severe trouble with her ears upon landing and I was unsure if the windy weather would permit us to swim with the pigs (the entire reason for our trip) in the Bahamas, our final destination.

But, for at least a night, we were going make the most of a five-star stay.

The bottled water and tea presented to us at check-in quenched our post-airplane thirst and were much appreciated. Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up.

I’d forgotten that the lobby would be beautifully decorated for Christmas. There was no choice but to pause for photos of the stunning tree even though we were on the edge of being late to our dinner reservation in one of Miami’s best restaurants.

The beautiful Christmas tree at Mandarin Oriental, Miami.

Beautiful Asian-Inspired Rooms

My initial thought upon entering the room was that it would have been a mistake for us to stay in the must-less-posh Miami airport hotel. 

To this day, I’m so relieved to have made the switch because did maximize our time in this lovely room.

In addition to the beautiful Asian-inspired decor, what I love most about Mandarin Oriental hotel rooms is careful attention to detail including plenty of plugs for devices, bath amenities you may have forgotten, dishware, and more so that you rarely have to call housekeeping or in-room dining for anything.

An adorable decorate-your-own cupcake amenity was waiting for my daughter, too.

The Miami luxury hotel is perched just steps from Biscayne Bay. In fact, we saw mostly water when looking straight down from our balcony where one could (and should) sit with a cocktail. Every room has a noteworthy view, be it water or skyline.

After stuffing myself at dinner, it was a relief to swap my shoes for the plush hotel slippers and I was shocked by how well I slept after a very hectic day of travel. Though I credit also the soft bed and luxury linens. Despite the hotel being at full occupancy, our room was so, so quiet.

Five-Star Dining

My husband did not join this trip but became immediately jealous upon hearing Mandarin Oriental, Miami included a dinner at La Mar by Gaston Acurio with our stay. The Peruvian restaurant is so good that our driver also mentioned a meal here as a must-do.

The food was incredible. My daughter and I shared mixed ceviche, a chicken anticucho and chaufa aeropuerto (chinese sausage, roasted pork, pan fried rice, shrimp omelet, nikkei sauce, pickled salad) amid a very Miami scene where other families enjoyed late-night dining, friends sipped cocktails and couples smooched over entrees.

The good news is that breakfast is served here, too. We opted again for the outdoor patio’s Biscayne Bay view where the vibe changed from nightlife chic to the perfect place to start a day. 

Runners and walkers out for morning exercise were taking full advantage bayside path around the hotel, visible now in daylight. While sipping morning coffee, I felt sad that I wouldn’t have time for a bayside run. Next time.

The beautifully-presented buffet included house-smoked meats, perfect fruit, hot items, omelettes, and Latin specialties. Kids also eat for free with a paying adult, which was a lovely surprise.

Do try the housemade almond croissants. I could have filled an entire plate with these alone (before my bayside run, of course.)

We then hit the walkway for a post-breakfast walk and closer look at the bay. So relaxing.

Biscayne Bay steps from the luxury hotel Mandarin Oriental, Miami.

Other dining options include Azul Restaurant with a Modern American and Asian menu, a poolside cafe, in-room dining, and a MO Bar. One can not go wrong with cocktails in a MO Bar, trust me.

A Private Beach, Cool Pool, and Spa

Private beach and swimming pool at Mandarin Oriental, Miami which is steps from Biscayne Bay.

Mandarin Oriental, Miami’s Oasis Beach is the only place in the city with a private beach that has both a water and city view. Beach butlers serve cocktails and refreshing bites to lounge chairs and private cabanas located in the sand. Only guests of the luxury hotel can access this little gem. Note that it’s for lounging, not swimming.

For swimming, saunter over to the hotel infinity pool which boasts similar skyline and bay views as well as the same impeccable service.

I usually book Mandarin Oriental spa reservations but lack of time prohibited it. I would expect the full-service spa to be nothing short of spectacular. Treatments are inspired by ancient traditions of Chinese, Ayurvedic, European, Balinese and Thai cultures but a good rule of thumb at MO spas is to arrive early enough to enjoy lounging facilities. The fitness center here also offers outdoor yoga classes, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, belly dancing and personal training in Miami sunshine.

Good to Know

If time is of the essence, I would have the concierge arrange for a car service or taxi at a specific time. I wasn’t sure what time we’d leave the hotel so didn’t make advanced arrangements and taxis were hard to come by on a busy Saturday morning. Speaking of reservations, it’s Miami so have the concierge make them in advance for popular restaurants.

There is a big grassy area near Oasis Beach that is a perfect place for kids to blow off steam but a stroller ride around the bay would be lovely.

Despite being told otherwise by airline staff, I did have to collect checked luggage at the Miami airport because of the length of our layover. I wasn’t expecting this so booked a car to the hotel a bit too early.

I can’t think of any criticisms to mention.

Overall Review of Mandarin Oriental, Miami

I would definitely stay here again and highly recommend this Miami luxury hotel for business, family and other leisure travel.

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See why Mandarin Oriental is one of Miami's best luxury hotels from five-star dining to fabulous room views.

Mandarin Oriental, Miami
500 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, Florida 33131
+1 (305) 913 8288

*Thank you to Mandarin Oriental, Miami for extending a media rate to us for this stay.
**Patio and bar photos of La Mar by Gaston Acurio are used courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. I love the Asian-themed rooms the best Katie, because a SE Asia fan 😉 Fabulous review here. A few months back we flew from NYC to Nicaragua and had a stopover in Hollywood. Seeing the view of the water and hotel reminds me of the scene outside of the plane window. Beautiful spot. Keep on Tribing it up!


  2. The Mandarin Oriental Miami sounds like the perfect hotel for a luxe layover or even longer. It is often difficult to find a great hotel near a major airport, and I will add this one to my list.