It may be true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I defy anyone to take in the year-round sunshine, woozily swaying palm trees and dazzling art deco façades of South Beach Miami and be anything less than intoxicated. Beautiful places (and people) aside, Miami has bags to offer family travellers, from glorious beaches and parks to a thriving arts scene and a spicy musical and gastronomic flavor courtesy of the city’s predominantly Latin American population.
From the outside, The James Royal Palm looks like every glamorous Miami hotel you’ve ever imagined – a gleaming tower of 1920’s art deco splendor, fountains trickling at the front, private beach cabanas at the back. Then, the moment you step inside, the familiarity fades and the surprises begin. From portholes in the glass reception desk to the creamy white and green colour-scheme and modern art adorning the walls, this is a seriously hip hotel. That’s not to say this is no place for families, on the contrary The James is that very rare commodity – a chic city bolthole that both appreciates and welcomes young travellers. In fact, children have their very own Lil’ James interactive play space with creative tables, sandpits, a 'lifeguard station' and squishy beanbags galore. Other fun facilities on site include two outdoor pools, a private beach area, several eateries and, for the grown ups, a well-stocked rum bar. Guestrooms are full of nautical fun too, all cool blues and whites and enormous squishy beds, while the upper floor apartments, with seperate living and sleeping areas, have been created with families in mind.
What we did
We had big plans for our time in South Beach, grandiose cultural itineraries no less. But then, on our first morning, we decided to spend an hour by The James’ pool… Big mistake! From the comfortable day beds and shady umbrellas, baskets of chilled water and fruit, constant supply of pool floats and attention for young swimmers, somehow one hour turned into three, then into a poolside lunch and the afternoon too. On day two we strengthened our resolve to tick a few sightseeing boxes and headed downtown to get a taste of vibrant Little Havana (N.B; that “taste” is delicious roast pork) and take a cruise from Biscayne Bay to spot the houses of the stars.
What we ate
Unsurprisingly given the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, fresh fish features heavily on the menus at The James’ restaurants. On our visit to Florida Cookery, a laid-back dining room serving local specialties, we devoured a piquant ceviche made with local coriva, seared frog’s legs (which tasted like chicken, naturally), juicy whole spiny lobster and the catch of the day snapper with mojo de ajo and coconut rice. So far, so adventurous, but we also spotted plenty of familiar options perfectly suited to young diners too – glazed sticky ribs, roast chicken and lemon soup and the house special ‘Lee Schrager’ burger. Oh, and did I mention the key lime pie? Tangy, crumbly, squishy, sweet and sour, truly life affirming stuff – at any age.
Here at Junior, we’ve always been advocates that having children and glamorous travel are not mutually exclusive, and The James Royal Palm is right on board with our ideology. Here you have a hip hotel in a sexy city that not only caters for families, but actively ensures you’ll feel totally at home amongst the see-and-be-seen beautiful people and places of Miami’s South Beach.
Rates at The James Royal Palm start from £215 per night on a bed and breakfast basis (excluding tax).
For more information, visit: www.jameshotels.com/miami or Tel: +1 (305) 604-5700