What's it like? The latest hotel in Hilton's luxury brand, the Conrad opened in July 2004 and occupies 10 floors of a new 36-storey, mixed use building. The bottom floors are offices, while above the hotel are apartments let by the hotel for long-term stays. To keep office workers apart from guests, a complex lift system involves two separate lifts to get to your room, which gets pretty tedious ? especially as to get to the hotel pool or tennis courts, you have to take a third lift, exit the hotel and cross the taxi lane to the 14-storey building next door.
Where is it? In the heart of the downtown financial district, in Espirito Santo Plaza, which is visible from the plane on your approach to Miami because of its striking glass and steel concave facade. The hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride from South Beach and 20 minutes from the airport.
How many rooms? 203, including 14 suites and 103 apartments, on floors 27 and upwards.
Room facilities: Rooms have interactive TV with internet access, movies and music ($9.95 per day for internet, from $8.99 for movies, $6.95 for one hour of Nintendo and $9.95 for two hours of music), plus free wireless and dataport internet access, and a cyber concierge to help with technical problems. Other features include two phone lines, luxury cotton towels and bed linen, a pillow menu, personalised stationery, separate bath and shower, Bulgari toiletries, a comfortable armchair with soft throw and even a furry toy manatee ? the native mammal that is an endangered species in Miami's Biscayne Bay and a mascot for the hotel. On the executive floor, guests have a personal butler, receive a drink on arrival and don't need to check in if they are repeat visitors.
Business centre: Located on the meetings and conference floor, it has two computers with printers, fax, internet access and a helpful "meetings concierge" called Andre. It's open 8.30am-5.30pm and free to use, but can be occupied during events if it has been hired out as part of the facilities.
Restaurants and bars: Atrio is a stylish 80-seat restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving "progressive American" cuisine, a combination of Latin American and Asian, resulting in dishes like "Wasabi-dusted tuna loin" and "Bamboo rice paella with fresh seafood and lobster broth". Noir is a sophisticated bar (appropriately dark), with high stools and low tables and, sadly, a large screen showing sport, which ruins the ambience. If you sit round the corner, out of sight of the screen, you can enjoy a more intimate drink and tasty tapas alongside fantastic views of the city. Try the balcony to escape from the fierce air conditioning.
Fitness centre: On top of the 14-storey building next door are the hotel swimming pool, hot tub and two tennis courts. The fitness centre and spa is in the hotel building on the 24th floor and promises spectacular views of Biscayne Bay, although the windows are too small to appreciate the view while working out.
The fitness centre is a reasonable size with cardiovascular equipment, free weights and resistance machines, and the spa offers a range of treatments, including an excellent manicure and pedicure while sitting in a massage chair, and a range of products and treatments from Sonya Dakar ? the LA-based skin specialist who
is popular with celebrities.
Price: From $179 for a deluxe room, $229 for a bay view room and $279 for a one-bedroom suite. One-bedroom residences start at $379 per night.
Contact: Conrad Miami, Espirito Santo Plaza, 1395 Brickell Avenue, Miami, Florida 33131, tel 1 305 503 6500, email[email protected],www.conradhotels.com.