You might not automatically associate Miami’s South Beach with incisive personal narratives or the intellectual examination of artistic expression, but this is exactly what makes The Betsy Hotel stand apart from the party palaces on Ocean Drive. Dubbed “a destination with purpose,” The Betsy beckons with more than sparkling pools, elevated food, and stylish rooms. Its essence is driven by thoughtfully curated art collections, nightly music, culture-driven community gatherings, and a deep affection for poetry and literature. Below are four can’t-miss touchpoints that are perfect reasons to visit this cultural gem.
Barbara Hulanicki is one of those mythical figures who has done more in a lifetime than seems humanly possible. In the 1960s, she launched fashion house Biba, a favorite of celebrities and fashion upstarts (Anna Wintour was an intern). She designed hotel interiors for South Beach’s art deco revival, plus several Caribbean properties for hotelier Chris Blackwell. And she created a body of fashion-focused photography of dancers, models, and notables wearing her clothes. A collection of these images, curated by co-owner Lesley Goldwasser, hangs at LT Steak & Seafood at The Betsy. Don’t be surprised if, while looking at one of her photos, you spy Hulanicki herself. She resides blocks away from the hotel and visits often.
Ode to the Orb
It seems appropriate that Robin Hill, whose work straddles art and design, would be chosen to display her photography inside The Betsy Orb—a curious, egg-shaped structure connecting the hotel’s two residential buildings. “The Art of the Orb” is a collection of different architectural perspectives of the Orb itself. Some are taken by day, some at night with the structure awash in projected light. They invite the viewer to contemplate its shape from above, below, and even peeking around a corner. The fun is in seeing the exhibit and then trying to replicate Hill’s perspectives (harder than you’d think) for Instagram.
The Betsy’s owners, the Plutzik family, have literature in their DNA. The late poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Hyam Plutzik was the inspiration for both a robust library containing rare and first-edition volumes and an extensive poetry collection, and The Writer’s Room—the latter is a studio space where artists-in-residence, selected via a competitive application process, may stay and write. The room is tiny but highly functional, and it contains Hyam Plutzik’s own desk for maximum creative vibes. Visiting writers host salons to discuss their work with the community, so be on the lookout for these regularly scheduled events.
Every night, The Betsy’s lobby bar gets supercharged with the energy of live jazz and Latin rhythms by Miami musicians like Tal Cohen, Wilkie Ferguson, and Beau Cornelius. In addition, there are regularly scheduled musical events under the banner “Zen and the Art of,” which introduce Betsy patrons to a variety of art forms. Recent programs have included zarzuela, faith-based music, and contemporary classical piano. In July and August, expect nightly performances and pop-ups by the Miami Classical Music Festival June 28 to July 18.