In case you’ve missed it, downtown Miami has become a super-chic destination for all of Latin America. Nowhere is this more obvious than at EAST, Miami. The 40-story hotel was designed by Miami’s own Arquitectonica, renowned for their portfolio of stunning modern architecture. EAST, Miami lies at the heart of the firm’s design for Brickell City Centre, a vast upscale complex of high-end retailers, apartment towers, and office buildings in Miami’s financial district.
EAST, Miami — which features 352 guest rooms, 8 suites, and 89 one-, two-, and three- bedroom residence suites — represents the first American outing for Swire Hotels. The Hong Kong-based company has a history of building highly individual hotels. Their Asian offerings include EAST, Beijing and EAST, Hong Kong as well as “The House Collective” — The Opposite House in Beijing, The Temple House in Chengdu, The Middle House in Shanghai (opening the end of March 2018), and The Upper House, ranked the No. 1 hotel in Hong Kong by TripAdvisor. EAST, Miami does the brand proud, combining thrilling interiors with every imaginable comfort, style, and service. And it is home to two of Miami’s premiere restaurant experiences: Quinto La Huella, an outpost of Uruguay’s famed Parador La Huella, and Sugar, named by Conde Nast Traveler as the No. 1 rooftop bar in the country.
The international spirit of the hotel is apparent in the choice of New York’s Clodagh Design for the hotel’s interiors. The firm’s eponymous Irish-born designer employs a unique approach that incorporates feng shui and a variety of New Age practices into her designs. This translates into a visual feast everywhere you look. The overwhelmingly neutral palate is punctuated with blasts of orange, a color that the Chinese associate with joy, creativity and enthusiasm. The hotel rooms radiate a luxurious calm. Shimmering reflections of water enhance the walls while the floor-to-ceiling windows bring the sky into each one.
For families and longer-term stays, the residential suites come complete with kitchens, laundry facilities, and superb Clodagh design. Every suite guest has access to all hotel facilities, including the extraordinary fitness center and the pool and deck, which features four pools — lap pool, spa pool, cold plunge, and hot tub.
And then there’s the food. On the 40th floor, overlooking all of downtown Miami, there’s Sugar. Asian-inflected tapas are the draw here — that and an incredibly attractive young crowd, drawn from the office towers of the financial district. The open-air garden was not entirely spared the wrath of Hurricane Maria, but as this is the tropics, the foliage was already showing renewed signs of life when I visited just weeks after the storm.
The main dining attraction at the hotel is Quinto La Huella. Like Sugar, this vast restaurant was brilliantly designed by Los Angeles’s Studio Collective to create intimate spaces that bely the 359 seats on offer here. The restaurant is the hub of the hotel; from breakfast on, it welcomes a steady stream of patrons, and on weekends, three generations of families gather for lunches that last far into the afternoon. But the real draw here is the food.
Chef Nano Crespo has presided over Quinto La Huella since it was just a gleam in Swire Hotels’ eye. Creating an Uruguayan experience in the heart of Miami is a story on its own.
The heart of the Quinto is its parrilla, a wood fire oven that dominates its kitchen. The menu runs the gamut of Crespo’s imagination. A recent tasting put together by Crespo began with wedges of el fainá, chickpea pancakes that are such a proud Uruguayan tradition that the country celebrates “Fainá Day” each August 27. Crispy beef-filled empanadas preceded a perfectly cooked octopus topping rounds of potato. The chef has invented his own tuna tartare, a cross between a Peruvian teradito and traditional sashimi served with taro chips.
Crespo adores pasta and incorporated it into this meal in a version rich with mushrooms and prosciutto. Tastings of halibut and giant shrimp followed, all superbly cooked and seasoned. The pièce de résistance was from the parrilla: a grilled pork loin topped with red onion and fennel. Dessert brought the meal to a happy conclusion: Volcan de Dulce de Leche, with its dulce de leche fondant, banana ice cream, and pecan cookie — all perfectly South American and a perfect way to end a spectacular meal.
Quinto La Huella is open at 7 a.m. for breakfast and from 12 to 4 p.m. for lunch. Dinner is served from 6 to 11 p.m. on Sunday and Monday and from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 786-805-4646.
Reservations for East, Miami (788 Brickell Plaza) can be made through the hotel's website or by calling 844-896-0336.