My initial thought was cheesy as I was sailing on the NCL EPIC on my EPIC journey, I thought it only fitting to stay at the EPIC Miami, a Kimpton hotel. Miami was pricier than I thought and I wasn’t able to use my Kimpton Karma award, so I started stalking the EPIC Miami on Kayak hoping the rates would change.
The stalking worked out when I saw an odd price discrepancy so I jumped on it. Knowing that Kimpton will price match rates found elsewhere and give you a $25 food/beverage credit, I called Kimpton to book the EPIC Miami direct at a rate of $233.21 plus tax. I mentioned on Twitter that I was staying at the hotel for the beginning of my EPIC journey and the social media team told me to “look out for a surprise” during my stay.
EPIC Miami Location
The hotel is a combination hotel and residence tower located in downtown Miami (it is not in South Beach so don’t expect to see the beach from here).
If you are going to cruise, then the hotel is a one block walk to Whole Foods and three blocks from CVS Pharmacy. Both are great places to stock up on items you need for the cruise (i.e. – bottled water, healthy snacks, full sized soaps, shampoos, etc.).
EPIC Hotel Arrival
Arriving by taxi from the airport a bit before 3 p.m., the taxi driver helped me with my bags. I was not greeted in the driveway nor was the taxi met by bell staff. As I approached the front door of the hotel, I was asked by a young bellman if I needed help with my bags. I said “yes, thank you” and was directed to the check-in desk, where there was no line. The hotel driveway (small and busy), lobby and two restaurants are located on the ground floor with the rest of the hotel starting on the 16th floor.
On the right of the door is a container of bottled water (help yourself) and further in the lobby is a refreshment stand (coffee in the morning).
The lobby area is impressive and with high ceilings, gorgeous woods and a high end art display (all for sale), it was hard to believe I was in a Kimpton and the quirky was missing.
Check In – Lobby
Welcomed to the hotel and thanked for being a Karma member, I was told that a double room was ready for check-in early which was great after my ordeal of a flight (three gate changes, three delays, a mechanic onboard and then a new plane) which made the short journey exhausting.
The “secret word” for winter has expired and I noted that I hadn’t seen the new secret word. I was given a small treasure chest to pick a present – I pulled out a wine certificate. My bottle of red would be delivered later with a handwritten note (although un-Kimpton like, my name was spelled wrong).
With my key card in hand, the young bellman handed me off to the older bellman, Renaldo, as he had his eye on the family checking in (I was a bit annoyed that he decided the family would be better option for him than me).
EPIC Hotel Miami Room 2028
Renaldo escorted me to room 2028 on the 20th floor across from the elevators (the hotel starts on the 16th floor) which had a loud “bing”. Normally I would refuse this room as I have “quiet room, away from elevators” in my profile but I was tired, hungry and didn’t want to wait on a new room for a one night stay.
Entering the room, there is a small hallway leading to the bedroom and balcony as you pass the bathroom on the right and closet on the left. Surprisingly it was larger than I expected and for a minute was a bit “Westin like”. Also, interesting was that the bathroom and bedroom common wall did not have an enclosed window just a shade to open and close. The famous Kimpton animal print robes were gone and replaced with fluffy white robes instead.
Renaldo walked me through the entire room showing me all the bells, whistles and where the hair dryer was located. He was definitely a “star”!
The work chair had some peeling on it (top and bottom) which I mentioned to the front desk. The wi-fi wasn’t strong in the room so I used my personal hotspot to work while waiting on my friend to arrive.
Given that I rarely get a room with a view, this balcony and city view was really nice. Before my friend arrived, I was able to sit outside and watch the boats go by while soaking up a bit of sun. The pools below our room were empty and I presume for residents only.
As a standard bathroom this was pretty posh and spacious. With a separate water closet area for the toilet, the main bathroom had dual sinks, a sunken bathtub and a large walk in rain shower. The toiletries were ok, nothing fancy. The hairdryer was easily located under the sink as was the scale (eek!).
EPIC Miami Food & Beverage
Room Service – Arriving famished, I went to find lunch at the restaurant. Unfortunately, lunch was over so only a bar menu was being served at the pool outside or inside at the bar. I ended up going back to my room to order room service. The food arrived within 35 minutes (at which point, I would eat anything) and was hot. Sadly, the burger was well done (not medium as ordered) and I didn’t notice until I started eating it at which point, I didn’t want to wait any longer for a new one. The room service burger cost $30.29.
Area 31 Restaurant – When my friend “country mouse” arrived later we went back to the restaurant for drinks and desserts. We were greeted at the hostess desk and told we could sit at the bar if we wanted so we found a quiet spot and waited. After 10-15 minutes of talking we realized that no one (on a Saturday night) came by to greet us with bar menus or take our order. We did see servers and a bartender but no acknowledgement. I went back to the hostess stand to ask about this and was told that the bartender should serve us or we can go to the bar (neither hostess told us this when we arrived).
Lilt – Arriving in the lobby with the intent to go off property, we instead tried the Jazz/Live music venue. A manager greeted us and we explained we were ignored in the restaurant bar. He showed us to a table outside looking at the water and a server quickly took our drink (recommending the mojitos) and dessert order. The manager then spent about ten minutes chatting with us about Barcelona (our next destination).
Sunday brunch in Area 31, the only option is the buffet which has a good amount of food options in a small space. You can sit inside or outside on the patio. Service was pleasant. The buffet cost $31.16 per person.
Gym & Pools
There is a small gym open 24/7 on the 16th floor with classes offered (for a fee) during the day at Exhale mind, body, spa. I was tempted to do either yoga or barre class but didn’t have time on this trip.
The pool area was packed each time I passed by in the morning and afternoon.
EPIC Miami Overall
The room was lovely, the location perfect for a pre/post cruise stay as it was a quick ten minute taxi to the cruise port. I was disappointed by the uneven service and thankfully you can go off property to experience the foods of the city. As for the “surprise” that the social media team had told me to look out for, well, someone dropped the ball on that as nothing awaited me upon arrival or during my stay (they apologized on twitter about that). The start of my EPIC journey at the EPIC Miami was very “un-Kimpton” and that was quite the surprise.
Update: I stayed at the EPIC Miami Pre-Cruise again (my Fathom Cruise experience) and had uneven service – Area 31 wasn’t great whereas Lilt was fabulous. My reserved water view room was downgraded at check-in and I was given comped drinks and breakfast to make up for the price differential. I again had a city view and the room was similar – its a good hotel in terms of comfort, amenities, etc. but uneven service continues in my opinion.