Old world glamour at its finest…that is the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Miami. Reason enough for me to pay it a visit and immerse myself in what was once the jetsetter’s favourite go-to for flaunting and strutting in their bathing suits. The drive towards the Biltmore Hotel is also a treat. Coral Gables is a beautiful, upper-class suburban city with broad tree-lined streets, impressive mansions, and high-end shops. It is the Beverly Hills of Miami you could say. As I drove past the Venetian Pool, a public swimming pool and historic landmark dating back to the 1920s (and also a must-see!), I saw the Biltmore Hotel’s tower rising in front of me. I found out later that the tower is modeled after the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain.
Although there are guided tours available in the weekends, I decided to go for a late weekday afternoon drink instead, and sneak my way through the hotel to get a glimpse of all the glitz. It turned out that you are free to photograph and admire the grounds as long as you don’t impose the guests. The hotel has been the backdrop of many movies and TV shows like Bad Boys and Miami Vice, Forrest Gump but also classic movies like the Swan with Grace Kelly.
The ivy-coloured architecture is reminiscent of a Venetian or Mediterranean castle. It is hard to believe that all of this dates back to 1926! I see hand painted frescos on barrel vaulted ceilings, brilliant floors, marble columns and stately stairs, intricate leaded glass fixtures, dreamy fountains and lush gardens. Are we still in Miami county? Yes we are!
The inner courtyard which serves as a restaurant transports me back to Cuba. Lavish palms and plants and the peaceful sound of the central fountain make this a tranquil haven to escape the heat. This late afternoon on a weekday, there aren’t many guests, but maybe they are at the other, poolside restaurant. I was soon to find out.
Via a long corridor, lined with romanesque statues, and overloking the pool you reach the other restaurant. Here it was busy, and I soon understood why, because the view is amazing. The Biltmore Hotel’s pool is the largest pool of the US and is set in a gorgeous lush tropical garden. Besides the usual poolside loungers, there are also cabanas that are available for day-reservations. I don’t think it could get any more old world glamourous than that. After a drink and a salad, it was time to leave this beautiful resort again. I got a little taste of it, and who knows, on my next trip to Miami I will splurge on a cabana, or maybe even one night at this historic landmark.