270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, epicmiami.com; 305-424-5226.
Back story: Open since December 2008, the hotel has 411 rooms in 54 curved glass stories. Epic offers sweeping views of not only Biscayne Bay, but also urban vistas that showcase Miami's dramatic growth during the past decade. The view south down Brickell Avenue is incredible. The exterior of the building was designed in tribute to its waterside location with the shape of a sail built into its façade that lights up at night. Epic's parent company, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, has often been on the cutting edge of hospitality. In 1981, the chain initiated a nightly complimentary wine hour, which continues to this day. There's high speed Internet access in every room and pets aren't just welcome but expected.
More about pets: While other hotels are "pet tolerant," Epic describes itself as truly "pet friendly." If you need an animal companion during your stay, Epic will deliver a live goldfish to your room, free of charge. That program is called Guppy Love.
Just for fun: Despite its downtown location, Epic has many of the amenities of a resort. Consider its deep water marina, where you can dock your oversized yacht, or charter a boat for deep water fishing or ocean excursion. The Epic lawn is a 20,000-square-foot green space perfect for outdoor weddings. The newly opened Exhale, a 12,000-square-foot spa with 14 treatment rooms, complements the 24-hour fitness center, where you can kick start your workout with a private trainer.
Sleep well: Average room size is 465-square-feet. Beds are tripled-sheeted with Frette linens. Every room has an iPod docking station, a personal computer and its own balcony big enough for two people to sit for breakfast. Suites are outfitted with hydrotherapy air tubs. The mini bar in each room is stocked with organic snacks. There are also 13 specialty "tall rooms" with longer beds for taller guests.
In your dreams: Presidential Suites, both on the 30th floor and measuring approximately 1,800 square feet, have wraparound balconies that overlook over the city or the bay. The suites have dining room tables that seat six. They cost $3,500 per night.
Celeb cache: Among the famous folks who've stayed at Epic are actor Matt Damon, model Naomi Campbell and Hall of Fame football coach Don Shula.
Gone green: All rooms are sensored so the air conditioning shuts down when you leave the room, kicking on again when you return. Instead of "Do Not Disturb" doorknob hangers, each room has an electronic button that alerts housekeeping to your status.
Eat, drink and be merry: Area 31, named one of the country's Best New Restaurants of 2009 by Esquire magazine, features imaginative seafood sourced from the sustainable marine waters known as Fishing Area 31. Coming in May is the modern Japanese restaurant Zuma, which has locations in London, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Dubai. You can love the nightlife and never leave the property with The River Lounge, an intimate nightclub open until 3 a.m. most nights.
Attractions: The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and AmericanAirlines Arena are nearby, and several restaurants -- Il Gabbiano, Solymar and Chophouse Miami -- are within walking distance. There's shopping down the street at Bayside Marketplace.
Accolades: Named a Top 10 Luxury Hotel, a Top 10 Trendiest Hotel and a Top 25 Hotel in the country by the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards. Received the No. 1 ranking among 74 Miami Hotels from Raveable.com, which compiles user-generated hotel reviews from Internet travel sites.
Prices: Rates start at $369 per night. From April 1 through the end of September, guests receive a free third night when they stay for two nights. Starting mid June summer rates for Florida residents start at $159.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun