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South Beach’s Nautilus Hotel Is Unassumingly Perfect—and Perfectly Discreet

This lesser-known Morris Lapidus effort is a true hideaway.

Part of the charm of the Nautilus hotel on South Beach lies in its under-the-radar quality. Located just north of the Ritz-Carlton, the National and the SLS, the Sonesta-managed property is easy to overlook—until you step inside. One glance at the circular lounge off the lobby, with its swirls of inset lighting and decorative pillars, tells you that you’re in the revered land of the legendary Morris Lapidus, the father of midcentury Miami Modern architecture.

But before Lapidus created the massive Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc hotels, he was commissioned to design a handful of properties between 1947 and 1951 that included the Nautilus in 1950. (The diLido—now the Ritz-Carlton South Beach—soon followed.)

At the time, the Nautilus ranked as Miami Beach’s largest oceanfront hotel, with 300 rooms and suites. But times change, and now the hotel (currently containing 250 rooms) feels like a discreet boutique hideaway. Inside the guest rooms, the most successful design choice is so simple, yet so pleasing: The bed directly faces the expansive ocean view beyond the terrace.

If you think that’s an obvious choice, think again. Most hotels position their beds against a sidewall, ostensibly for privacy; that’s not an issue when you’re staying on a high floor at the Nautilus. The king-sized bed sits in the middle of the floor, backed by a sturdy wooden headboard; the back side of the headboard segues into a built-in desk. Anyone with even a passing understanding of feng shui knows that placing the bed in this kind of commanding position (with the widest view in the room) promotes a feeling of openness and luxury—this is how they do it at Aman Resorts, by the way. Another thoughtful touch: The minibar (which isn’t so mini), placed in the corner of the room, is set within an open steamer trunk—a whimsical nod to season-long twentieth-century travel.

The position of the bed doesn’t represent the hotel’s only Asian influence. Once downstairs, the path to the beach (adjacent to the ample pool) is protected by a delicate natural canopy that evokes a bamboo forest, as if to say, Let the other South Beach hotels on Collins Ave. have their flamboyance. The Nautilus is our secret.

Be sure to enjoy the hotel in its current, retro state; by 2025 the Nautilus will be transformed into the James Miami Beach.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.