Review: Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside (Miami)

Filed Under: Hotels, reviews

Want to receive extra benefits for your stay at the Four Seasons Surf Club, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact [email protected] for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.


Over the summer, Ford and I spent a weekend at the Four Seasons Surf Club in Surfside, Miami, for our five year anniversary. While we live in Miami, we’ve never actually done a “staycation” anywhere, and this is a hotel both of us have been quite interested in.

Many consider the Four Seasons Surf Club to be the best hotel in the Miami area, and I was looking forward to checking it out myself (note that this is different than the Four Seasons Miami, which is located in Brickell).

Booking the Four Seasons Surf Club 

South Florida is a highly seasonal hotel market, and for our stay we paid a rate of $525 per night for a standard room (in hurricane season I’ve seen the rate go as low as under $400, while in winter the rate can be $1,000+ per night).

Ford booked our room through the Four Seasons Preferred Partner program, which offers the same rate, but comes with additional perks, and is absolutely the best way to book Four Seasons hotels globally. Note that Four Seasons Preferred Partner is generally combinable with promotions being offered directly through Four Seasons, like a third or fourth night free offer.

For booking through Four Seasons Preferred Partner, we got the following perks for our stay:

  • A room upgrade, subject to availability
  • A $120 daily breakfast credit, valid either for breakfast in the restaurant or via in-room dining
  • A $100 hotel credit to use during our stay

You can’t beat getting all of these extra perks just for booking through an eligible travel agent. Ford is of course more than happy to help anyone book this hotel through Preferred Partner, and can be reached at [email protected]

Four Seasons Surf Club review

I don’t want to bury the lede. Let me start by saying that I think the Four Seasons Surf Club is the best hotel in the Miami area.

While I haven’t actually stayed at that many hotels in Miami, I have at least had a meal at most properties, so have observed the general decor and ambiance. The Four Seasons Surf Club is easily the most elegant and serene of the properties. When you combine that with the service and food and beverage outlets, it’s a great combination.

I have to add the disclaimer that if you’re looking to party in South Beach, this isn’t the place to stay. This is a way to get away from Miami without actually being far away. More on that below, when we talk about the location.

Now let’s get into the detailed review of the Four Seasons Surf Club.

Four Seasons Surf Club basics

The Surf Club was founded in 1930, and started as a social club. In 2017 the Surf Club opened in its current form as a Four Seasons, with 77 hotel rooms and 150 residences.

One of the things the designers did a great job with is maintaining the history of the property while adding some modern towers to the building. In some parts of the property you feel like you’re getting a throwback to a different era, while in other parts of the property you feel like you’re in a cutting edge hotel.

Four Seasons Surf Club location

The Four Seasons Surf Club is located in Surfside, which is in between Miami Beach and Bal Harbour. The hotel is beachfront, and it’s about one mile south of Bal Harbour (including the Bal Harbour Shops) and about five miles north of South Beach.

This isn’t the place to go if you want to be walking distance to restaurants, or if you want to deal with the nonstop energy of South Beach. As a Miami resident I consider that to be a positive, since I avoid that area at almost all costs. But if you do want to go to Miami Beach or South Beach for dinner, it’s only a short drive away.

Four Seasons Surfside check-in & lobby

We drove our own car to the Four Seasons, and valet cost $40 per night. The bellmen were friendly, and escorted us to the lobby.

Four Seasons Surf Club exterior

On the way we stopped at a room where our temperatures were taken, our bags were disinfected, and we were asked if we had any coronavirus symptoms. Afterwards we were given a small PPE kit, as well as some wristbands to show that we had been “screened” (admittedly that’s not exactly foolproof screening).


Four Seasons Surf Club coronavirus kit

The beauty of the Four Seasons Surf Club is the contrast between old world and ultra modern. Just inside the main entrance you have beautiful minimalist earth-tone contemporary lobby seating.


Four Seasons Surf Club lobby


Four Seasons Surf Club lobby

Then you go down a hallway, and suddenly you feel like you’re transformed to a different era, and that’s before you even get to a different room, given how the hallway’s design changes.


Four Seasons Surf Club lobby hallway


Four Seasons Surf Club lobby hallway

Seriously, how gorgeous is this lobby? There aren’t many hotels that manage to maintain an “old world” feel without being “shabby chic,” though this is an exception. This lobby felt to me like a cross between the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Cathay Pacific Pier First Lounge Hong Kong.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside lobby


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside lobby


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside lobby


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside lobby

Check-in was located in the original building, and the process was quick. The front desk agent wished us a happy anniversary (Ford had told them what we were celebrating), and we were informed that we had been upgraded to a suite — woot! Within a few minutes we were escorted up to our room.

Four Seasons Surfside City View One Bedroom Suite

We were assigned room 1012, which could be accessed from an elevator near the main entrance to the hotel. Because of the layout of the hotel, there are several different sets of elevators leading to each room, and that also makes each floor feel rather intimate.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside elevator

For example, “our” elevator that went to the 10th floor only provided access to two rooms.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside hallway


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside room exterior

Our suite was huge and beautifully appointed. Inside the entrance was the living area, featuring the kitchen, living room, and a half bathroom.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside one bedroom suite living room

First there was a half bath right at the entrance.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite guest bathroom

The kitchen was big enough so that you could easily prepare a meal there if you wanted to. It featured a full size fridge, a washer and dryer, and a Nespresso machine.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite dining area


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite washer & dryer


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite Nespresso machine

The living room featured a long couch, a chair, and a wall-mounted TV.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite living area


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite living area

There was a door separating the bedroom from the living room. The bedroom had the standard Four Seasons bed (which I find to be the most comfortable of any hotel bed out there), a desk with a chair, and then a chair for lounging.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite bedroom


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite bedroom

Then the main bathroom was down the hall from the bedroom, and it might just have been the most impressive part of the room. The bathroom had double sinks, a great soaking tub, a massive shower, and a partitioned off toilet.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite bathroom


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite bathtub


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite shower


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside toiletries

The details are what impressed me most, like the marble and almost hidden door to the toilet, as well as the bidet, which you don’t often see in hotels in the US.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite bathroom


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite toilet


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite toilet bidet

The room also featured a balcony that spanned the length of the room, and it had a dining table and a couple of chairs. Compared to the rest of the room, the balcony was rather modestly furnished.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite balcony


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite balcony

The room looked “inland” towards the town of Surfside, with Biscayne Bay visible in the distance.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside suite view

Wi-Fi in the room was fast and free, and all hotel services were available through a table. What I thought was especially cool is that the tablet didn’t just have the menus for in-room dining, but you could actually place an order through it as well.

Four Seasons Surf Club in-room tablet

Our first afternoon the hotel brought us a welcome amenity, consisting of a bottle of champagne and some sweets.


Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside welcome amenity

Four Seasons Surfside pool & beach

The Four Seasons Surf Club has three pools, between the hotel and residences. None of the pools are particularly noteworthy or inspiring, but I do like that there are three of them, because it really spreads people out.

Four Seasons Surf Club pool


Four Seasons Surf Club pool


Four Seasons Surf Club pool

There’s quite a bit of seating directly around the pools, and then there are garden areas next to the pools with loungers as well. Thanks to the amount of seating they have, it was never an issue to find an available space to relax in the area you wanted.

The hotel staff were proactive with helping to set up loungers, and they’d also constantly see if you wanted to order anything to eat or drink.


Four Seasons Surf Club pool area

From the pool you have a great vantage point of the contrast between the old portion of the building (the original Surf Club)…

Four Seasons Surf Club old wing

…and the new towers, which is where most of the hotel rooms and residences are located.


Four Seasons Surf Club new wing

From the pool there’s also a direct path to the beach, so it’s great to have that access.


Four Seasons Surf Club beach access

The beach area in Surfside is generally much quieter than in South Beach. I consider that to be positive, but if you’re looking for a scene, this isn’t the place to go.


Four Seasons Surf Club beach

Even though I live in Miami I rarely go to the beach (I’m an indoor dog at heart — not to be mistaken for an indoor cat), and I think this was my first time actually visiting the beach since moving to Miami. And by “visiting the beach” I mean we walked up and down it in the mornings and evenings, and then I’d spend probably 10 minutes doing a thorough foot washing exercise, because sand on feet, bleh. I was surprised by the amount of seaweed on the beach.


Four Seasons Surf Club beach

Four Seasons Surfside spa & gym

The spa was closed during our visit, not that we would have gotten a treatment anyway due to coronavirus. But the gym was open — it was huge and had an excellent selection of cardio and weights, and was also totally empty.

Four Seasons Surf Club gym


Four Seasons Surfside gym


Four Seasons Surfside gym

The Surf Club restaurant

The Surf Club is the Four Seasons’ signature restaurant, and it’s generally regarded as one of the best restaurants in the Miami area (the hotel also had Le Sirenuse, but it has closed permanently due to coronavirus).

We had dinner here one night. I’d highly recommend making a reservation here (way) in advance, since the restaurant tends to book out early, especially if you want to sit outside.

I peeked into the interior of the restaurant, and loved the design.

The Surf Club Restaurant bar


The Surf Club Restaurant bar


The Surf Club Restaurant dining room

The outdoor seating was equally charming, though, and the weather in the evenings was perfect.


The Surf Club Restaurant outdoor seating

The Surf Club dinner menu read as follows (as you can see, it’s not cheap):

I had a dirty martini to drink.

The Surf Club dinner

Shortly after sitting down we were brought some rather artfully presented crudités and bread.


The Surf Club dinner

To start I had the avocado and garden vegetable louie, while Ford had the classic caesar salad.


The Surf Club dinner


The Surf Club dinner

Then for the mains I had the eggplant parmesan, while Ford had the steak tartare.


The Surf Club dinner


The Surf Club dinner

While we had a nice dinner, and while the food we had was good, I was a bit let down by the restaurant overall.

The service was friendly but atrocious (otherwise service was excellent at the hotel), and it was clear they were way understaffed. It often took 15 minutes before you could flag someone down. I’m mostly forgiving of that during these times, so I’d give them another chance post-coronavirus.

Furthermore, while what we ordered was good, I’m not sure where they come up with the prices for some menu items. I have no issues with expensive restaurants, but $75 for a ribeye or $85 for a filet mignon?! I can’t think of another restaurant I’ve been to in the US with meat prices like that (and I’ve been to a fair number of great steakhouses).

Winston’s on the Beach

Winston’s on the Beach (I love the name!) is the Four Seasons’ casual outdoor restaurant at the pool, where you can get cocktails, lunch, etc. There are some tables you can sit at, or you can have stuff delivered to where you’re sitting at the pool.

Four Seasons Surf Club Winston’s on the Beach


Four Seasons Surf Club Winston’s on the Beach

The daytime menu read as follows:

We had lunch here one day — I had the fish tacos, while Ford had the poke bowl, both of which we enjoyed.

Winston’s on the Beach lunch


Winston’s on the Beach lunch

Champagne Bar at the Surf Club

Champagne Bar is the hotel’s bar that’s usually open in the afternoons and evenings. However, for the duration of our stay it was closed, except breakfast was served here (I fear this may have also closed permanently, because it’s technically part of Le Sirenuse). How pretty is this space?!

Champagne Bar at the Surf Club


Champagne Bar at the Surf Club


Champagne Bar at the Surf Club

We did have breakfast here one morning, and the menu read as follows:

We both had coffee to drink, and then to eat I had the smoked salmon bagel, while Ford had the eggs any style. The breakfast was more than covered by our $120 daily breakfast credit for booking through Four Seasons Preferred Partner.

Four Seasons Surf Club breakfast


Four Seasons Surf Club breakfast


Four Seasons Surf Club breakfast

Four Seasons Surfside breakfast

The other morning we decided to have breakfast in our room (on our balcony). We had coffee, avocado toast, yogurt & granola, and an omelet. Again, that was covered by the breakfast benefit for booking through Four Seasons Preferred Partner.

Four Seasons Surf Club room service breakfast


Four Seasons Surf Club room service breakfast


Four Seasons Surf Club room service breakfast


Four Seasons Surf Club room service breakfast

Four Seasons Surf Club Service

Miami isn’t generally known for world class service, to put it politely. That’s why the Four Seasons Surfside impressed me — just about all the employees we interacted with were genuinely friendly, competent, proactive, and good at wearing their masks correctly.

I’d say the service we received here was among the best we’ve experienced in Miami, so I have nothing but good things to say except for our one dinner.

Bottom line

We had a fantastic staycation at the Four Seasons Surf Club. If you’re looking to stay in the best hotel in the Miami area and don’t want to be right in the heart of South Beach, this is the place to stay.

There’s a lot to love about the Four Seasons Surfside — the beautiful design of the public spaces, the incredible rooms, the great service, the pools and direct beach access, and how peaceful and intimate the hotel fees.

If you’ve stayed at the Four Seasons Surfside, what was your experience like? And does anyone have another favorite Miami area hotel that should be on my radar?

Want to receive extra benefits for your stay at the Four Seasons Surf Club, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact [email protected] for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.


Comments
  1. Thank you for this great review! The property looks certainly very elegant without having the feeling you need to run around in a suit all day to “fit in”. And the restaurant is probably asking $75 for a ribeye and $85 for a filet mignon because they can. I would imagine that a lot of guests simply don’t care whether it is $45 or $85, and just expect a good quality meat that is cooked perfectly.

    While I know this is very subjective (and we love spending time on hotel balconies), your observation of “the balcony was rather modestly furnished” is putting it too kindly. That suite is so gorgeous and then you walk out on the balcony, and it looks just sad and uninviting. Especially given the size of the balcony, there would be more than enough room for some higher quality outdoor furniture.

  2. @ HChris — You’re probably right about the “because they can” pricing comment. There are lots of places like that outside the US (like Porto Cervo, where cocktails are $40 “because they can”), though I just haven’t found that many places in the US where that’s the case.

    And you’re right about the balcony furniture. The only thing I’d add is that I also live in a condo in Miami, and I can confirm that balcony furniture is a total PITA. It gets so windy in Miami (even outside of hurricane season), and despite securing furniture as much as possible, we’ve had cushions blow off the balcony more than once. We’ve often asked ourselves why we even bother having furniture out there.

    I’m not sure if the hotel had similar logic, or…

  3. I stayed here in November. My impressions:

    8/10 overall

    – the lobby is beautiful

    – rooms are modern and nice in a Miami way

    – I didn’t like the pool area that much. It felt more like a condo than a super nice hotel

    – I thought the breakfast was pretty ok. No wow factor. If you order eggs and bacon, that’s just what you get. A few strips of bacon on one plate and an egg on the other. For $50. Just no “wow” like breakfasts at the Andaz Maui or other top hotel

    – similar to above; the prices are just hard to swallow. Above and beyond typical “luxury” pricing

    Overall quite a nice respite from Miami though

  4. I’d be interested in Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place. Given how bad everyone thinks Wyndham is. Not Miami but still South FL. West Palm Beach is relatively close.

  5. We loved Le Sirenuse – so sad to hear it closed. The food there was amazing and the ambiance was incredible as well. I do hope they keep the Champagne Bar and use the gorgeous space.

    As for favorite hotel in Miami area, the St. Regis Bal Harbour is one of my favorites because it has the best patio with each room. It was like an entire extra room for us. I think I may have even taken a nap outside – the furniture is that comfortable. I know we had lunch one day on the patio.

  6. Stayed at the St Regis in Bal Harbour in March 2020 before everything shut down but had a meal at the Surf Club with family of 4 (two young kids). One of the best meals we’ve ever had with top notch service. They were fully staffed. Food was amazing, servers were genuinely pleasant and welcoming. We had a memorable and wonderful dinner. It was indeed expensive but the experience was worth it – we still fondly remember that meal. Give it another chance when things are back to “normal!”

  7. How did it compare to the St. Regis Bal Harbour, which it looks like you have also stayed at (though quite a while ago, based on your reviews)? We were considering both that and Four Seasons for Thanksgiving before canceling trip due to COVID surge.

  8. I love that four seasons and I’m there pretty often since my best friend lives there. I was so sure I saw you (mask and all) at the hotel. Was this around the time restaurants in dade reopened for the first time but before they closed indoor dining in the summer?

    Next time you go… check out the 4th pool (it’s somewhat hidden behind a cabana structure on the southernmost part of the property)

    Also the champagne bar is still open and there’s a new restaurant at that site. I can’t remember it’s name for my life but they’ve got amazing Key Lime Pie

  9. That is an interesting contrast to the Four Seasons in Downtown Miami – we stayed there in 2019 and was very disappointed with the Hotel and Service, wished we had stayed at the Conrad or MO instead.

  10. WOW $85 For a filet mignon?? $8 for a marinated olives.
    I hope they taste fabulous to justify these crazy rates.

  11. I’m guessing it’s not a pet friendly hotel since we didn’t get to see a picture of Winston at Winston’s.

  12. I stayed there shortly after it opened and agree, as with most FS, the service is incredible, especially for Miami. My only issues were, at the time, the city had banned alcohol on the beaches so the only thing you could get were fruit juices etc. Not the hotel’s fault though and it might have since changed. Also, the balconies felt right on top of the other, are totally open and with very little privacy. If a number of people near you are also sitting outside on them do not expect any solitude. Your every move is watched.

  13. Btw the Champagne Bar is still open. They replaced Le Sirenuse with a hotel run concept – same team and similar menu, it’s just called Lido now.

  14. “Winston’s on the Beach”

    Hah!
    Just a second and we have a picture of Winston: that’s great!

    Oh no! That’s another place of the hotel. 🙂

  15. The restaurant plus the breakfast menu just seems to be taking the piss. I mean, prices that high need to be justified, and based on your photos, I don’t see it. 45 USD for 2 eggs, a piece of bread, tea and orange juice? That is insulting. I don’t mind staying at nice hotels, but not the ones who are so blatant in their desire to rip you off.

  16. @ Grey — Fair, though the truth is that I pay zero attention to breakfast prices at Four Seasons, since breakfast is *always* included with Preferred Partner (and that’s consistently the best way to book Four Seasons). Yes, breakfast prices are high, though a $120 daily breakfast credit is also significantly higher than you’d get at virtually any other hotel. So just pretend prices are in CAD, or whatever, since it’s a moot point for savvy Four Seasons guests. 😉

  17. For your next article series: Start at South Pointe and make your way north along the beach hotels there, one hotel per block, new hotel every day. “30 SoBe blocks in 30 nights.” See how far north you can make it before losing your mind 🙂 GMCVB would probably hook you up

  18. No ocean view upgrade? In the middle of the summer during a pandemic, what would you estimate the occupancy to have been?

  19. Four Seasons Surfside looks amazing~ I’d love to visit when the time is right.
    Surfside jogged my memory, although not in a pleasant way..
    To cut a long story short, many years ago I purchased a new glossy architectural book titled I think, ‘Surfside’. It was the time when Surfside was being developed, and may have referenced this hotel. I packed it in my check-in bag and was looking forward to diving into it later.
    Regrettably, on my connector flight SFO-LAX (travelling LAX-SYD) I eventually discovered my bag had gone missing, never to be seen again. The airline eventually paid out the maximum compensation allowable, but I was bookless, plus a whole bunch of other stuff .
    I would love to replace that book, and was wondering if anyone who lives in the Miami district can recommend a likely second-hand bookstore who might have this title, or could otherwise put me in the right direction to follow up on this.
    That would be great! A long shot, I know…

  20. The old surf club building looks gorgeous inside and out, but i disagree the addition of the glass sky scrapers in anyway compliments the existing building. The existing building is charming and fits into the surroundings, the new one is a glass modernist disaster.

  21. I have stayed along the road a the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, and yes, it is a 4 star property, but so much looks similar for the overall experience, the price here must really be for those where 100 or 1000 dollars is the same thing (especially the food! like others have said)

    Great review as always and happy anniversary!

  22. Oh how I’ve missed the hotel reviews. Loved reading this.

    FS Surfside has been on my radar for some time, I also love the fact the hotel combines original architecture with modern design. After this review it has to go on my list. I agree there aren’t really other great hotels in Miami – I like the design of the Edition and Soho House and MO was good but looking tired now. Until Aman Miami opens I think Surfside might hold the top spot.

  23. Out of curiosity, did they provide you with utensils and pots and pans etc? I perosnally dislike having kitchens in hotel rooms as it reminds me of a place where someone lives, which is not what I want when I go and stay at a four seasons. I want personality and something different and want to feel like I’m on a holiday.

    The champagne bar looks absolutely stunning. I wish they could have adopted some of this style in the rooms which risk being a little bland. Although, if part of a residential building, I can see why the styling might be somewhat generic.

    The furniture on the patio is just sad and depressing.

    Being a Thomas Keller restaurant the prices are going to be high. He copped a lot of flack for the sister restaurant in NYC which has recently shut for good. Many critics pointed out the poor value proposition. However, having been to Per Se, his other NYC restaurant, the service was spectacular.

  24. I have a friend of a friend who worked there.
    This is THE destination for new condo owners in a certain NYC certain group. It is now the “one-up” of the St Regis BH- which opened first and has a better location. Both hotels are similar in that they are condo hotels and so it feels like you are within a condo complex.
    For a pedestrian (like me) it is a very nice place to go for a simple cocktail….. enjoy then leave. For me, it has a 30 minute time limit. There are many more places to visit and enjoy.

  25. The reason for the excellent quality and obscene prices at The Surf Club Restaurant is because it is a Thomas Keller restaurant. I think it is similar in concept to the now-shuttered Tak Room in NYC. While I’m a fan of Keller, if I ever make it to Miami, the restaurant that would top my must-dine list is Bazaar South Beach by Jose Andres.

  26. Wow. The breakfast looks pretty poor, especially considering the class of the hotel.
    If that’s really all, I would be soooo disappointed, breakfast is the best meal of the day and this would be a miserable start into the day…

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