Review: Four Seasons Surf Club Surfside (Miami)

Over the summer, Ford and I spent a weekend at the Four Seasons Surf Club…

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.

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?