On The Road

Where To Network At Art Basel Miami

From the hottest tables to the secret hotspots, a guide to all the fun of the fair this year

  • “Gone But Not Forgotten” (2014) by Mr Damien Hirst, outside the Faena Hotel Miami Beach. Photograph courtesy of Faena

Next Thursday, Miami International Airport will welcome its latest visitors. They will arrive in planes unadorned by livery, bearing names such as Dassault, Embraer and Gulfstream, and they won’t have to winnow their way through the terminal like mere mortals, for them only a discreet car from the tarmac and passports inspected airside. Such is the way the roiling frenzy of Art Basel Miami Beach begins each year.

Basel, as everyone calls it – which officially runs from 1 to 4 December – began life in 2002. In the 14 years since, its status and scope has grown to include 269 galleries exhibiting at the city’s convention centre, a concurrent fair, Design Miami, and 18 other independent shows.

On 1 December, that thin slick of sand that makes up Miami Beach becomes the site of one of the biggest, most socially complex gatherings in the world – a place where Hollywood actors rub shoulders with billionaires who hotel-hop with fashion designers who nudge gallerists for the best invites to the best parties. People also find the time to see some art, too. A few actually buy something.

This year, MR PORTER has pulled together a guide to the best places to hobnob during Art Basel.

Where to spot a star

  • “Golden Myth” (2014) by Mr Damien Hirst in Pao by Paul Qui at the Faena Hotel. Photograph by Mr Todd Eberle. Courtesy of Faena

Pao by Paul Qui, Faena Hotel Miami Beach

This year, as last, the place to be on the beach is Messrs Alan Faena and Len Blavatnik’s Faena hotel. This 169-room edifice is just down from Soho House, occupying a prime bit of real estate. The cathedral-like entrance hall is painted with frescos by Argentinian artist Mr Juan Gatti and a gilded 24-carat mammoth skeleton by Mr Damian Hirst, called “Gone But Not Forgotten” (2014) sits, encased in a 9ft-high, hurricane-proof glass box by the pool. As for the interior design as a whole, Mr Faena enlisted the advice of director Mr Baz Luhrmann and Oscar-winning costume designer Ms Catherine Martin to help realise his vision. Book a seat – yes, you’ll need a reservation – at one of the hotel’s three bars, order a daiquiri and bask in the theatrical glory of it all. On 2 December, Madonna will perform an evening of “music, art, mischief and live performance” at the Faena Forum, across the road, to raise money for her Malawi charity. The show will also feature Ms Ariana Grande and Messrs Chris Rock and Sean Penn, with Mr James Corden as master of ceremonies.

Also look out for: Messrs Bruce Weber and Will.i.am.

What to wear

Where the really, really cool people go

  • The Broken Shaker patio at Freehand Miami. Photograph by Mr Adrian Gaut. Courtesy of Freehand Miami

The Broken Shaker, Freehand Miami

One of Art Basel’s best-kept secrets. The Broken Shaker is hidden away on a road behind the the Boardwalk, its bland exterior conceals an expansive outdoor cocktail bar arranged around several swimming pools. The vibe is relaxed, even during Basel, and the cocktail list long (we like the Mezcal Manhattan best of all). All these things make it quite the magnet for off-duty celebs and the hipper denizens of Miami. A favourite with Victoria’s Secret model Ms Adriana Lima, it has also played host to Mr Dev Hynes and a host of other musicians playing shows during Basel. After a hard day at the fair, The Broken Shaker is a tonic.

What to order: just about any of the Mr James Beard Award-winning tropical tiki-style cocktails, which are all made with garnishes grown on the property.

What to wear

Where to network

  • Basement nightclub at The Miami Beach Edition. Photograph by Mr Nikolas Koenig. Courtesy of The Miami Beach Edition

Basement Miami, The Miami Beach Edition

Ever since it opened during Basel 2014, The Miami Beach Edition has drawn the art crowd with an ease that has given other Miami hoteliers toothache. In fact, the last time MR PORTER was here, we saw artists Mses Marina Abramović and Tracey Emin, architect Mr John Pawson and gallerist-extraordinaire Mr Timothy Taylor, all in one afternoon. It helps, of course, that the place is a partnership between Marriott and Studio 54 founder Mr Ian Schrager. But it is its position as the headquarters of the art set that it is really making its mark. The Edition has been clever in producing a rolling programme of exhibitions and launches during Basel (this year, all eyes are on Mr Bill Power and Sonic Youth’s Ms Kim Gordon’s event, and the Paper magazine art dinner). That said, PR boys and girls who guard the doors to the bars and Basement nightclub, designed to be “a modern Studio 54” and arranged right next to the bowling alley and ice rink, can be tough, so dress like you mean business and walk in with the self-assured smile of a man who has Mr Larry Gagosian’s number on speed dial.

Look out for: Mr Ian Schrager and any member of the Rubell family, the biggest collectors in Miami.

What to wear

Where to stay

  • Soho Beach House pool. Photograph courtesy of Soho House

Soho Beach House

When Mr Nick Jones opened Soho Beach House, he said he wanted to create a place for the type of people who didn’t come to Miami anymore. That was 2010. These days people come to Miami just for Soho Beach House. And who can blame them? It is extremely well appointed: there are two pools, a library, Cowshed spa, and three restaurants, one of which is a Cecconi’s. During Basel, the house covers part of the beach with a vast tent. Things kick off early on 29 November with a White Cube party hosted by Messrs Jones and Jay Jopling – expect lots of Moët & Chandon, and an awful lot of dancing. Talk your way in and shuffle the night away with the upper angels of the art world, then make use of the free BMWi VIP shuttle service and head out for a nightcap.

Which room to book: any that are available. Rates begin at $650 a night for members and $750 a night for non-members.

What to wear

Where to detox

  • The Standard Spa, Miami Beach. Photograph by Mr Adrian Gaut. Courtesy of Standard Hotels

The Standard Spa

By around day two of Basel, you may notice an unwelcome jadedness has crept up on you. Some might say this is the inevitable result of one too many margaritas, and that this can be cured by renouncing them for the rest of your stay. We take a somewhat more nuanced view and invariably head to Biscayne Bay island and the spa at Mr André Balazs’ Standard Hotel. We are not the only ones who are of this opinion – if we were, what would happen at all those parties? It would be a terrible waste of champagne – so the spa at The Standard is something of a Basel “scene”. You, too, could find yourself sharing a “Roman waterfall hot tub” with an art-world A-lister. A pleasing mix of ashram and recovery centre, the spa has calming views of the cerulean sea, a Turkish hamam and just about every other appurtenance that you might want when you are reuniting body and mind. There is even a gym for those so inclined. And Wi-Fi is available in the treatment room, so you won’t miss anything.

What treatment to have: The Seasonal Detox & Alignment package lasts four wonderful hours and costs $650.

What to wear

Where to see some art in peace

  • Wynwood Art District, 2016. Photograph by Ms Leila Macor/AFP/Getty Images

Wynwood Art District

The siren call of the official fair often palls after a single visit. After all, it is not easy to properly consider a $22m Mr Alexander Calder mobile with a hangover and 300 people elbowing you out of the way. For a more relaxed day, head to Wynwood, a 30-minute drive if the traffic is good. The area became the city’s official Art District in 2003 and has more than 70 galleries and five museums. We recommend an airy stroll around the Wynwood Walls, not least because it is one of the few areas where you can wear shorts without feeling self-conscious in the weeks prior to Basel. The whole area becomes a giant canvas for dozens of street artists. The theme this year is “Fear Less”, which honours Mr Tony Goldman who launched the walls in 2009 with gallerist Mr Jeffrey Deitch.

Look out for works by: Messrs Beau Stanton, Dasic Fernandez, David Choe, Faith47, AVAF and Case – all of whom have been commissioned by the Goldman family to create murals during the fair.

What to wear

The hottest table in town

  • Morel and Artichoke (chicken jus, caramelized artichoke creme, radish pod, nasturtium flower) at Alter. Photograph by Mr Javier Ramirez/@gourmandj. Courtesy of Alter


Head to the “new American” restaurant in Wynwood, which was opened by Mr Bradley Kilgore last year. Offering fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere, with a choice between a tasting menu and à la carte, it is extremely popular with the design set so be sure to book in advance. It’s location, across Biscayne Bay on the mainland, means it’s also a favourite of more discreet members of the art crowd – though be warned, if you plan to follow their lead, bear in mind that crossing the bridge at this time of year takes time. Best to combine a visit here with an afternoon at Wynwood Walls.

What to order: the grouper cheeks served with black rice, shoyu hollandaise, sea lettuces and cucumber.

What to wear