I love any excuse to visit Fort Lauderdale. Just an hour drive from Miami, the first major city north of us has it all: the beach, bustling Las Olas Boulevard, yachting, a thriving arts district and enough rivers to be called “the Venice of America.” So when I got an invitation to check out The Dalmar, a lifestyle hotel with the city’s highest rooftop bar, I had to see what it was all about. And I was not disappointed.
Once I pulled up to The Dalmar and left my car with valet, I was in a mid-century-meets-tropical South Florida wonderland. Magenta pinks and palm prints followed me as I walked to the elevator, where destination buttons directed me to check in at the sixth-floor lobby. (Fun fact: The Dalmar actually shares a building with The Element by Westin, which are both part of the Starwood Marriott Bonvoy family. The Dalmar has its core common areas on the sixth floor, and all rooms on floors 15 to 24.) Within minutes, I had my room card and was on my way to my suite.
LIFE IN THE CLOUDS
As soon as I walked in to the Flagler Suite, the space — a corner unit with a living room, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a wrap-around balcony with views overlooking everything from the beach to Downtown Fort Lauderdale — took my breath away.
At bedtime, I watched the stars sparkle over the Fort Lauderdale skyline, and every morning, I watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean from my plush, California king bed. All rooms are spacious, sophisticated and modern, with curated artwork inspired by photographer Slim Aarons, iPads by every bed (with your name on it!), Alexa, and the natural woods and rich leather accents befitting the cosmopolitan face of a cosmopolitan city.
STAY AND PLAY
Just like the friendly check-in experience, days here are just easy. You can go for a bike ride on one of The Dalmar’s complimentary, pastel-hued bicycles. Do yoga. Take a dip in the sixth-floor infinity pool. When the South Florida sun starts beating down your back, you can cool down with a treat from the nearby gelato cart, or grab a half-bottle of Moët & Chandon from its candy-pink vending machine.
Bring your laptop and answer emails, if you have to; just steps from the pink-onyx lobby bar, there’s a long communal table designed for working. There’s also a full fitness center with Peloton machines nearby, where you can work off that gelato and Champagne. If you’re there on a weekend, sashay up to Sparrow, the rooftop bar. Inside, retro accents create a swanky, 1950s feel, and outside, a Florida-meets-Alice in Wonderland vibe sets the scene for a fun night out with your girlfriends or trendy date night drinks.
No matter where you go, always have your phone out at The Dalmar. From its textured walls and colorful nooks to the neon-lit “Me Oh My” installation on the ground floor, every corner of this hotel is an Instagrammer’s dream.
EAT YOUR HEART OUT
Wake up and order room service for breakfast, or do what I did and head down to the lobby bar and lounge for Belgian waffles or avocado toast. If you’re lying by the pool, a button on your side table gets chairside food and drink service from Sip N’ Dip, the pool bar. I definitely took advantage of Rose’s Coffee Bar, on the ground floor, when I needed a caffeine fix. Think: cold-brew or nitrogen coffee, specialty drinks, cookies as big as my head and healthy snacks galore.
After an indulgent day in South Florida paradise, continue the theme with dinner at The Terrace Grill, The Dalmar’s signature American restaurant. Order Georgian wine you can’t find anywhere else in the U.S., and pair it with fresh truffle fries, chargrilled octopus with Calabrian chilies, a buttery filet mignon with mashed potatoes and charred Cipollini onions, or my favorite, grilled artichokes on top of a lemon-tinged artichoke purée. Dessert is a must, as you’ll learn when you order the warm, whole wheat chocolate-chip cookies with house-made vanilla ice cream.
SOUTH FLORIDA SOPHISTICATION
Of course, there’s plenty to do if you want to leave your hotel, and The Dalmar has a free shuttle that can take guests anywhere within a three-mile radius. Sip a latte by the flower wall at Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar.
Stroll up Las Olas to check out its fashion-forward boutiques. Grab a table outside at Boathouse at The Riverside and enjoy Mediterranean tapas as you watch the boats sail past on the New River. If you want something more casual, grab Philly cheesesteaks or shepherd’s pie from chef Simon Porter’s brand new Bo’s Pub.
And if the weather is nice, don’t miss the beach. The Dalmar has complimentary chairs and towels there waiting for you to relax during a stay that will inspire you to do everything or nothing at all.
299 Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-945-9500; thedalmar.com.