Say the words “hotel” and “Miami” together and thoughts that immediately come to mind are of the over-the-top glitz and glamour variety – with ‘glamour’ being entirely subjective, surely. If we’re talking SoBe we’re not talking subtle, which is fine – we love the ridiculousness of the place as much as anyone, and have had spent many a night tippling at a trendy poolside bar amidst a sea of sartorial pastel.
On our last trip south, however, we found ourselves spending as much time west of the beach as on it – in Miami’s exotic, yet down-home Spanish/Cuban epicenter, Little Havana. Distinctly distinguished from its bikini-clad neighbor by its lack of any structure over a few stories tall, and represented more by querulous, dominoes-playing old-timers in the local park than by manufactured old-timeyness and body parts, LH offers an element of authenticity to a town famous for working hard to escape it.
Yet up until recently, it also lacked what we take for granted beachside: notable hotels. That all changes this year with the opening of Life House, a 33-room boutique sleep (and member of the Design Hotels group) in a historic 1920s mansion. Festooned with design elements that adhere to the concept of hyperlocality, from the paintings and photography of neighborhood artists, to a color palate of magenta, pink, and purple that reflects the hues of the hood, Life House promises an immersion in local culture, in addition to all the things you’d expect from a happening hotel these days: Le Labo toiletries, rainfall showers, and vintage / custom furniture.
Still very new, its rooftop restaurant and bar Terras, with its promise of awesome views of the Miami skyline, will open in March. But as of now there are a pair of on-site cafe/bars buzzing with energy. While the restaurants and drinking establishments of the infamous Calle Ocho, including our personal favorite Ball & Chain, are a quick taxi or wobbly stroll away.
We’re not ones to ever really tire of a manic SoBe visit. But these days we’re likely to temper it with a few less hectic days/nights, in the more genteel environs of Little Havana. Having a bolthole to hide away in there certainly seals the deal.