Long associated with spring break excess and the literary world (Hemingway lived and wrote here for years), Key West is undergoing a sort of hipster sanding down: New cocktail lounges, third-wave coffee bars, and boutique hotels—including the new 100-room Gates Hotel (slated to open in early 2015)—are adding a little polish to the notoriously eccentric island.
The hotel is a midcentury-esque sprawl located just steps from the Gulf of Mexico. Cuba was the primary inspiration, a theme that plays out everywhere from the room décor (think whitewashed walls, weathered leather, and pops of aquamarine and burnt orange) to the weekly Cuban pig roasts. There’s even a cigar garden, where you can smoke a stogie or learn to roll your own in a class with the Rodriguez Cigar Factory.
Though family-friendly, The Gates isn’t the place for those hungry for silence. The hotel’s social scene revolves around Rum Row, the bar and lounge circling the L-shaped pool. Days bring shaded cabanas and tapas-style lunches (say, ceviche and shrimp skewers), while most nights bring DJs and a perma-flow of rum sourced from nearby Key West Rum Distillery.
And, while it may be a small luxury, the hotel-wide free WiFi is as refreshing as the gulf breeze that ruffles the poolside palms.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Positioned right at the entry to Key West, The Gates is far enough away from Duval Street (home of the legendary ‘Duval Crawl’) that families can rest easy, but close enough to the Gulf that the adventurous won’t feel restless. Want to go urban? Rent a bike and head to Old Town, or to visit Hemingway’s former Spanish colonial home. Need to dip a toe in the Gulf? Ask the concierge about booking a seaplane tour, or a deep-sea fishing excursion, or a sunset sail on a catamaran.
Need to Know
Rooms: 100 rooms, from $249. Check-in: 4 p.m.; checkout 11 a.m. Dining options: Food is decidedly Cuban. At breakfast, you’ll find Cuban coffee and local fruits and pastries. Lunch and dinner might be Cuban-Caribbean fusion from the Blind Pig food truck—located next to the pool—or suckling pig roasted on-site. Ready for rum? The hotel has first dibs on new blends from nearby Key West First Legal Rum Distillery. Sip a mojito at Rum Row, crack a bottle from the mini bar, or buy a bottle to take home. Spa and gym details: There’s no on-site spa, but the concierge can arrange yoga, Pilates, and massages at local gyms and spas.
Who’s it for: Sun-seeking millenials, fans of the industrial-rustic look, Cuba enthusiasts Our favorite rooms: Try to book one of the View rooms that overlook the bay. Need a direct pipeline your poolside cabana? Ask for one of the View rooms with a porch, which provide direct access to the pool. Getting around: Old Town isn’t within walking distance (it’s about 3.5 miles away), but the hotel offers a free shuttle that hits Old Town’s most popular spots (Mallory Square and Duval Street). Or rent a scooter or one of the psychedelic Lorenzo Martone-designed bicycles to get around the island.