Life House Little Havana
Stylish, $ (From $79)
In the heart of Miami's Cuban quarter, Life House Little Havana lives and breathes the spirit of its locale. The historic 1920s, guava-tinted Art Deco mansion has been filled with tropical plants (many of which are edible), vintage rattan furniture, and Afro-Cuban ceramics, and has a large outdoor courtyard draped with hammocks inviting guests to retire with mojitos on balmy Miami nights.
The rates at this stylish charmer start at the almost impossibly low $79 might make it a game-changer in Miami. If this is a trend for city hotels, which it might be, given Life House's sister hotels in Miami and upcoming expansion plans for Brooklyn, Denver, and Nantucket, we applaud it. Want to know a little more about Rami Zeidan, the visionary founder of the hotel? Follow the Little Havana neighborhood guide he wrote for us.
Back to the hotel. The on-site cafe and forthcoming rooftop restaurant (opening late fall 2019) celebrates the history of Latin-American street food culture as well as sustainable urban farming with a homegrown "food forest" that showcases Cuban flavors and local spices. A community mobile app allows guests to connect with each other during their stay and sign up for daily yoga classes, workshops, and artists' talks. Outside the tropical oasis, you won't find the ritzy glamour of South Beach, but rather a vibrant and authentic tight-knit community, taking the reins as its up-and-coming neighborhood comes into its own.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Imagine walking into a lush, tropical 1920s Cuban mansion where worldly travelers mingle and smoke cigars.
Standout Detail: A three-story atrium art gallery displays abstract portraits of Little Havana's locals shot by Miami-based photographers.
This Place Is Perfect For: Miami regulars looking to explore a new neighborhood, boho explorers on a budget, and hip couples who love to get lost in new cultures.
Rooms: Of the 33 rooms and suites, the most eye-catching, hands-down, is the Bohemian Suite, where four double-decker beds are tucked away into a cozy sleeping nook and a mini staircase leads up to the top bunks, which have chic curtains for extra privacy. All rooms feature a rain shower, Le Labo bath amenities, Diptyque candles, Egyptian cotton Revival NY linens and bathrobes, high-speed internet, and a retro Marshall bluetooth speaker.
On Site: The lobby's Caribbean living room and accent atrium library are ideal co-working spaces for modern travelers with vintage curiosities, mahogany furniture, monochrome floors inspired by typical Havana mansions, plum-purple leather sofas, and House of Hackney tropical wallpaper hand-painted in the hotel's guava and green color palette. The library is stocked with 'zines from local independent publishers and Art Deco design books. Guest can use the Life House app, which doubles as their room key, to connect with other travelers before they check in, if that's their style, and also to book rooftop sunrise yoga classes and reserve a space at weekly workshops and local artists talks.
Food + Drink: Reminiscent of the old Havana that attracted such writers as Hemingway, Parcela café and courtyard is a lovely oasis where you can spend the afternoon on a laptop — or maybe a paperback copy of The Old Man and the Sea? — or lounge from a hammock with a Cuba Libre. A parcela, "a small plot of land reclaimed for the purpose of growing," symbolizes the roots of the Cuban urban agriculture movement and the opportunity for sustainable growth and sustenance from empty urban land. Chef Leo Pablo, who previously worked at the beloved New York restaurant Upland, used this as inspiration for his plant-focused menu fusing Caribbean and American cuisine with a focus on local fruits, flavors, and spices grown directly in the hotel's edible garden. There's no shortage of Miami classics with a veggie twist, such as the vegan Cuban sandwich. Head barista Sara Ypsilanti has done a great version of an iced coconut Americano.
The rooftop bar and restaurant Terras will debut later this fall with a jungle-canopy terrace surrounded by skyline views of downtown Miami, salsa dancing to Cuban beats, and lots of tequila served under the eye of ex-Broken Shaker mixologist Brian Griffiths, who will create signature cocktails from tropical herbs plucked from the rooftop garden.
What to Do Nearby
Rami Zeidan, the founder of Life House Hotels, recently gave us a great rundown on what's what in the Little Havana neighborhood, and we'd totally follow his lead.
Highlights include Viernes Culturales, where, on the third Friday of every month, the neighborhood’s famed Calle 8 comes to life with music, dancing, dominos, local arts and crafts, and cigar rollers. Cafe La Trova, a few blocks from the hotel, is an authentic Cuban restaurant and cafe with a fun and energetic atmosphere, delicious cocktails, and great music. Every once in a while, the bartenders will grab instruments from behind the bar and play along with the band. At Ball & Chain, you'll feel instantly transported to Cuba, as this iconic restored 1940s jazz club is reimagined into a live-music hotspo, where the mojitos flow freely and the beats tango all night long.