Contributing editor Larkin Clark recently returned from Generator Miami, the first U.S. property from the Europe-based hostel brand. She had a chance to chat with the team about how they’re hoping to change the hospitality industry — and got some of their Miami Beach faves along the way.
MIAMI — Sleek, design-forward lobby. Intimate gastropub that feels like a Brooklyn hotspot. Two cool bars helmed by a star mixologist. When touring the new Generator Miami in South Beach — perched on iconic Collins Avenue, just across from luxury mainstays Faena and The Miami Beach EDITION — “hostel” is not a word that comes to mind. And yet, as the newest addition to the popular European hostel chain’s portfolio, Generator Miami is just that — or rather, what the brand imagines to be a reinvention of the hostel concept for the American market.
“Hostels are widely accepted and recognized in Europe, but we have found that, for Americans, there tends to be a stigma attached,” CMO Jason Rieff told me after my visit to Generator Miami last month.
I can’t say he’s wrong: Though I frequently hostel-hopped around Europe as a student, I never stayed in hostels in the United States. Now that I'm a decade older, I'd still be inclined to give the elevated hostel experience a chance in Europe — but it's taken a while for the American hostel experience to catch up.
Rieff hopes the American expansion of Generator will help to change that. “Once U.S. consumers step foot in our lobby, whether for a stay or even for a drink or meal at our world-class restaurants and bars, we believe their perception [of what a hostel can be] will change.”
From the looks of Generator Miami, they’re doing a good job. To head up their bar and restaurant concepts, Generator tapped top industry talent, including mixologist Gui Jaroschy, who formerly led Broken Shaker at The Freehand, and executive chef Daniel Roy, who previously served as sous chef at Habitat under James Beard-nominated chef José Mendín.
The communal spaces have a cool, socially-connected feel, with nooks throughout the lobby and outdoor areas, and cheeky millennial nods, like a neon-lit selfie mirror near the elevator. Straddling the line between hostel and boutique hotel, the room offerings include shared dorm-style bunks with secure storage (which can be booked by the bed, as they would in a traditional hostel, or as an entire suite for a single party), traditional rooms with single or double beds, and larger single-bed suites with a living area and expansive bathroom. Design-wise, the rooms are sleek and minimalist, with small Smeg refrigerators, polished accents, and bright, tiled bathrooms. To my surprise, prices remain somewhat in the hostel range, starting at $25 for a bed in a dorm-style suite and $105 for a private king room.
Rieff said the ultimate goal is for Generator’s hostel-meets-boutique hotel concept to become a top competitor for the on-trend boutique hotels and Airbnb properties in the U.S. market. As I think back to my remote work session in the bright, palm-covered atrium, dinner with wine pairings at the on-site restaurant, Jim & Neesie, and my private guest room overlooking the pool, I know they’re onto something.
According to Generator CEO Alastair Thomann, Miami Beach is the first of several destinations Generator is scoping for the American market. A new property is slated to open in Washington, D.C., and he lists San Francisco, L.A., Boston, Chicago, and Las Vegas as potential future destinations.
Until the D.C. property opens, there’s a lot to look forward to in Miami Beach. I asked the team in Miami to share their favorite under-the-radar spots for a great meal, inspiring day trip, and everything in between.
For a killer cocktail, head to …
“Sweet Liberty consistently makes super solid cocktails. I mostly order The Pace Car, because if I’m at Sweet Liberty, I’m either at the end of a long night or about to start one.” — Gui Jaroschy, director of bar and restaurant concepts
The best spot for dining like a local ...
“No Name Chinese has a turnip cake that is out of this world. Tran An in the St. Roch Market does a beef phở that, on a rainy day, just makes everything better. Stubborn Seed is doing a wagyu loin that is fermented ten days in koji that makes your palate rethink what steak is supposed to taste like.” — Daniel Roy, executive chef
Art Basel: What are must-dos and must-sees?
“The Scope, Art Miami, and Design Miami Satellite fairs most times end up being better than the major installations because there are fewer people and really cool hidden art and local artists. Definitely check out the Faena installations — there’s always a “wow” factor and a great people-watching scene. Tips: Don’t drive anywhere, because parking is impossible. Plan your day by area — you can miss a lot if you’re jumping around. And always buy tickets in advance: The lines are insane. — Caroline Strauss, food & beverage general manager
The best way to spend a day exploring ...
“I love to go kayaking off 79th Street marina. There are three islands in a line that you can row out to, and each island has a different feature. The first island has a very small cove to pull up to for a short break; the second is the biggest and has room for a group of friends; and the farthest one has a small beach for relaxing, people-watching, enjoying the Miami sun or viewing the downtown skyline.” — Daniel
The coolest local experience that most tourists don't know about ...
“I strongly recommend a Sunday brunch at the historical Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, a must-do for all visitors ($90 per person). The history and architecture behind this 1920s historic landmark is truly amazing. Additionally, one of my favorite restaurants is Bulla, also in Coral Gables.” — Glenn Valencia, general manager
If you want to go out dancing but don't want to wait in lines, you go to ...
“The Roundup Country Western Bar in Davie.” — Gui
The one boutique or store you always tell friends to visit while they're in town ...
“Must check out Upper Buena Vista. It’s two blocks of micro boutiques, very bohemian and unique. They have a variety of clothing, accessories, and furniture in their retail sanctuary, tucked in with hip new culinary concepts.” — Caroline
If it rains during your visit, the best way to pass the time is ...
“The Wolfsonian Museum is always an unexpected surprise. They do cool exhibits about housewares and Cold War propaganda and Italian futurism. Totally under-the-radar gem.” — Gui
For ultimate relaxation, head to ...
“South Pointe Park during sunset. Wave bye to the cruise liners as head to open waters. When time and work allows, I love going to the nurseries in Homestead to see and buy plants. My garden is my heaven.” — Glenn