Life House - South of Fifth
Vibe, $ (from $149)
There's a quiet revolution happening in South Beach. It's mellowing out. Sure, you can still find a go-go scene if that's what you're into, but if you're drawn to the sunny shores of Florida and are a quieter sort, you will no longer feel out of sorts down here. That's because a handful of boutique hotels — like the artsy Betsy and the super eco One Hotel South Beach — have led the charge at the pricier end. But few are making relaxing a mission — and on such an intimate and affordable scale — the way founder and seasoned hotelier Rami Zeidan is. "Miami's continuing growth and diversity inspired me to start Life House, a collection of locally rooted lifestyle hotels with a tech-first approach," he wrote for us in his neighborhood guide to Little Havana. And his hotels may be chill, but Zeidan is moving fast: Life House will have four locations in Miami and others in Denver, Brooklyn, and Nantucket.
Life House - South of Fifth is located (obviously) in the South of Fifth area, the less touristy stretch at the end of the Miami Beach, in a two-story 1930s landmark Tudor-style cottage a few blocks from the beach and two parks. Life House doesn't want guests to feel like they're staying in a hotel but rather an artist's or a writer's retreat, and have designed their serene hotel to match.
The hotel officially opens on December 10 and is accepting reservations now. Given the low rates and the limited number of rooms (just 26), book now if you want to make this your cool winter getaway.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Airy, beachy, light-filled, and mellow.
Standout Detail: The intimate and charming scale.
This Place Is Perfect For: Travelers who want a quieter Miami scene and have a millennial, tech-driven sensibility.
Rooms: The 26 light-filled rooms range in size, starting with Standard Queen and the larger Deluxe Queen. King-sized beds are in the two Writer's Studios and the one Artist's Suite, the largest of the single room options. Seven quads include two Cozy Quads and and five larger Bohemian Quads, a great option for families and friends who want to recreate a gossip-till-we-pass-out, dorm room experience in a very grown-up way. The decor features lots of blond woods in pale, neutral tones, with pops of color (many greens and blues) in the textiles, plants, and artwork. Everything feels very eco, very serene. In-room amenities are indie and of-the-moment: Le Labo toiletries, Diptyque scents, Revival NY linens, pillow-top mattresses, Marshall speakers, and RoomCast and wireless streaming.
On Site: Pretty Swell is the hotel's vegetarian-forward restaurant. You can eat in or get your order to go to the beach. A pop-up shop sells Life House apparel and a collection of highly curated (of course) local goods. Other than that, it's a small hotel, so you won't find a gym or a business center. But that's probably not what you're here for, is it, because you're going to work at a table in the cafe anyway, right? Guest interaction is encouraged, in the programming and design and the whole let's-be-friends vibe. Self-check-in is available, though you'll find staff on site if you're not afraid of human interaction. (You can never tell with millennials.)
What to Do Nearby
So much, and a lot if it within walking distance. Las Olas Cafe serves great Cuban food, as does Puerto Sagua, the beloved old standby. If you're hungry for something classic and expensive, walk to Joe's Stone Crab (for seasonal claws) or Prime 112 (for steak and celebs). Everything is delicious at Upland, the Miami outpost of the NYC original, but if chef Justin Smilie ever takes the bucatini cacio e pepe or short rib with Castelvetrano olives, walnuts, and celery off the menu, people will revolt. Nearby cultural offerings include Artechouse, for experiential and technological artwork, and Miami Beach Cinematheque for international and indie films. You'll want to get in a car to get to Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, a slice of taco heaven.