Similar to nearby Wynwood, which helped change the face of Miami from a South Beach party town into a legit cultural hub with its street art-led transformation, Little Havana has been making waves in recent years with a modest influx of buzzy eateries and galleries. The neighborhood is now evolving at hyper-speed, as Life House chose the ‘hood as the first location — and flagship — for its “locally focused lifestyle hotel” (which basically means it’s as much a gathering spot as a hotel) housed in a 1930s-era building that's just one block from the iconic café-lined Calle Ocho.
The neighborhood’s first and only boutique hotel is equal parts old and new Miami. Picture an old tropical mansion with mid-century modern wood furniture, local photography, and herringbone floors covering 33 beautifully outfitted rooms that show off some pretty great views of Miami’s skyline. With its upscale shared quads and inviting, living room-like spaces, the concept is similar to what co-founder Rami Zeidan helped build at Freehand (another Miami game changer) and NoMad, when he worked as director of the Sydell Group.
The property's central Little Havana location draws a mix of 30-something creatives who live in the area (and want to hang in the lush courtyard or co-work in the living room space), as well as young couples and groups of friends who want the community feel of a hostel, but the comfort — and privacy — of a hotel.
Who Will Love It
If you scour Instagram to find your next travel destination, Life House has your name written all over it. The design is flawlessly executed with globally-sourced décor that tells a story, as well as swanky Le Labo shower amenities.
Who Might Not
If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, South Beach is more your speed. While Calle Ocho is quintessential Miami with its Cuban cafés and lounges, the neighborhood is definitely on the more residential side. Families with young kids or babies may also want to look elsewhere (although infant cribs are available on request).
Life House partnered up with millennial-savvy brands like Marshall, Le Labo, and cult candle favorite Diptyque Paris. You'll find these products scattered throughout the common spaces and in the rooms. There’s also a Tinder-like social network that connects guests to each other as well as vetted locals who act as community ambassadors arranging activities like Airbnb Experiences. The brand new rooftop restaurant, Terras, is already a popular local hangout for sunbathing and craft cocktails.
Wifi, TV streaming, and luxe in-room amenities like Egyptian-manufactured linens and Le Labo bath products. The mini bar is one you’ll actually want to dig into — and splurge on — since it’s stocked with a locally-sourced selection of kombucha, cold-pressed juices, and power bars.
How to Get a Deal
Rooms start at $149 per night (that's cheaper than a large Diptyque candle). The hotel often offers discount codes if you book online.
In the Neighborhood
If you time your trip around the third Friday of the month, you can check out Little Havana’s Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays, when the neighborhood opens up to a street festival with live music, local art, and dancing. You can also catch live music at Ball & Chain, a Little Havana institution. Next door, Azucar Ice Cream Company serves up some of the city’s best cones with flavors like café con leche that are inspired by Miami’s Latin culture. The neighborhood is also home to one of the hottest new cocktail bars, Café La Trova, a new joint by chef Michelle Bernstein and bartender extraordinaire Julio Cabrera.
The drive from Miami International Airport (MIA) is less than 20 minutes (without traffic, that is). Alternatively, you can also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is a little under 40 minutes from the hotel. Both Uber and Lyft operate in Miami, and it’s about $20 from MIA for a private car, or $12 for a pool.
If you’re looking for a design-forward boutique hotel that has the hominess of an Airbnb (and that’s on the more affordable side of the hotel spectrum in Miami), Life House Little Havana is a top pick.