MIAMI BEACH — The hippest new hotel in South Beach is not where you’d expect to find it.
Tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood, the 25-room Hotel Gaythering is located west of the party life on Ocean Drive and the commercial shopping district on Lincoln Road, a long hike away from the thumping club scene on lower Washington Avenue.
“We chose the location because it put people into a neighborhood so they feel like they are part of a neighborhood,” said owner Alex Guerra. “It’s close enough but far enough from everything.”
Four years ago, Guerra and co-owner Stephan Ginez bought an old three-story Miami Beach apartment building and in 2012 began renovations. The hotel opened on Valentine’s Day weekend and his been a hit with visitors and residents tired of the trendy South Beach scene.
“We didn’t want anything that looked very Miami,” said Guerra. “We spent time traveling around the world, visiting different boutique properties, and found things that worked. The hotel is a hybrid of those inspirations.”
The inspirations range from Paris (the Philippe Stark designed Mama Shelter), London (Ace hotel), and even Providence (Nylo).
One step inside and the distinction between this and other properties on Miami Beach is clear. More urban than glam, the hotel’s design as Guerra sees it is “handsome industrial” where vintage elements (button-studded brown leather couches, barber chairs, bright red mannequin torsos) add warmth to cold industrial elements (exposed brick walls, gunmetal grey doors, painted exposed pipes).
A bar, library, and “self spa” occupy the ground-level communal areas.
“We made the front desk very small. We want to focus on areas where people could have a coffee, a drink, sit in a chair and watch TV, read magazines, or do work on their computers.”
The overall vibe is one of playful insouciance, where casual is king and all are welcome.
The hotel’s mascot is a rabbit, and the bar opens every evening with “Hoppy hour” from 5 to 8 p.m. The menu highlights craft cocktails such as Francis Bitters (rye, grapefruit, raspberry, Angostura bitters, mint) and Fiona Le’fleur (vodka, lemon, almond, orange flower water, Angostura bitters) and local brewed beers. (Coming soon: Argentine empanadas.) Adding to the retro-hip sensibility, a vending machine is stocked with a variety of items geared toward adults, plus juice and a few food items.
The spa is a no-frills affair with metal lockers, Jacuzzi, aroma steam room, dry cedar sauna, and hamam. Mud and other self-treatment products are sold in the lobby. Bathing suits are required.
Early risers can purchase Café Bustelo coffee, locally made muffins, scones, brownies and cakes, and two breakfast beers (wild blueberry Seadog and Liefmans Fruitesse) starting at 7 a.m.
The fun design elements continue in the rooms, where — in addition to king-sized beds with white-striped sheets, grey walls, and dark grey-black indoor-outdoor carpeting — science lab tables and stools act as desks, Playmate coolers serve as ice buckets, cherry red paint covers bathroom doors, and original art work, animal masks, and painted messages (Hello Darling; No. Hashtag) adorn the walls. Magnetic dry erase boards stick to the entry doors, replacing traditional “Do not disturb” signs, and are also used to communicate with other guests. Three pet-friendly rooms have tile floors.
As the name suggests, the Hotel Gaythering is geared toward the LGBT community but also calls itself “straight-friendly.”
“We’re a community based hotel,” said Guerra, “whatever your community is.”
HOTEL GAYTHERING 409 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. 786-284-1176, www.gaythering.com. Rates from $179.