On my recent trip through Orlando, Austin and Miami, I had two days to spare that I could either spend around on Miami, or drive down to Key West. Since I had the wonderful Audi by Silvercar, I chose the latter. My mother in law was fairly adamant that we visit Key West; not just for the island itself, but also for the beautiful scenic drive down. And boy, was she right! Although I regret that I didn’t have the time to wander around the Everglades, I could tell as we were passing through that this must be a unique environmental experience with birds, alligators and other exotic animals.
The drive to the Keys
We took our time driving down to Key West, stopping here and there to marvel at the views and enjoy a nice lunch along the water in Islamorada, one of the islands that make up the Florida Keys. The total drive was almost 120 miles (approximately 180 kilometers) that tooks us a little under five hours. The islands are interconnected by a long two lane highway that you are basically driving in a southwestern direction from Miami. As we were driving, we could tell the climate in the Keys is completely different from Miami: it’s more humid and it smells and feels like the tropics. You’re really driving into the Caribbean!
The American destination in the Caribbean
Key West is ‘the last island’ of the Florida Keys and is the southern most city of the USA. It lies only a little over 100 miles from Havana, the capital of Cuba, which lends Key West its unique Caribbean vibe. The waters around all the Keys are crystal clear and the kind of blue that you only see in travel brochures or National Geographic documentaries. Once I got to Key West I understood why this all-year round tropical climate makes it a perfect place to escape the cold winter season. It turns out thousands of people have figured this out long before I did, so the Florida Keys villa rentals and hotels can get booked up quickly.
The Gates Hotel
I had the opportunity to stay at the The Gates Hotel in mid March, just before its official opening. The Gates Hotel is a new boutique hotel in Key West with 100 rooms, that mixes contemporary design with retro Floridian flair. The Gates Hotel is located at the entry point of the island, which means it’s close enough to Duval Street where all the action is, but secluded enough so I could enjoy a quiet afternoon sunbathing by the pool. When we arrived, we were greeted in the lobby with a signature cocktail, the Mary Pickford, which was indicative of the careful attention to detail that I discovered throughout the hotel.
The room was spacious, had a contemporary decor and was very clean, which I always really appreciate when I’m travelling.
I enjoyed the extra touches like the great make-up mirror, the little signs with funny slogans and most of all the complimentary tablet, filled with all sorts of relevant information about the Gates and Key West!
I would love to come back to The Gates Hotel once it’s completely finished, because I suspect there will be many more unique little features added to the experience than I was able to experience. Like I love how the Gates Hotel skipped the old fashioned hotel restaurants with a breakfast buffet, but is instead putting a food truck right between the beautiful pool and the large bar. These are my kind of people!