And I found just that while island-hopping in the Florida Keys. That little-known publication The New York Times called The Gardens Hotel “the prettiest hotel in Key West,” and I’m definitely inclined to agree.
While the rooms are smaller than other hotels I’ve visited—by American standards, at least (they’re probably considered large for Europeans—they don’t feel like it. Every inch of the space is utilized, the bathroom is of generous size, and the way rooms are furnished makes them feel like top-of-the-line luxury.
We’d been staying in more moderately priced accommodation the first half of our trip through the Keys, so Gardens Hotel was a nice dose of luxury and felt like such an appropriate place to stay in Key West. The city as a whole oozes a “Hemingway was here” vibe, and after a trip to his old homestead, I think he would have thoroughly approved of Gardens.
As if the interior of this place wasn’t cute enough, the grounds are as green as a freshly-printed stack of dollar bills.
And they stealthily conceal a myriad of surprises, from installation art to wildlife (parrots! tortoises!), so look closely as you never know what you might find hiding out among the bushes in this tropical haven.
Gardens is more B&B-like than reminiscent of a hotel, and breakfast was included each morning and served on the gorgeous patio, beneath the thriving foliage. While there was an ample buffet at the bar, each day the staff served something different; my favorite was the key lime French toast morning (every bit as sinfully decadent as it sounds).
The inside of the main house has tables and chairs if you don’t want to dine al fresco and a comfortable lounge area. It also boasted a baby grand piano for the weekly jazz nights and, my favorite part, a tasting room—d’Vine Wine Gallery—where you could purchase different wines by the size pour you wanted. Genius! The hotel also holds wine classes and other events there from time to time.
But we didn’t spend a whole lot of time indoors, as it was a perfect 80 degrees during the duration of our time in the Keys, and who wants to waste away the warm winter days inside when you have this perfect pool at your disposal?
I should also mention Gardens Hotel only welcomes guests ages 16 and up, so this meant we had the pool to ourselves and didn’t have to worry about being splashed by small kids (families with younguns tend to migrate toward the waterfront resorts of Mallory Square). At night, we would sit on the perfect porch until dark and read a book (me) or play Candy Crush (SVV).
Then, it was out to Duval Street, which is situated just a block away. You get the best of both worlds at this adorable hotel: the convenience of being located smack of the thriving town and a quick walk from everything, while staying in a quiet, beautiful corridor of the old historic district.
The last two nights in Key West, we packed up and moved to the Hyatt Resort on the waterfront so we could use points and cut back on costs. And while I’m a fan of the Hyatt brand, I couldn’t help but wish we’d done things in reverse: stayed at the Hyatt and then finished our vacation on the highest note possible at the Gardens Hotel—which though an apt name, does not convey the property’s immaculate beauty—because there really is no beating the charm of this perfectly-appointed boutique stay.