Life House, Little Havana
528 SW 9th Avenue
The hotel is in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood, on mainland Florida.
You can fly direct into Miami International from dozens of major US and European cities; if you’re coming from London, your options include Virgin, Delta and British Airways. It’s a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport to the hotel.
Brickell station is just over a mile east of the hotel (five minutes in a cab, or 25 minutes on foot); from there, you can take the Metrorail all over the city. Florida’s intercity express – Brightline – departs from Miami Central station and runs north to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.
In this part of the US, a car is rarely a bad idea. Here, you can use it to drive the Overseas Highway down to Key West or explore the alligator-laden Everglades. There are plenty of car hire companies at the airport and in the city; when you arrive at the hotel, it’s best to drop your bags at reception and ask concierge to point you in the direction of the free street parking nearby.
Worth getting out of bed for
After a leisurely breakfast, you'll find every reason to follow in the same vein for the rest of the day – there’s a hammock in the courtyard of Parcela that’s just waiting for you and a good book. There are yoga classes on the Terras rooftop each morning, and cocktails at sunset and beyond. For a flavour of Cuban culture, take a stroll down Calle Ocho, lined with vibrant restaurants and buzzing bars. Máximo Gómez Park is prime people-watching territory – it’s a favourite with the locals, especially the wise old fellas who while away sunny afternoons here, playing dominoes with friends and rivals. The Tower Theatre (1508 SW 8th Street) is an art deco icon – its doors were flung open in 1926, and it’s been screening Oscar-winners and arthouse indie films ever since. Even if baseball isn’t your thing, consider this: it’s basically an excuse to sit in the sunshine drinking beers and pigging out on comfort food all day. The Miami Marlins play at Marlins Park, a few minutes’ drive from the hotel. (In winter, go see the NFL’s Dolphins instead.)
El Exquisito (1510 SW 8th Street) is the neighborhood’s no-frills favourite for classic Cuban food, served in typically oversized portions – go hungry, and order the steak sandwich or vaca frita (shredded garlic and lime beef), with plantain tostones and fried yuca on the side. For seafood, meet shrimp-specialist La Camaronera (1952 W. Flagler St), or make the trip to Aegean bistro Mandolin (4312 NE 2nd Avenue) for heavenly Greek food in the mood-lit courtyard.
The Ball & Chain (1513 SW 8th Street) is a local legend, with live jazz and salsa all day and all night; tuck into tapas and load up on mojitos, then hit the dance floor with new-found friends. There’s acoustic jazz over at Lagniappe too (3425 NE 2nd Avenue), this time accompanied by barbecue meats, cheese plates, and your pick from the wine list scrawled on the blackboard.