As an experienced traveler, I still have my preconceived notions and trepidations of where I’m heading. I’ve been good places and bad. I’ve stayed in fine accommodations and some I’m still washing off. Sometimes you have to just let the experience take over.
I am standing in a good friend’s wedding in a couple of weeks, and he needed one last send off. The gents decided upon Miami Beach.
Before any imaginations run wild – no.
Initially, I was uncertain, but as record flooding engulfed the central Illinois region – I was ready. I wouldn’t say my original thoughts of the Miami area were positive. It seemed like an overly snow-bird, touristy, possibly crime-ridden area that was near a beach. As the story goes in many places, perception doesn’t always equal reality.
Most 30 year old Americans don’t seek out domestic hostels. Well, maybe because there really hasn’t been one like this before. I can say that I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostel, and this one surpasses them all. The Freehand Miami is the first boutique hostel here stateside. The running joke was that we were staying in a “hotel.” Unless you saw it, you wouldn’t believe it.
The place was amazing. Wrap your bohemian, beach-going, hipster, specialty cocktail-loving, design-oriented mind around it. Yes, you can, you may, select a room with multiple randoms, but that is where the adventure begins. For those who haven’t, give in – let go.
Check-in: The Freehand Miami
You wouldn’t think a room for 8 could possibly accommodate. This wasn’t just a half-assed attempt to make a cheap stay for some travelers. This was the real deal. It’s a collaboration of many partnerships that opened in the late summer of 2012 (preview). It’s newish, but the polish still hasn’t worn off. In fact, unbeknownst to us, this place was the hot-spot that we just casually found.
Casual is an understatement. It has an effortless feel to it, but yet the attention to detail ain’t like no other bunk I’ve been. Arriving into the lobby my seasonal affective disorder was immediately healed. It was like someone saying, “Erik, we know you’ve had a long winter, so here’s this.” It worked.
In no particular order, you can rent a bike for the day, you can take a dip in the pool, lay out, read in one of their many seating areas or even play some ping-pong with an international.
Maybe you just stumbled in off 9 hours of travel and are need of a libation – the Broken Shaker pop-up bar will cure what ails ya. In case you were wondering, I rolled with the Old Fashioned. After a few of those you can wind the night down playing Connect Four in the lobby as curious onlookers pass on to their next destination.
The atmosphere is unreal. Whether you’re with a room full of total strangers or with a group of people you know, you’re completely at home. Book now, book often. If you stay at a chain hotel in Miami – you might as well stay at home.