Itching to trade your Fendi heels for flip flops? Your cubicle for a cabana? Snow for sun? Time to book a trip to The Gates Hotel. Located at the entrance to Key West, this much-Instagrammed gem—tucked away from the revelry of Duval Street, but still a short bike ride from Old Town—embodies the sort of laid-back retro cool the Florida town is known for. Open since 2015, the 100-room boutique hotel has been fully renovated to create a midcentury minimalist beach house vibe with whitewashed reclaimed wood, colorful artwork by local photographer Jorge de la Torriente and platform beds made of handwashed cypress and topped with bed runners made of repurposed coffee sacks.
Check in and waste no time heading to the pretty private pool and adjacent Rum Row Prohibition era-style bar where you’ll often find live music or DJs. Grab a hammock and a cocktail and literally feel your worries disappear into the island air. Hungry? “Conch fusion” tapas-style regional bites are available at the trendy Blind Pig food cart (try the braised beef arepas). Care for a Cuban-style stogie? Step on over to the Rodriguez Cigar Lounge and Garden for a puff.
The Gates, it turns out, is big on partnering with local brands. Rum Row features Paul Menta’s First Legal Rum, from the only rum distillery in Key West, in its signature cocktails. And Rodriguez cigars, from the oldest operating cigar manufacturer in the Florida Keys, are sold at the cigar lounge. Up for a tour of either spot? The hotel will arrange it for you.
“The Gates Hotel is capturing a lot of old Key West,” says Danny DiFabio, owner of Rodriguez Cigars and a Key West native. “They’ve tied in to a lot of Key West’s culture. People can go to Rum Row and enjoy a drink, then go to the cigar lounge and enjoy a cigar—and now they’ve been able to experience a little of Key West without even leaving the hotel.”
Take DiFabio’s advice during your stay at The Gates: Order a nice cocktail (he likes the Up in Smoke: mezcal and Legal Rum with ginger, simple syrup and fresh lime juice served with tobacco shavings), go to the cigar lounge at sunset and drink in the tranquility. “A lot of hotels here are on the beach,” he says, “but the trifecta of the rum, the cigars and the food truck make The Gates special.” Plus, Menta tells us, his rum is “hangover-free.” Talk about special.