Gates Hotel Key West

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Street sign for Rum Row Lounge area

Key West is known as a great party town – Duval Street, the Sunsets, cruise ships arriving three times a week, Sloppy Joe’s, the Hemingway Look-a-Likes and of course, Fantasy Fest over Halloween. The party starts and ends at sun up each dawn – new partiers head out as the previous night’s revelers stumble home.

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Cuban exile area of Key West back when it was a cigar rolling town

Key West was also the first great cigar city in the United States. Its location, just 90 miles from Cuba, gave it easy access to the best tobaccos and the best torcedores in the world. These torcedores would come to the cigar factories in Key West at the end of the 19th century, earn good money, and then return home to Cuba. This transient lifestyle made it easy for them to provide a great living for their families. Eventually, the cigar factories moved from Key West to the Tampa area because it was far easier to move the finish product to market from the mainland, then from an island dependent on semi-regular rail service. Key West became more important as a vacation and party town, then as the boomtown of salvage ships and cigar factories.

The island of Key West is divided into two sections: Old Town, centered by Duval Street, and New Town, located in the northern part of the island. The newest hotel to join the New Town area is The Gates Hotel Key West.

Located just on the left side of N. Roosevelt Blvd, right after you enter the island, the Gates Hotel is hipster, retro chic. The rooms are modernized & fresh with a beachy feel. The hotel is modeled after mid-century modern motels of the 1950’s. Concrete block walls that are painted a bright white, contrast nicely with the beach driftwood trim on the walls and the dark wood slider door that closes off the modern, clean bath area. The beds are amazingly comfortable with good firm mattresses and fresh, crisp sheets. Our room had a king sized bed, and a sleep sofa that was also styled in the mid-century modern style. The room was equipped with a large flat screen television on the combination dresser/desk, and an iPad on the side table next to the bed. The upgraded king rooms also feature a lovely semi-private outdoor seating area. Some of the areas are enclosed by lovely lush tropical plantings.

The hotel itself has beautiful grounds – lushly landscaped with lots of great private areas to sit & relax. The pool area is just sumptuous. It is large, grand with lots of area for people to relax both in the water and on the deck. There is a great cabana area as well. The bar, called “Rum Runner” is decorated as a homage to the days when Key West was an easy place to bring alcohol into the states during Prohibition. The smooth cement floor is painted with a sea map of the Caribbean, showing routes that Rum Runners could depend on to get their cargo onto the island. The bar itself is decorated with cargo crates, ropes and other paraphernalia that one would find on a Rum Runner’s boat. On the one side is an area set up for a local artist to sing for his supper. On the other side is the Rodriguez Smoking Lounge, build up & off to the side. This outdoor smoking lounge gives cigar smokers a great place to sit, relax & talk with other smokers. It is casual, comfortable and elegant all at the same time.

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The hotel lobby features a humidor stocked with Rodriguez Cigar products, just in case you would like to sample these great sticks. Unlike most hotels, the Gates does not have a large check in counter. Instead, there is a small desk, where the concierge checks you in & offers you a refreshing beverage to start your vacation & relax you. The  lobby is divided into several different seating areas that guests can enjoy. There are two large sectional couches surrounding large square coffee tables. Then off to the side is a large, beautiful table with chairs that can accommodate up to 12 people. On the far side, there is a small seating area, with a computer & printer to get some work done or to print off a quick itinerary. There is no restaurant at the hotel, but in keeping with its quirky nature, the Gates Hotel features a food truck. The Blind Pig offers very trendy high end snacks including pulled pork sliders, and a lamb & brie grilled cheese sandwich. They do have a kid’s menu that is sure to please even the pickiest of kids.

The whole atmosphere of the Gates Hotel is comfortable, modern and retro all at the same time. It harkens back to a time when people traveled by car to far off places as a family to enjoy everything that the USA offers. If you want the best modern amenities, with a bit of quirky fun & a bit of history, then the Gates Hotel Key West is the place for you. Reservations are definitely recommended. We visited on a Thursday, about 1 week before Christmas, which is the slowest week on the Key West calendar and the Gates Hotel was completely booked.  The address is 3824 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, Phone number is 305-320-0930. Email is reservation@gateshotelkeywest.com.

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