After one terrible hostel experience in Banff during the Banff Television Festival, I made a judgement call on hostels … thinking they were all thin walled, with less than comfortable beds, intended for immature party obsessed late teen and early 20-somethings (I think I was a late 20-something at the time). Now don’t shoot me for this judgement … in my first night at the hostel in question, my roommate and I did not sleep a wink, as we had people start partying outside our room at 2 am, got to listen to teen relationship drama outside our door half the night, followed by the police showing up due to breakins and stolen goods. All this, while the front desk staff at the hostel did nothing about the complaints. If you have ever been to the Banff Television Festival, you’ll know that whatever sleep you are able to get is vital to surviving and to your success, so we moved out at 8 am the next morning.
Thanks to Filmgate Miami, that was not my last hostel experience after all. Instead they made me fall in love with hostels, by booking me in to stay at the Freehand Hostel in Miami, over the course of their Festival.
What I was greeted with, upon arriving in Miami and at the Freehand Miami, was with a warm and friendly style of place, with a bohemian feel, and a mixture of travellers of all ages. Yep! This was definitely my style of space.
The sun filled lobby hosted an eclectic array of furniture and instruments, designed to make people feel at home and want to linger and chat.
I studied the homemade map of the area, trying to get my bearings, and figure out where everything was, and where I’d be spending the next few days, over the course of the festival. While I waited my turn to checkin, I eyed up the activities board, mulling the Festival schedule in my head. Would I able to make the Sunday Beach Yoga or Backyard Barbecue? I had heard from my Filmgate Miami hosts that the weekly Sunday night Barbecues were always a good time.
So far so good! And then they showed me my room …
Wow! This was a room in a hostel!?! With the interior design by Roman & Williams, this was nicer than many 5 star hotels I’d stay in.
The room included a walk-in closet … my own bathroom with some rather divine toiletries …
… artwork by local Miami artists … a safe that fit both my laptops and camera gear …
… everything I needed to work (including complimentary wifi) and more (iPod docking station) …
… and then there was the bed …
… I still dream about that king size bed … so comfy! The red boots were right at home here!
And to give you the full picture, here is what the shared rooms look like with their beds with their 10-inch mattresses!
Sleep, however, would have to wait! There was after all a backyard pool to check out!
I certainly was not disappointed by the pool …
… the courtyard, where conversation with interesting travellers would spark up …
… the backyard games area …
… the tiki bar …
… and even bicycles …
Forget the room, this would be my office for the next few days … as well it should be … under the Miami sun!
And as soon as the sun went to sleep, that tiki bar – The Broken Shaker, came alive, giving this courtyard a rocking nightlife of it’s own, perfect for a nightcap … or in Emme‘s case, to experiment with filming her first ‘Art Film’!
But even with the buzzing backyard nightlife (and dare I say, cocktails – tasty things, that packed quite a punch), the design of the space, meant that by the time I’d found my way to bed, there was no noise to stop me from peacefully drifting off to sleep.
After all there was a beach beckoning before the Festival begun again the next day … both in wind …
… and shine!
Can’t wait to return!
Been ages since I’ve stayed at a hostel due in large part to what you described early on in your article. But this one in my home state of Florida looks great! Next time I head south I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing!
Oh do Cynthia! Really enjoyed staying there, and met many interesting people there around my own age (in my 30s) and older.
I think hostels are really great. They’re cheap and quite cozy. But travelers have to do some research before they decide to stay in one. There are plenty of rotten eggs out there too!
That they do Marcello. Learned that one the hard way!
It’s funny that I’ve been traveling around many years, but never actually stayed in a hostel. Though I’ve stayed at lots of guesthouses in Southeast Asia. But if I ever go to Miami, this place looks like a winner.
BTW, I love the little monkey with the ukulele!
Yeah, most definitely a stay I’d recommend Ryan! Look forward to returning one of these days!
Wow! Sounds like a great experience. Some hostels can be hit or miss, but this one certainly raises the bar. That room is unbelievable!
That it does! Such a good sleep in a place with character. Loved writing here!
Agreed. I’ve been in quite a few hostels in my lifetime but nothing close to this one.
Admittedly, we’ve yet to experience as wonderful a hostel since.
We’ve stayed at many hostels over the years and they really are hit and miss. Some of them are terrible, some of them are fantastic. Sounds like you have a winner here. Looks as good as any hotel!
Sounds like a awesome experience. Some hostels can be hit or miss, but this one certainly increases the bar.
Freehand is amazing. They have such a clever overall design and the location is out of this world. Right in the middle of everything on South Beach. The Broken Shaker was an awesome spot to grab a drink for the recent Art Basel fair. I’m glad that you survived Filmgate! There is also a very nice guided outdoor yoga session happening at South Point Park on Saturday afternoons. So you can mix that in on your next trip to Miami. If you are looking to grab a drink somewhere near the hostel, The 1 Hotel is awesome – there is a rooftop bar and the overall design is amazing. It’s within walking distance to Freehand. Thanks for the great post Erica!
hostels are really great. They’re cheap and quite cozy. I ever go to Miami, this place looks like a winner.