The most famous of all the Florida Keys, ‘Key West’ has long been known as the cheeky, kitsch and kooky corner of the sunshine state. Hidden away quietly in neighboring key Isla Morada however, lays the ultimate in understated chic getaway.
And I’ve yet to mention the impeccable design.
With an eye for interiors and personal inclination to interior design, I researched for this trip long and hard to find my perfect Florida retreat, and whilst many can be charming, they are often old fashioned and rather twee. Casa Morada is a design led boutique beach house, with so many hideaways , you rarely see another guest.
The hotel started its journey with a furniture designer from Mexico, who lovingly designed the bed frames, rope mirrors and luggage racks for each suite. When the new owners arrived they renovated the tropical landscape, adding a lush rainforest feel to the sun drenched beach resort.
There are five suites located directly on the water overlooking the Florida Bay, with a further 11 garden suites in the main building, some with Jacuzzis and outdoor showers.
Our Shangri La Suite overlooked the bay, with a private balcony perfect for the mesmerizing sunsets and lazy mornings. The room featured a freestanding bathtub with overhanging banana palms and the biggest four-poster bed I have ever seen with white sheers and crisp linens.
An enormous modern bathroom with generous supplies of Malin + Goetz toiletries, which not only smell gorgeous, but are particular about their natural ingredients, a perfect match for the room. And a powerful hairdryer, a surprisingly rare find in hotels.
The room is decorated with fragrant candles. Light these and slip into your gloriously soft robe, play some music on the in-room ipod docking station, enjoy a range of books as you take your pick from a very well-stocked mini bar. Add to this, surprise wine on ice in the room at sunset, and you have a very luxurious setting.
It was THE romantic spot, but in an understated way. Giant hammocks built for two are dotted everywhere, and the clever landscaping creates several private areas. At night my husband and I took nightcaps down to the sun beds to watch the shooting stars- yes it does get that romantic! Guests can enjoy a sunset sail, followed dinner nearby on the beach and under the stars with fairy lights hung from the palm trees.
Whilst Keys West makes the most noise for it’s ‘clothing optional’ bars and late bands- Islamorada sits quietly surrounded by tranquil beaches and excellent waterfront restaurants.
We stayed for 4 days and it was a little too short for us as it was so unbelievably relaxing, I could have easily stayed a whole week. Not only offering impeccable personalized service, the hotel also sets up free yoga on the beach, kayaks and snorkeling, and use of their bikes around the island. The Netflix series Bloodline was filmed here, so we spend a lazy afternoon cycling to each location, the colonel hotel on the beach … one more perfectly tropical then the other.
There are so many beautiful places on the waterfront, serving fresh fish and a fabulous sushi spot. There are several options to keep you busy once you’ve had enough sunbathing. Isla Morada is the fishing capital of the world, so there are lots of fishing trip available from the nearby harbours. Kayaking, biking, dolphin spotting trips, mini golf and even sea life ‘theatre’.
Informal, secluded, lush and utterly gorgeous, Casa Morada was an enchanting stay and I can’t wait to go back. Its received our Citizen Femme Stamp of Approval.
Things to pack: Informal yet as chic as you like! Your bikini range is a must, casual beach wear, hats, flip flops, heels, mosquito spray (in case) sunscreen, and maybe a bright coral lipstick and varnish!
Best time to visit: October (great rates, weather is a little cooler than the peak of summer and there is perfectly peaceful vibe throughout the islands.)