If you’re planning the perfect Key West vacation getaway, you can’t do better than to make reservations at any one of the many bed and breakfast inns located throughout the island. Key West is famous for its history, and many of the bed and breakfasts are as famous — and legendary — as the island itself. If you stay in a local guesthouse, you’ll have the good fortune to experience living in one of the most beautiful homes in America.
Because Key West is such a small island — it measures only four miles long and two miles wide — living space is limited. That’s why the houses are built vertically, with wonderful antebellum-style upper story porches and captain’s windows built onto balconies surrounded by Victorian gingerbread woodwork railings.
The history of Key West’s opulent architecture goes back to the fascinating shipwrecking industry of the 1840s. The entire commerce of Key West, as well as its very survival, depended on the ingenuity of a few entrepreneurs who gambled on being able to merchandise the treasures brought up by the sea.
At that time, the Florida Straits had a well-deserved reputation for being one of the stormiest waterways to traverse, and even the best-navigated, sturdiest cargo ships of the era often didn’t survive the journey. When a ship foundered during one of those notorious storms off the Keys, the cry “Wreck Ashore!” would be raised along the shores of Key West.
Lending A Helping Hand In Need
Professional wreckers would immediately stop whatever they were doing, leap into their boats and head out to sea, rescuing the sailors of the doomed cargo ship. These wreckers were contracted by the leading shipwreck entrepreneurs of the island; whichever team of wreckers got to the ship first also got the right to claim the cargo as their own.
Because of this legal system of finders-keepers, great wealth was generated on the island. Key West entrepreneurs such as Asa Tift established themselves as some of the richest men in America and built great mansions that still grace Key West today.
One of these mansions is the famed Hemingway House, so-called because the writer Ernest Hemingway owned the house and took up residence there throughout the 1930s. Key West locals, however, joke that the Hemingway House should actually be called the Asa Tift House, because it was indeed Asa Tift who first built the house for his family during the 1840s.
While the Hemingway House is now a museum, there are a great many other such houses located in Key West Old Town, an area with architecture dating back to those notorious shipwrecking days of mid-nineteenth century America.
These homes are located in the most beautiful part of the island, in areas lavished with coconut palm trees and shady mangroves. As for traffic, noise and all the annoyances outside that constitute the routine of daily life, you won’t be able to hear a thing, except perhaps for the occasional crowing of one of Key West’s wild roosters outside.
Many of these historic houses are just a few steps away from the ocean, so don’t be surprised when you’re having brunch on a shady, old-fashioned porch and a sea gull flies up and asks to share your meal. Likewise, your breakfast companion may be a Key West chicken and her baby chicks, all looking for a friendly hand-out.
For visitors to Key West, these houses often end up being part of their entire vacation experience, because a large number of these historic homes have now been turned into bed and breakfasts and inns. It’s a long-standing tradition that, if you own a Key West historic home, the best thing you can do is open it up as a guesthouse so that visitors to the island can share your home and partake of your hospitality.
Ever since the 1930s, when Key West first became a tourist destination, local residents began restoring Key West’s historic homes, turning them into bed and breakfast inns. Today, many of the historic landmarks of the island have been converted into full-time visitor guesthouses, so wherever you stay, you might very well be sleeping in the very master bedroom of one of the original founders of Key West from centuries ago.
Nature Is At its Finest In Key West
The first thing you’ll notice when you come to Key West is the beautiful atmosphere created by the flora and fauna which surround every inch of the island. No matter where you turn, you’ll see not only palm trees, but beautiful hibiscus and jasmine, with imposing magnolia and kapok trees lining the sidewalks. Flowers bloom every day of the year thanks to Key West’s sub-tropical climate, and visitors can experience the tranquility of having their own private tropical garden by staying in a Key West guesthouse. That’s because these local inns are famed for their exotic private gardens, where guests can spend the day enjoying the ocean breeze from a porch swing or hammock, swaying gently underneath the palm trees a million miles away from the workaday world.
Key West’s inns are also famous for amenities such as private swimming pools and whirlpools and even spa treatments. In addition, many of Key West’s guesthouses feature concierge services, and some can even offer you discount rates on some of the many local excursion packages. These can include day trips on a chartered boat in some of the best fishing waters in North America, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also rent equipment and go jet skiing or kitesurfing, and you can end your perfect day by enjoying the famed Key West sunset from the deck of a historic schooner during a romantic sunset cruise.
When you book your reservations in a Key West bed and breakfast, you can choose any time of year and any length of stay, because Key West’s guesthouses are open all year round. Best of all, you’ll get personalized treatment from the staff, as well as a choice of picturesque, individually-decorated designer rooms with coffeemakers, picturesque ceiling fans and all the comforts of a luxury hotel at a fraction of the price.
Staying in one of Key West’s local bed and breakfasts is the best way to truly experience the true tropical life of the island. For more information on how to find your perfect Key West inn, visit Select Registry today.