All posts by Sam Sheppard

Vagabond Hotel: too many reasons to go back to the ‘50s


There is something so glamorous about 1950s America. Post-war, the world was becoming a glossier place – Marilyn Monroe was in her heyday and everybody loved Lucy. Much as we appreciate all the glories of 2015, the nostalgic appeal of 1950s style has an unmistakable romance, all of which has been epitomized in The Vagabond Hotel in Miami.

Vagabond Hotel Miami FL USA - Bedroom
Vagabond Hotel Miami FL USA – Bedroom

Originally built in 1953 as a motel, The Vagabond was the rumored hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Fast-forward 60 years and following a complete renovation it’s all sparkling new, which means that frankly, nothing has changed. That’s because here it is all about that original magic, or retro-luxe if you will. If you didn’t know any better you could have stepped back into that founding year… but now it has WiFi.

Such is the landmark appeal of The Vagabond Hotel that some features really haven’t changed at all. The sign outside heralding your arrival at the ‘Vagabond Motel’ is a monument in its own right and as such had to be kept in situ as part of the conditions of the renovation. It’s part of the charm and personality of the place that it’s not just a replica of a bygone era but a thriving part of the ‘50s. It’s living, breathing and playing your favourite song on the Jukebox. If a Corvette pulled up outside it would not be out of place, it would be perfect.

Vagabond Hotel - Pool
Vagabond Hotel – Pool

A throwback to its motel past, there are just 45 rooms while the focus is on fresh colours, a sense of space, and art everywhere – not least of all because some dude has doodled all over the walls with intricately stenciled geometric patterns. It’s kitsch but seriously cool – a phrase that comes to mind when you head to the restaurant, which is still referred to as a ‘diner’. It’s just that these days it serves a Miami-modern blend of Latin-Asian-American food rather than your bog standard burger and fries.

Vagabond Hotel - Bedroom
Vagabond Hotel – Bedroom

You will be pleased to hear that even if dear old Frank isn’t gracing the bar with his presence, it remains one of THE places to go in Miami proving that it hasn’t lost any of its magnetism. In fact today it’s attracting more than clientele, the area as a whole is the go-to hotspot for boutiques and independent restaurants that are popping up at a rate of knots.

The cherry on top of the ice cream milkshake however is the Vagabond Hotel’s pool and bar. This is where you want to throw on your high-waisted bikini and lay back with a Vagabond Collins (their signature cocktail). This is what glamour really feels like. This my friends, is where it doesn’t matter what your story is, it’s worthy of the silver screen and Sammy Davis, Jr. is providing the soundtrack.

What makes a romantic getaway?

 boutique hotel bedroom

Ask any couple what they think makes the ultimate romantic getaway and you will probably get slightly different answers from each partner.  Speaking to a friend recently she said her husband’s idea of the perfect break was sun, sea, sand and surfing, while hers was sun, sea, sand and no surfing.  We will leave it to you to figure out what happened on the honeymoon.

There are a few silver screen standards that go without saying when it comes to romance, candlelit dinners and beautiful views for example.  On the flip side, while it’s highly entertaining, the upcoming release of the 50 Shades of Grey film on Valentine’s Day probably isn’t high on the serious priority list for most.

Nonetheless, at Bespoke we have our own ideas about what is a truly romantic getaway in a hotel, many of them actually, but here’s a few to whet the appetite.

A waterside location

At The Lugger Hotel in Cornwall there are a lot of things that make it special – it is really a chocolate-box perfect kinda romantic getaway.  Y’know, service, sea and utterly timeless.

Bespoke Hotels - The Lugger
The Lugger Hotel Cornwall

It is a toss up as to whether the best part of The Lugger Hotel is the beautiful pared-down luxe design or the location overlooking the sea, cliffs and headland.  Perhaps it’s a combination of the two – either way, it’s perfect.

Historic atmosphere

A lot of the time what really makes a hotel stand out is something intangible – a combination of the history, the architecture and the service, all of which make up an enchanting atmosphere.  The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftsbury has atmosphere in spades.

Bespoke - The Grosvenor Arms Shaftesbury

Once a medieval posting inn, it now has the gravitas of a building with a past, but, having had a nice contemporary makeover.  There is a cosy pub vibe throughout and is situated so that you can explore Salisbury, Bath, and the Dorset coastline with ease.  It’s the ideal place to potter along for the weekend hand-in-hand.

A fairytale castle

What can we say?  Cinderella would have been proud of this one.  No matter how ball busting you happen Stonefield Castle on the shores of Loch Fyne is the sort of fairytale location that will make you go weak at the knees.

Bespoke - Stonefield Castle
Stonefield Castle

With a history dating back to 1837 it showcases Scottish baronial architecture at its finest and still has original touches such as wood paneling and marble fireplaces.  Visit when there’s snow on the ground or flowers sprouting along the water’s edge, it’s a magic romantic getaway.

 A private hot tub

If all else fails, a private hot tub is always a bit of a winner, and Bermondsey Square Hotel in London has a suite (Lucy) with its own hot tub overlooking the city.  The hotel is utterly contemporary with design inspired by the Beatles and all suites named with a nod to their most famous songs.

Bespoke - Bermondsey Square Hotel
Bermondsey Square Hotel

It is located for couples wanting to spend a little time exploring the sites, but then again, you can see the London Eye from the hot tub, so what you do with your time is up to you!