Travelers today are looking for authentic experiences that foster a sense of community. They long to be citizens of the world, feeling at home even if they’re thousands of miles away.
“Travel is an opportunity to educate and enrich yourself with the culture and character of another city," says former Sydell Group and Starwood executive Rami Zeidan. "Exposure to new places, cultures, cuisines, and interacting with new people helps us find our place and belonging in the universe.” This belief led him to co-found Life House, a new brand of locally-rooted lifestyle hotels that integrates design and technology into the hotel experience, creating a warm and immersive space at an affordable price.
“Each property has a distinct sense of its surroundings, with restaurants, bars, and cafés that cater to locals and guests equally, enabling the neighborhood and our visitors to feel like they have a home in each Life House property,” Zeidan says of the project.
Life House's first stop? Little Havana, Miami. Though less traveled than South Beach, the culturally rich and well-located neighborhood is actually the heart of Miami’s growing young creative community, bustling with cool bars, restaurants, and cafés that offer a window into Hispanic culture.
“When we found an existing, underutilized hotel in the heart of the neighborhood, we knew it was the perfect start for Life House,” says Zeidan. A few blocks from the neighborhood’s busy main street, Calle Ocho, the property (which soft-launched in December) sits in a restored, 1920s-inspired building with 33 rooms, a living room-style lobby, a library, and a courtyard garden. The space instantly transports guests to 1950s Cuba with its vintage furniture from Hans Wegner and its collaboration with local artists.
“Our Little Havana property is decorated to evoke an expeditionist tropical mansion– culturally curated with art, furniture, and finishings collected on travels throughout Latin America,” Zeidan says. The food is also an ode to its South American roots, with Venezuelan-born chef Leo Pablo offering upscale takes on Latin American street food. The hotel's veggie-forward restaurant, Parcela, will open in February, and its rooftop terrace and pool will open in April.
Aside from its focus on local immersion, Life House’s social aspect is unique and highly relevant in today's travel culture. When asked about the hotel’s ethos, Zeidan says their mission is simple: “It offers culturally enriching, immersive, and inexpensive travel experiences by using tech to streamline the hotel booking process and allowing guests more time spent exploring the surrounding community, and with each other [if they so choose].”
As traveling can be lonely, Life House added a social network that you can join throughout the duration of your stay. Their mobile app serves as your room key and personal concierge, as well as a social network where you can meet other creative, like-minded guests before you check-in. Guests will eventually be able to connect with locals, too, for an even deeper immersion and sense of community.
By December 2019, Life House will have over 20 hotels under construction in the United States, with the next opening slated for Miami’s South Beach this spring.
See select renderings of Life House Little Havana below.