Sense Beach House Shows Off New Look

written by | Posted on January 29th, 2013

With the constantly changing hotel landscape in South Beach, what makes a new hotel stand out from the rest? For the newly renovated Sense Beach House, it’s the home-away-from-home ambiance and friendly service.

We paid a visit to the hotel to get a first-hand look at what it has to offer. Tucked into the SoFi (South of Fifth) neighborhood, the 18-room boutique hotel is one block from the beach and feels like a quiet refuge from the rest of South Beach, while still being close enough to the restaurants, shops and nightlife that make this area such a hot destination. When New York developer Ciro Campagnoli bought The Sense Hotel last April, it started merely as a real estate investment and he wasn’t planning on getting involved. But he began working closely with general manager Patricia Trias on a vision they had for the new design—Hampton chic. They brought in an interior designer, and friend of Campagnoli, from Italy to help transform the hotel that had a typical South Beach design—with its sleek furnishings and club-like atmosphere—to a beach house, as the new name implies.

“The design aspect is a home-chic feeling,” Trias says. “We wanted to make everyone feel like they were coming to a hotel with all the amenities of a hotel, but have a home feel. It’s laid-back, there are no hidden fees about anything. We’re just basically trying to make you feel like you’re home.”

And from the moment I walked in the door, I got this impression, from the friendly staff and abundance of seating throughout. The playroom outside the entrance of the hotel features a covered area with foosball and ping pong tables, as well as pool towels and beach chairs for guests to take down to the beach. Walking inside, the parlor has a small desk in the reception area, with receptionists who remember guests by first name, and are ready to offer suggestions to help guests experience the Miami they want to see—whether it’s chic restaurants or low-key bars.

“I believe that the personal touches and service the staff provides is what makes us stand out,” Trias says. “It’s a home away from home! And that is our main mission.”

A “library” wall, with books on home decor, fashion and recipes chosen by Trias, separates the reception area from the new restaurant, the dining room-style The Local House. The restaurant was not part of the original plan, but Trias had a vision and brought Campagnoli on board.

“The restaurant vision is to provide amazing food in a cozy, sophisticated yet laid-back setting,” Trias says. “We have  surpassed all of our plans and expectations with amazing reviews and clients telling us they feel right at home and love the food.”

They spent a lot of time taste testing at other restaurants around Miami, discovering what they liked and what they could add to the local restaurant scene. The Local House, which opened in December, offers a great mix of brunch and dinner options with inventive twists on American dishes. I tried the double cut hanger steak ($13) that had queso frito and grilled romaine lettuce, a different version of a Caesar salad. I was worried the dish may be too heavy for lunch, but Trias, who has had the dish several times, assured me it wouldn’t be. It was a large portion for me, but never felt heavy. The tender steak was paired perfectly with the grilled romaine and cheese.

Double cut hanger steak at The Local House.

The attention to detail continues in the guestrooms, designed with neutral colors, either in sand or blue, and featuring memory foam mattresses, complimentary WiFi (which is available throughout the entire hotel and on the patios), Molton Brown products in the bathroom, and a fully stocked minibar. Guests can choose the oceanview king or dbl with balcony, or the cityview king. Guests can also head to the rooftop, which features a small pool with plenty of seating. The best part? You can order food and drinks up to this cozy hideaway.

Weekday rates start at $329. For more information, visit sensebeachhouse.com.