THREE PALMS -- RECOMMENDED
Authors of Key West (725 White St.; 800-898-6909 or 305-294-7381; $80-$150) This charming and friendly guesthouse is pretty far from the scene and that's OK with the owners, who wish to cultivate a quiet, mature clientele. Authors has loyal followings both gay and straight, although it has become far more straight in recent years. There is a small but lovely pool area. Each room is named after an author associated with Key West. The Hemingway room even displays one of the legendary author's typewriters. Some rooms (and some very 1950s bathrooms) could use renovation, but this remains a solid, reasonably priced choice within easy bicycling distance from Duval.
• Location: North; rooms: 10; nude sunbathing: no; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 90% straight; meals: CB/WC
Coconut Grove (815 Fleming St.; 800-262-6055 or 305-296-5107, fax 350-296-9171; $99-$245) This resort offers comfortable, clean rooms and very friendly, engaging service. The gardens are beautifully maintained and there is a very nice pool, Jacuzzi and nude rooftop sunning area. Some of the staff has been here for up to 15 years, ensuring consistent service. The resort has cultivated a loyal following, in particular among Europeans. As one of the tallest buildings in the area, Coconut Grove provides great views from the rooftop decks. Bring your binoculars to get a peek at the several clothing-optional inns in the area. Attention workaholics: Rooms are not equipped with phones. The Oasis and Coral Tree Inn purchased the Coconut Grove guesthouse in July 2003, making it the largest male guesthouse on the island. Having been gutted by a fire, Coconut Grove reopened in late 2006 after a $1.5 million renovation that included all new furnishings. As the property was still a building site when we visited, we cannot say whether the resort will merit an upgrade to Four Palm status.
• Location: Convenient; rooms: 16; nude sunbathing: yes; sexual temperature: high; clientele: EG/100%M; meals: CB/C
Curry House (806 Fleming St.; 800-633-7439 or 305-294-6777; $109-239) Built in the 1880s, this Victorian mansion has been lovingly restored and features period touches such as lots of exposed Dade County pine and charming pitched-ceiling third-floor rooms. Comfortable, shady porches feature white wicker furniture (great for Fleming Street people-watching) and a very inviting hammock. Rooms are attractively furnished and meticulously clean. This charming nine-room house has a free-form, wood-decked pool, which at 7 feet is one of the deepest in Key West. The garden is not lush, but it's well landscaped. One of the best values in town. In April 2003, a straight couple from Minnesota purchased the Curry House and turned the resort into "all welcome."
• Location: Convenient; rooms: nine; nude sunbathing: no; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 90% straight; meals: FB/C
Cypress House (601 Caroline St.; 800-525-2488 or 305-294-6969, fax 305-296-1174; $145-400) Large rooms and a 40-foot lap pool are two of the inviting features of this prettily restored 19th-century Grand Conch mansion. The exposed-wood, two-floor facade is particularly lovely. The deck area around the pool is small and covered in shade at times during the day. For the most part, guests are young (30-50) and professional; kids aren't allowed. The Cypress House took over Anthony House/Ramon Navarro Guest Suites three doors up the street, adding ten Cypress House Studios. The four two-room suites and two bedrooms share all the amenities of the main house, as do the resident cats and dogs.
• Location: Gulf; rooms: 22 nude sunbathing: permitted; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 80% straight; meals: CB/C
Knowles House (1004 Eaton St.; 800-352-4414 or 305-296-8132, fax 305-296-2093; $99-$279) Knowles' owners make their guests feel at home with attentive service, scrumptious homemade breakfasts and beautifully decorated and meticulously clean rooms. The pool is tiny but cute and there is a Jacuzzi. The clientele is mostly straight and quiet. Note: This end of Eaton Street can be quite noisy.
• Location: North; rooms: eight; nude sunbathing: limited; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 70% straight; meals: ECB
Lighthouse Court (902 Whitehead St.; 877-294-9588 or 305-294-9588; $95-$569) Big changes in 2005 for this formerly cruisy all-gay property: Now it's open to everyone, the straight crowd is in the majority and clothing is required. However, Lighthouse Court was the site of the Welcome Party for Womenfest 2006 and is lesbian-popular year-round. All the bathrooms have been completely rebuilt, with new tiles, fixtures, glass-block showers and lots of mirrors, but rooms don't meet the same standards. Rooms are basic, clean and some (in particular, the suites) are quite large, but many resemble dorm-like cubicles. Furniture is minimal and strictly utilitarian. Suite porches feature white wicker furniture. There is a seasonal caf?, Jacuzzi and gym on premises. Unlike many Key West properties, children are allowed and families are actively welcomed.
• Location: Old Town; rooms: 43; nude sunbathing: no; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 80% straight; meals: none, but there is a caf?/bar
New Orleans House (724 Duval St. (upstairs from the Bourbon Street Pub); 888-293-9893 or 305-293-9800, fax 305-293-9870; $95-255) New Orleans House has experienced significant improvements since it was taken over by gay management, and more upgrades were planned for 2006 that we haven't seen yet. The guesthouse is located on the gayest block of Duval Street, so if you want to be in the thick of gay nightlife, this is a good option. In-house room service is available from the hotel's restaurant, Magnolia Cafe. The new bar has been completed. The Jacuzzi accommodates 15 men, the waterfall pool is heated, and the poolside bar offers tall frozen daiquiris and margaritas. The pool and garden bar are men only until 6 p.m. daily. Management targets gay upscale visitors.
• Location: Old Town; rooms: 10; nude sunbathing: clothing optional on second-level sundeck; sexual temperature: low; clientele: 100% men; meals: CB, two free drink coupons per day
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
Key West: Introduction
Key West: Where to Eat
Key West: Where to Play/Meet
Key West: What to See and Do