Inside Soho Beach House
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The Sovereign Hotel recently buzzed with legions of sweaty but seriously precise craftsmen working away in hard hats. The hotel, an extraordinary Art Deco landmark built in 1941 just prior to Pearl Harbor, possessed a regal flair, with a soaring lobby, commanding view of the beach and drop-dead vintage tiles throughout. Still, for its latest incarnation—as the Soho Beach House—that clearly wasn’t enough.
So the structure has lovingly undergone a thorough bones-and-pipes gutting, before being cobbled back together with gorgeous fixtures, furnishings and a discreet plaque near the front door. This door you must first be invited, and then pay, to step through. A few thousand dollars, thank you very much. Pay? Club memberships are free in South Beach, right?
Back in the day, La Voile Rouge, at The Savoy Hotel on Fourth and Ocean, tried a members-only model based on its St-Tropez success, yet face-planted as an abject disaster. After his death, Gianni Versace’s former grand-palazzo playground Casa Casuarina, expertly designed by Versace and the late Wallace Tutt, tried members-only but it, too, failed.
The Club at Casa Tua, a ficus-guarded gem, has a members-only approach that’s working (and the building’s size is wellsuited to a small guest base), but sports only a handful of suites, a tiny, intimate lounge and a gorgeous restaurant not for the faint of wallet.
So why is Soho House different? Why does founder/owner Nick Jones believe it will succeed? “I like to eat, I like to drink and I like to nap. “We want to bring the glamour of the 1940s back to Miami Beach, but it’s glamour in flip-flops,” he says, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt in a dank, drab and very un-chic conference room at a nearby hotel, flanked by an army of eager, attractive publicists.
A Quick Tour of the Soho Beach House
Photographs by Gary James; CLAUDIA URIBE (COWSHED SPA)