Freehand Miami - For Today's Traveler

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Courtyard at the Freehand

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Pool at Freehand Miami

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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

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A Hostel for Today's Traveler

A lush, tropical destination just steps from the beach; an award-winning bar serving some of the best craft cocktails around; and a delicious restaurant focusing on fresh, local ingredients. Probably doesn't sound like any hostel you've experienced, right? Budget travelers, millennials and locals will find all those things at Freehand Miami, an eclectic hostel/hotel tucked away on a side street in the trendy Mid-Beach neighborhood, just blocks from South Beach.

Housed inside a 1930's Art Deco-era building, which was previously the historic Indian Creek Hotel, Freehand offers shared and private accommodations, so guests can choose their desired type of stay depending on their comfort level and budget. There are 80 rooms with 214 beds, including bunk-style beds with sliding ladders; 47 rooms are hostel-style, which means they can be shared with people you know, or don't know; and 33 are private hotel rooms with private bathrooms. While the rooms are no-frills, they're affordable and clean -and let's face it, you're there for the prime location and chill atmosphere.

What's on the Inside

Interiors were designed by Roman + Williams (think Ace Hotel New York), and the hotel gives off a bohemian-vibe with global decor like colorful Afghan throws, Turkish tapestries and walls dotted with art created by locals. While the lobby is always a hub of activity, with travelers meeting, chattering and planning their days, the backyard/courtyard is the centerpiece of the Freehand. Surrounded by palm trees, vines and other tropical plants, you'll feel worlds away from the bustle of South Beach. Find a seat in one of the brightly colored chairs or a wooden bench to read or relax while listening to the trickle of a fountain; or grab a cocktail and settle into red Adirondack chairs that line a secluded, leafy path. At the pool, sun yourself, strike up a conversation with locals and travelers from all over the world -some on their laptops, others using their phones for video calls to show-off their warm-weather vacation -or engage in an impromptu game of beach ball in the water. The best part? You're likely to meet someone with an interesting travel story, or a local with great tips on what to do/see while in town. Visitors will want to check the property's big programming board in the lobby for a list of daily activities ranging from morning yoga to educational classes like crochet to tours that'll whisk you off to adventures in the Wynwood Arts District or the Everglades. Guests of Freehand also have access to bikes so they can leisurely explore the area.

Award-winning Food at 27 and Cocktails at Broken Shaker

While Freehand Miami is an experience for the free in spirit, and those who are often light in the wallet, it's also fitting for the foodies with a developed and adventurous palate. The super-star of the property is Broken Shaker, an award­ winning bar that started as a pop-up bar and morphed into a fixture of the Freehand brand (Freehand New York, Los Angeles and Chicago now have a Broken Shaker bar.) By sundown, the courtyard is humming with a mix of travelers and locals, sipping handcrafted cocktails and having conversation under the hand-strung garden lights. Shaker's mixologists conjure up inventive drinks made with elixirs, syrups, garnishes from the property's on-site garden, fresh-pressed produce and exotic ingredients. While cocktails change monthly, expect interesting concoctions like The Smillie, a refreshing and fresh tequila cocktail made with fresh ginger and turmeric; and locals-in-the-know ask for the Cocoa Puff Old Fashioned, made with bitters, sugar and whiskey washed with cocoa puffs.

Step into 27 Restaurant, which is open for dinner, happy hour and weekend brunch. The atmosphere is reminiscent of what your grandmother's house would look and feel like, with candlelit tables, mix-matched plates, and art and trinkets lining the walls. Those looking for a romantic night out can tuck into one of the many nooks at a candle-lit table. The menu rotates seasonally, and plates are served family-style and meant for sharing. Standouts include the crudo of the day, a fresh local fish that can be prepared as a melt-in-your-mouth ceviche; Malawach, a thin fried bread that's great for dipping with the other appetizers like the oyster mushrooms with Ethiopian tahini and Moroccan chimichurri; and don't miss the whole fresh catch of the day, fried or grilled, which can be ordered with accompaniments for a taco-style meal.

Special Offers Not to Miss

One of the most unique features of the Freehand is a variety of menus and price points, so budget travelers can take advantage of Happy Hour from Sunday through Thursday, while others can still indulge in fine wine. Those staying on the hostel side also have a guest kitchen with hot plates and refrigerators to store their food and beverages, along with a complimentary Continental breakfast each morning, which can be enjoyed in the courtyard or by the pool.

At Freehand Miami, you're free to have the best vacation, or night out, that fits your personal style.

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