Built in 1957 across from the old Playboy Club, the Gold Dust Motel was at the center of what used to be considered the motel capital of Florida. In its heyday in the 1960s, it wasn't uncommon to spot the Rat Pack hanging around the area. A few decades later, the neon sheen of the neighborhood faded when it became Miami's red-light district, with the motels charging on a per-hour basis. Eventually, developers saw the area's potential, with spots like the Vagabond and the New Yorker undergoing extensive renovations and reopening as boutique hotels.
The latest, the Selina Miami Gold Dust, reopened last October and now finds itself adorned with vintage pieces, local artwork, and delightful bars. The 58-room hotel's façade maintains the Western theme, reflected in the original sign, which remains on display, while the renovated interior sticks to a midcentury aesthetic full of bright colors and playful patterns.
The Gold Dust was reopened by the Selina hotel group based out of Latin America, which offers lodging in culturally rich cities that are otherwise hard to afford. It has hotels in major cities like London, New York, Bogotá, and Mexico City, and in more backpacker-friendly destinations like Cusco, Peru; Granada, Nicaragua; and Porto, Portugal. Its MiMo outpost offers upscale hostel-style rooms at a low price with a communal kitchen and co-working areas.
developer Avra Jain, who focuses on the preservation of historic properties. (Jain is best known for having renovated the Vagabond Motel.)
Walking through the property, visitors are met with new discoveries at every corner. Walls painted in flowing lines of pinks and reds, a vintage TV set, stairs covered in playful quotes, a personalized love-lock bridge with the names of past travelers. The new Gold Dust wants to be more than just a hotel; it's hoping to be a welcoming hangout offering unique experiences throughout the week, from a monthly chess club to its new Thursday music nights.
Café Kush, the newest outpost of Matt Kushner's growing hospitality portfolio, occupies the space that housed Kris Wessel's restaurant — and an early pioneer to the area — the appropriately named Red Light. And over in the pool area, which often hosts events open to the public, Kush also runs the bar along with the room-service operations.
While still not on the level of tourist centers like South Beach and Wynwood, the Gold Dust is a perfect example of everything MiMo has to offer. It showcases a more intimate side of the city wrapped in neon lights and postwar architecture.
The hotel also offers Selina CoWork, complete with high-speed Wi-Fi, a quiet atmosphere, and an inspiring space. The Gold Dust's coworking space offers a beautiful view of Biscayne Boulevard with large windows allowing natural lighting to enter the room. There are thrifted pieces and artwork spread throughout it, a testament to Selina’s attention to detail. The space is available to anyone, not just hotel guests. Daily rates start at $18, and for $225, you can have access to CoWork for the month.
Selina also took over the operation of the former Miami River Inn (another property renovated by Jain), which opened in 2016 as part of the co-living spaces known as Roam, a place people could book for short- and long-term stays. It will also open another location in Little Havana.
Selina Miami Gold Dust. 7700 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-985-4764; selina.com.