Photos: The Gardens Hotel


Formerly known as the Gardens Mansion, the historic Gardens Hotel’s main building dates back to the 1800s and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


We started our tour in the boutique hotel’s lobby, which used to be the main living area of the original Gardens Mansion building. It’s filled with local art – like this custom-painted coffee table by late Key West artist Jeff Beal – eclectic lamps, sculptures and other unique treasures.


To check in, head to the reception desk in the room next to the main lobby. Upon arrival, guests will enjoy a welcome glass of prosecco and are given excursion bags for the beach. There’s also a small retail shelf that serves as a gift shop featuring local merchandise and mementos.


Within the reception area, this satirical painted telephone for guest complaints is an example of the whimsical decor and quirky character of The Gardens Hotel.


The Gardens Hotel offers live music every night from 5 to 7 p.m. Guests can pour themselves a glass of wine from the D’vine Wine Gallery as they watch the performers behind the piano. The hotel also offers monthly jazz concerts on Sunday nights during high season that attract hundreds of locals.


The D’vine Wine Gallery is open to the public and offers a selection of 36 wines from around the globe. Self-service machines offer pours of varying sizes for an interactive tasting experience.


The main pool is surrounded by the hotel’s lush tropical gardens, a pool bar and a gazebo. It is heated year-round.


The poolside bar serves light food and drinks, including rum from local distilleries. There’s an original Peggy Mills Garden sign at the pool bar, which was once stolen and had to be reclaimed.


Each guest room is uniquely designed with Bahamian plantation-style furnishings, custom tropical duvets dressing the beds and hand-selected original art by local artists. The guest rooms also feature spacious marble bathrooms (most with Jacuzzi tubs) and have their own outdoor veranda, private deck or balcony.


Next, we got to see one of The Gardens Hotel’s five stand-alone cottages, which each have their own unique furnishings and features. Four share a private pool area, while the separate eyebrow cottage offers a secluded setting with a gated entrance, making it a romantic choice for honeymooners.


This rare one-ton earthenware jar, called a tinajon, came from Cuba. It was crafted in the mid-1800s and reportedly took up to seven years to complete. Former owner Peggy Mills was a family friend of Cuba’s then-President Batista and was able to transport four of these tinajones from Cuba to display in the garden, where they remain today as the only tinajones in the country.


Amongst the hotel’s art collection and all of the owner’s treasured finds from her travels abroad are two of these bronze sculptures from the Philippines, which took 10 people to move and install in the gardens.


Aside from a lush variety of plants, the botanical garden has animals hidden in various corners. You can spot a handful of African tortoises, a koi pond in what used to be a freshwater cistern and an aviary with parakeets and cockatiels.


In the Zen garden, hotel guests leave coins and dollars on this Buddha sculpture to make wishes and ask for good fortune.


Our last stop on the tour was the queen’s residence, which is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home featuring original artwork, custom drapery and luxurious interior design. It used to be the hotel owner’s private residence but is now available to guests as a monthly rental.

beautiful living area in the Keys on a sunny day


Thanks for coming on our tour of The Gardens Hotel.

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