Inside the lobby of the beachy chic 18-room Sense Beach House on 4th and Ocean, a pair of stand-up paddleboards are propped against a wall, free for guests to grab and lug across the street for an impromptu ocean paddle. The hotel’s color scheme is simple in sky blue and sand with rustic whitewashed wooden furniture, and decorated with tchotchkes that look like they could’ve been picked up at beach vacations from Martha’s Vineyard to the Bahamas. Think, model boats, coral, and painted wooden signs with phrases, like “The beach is where my heart is…”
The sense of place at Sense Beach House, however, is decidedly South Beach, or more to the point, South of Fifth.
“We want to push your experience to the beach,” says Ciro Campagnoli, the hands-on owner who categorizes his hotel as a micro-boutique. “You’re at the restaurant, but you’re on the beach. You’re in your room, but you’re on the beach. You’re on the rooftop, but you’re on the beach.”
With the first floor dedicated to the reception, an open-air playroom complete with foosball and ping-pong tables, and the popular restaurant The Local House, the three-story hotel has two floors dedicated to guest rooms, and a rooftop pool oasis.
Campagnoli’s concept is to create a hotel experience more akin to a familiar beachside vacation rental. “We’re giving you the colors, the seafood, the rooftop, the paddleboarding, the foosball, the concierge who’s not a concierge, but a friend who is there 24/7. We’re not a party hotel,” he says. “We’re promoting the beach lifestyle.”
Other perks to make you feel at home at Sense include complimentary WiFi and beach chairs, as well as a piano in natural grain wood in the lobby for anyone to sit down at and play a song or two.
In the hallways leading to the guest rooms, the walls are decorated with framed vintage photographs of Barbie, and the floors are delineated between nine rooms decorated with blue accents on one floor and nine rooms decorated with sand-colored accents on the other. The rooms offer small balconies, and are bright and modern.
The crowning jewel is perhaps the tranquil rooftop oasis with a small pool, plush couches, and lounge chairs for sunning, designed with the beach in mind.
Campagnoli and his Sense Beach House are offering a unique concept for discerning guests in what he considers the only true neighborhood in South Beach, his beloved South of Fifth. His invitation is to check into his beach house, which he runs like a family business, and become not a guest, but a friend of the family.