Lords Hotel Brings Gay Glam, Comfort, & Style to South Beach
The gay hotel concept has finally come to the United States. Appropriately, the first hotel out of the gate is located in the heart of Miami’s South Beach. Only a block away from the gay beach and the Palace, Lords Hotel has everything the most discriminating gay traveler could want: super-comfy furnishings; cool, pleasant lobby; ultra-friendly staff; three plunge pools; 24-hour room service; and, oh yes, hot men all over the place.
Lords has been a hit since its "soft" opening in late November. No doubt the super-reasonable prices have helped. This is a real anomaly in hotels these days: a chic, immaculate, perfectly-appointed boutique hotel whose rates match the budget chains.
Lording over Lords is the young, attractive owner-manager Brad Gorman. A product of the hotel industry himself, Gorman’s dad has an architecture and interior design firm that works with four- and five-star hotels. "Whenever I had a day off from school, I was locked in some hotel," he says.
A New Concept in South Beach
Gorman recalls coming to South Florida from the New York area, where he grew up, in his late teens. "It was one of the most liberating, dynamic, gay experiences of my life," he recalls.
That was back in the day when the area that would become internationally famous as "South Beach" was still funky, and the hotels affordable. Then SoBe became, in Gorman’s words, "sexy and commercial."
Today, many of the boutique hotels are, in fact, managed by one of the big conglomerates - with commensurate prices. Gorman hopes his reasonable rates, combined with spacious, comfy, inexpensive rooms will help lure gay tourists (and the people who love them) to his hotel.
Comfort & Hominess to SoBe
Gorman took over an older hotel, the Nash, but kept the Art Deco details, like the undulated hallways and lobby.
To warm it up, he installed a giant plastic statue of a polar bear in the lobby to greet new guests. "It’s to make you smile and laugh," he says.
He calls his decorating style "property Prozac" - and it works. The lobby invites meeting and greeting, or just hanging out to rubberneck all of the hot-hot-hot men passing through.
The decorating style extends to the 54 rooms. My room ranked as one of the most comfortable and warm-feeling I’ve ever stayed in. I normally don’t like yellow, but the canary-yellow motif is perfect SoBe: a hot-soft pastel that’s sexy while it soothes.
My favorite items were these:
• The cosmetics in the bathroom; it was all I could do not to raid the housekeeper’s tray for take-home items.
• The oversized Liz Taylor, in her ultra-fabulous "Cleopatra" period, photos in every room. Gorman is a huge fan. Then again, isn’t every gay man?
• The 500-page Keith Haring retrospective book on the coffee table. I bought one before I even left the hotel ($38 including shipping on Amazon!).
• The oversized mirrors flanking the bed and all around the room. Hey, you do the math.
The bedding, the pillows, the mattress, the sheets were just about the best I’ve ever experienced. It was very hard to get out of that oversized bed in the morning!
On the other hand, the terraces flanking my room beckoned me to take in the Miami sun. There’s also a sundeck on the roof - or you can sit by the plunge pools.
For those of us who have stayed at those "name" hotels in South Beach (you know, the ones where you have to wear a shirt to walk through the lobby?), this is a welcome change indeed.
Into the Plunge Pool
Somehow, I managed it to get out of the room. And a good thing, because the three plunge pools awaited. There is a way-cool pool bar, the Cha Cha Cabana, to hydrate sun worshippers and water-dippers. And it’s open until 2 a.m.!
There is also the Cha Cha Rooster Bar, a long beautifully underlit space full of specialty cocktails. The Cha Cha Rooster is a restaurant located beside the pool area and just beyond the spacious bar.
I opted to eat, however, on the porch overlooking Collins Avenue, where the people-watching is unsurpassed.
The ’Gay Hotel’ Concept
A "gay hotel" isn’t about gay men segregating themselves into their own little protective cocoon. Rather "It’s about people being comfortable in their own skin," notes Gorman, who playfully uses the term "appropriately oriented" to describe his ideal clientele.
This means that the hotel is by no means restricted to gay men; just that it’s, well, a gay hotel. The weekend when I stayed, I saw, in fact, at least one lesbian couple and two straight couples. They all appeared relaxed and seemed to be having a ball.
Consider it more "self-selection." Any straight person who decides to stay at Lords is going to want the kind of experience that we gay men have become known for. Can you blame the smart, savvy ones for finding us out?
Europeans have already discovered the hotel, with the Latin Americans who make up such a large part of the Miami scene not far behind.
What’s In a Name?
The way the name Lords came to Gorman was "in one of those shower moments." If doesn’t sound overtly, well, gay, that’s OK. "Gay is evolving and I think it doesn’t need to be so obvious," Gorman notes.
One of the most distinguishing features of Lords is the designation of several of the rooms as "Rooms that Matter." Ten percent of the revenue from these rooms are given back to charities that benefit our community.
In order to ensure that the hotel fully understands its core clientele, there is an advisory board that has helped Gorman plan the hotel’s amenities: New York super-promoter Josh Wood; debonair Out Magazine Editor-in-Chief Aaron Hicklin; Robert Pritchard, the ex-president of entertainment mogul Merv Griffin’s company; and Mark Owens, who heads a major hotel-acquisitions company.
Despite the already-apparent success of Lords, Gorman isn’t resting on his laurels. He plans to take the concept to Manhattan and West Hollywood within the next few years.
So expect giant-sized Liz-Taylor-as-Cleopatra (I fully expect this, along with the giant bear, to be the burgeoning chain’s signature) to be spreading across the landscape as Lords expands its realm. Meanwhile check into the House of Lords in Miami Beach for the full SoBe experience in a welcoming, gay-friendly atmosphere.
For more information or to reserve a room, go to the hotel’s website.