MENU
FIVE questions
you should
ask ...
CALL US
Speak to one of our travel
experts
within 5 rings
020·7962·9933

Which of these is important to you?

  • Concierge style service. Your own dedicated travel manager who'll look after you until you travel.
  • Better value. Exclusive fares you won't find online to save you money.
  • 24 hour helpline. A worldwide team just a phone call away if you need help while you're overseas.
  • Top on Trustpilot. More highly rated than all our competitors with 98% saying they'd book again.
  • Risk free. Fully licensed with Client Trust Account to protect your money. ABTA, ATOL protected.

Your calls always answered within 5 rings.

x
You've read the reviews so why not call us NOW?
Tell us what you need. We'll find you a solution
USA Reviews 16695
USA Fly-Drives 32
USA Offers 36
Florida Chic

Chic and cool in Key West

Sharon Maughan-Eve bypasses the Florida theme parks and heads south for some nostalgia and serenity

I've always longed to visit the Florida Keys because it sounds so romantic. I'm a huge fan of the 1948 movie Key Largo, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. And of course, the area has a strong connection with Ernest Hemingway - the author lived on Key West.


The lovingly restored African Queen


Fans still turn up in Key Largo every October for the annual Humphrey Bogart Film Festival. One highlight is a chance of a cruise on the fully restored African Queen, the original boat from John Huston's 1951 film of the same name starring Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

Hemingway fans aren't forgotten either. The annual Hemingway Lookalike competition takes place in July at Key West bar Sloppy Joe's. An entire bar full of Hemingway clones sounds slightly frightening but each to their own.

 

Annual Hemingway lookalike contest

 

My actor husband Trevor and I had long ago decided we wanted to visit the Keys, but never seemed to get around to it. However, a pleasure deferred is a pleasure intensified.

After our plane touched down in Miami, we rented a car and headed south. It may not look far on the map but from Miami to Key West is around 150 miles - a three-hour drive because the road isn't brilliant.

We were based at Sunset Key Cottages, reached from the Westin Key West Resort and Marina.

At the Westin we were ushered aboard a little ferry and whisked across to the amazing Sunset Key. It was a fabulous away-from-it-all place but had the advantage of the bustling delights of Key West on its doorstep.

 

Little White House

 

NOSTALGIA

We immediately fell in love with Key West and its coloured clapboard houses. For many young Americans, this is a vibrant party town.

Main Street at night is a delight because so much goes on: music pouring from crowded bars and the occasional Hemingway lookalike waiting for his big day!

During the day there are several interesting places to visit. I enjoyed the Little White House, the holiday home of US President Harry Truman, famous for his remark 'the buck stops here'.

It was on his watch that atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the responsibility must have been immense. Another unmissable place is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. The writer lived here for ten years during one of his most prolific writing periods. The main attraction here is its 50 six-toed cats.

Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain, and some of the cats who live in the museum grounds are descendants of that original feline, named Snow White.

There is also a good Tennessee Williams exhibition in Key West - the author had a home here for 34 years. It was in Key West that he is believed to have completed the final draft of A Streetcar Named Desire.

For most of the time, however, we were content to bask in serenity on our 27-acre island, which was a naval base before it was acquired by the Westin. It was a little piece of paradise.

 

Beautiful vista from Sunset Key Cottages

 

ISLAND PARADISE

One minute we were in Key West, with its tourist bustle and huge cruise ships - the big Disney liners a particular feature - but when we crossed back to our island, all the noise disappeared.

We had an idyllic white-sand beach and azure waters. It was the best five days we've ever had. Sublime. Watching the sun go down is a big event in Key West - everybody stops to watch. And when it got dark we loved looking up at the stars.

After our Key West stay we drove back to Miami. We were staying in Miami Beach, at the very southern end of the resort. We met some really cool people.

One of my great pleasures was swimming in the ocean - so warm and silky. I'm a Liverpudlian and Liverpudlians have a special love for the US - Liverpool used to the main port for travel to America. Our city is where all the Cunarders used to sail from.

If you're staying in Miami, I would recommend dining at the fantastic Seaspice on the Miami River.

They serve what is described as a 'globally inspired menu' featuring a raw bar and dishes ranging from wood-fired casseroles to Dover sole and branzino, a type of seabass. The views over the city and the river are also very special. 

A lot of people think that Florida means Disney World or the start of a cruise, but if you're prepared to search a little further you'll discover that there's much, much more.



First published in  March 2017

More articles below...

For more inspiration, read what travel writers have to say...

Bowled over by the Big Apple

England cricket captain Alastair Cook can't get enough of the bright lights

Tapping into Tampa

Max Davidson reports on its rich past and irresistible energy

Hidden New York

There are plenty of places to chill out, says Jane Knight

New York's finest!

Sarah Turner filters out the best in the Big Apple

Hollywood secrets

Forget Tinseltown’s tourist traps, says Steve Turner...

Gorgeous Georgia

Dave Balow revels in the romance of this southern state

Miami is in the pink

Jenny Coad finds the city is a masterpiece of glamour and creativity

Road tripping

Simon Lewis takes a drive through California's rock and roll past

Laid back LA

Olivia Foster experiences the fabulous contrasting lifestyles in California

Florida Keys

Ruth Styles learns about bloodthirsty pirate Black Caesar on a swashbuckling adventure

Back in the swing!

Siobhan Warwicker finds New Orleans in prime party mode

The true Dallas

...and that's more than steak and Southfork, says Richard Arnold

Virtuous in Vegas

Toni Jones explores the extremes of Sin City

Just my cup of tea!

Jane Knight discovers the delights of Boston's rich history

Southern sounds

Caroline Hendrie visits the iconic American sites that created legends and made pop history

New Orleans

Without all that jazz

Southern Belles!

Savannah and Charleston are both wonderful charmers, says Sue Crabtree

Miami's my vice

Dom Joly reveals why he can't resist Florida

Magical Music City

Mark Palmer hits the high notes in Nashville

Singing the blues in Chicago!

The Windy City is unbeatable for music, art and glitz, says Mark Porter

At home in Vegas

Khaleda Rahman checks into the Cosmopolitan

A golden oldie

Hipsters may have replaced hippies on Pier 39 but Tamara Hinson could still feel the love in San Francisco

The world's funkiest city

Music by the mile - New Orleans is a one-off says Giles Milton

Sunshine state of mind

Frank Barrett finds Florida is ideal for a beach holiday

Holiday on a different Planet!

The incredible land of Avatar

California dreaming

The sunsets and the gold rush history grab Alice Beer's attention - but for her twins, nothing beats star-spotting

Only in Vegas

Jen Crothers is dazzled by the world's entertainment capital

The other Orlando

Liz Kavanagh finds plenty of thrills - and no need to go near a rollercoaster

Batty for Cincinnati

Sean Thomas explores this historic, up-and-coming Midwest city

Not quite what you're looking for?
We can easily customise an offer to suit your exact requirements

x