El Paseo Hotel and Española Way

All images courtesy of Española Way and El Paseo

Thanks to a recent makeover, Miami Beach’s iconic street still stands as prominent and inspirational as ever.

By Eric Edelman

Miami Beach is a town synonymous with sand-soaked shores, epic nightlife, and home to some of South Florida’s flashiest residents. But it’s also home to one of the most historic streets in all of South Florida—Española Way. Originally built as an enclave for artists back in the 1920s, in many ways, Española Way could’ve been considered Greenwich Village South, a kind of facsimile of a slightly edgy, eccentric getaway for creatives. It was also inspired by the artistic center of Montmartre, an artist’s district in Paris. With this sui generis mix of Northeastern and Parisian flair, combined with the flavor of Miami, it made for a unique vibe. A tiny sanctuary where creatives could feel free to express and live out their art. 

Aside from the creative influence, the street also served as the town’s first commercial thoroughfare, with its original inspiration being cozy towns overlooking Iberian villages tucked alongside the Mediterranean, thanks largely to two of its earliest patriarchs, N.B.T. Roney and William Whitman.

These age-old beautifully constructed buildings present throughout Española Way, got a complete makeover in the summer of 2017—an ambitious renovation project to revitalize the ultra-chic, pedestrian-only street. Rather than paving over the classically-crafted streetscape, the project set to improve what was already in place. Or as one of the leaders of the project, Scott Robins, put it, “South Florida’s best street will be even better with these new enhancements, which further showcase Española Way’s great architecture, walkability and unique culture thanks to its local shopkeepers, artisans, cafes and restaurants.” The nearly $3 million project resulted in what can only be called a present-day renaissance of sorts, embodying the essence of its original spirit with a newfound panache that combines the best of both worlds. 

Chief among the Española Way’s iconic structures, the El Paseo Hotel, known by many as simply, El Paseo, is an impressive and breathtaking set of seven (two and three-story villa-style) buildings that look like a portion of the Spanish coastline was etched on this portion of South Florida. The elements—particularly the architectural motifs—are reminiscent of something far more exotic and international, but El Paseo has also been world-renowned for some of its more famous (and infamous) guests, past and present. From the likes of legendary artists Kenny Scharf, Miralda, and Craig Coleman, to the notorious crime figure Al Capone. Despite the classical exterior, don’t let it fool you. It’s a completely modern and upscale stay. El Paseo stands watch over this festive street that enjoys live music on the weekends, and offers a range of restaurants that serve from Mexican, Spanish, Cuban to Italian fare—you can’t help but yield to the festive spirit of this place. One visit to this iconic property, or one stroll down this celebrated street, and it’s not hard to see why visitors from around the world remain roused by Española Way and enamored with El Paseo. 

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