Combining a '70s hippie vibe with thoughtful design, The Freehand is a hostel for sophisticated young travelers who care about style, atmosphere, and a good party. This welcoming property offers a range of rooms from an eight-person dorm to private bungalows. The bar scene is renowned, drawing locals along with visitors for DJ-spun tunes and artisanal cocktails. Look for other digs if a solid night's sleep is more important than socializing, as the revelry often continues into the wee hours.
Housed in the old Indian Creek Hotel, the 63-room Freehand's decor celebrates all things vintage, from the faded floral wallpaper in the bar to the jumble of midcentury tables and chairs in the campus rec hall-style lobby. Out back, guests hang in a shady cobblestone courtyard filled with more mismatched seating, strumming guitars and sipping cocktails from the tiny bar. There's ample room for sunbathing on striped loungers that surround the small but well-maintained pool.
The Freehand is on Indian Creek Drive just off Collins Avenue, about two blocks north of where Collins converges with A1A. The beach is a couple of blocks from the hotel, but guests will probably need a bike or taxi to reach the Lincoln Road Mall or South Beach, as both destinations are more than a mile away.
Rooms range from king suites with private baths to four-person bungalows to bunk rooms for up to eight people. Bunks are surprisingly comfortable, with hotel-grade mattresses, adjustable reading lights, and docking stations for personal electronics. Decor is tastefully basic, with built-in cubbies, oversized clothes hooks, and small, wall-mounted writing desks.
The Freehand provides a simple continental breakfast and inexpensive bar snacks. There is currently no on-site restaurant, although plans for one are underway. The hotel rents retro-style bikes for cruising around the neighborhood or heading to South Beach.