Duval Street in Key West is a busy place. It’s where the action is and where everyone wants to be. But when it comes to spending the night in Key West, Duval Street isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Drunken late-night crowds can get pretty rowdy. Very rowdy depending on the time of year or just the luck of the draw. While Duval Street and “restful stay” don’t always go together, there is one quaint inn on the city’s main drag that provides just that.
Located on the less busy southern end of Duval Street is the Speakeasy Inn and Rum Bar. This two-story romantic retreat was purchased by infamous Prohibition era rum-runner Raul Vasquez in 1920. During one of his trips to Havana, Vasquez purchased an intricately carved balustrade for the home’s balcony. The gingerbread pattern he brought back had interesting details like wine and liquor bottles for the cutouts as well as hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs.
It was a creative way for Vazquez to thumb his nose at the restrictive laws of the day and promote his backyard speakeasy to passersby. Today, the balustrade still exists on the second-floor balcony of the inn.
The home was purchased a few years ago and beautifully restored to include spacious suites with pine flooring, small kitchen areas and private baths. The decor is tropical and comfortable. Some of the suites have porches that provide views of Duval Street below.
The first floor of the building houses the Rum Bar, a favorite of both visitors and locals. Open from 11am til whenever the bartender decides to shut it down, the place can get crowded and noisy, but it doesn’t ever seem to interfere with those sleeping in the rooms upstairs. All guests staying at the Speakeasy are given a voucher for a free sample of the famous Pusser’s Painkiller, which may make the sleeping a little easier for some.
On the weekend I stayed at the Speakeasy, a limited continental breakfast of cereals, muffins, bagels, fruits, coffee and juices was offered. It was a treat to sit at the tables near the sidewalk and eat breakfast while taking in the ambience of locals walking their dogs and shopkeepers getting their businesses ready for the day.
Through its laid-back decor, on-site Rum Bar and location at the southern end of Duval, the Speakeasy Inn provides a true Key West experience without the stress of staying in the middle of town. Whether you’re a frequent traveler to the Southernmost City or planning your first trip, I would whole-heartedly recommend the Speakeasy. Especially if you want to be near the action, but not at ground zero.
The Speakeasy Inn and Rum Bar is located at 1117 Duval Street, Key West, Florida 33040.