I booked one night at the former Versace Mansion-turned-hotel in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood.
I stayed in the Villa Casa Casuarina’s Aurora Suite for $864, the cheapest option when I booked.
My posh suite and a gilded pool made me feel like I was one of the celebrities known to stay here.
I thought it was the best hotel experience of my life.
I recently had the best hotel experience of my life in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, and I thought feeling like one of the hotel’s pampered celebrity guests was worth every penny.
For full disclosure, Insider paid for The Villa Casa Casuarina hotel accommodations, according to our reporting standards.
Source: The Villa Casa Casuarina
For $864, I booked a room in October at The Villa Casa Casuarina, a luxury boutique hotel known as the Versace Mansion.
I stayed in the Aurora Suite on the third floor, one of just 10 suites in the entire hotel you can book and one of the most affordable, with rates starting at $750, according to the hotel website.
One of the most expensive suites was once the designer’s bedroom. Gianni’s Master Suite starts at $1,500 a night and is billed as “the most coveted room in South Florida,” and is frequented by celebrity clientele.
Source: The Villa Casa Casuarina
The hotel has a rich history as host to the elite: the Spanish-style home, named Casa Casuarina when it was built in the 1930s, was a hotspot for the original owner’s bohemian friends, according to the hotel’s website.
Fashion designer Gianni Versace transformed the mansion in 1992, creating 12 lavish suites to accommodate his family and friends, which included Princess Diana and Elton John, Vanity Fair reports.
Source: Vanity Fair
Several years after Versace’s death, the mansion was transformed into a luxury hotel, and The Villa Casa Casuarina hotel now caters to celebrities like the Kardashians, according to People magazine.
I’m not typically one for fancy things, but my stay at the Versace Mansion brought out a posh side of me I didn’t know existed.
I entered the hotel with a duffel bag and backpack five hours ahead of check-in. I thought I’d feel intimidated in a hotel frequented by A-listers, but the staff made me feel welcome immediately.
I was hoping to drop off my bags, but my room was ready, and I checked in early. Someone took my bags upstairs and other staff greeted me on the way. They were so attentive, I felt like I was the only person staying there.
Rather than a key card, I was given a golden key with a tiny replica of the hotel’s mission bell attached to a keychain. I had to show my key upon reentering the hotel to indicate I was a guest.
The first thing you see when you walk past the front desk is the vast lobby and restaurant on the ground floor. The lobby was mostly empty when I walked in.
I noticed that restaurant guests weren’t able to explore the whole mansion – only the first floor. I didn’t see anyone else aside from staff on the higher floors.
As soon as I walked inside, I was in awe of the size and decor of my room. After staying in cramped spaces for four nights prior, I was so grateful to have all this space to myself, that I started jumping around in excitement, using my socks to gracefully slide across the wood floors.
A four-poster king-size bed topped with swans was the centerpiece. The bed was soft, but firm – the perfect combination, in my opinion. I knew I would get a good night’s sleep the moment I sat on it.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a king bed to myself before this experience. When fully stretched out, I felt like it went on forever as I drifted off to sleep later that night.
There were several lavish, golden throw pillows matching the room on the bed, which I tossed on the floor at bedtime …
… because behind them were the most comfortable pillows I’ve ever laid my head on. I could have done without the throw pillows altogether.
Their cases felt crisp and cool on my face. I still think about them when I get in my own bed each night.
I was surprised to find that there were no lights on the ceiling like most hotels.
Instead, the main source of lighting came from lamps on the nightstands …
… and from the natural light pouring through stained glass windows.
The Aurora Suite had window seating with a view overlooking the pool and a glass table in front of it. It was a great spot to do work or order room service.
To the right of the sitting area was a closet with two thick, cozy robes, and a door leading to the bathroom. The weight of the robe made me feel like I was being cuddled as I walked around my suite.
The shower was my favorite part of the whole suite. With decorative tiling, shower heads on either side, and an additional handheld shower head, I think this was the best shower I’ve ever stepped into.
I couldn’t get enough of it. In less than 24 hours, I took three showers, and I still think of it while I’m waiting for the water to heat up in my New York apartment. There were also luxury Italian soaps and lotions that left my skin feeling clean and soft.
Looking up at the ceiling, it was wild to think this was once a home for one person. Living amongst so much detailed artwork inspired me to consider making my own. I wonder if that’s how Versace felt.
Back in the main room, I found a mounted TV and coffee machine in front of the bed. At home, I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. Watching shows until I fall asleep is a luxury I only allow myself on vacation.
On the other side was a large mirror tall enough to see your whole outfit including your shoes. It seemed fitting for a former fashion designer’s home.
Walking up and down the stairs of the hotel without running into a single person, I felt like I was in an art museum with exclusive access to stunning tile patterns and dazzling stained glass windows.
Around lunchtime, I headed downstairs and noticed Gianni’s, the hotel restaurant, was filling up with customers. Restaurant patrons had a view of the glistening hotel pool but couldn’t swim in it.
But I could. As I walked past all the tables, I was awestruck to find the most beautiful pool waiting for me, and it was completely empty.
Called the Thousand Mosaic Pool, it’s made up of thousands of 24k gold tiles, according to the hotel’s website.
At first, it felt strange stepping into a pool that looked like a piece of art, and in front of so many people dining. But I couldn’t miss out on the experience and felt like the fanciest person on earth doing so.
The pool was shaded and the water felt cool. As I dipped underwater, I thought that I could spend years swimming in this pool every day and still not notice every detail. It was mesmerizing.
After a dip (and my second shower), I headed up to the rooftop deck, which felt like my own private terrace.
Being on the roof reminded me just how close I was to the ocean. The beach was right across the street and I could smell the ocean and feel its breeze.
The rooftop also offered views of colorful South Beach. At night and with no one else around me, it felt like the whole mansion was just for me.
I didn’t just feel like a Kardashian up there – I felt like a Versace. To me, that regal feeling was priceless.
Above the deck, stairs led to an observatory. Versace reconstructed the observatory when he moved in, adding a new copper dome, according to the company’s website. It was magical.
The observatory was a calming, peaceful space that felt worlds apart from the famous South Beach party scene below.
I realized that, if I wanted to get away from the hubbub below, the observatory was the best place to do it. I could clearly hear the ongoing nightlife in my suite until 1 a.m., but I didn’t mind. It’s just part of the Miami experience, I thought.
The Villa Casa Casuarina didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment about the noise level.
That night I slept like a baby and woke up to a complimentary breakfast of bacon, buttery pastries, and orange juice.
Though I ate my breakfast in a T-shirt and basketball shorts, I still felt glamorous and was grateful that I got the chance to stay somewhere so special. It turns out that perhaps I am one for fancy things.
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