Nyah is a rather inconspicuous resort. From the front, this quaint property masks its splendor in the guise of a small white cottage. Once you’ve entered the premises however, the vastness of the property will amaze you. Behind the home sits three connected buildings, all approximately three stories high. There are two main pools, a large Jacuzzi, amply landscaped greenery and beautifully decked patios throughout the property. The front desk and foyer are very homey, decorated with clean lines and a frail attempt at Art Deco furnishings. You’ll immediately get the theme of minimalism that is carried throughout the hotel.
As we entered our room we were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable such a small space could be. The room is designed with murphy-like bunk beds that can be pulled out to accommodate up to 5 persons comfortably. The skylight brings in more the perfect amount of natural lighting and the bathroom was clean and modestly updated. The Nyah staff render hospitality that’s casual and warm. Guests could easily feel as if they were staying with friends.
Every evening from 4-6 pm, the staff hosts a wine and cheese happy hour. The cheese selection is vast, complemented with an equal array of nuts and unlimited glasses of Pinot noir or Chardonnay. At $143 a night (for up to 5 persons), this budget stay is well worth the visit. You’ll be within steps of the bustling Duvall street but just far enough to retreat from it all.
With only one full day at our disposal, we had to make the best of our two night staycation. We headed out around 9 am and arrived in the lower Keys shortly after noon. Upon arrival to Nyah, we requested an early check in and were accommodated. We settled in, unpacked our bags and headed to the garage to park our cars. Just steps away from the garage is the Schooner is the Flagler station and bay side docks. This bay side area is filled with small street shops and droves of restaurants. We ate at the Conch Republic.
Having been there once before, it was a safe choice. The food was very good all around but the drinks left something to be desired. The wait staff is exceedingly attentive and appeared rather knowledgeable about the menu. We had the calaloo and artichoke dip to start. The three cheese blend of the dish proved to be a bit too tart but tasty none the less. For entrees we had The Key West Mahi Mahi (swapping the rice for mashed potatoes), the island half chicken, and the house salad with shrimp.
Appetizer: Conch Fritters $9
Entrée: Island Half Chicken $22
Later that evening we roamed the local area. We walked from Nyah to the neighboring Duvall Street and stopped in at the original Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. The food here has never been stellar but the drinks remain potent and the setting continuously bustling with fleeting visitors boisterously dancing to the evenings live band. As previously mentioned, the food it pretty okay but one dish that truly stands out is the Cajun spiced peel and eat shrimp.
Appetizer: Peel and eat shrimp $12
Our second day would be packed with site seeing. Key West is pretty small so site seeing is no exhaustive feat. We opted to get Conch Train tickets. Tip #1 It’s just about $2 cheaper per person, if you order the tickets online. The famous Key West Conch Train takes you to just about every important land mark, offering an informative tour of the Island’s historical underpinnings. It’s more or less the hop-on hop off of the Florida Keys. We used the train as our own personal taxi, taking advantage of the convenient Flagler stop located just one block away from our hotel.
Right at the corner of Flagler and Caroline street is the famous Harpoon Harry’s. Here, you’ll enjoy a tasty American breakfast. It’s your basic steak and eggs kind of joint but the food is very well prepared. The hospitality of the wait staff does leave something to be desired but nothing to hinder your dining experience.
After breakfast we boarded our conch train and made our way to the key’s famous spots. We stopped by Mallory Square and made our way through the stalls of local proprietors. A few steps away is the Key West Museum of Art. Just outside, you’ll find a large metal sculpture of a couple embraced in dance. Funnily, on the opposite side of the museum is another metal sculpture of five naked women dancing around a young gentleman. The juxtaposition was not at all lost on us. The remainder of the tour took us to the Southernmost point, the Ernest Hemingway Museum and the neighboring Key West Lighthouse. Later, at the recommendation of the Nyah hostess I stopped by the Eaton Street Seafood market for what she described as the best conch salad. It wasn’t very good at all.
We closed our evening with dinner at Kelly’s. During our Conch Train Tour we passes the restaurant and were immediately taken by the ambiance. It’s a beautiful, mostly outside, eatery thatched by the leaves of its engulfing greenery. There are tea lights all around and the structure, making for a very intimate locale. The only downside is that the setting also makes for a cozy home to birds and the occasional fly. The food here is very well prepared. The Caribbean influences are permeated through the musical serenading of a live band and unique flavors to the tune of tamarind marinade and a somewhat failed attempt at Jerk seasonings. The seafood however is perhaps Kelly’s signature main.
Entrée: Seafood Sautee Pasta $22.95
My trip to the Keys had me on a subliminal quest to find the best Key Lime Pie. I enjoyed the desert so thoroughly at Captain Jim’s in Miami Beach that I was sure it would be an easy feat to find great tasting Key Lime Pie in Key West. This was not so. I went to several award-winning Key Lime pastry shops and only one fit the bill. The famous Kermit’s served up the worst slice I had throughout my trip. It tasted heavily of condensed milk. I was actually unable to finish it. Blue Heaven is also famous costed for their Key lime Pie. Having earned several awards we presumed this would be the one. We bought an entire pie only to find it was just a tad less disappointing than Kermit’s. Key Lime Pie Co however, was simply to die for. The pies are light with a choice of tartness. They have quite a menu including chocolate covered pie pops, fudge and uniquely favored icecream. Key Lime Pie Co serves up the best Key Lime Pie in Key West by far!
On our last day we continued to make use of our conch train tickets and headed to Mallory Square. We walked around the square for a bit. Visited the outside memorial and had our last meal at the roof top Cafe. It was quiet when we arrived for an early lunch. The Cafe is nicely decorated with an outdoor meets the indoor feel. At the recommendation of the waitress we ordered the restaurants award-winning Crab Cake appetizer. It was delicious, and warranted us ordering it twice more during our meals. The food here is excellent, with rich sultry flavors and equally paired drinks. By far of all the meals ordered the pulled pork sandwich was to die for. The home-made marinade and barbecue sauce is sure to make your mouth quiver. The pork is tender, juicy and cooked to perfection. Of all the places we ate during our stay, the Roof Top Cafe receives top honors.
Recommended Lunch Course
Appetizer: Island Shrimp and Crab Cake $16
Entrée: Roast Pork Panini $12
To Drink: Mango Rum Mojito $9
Key West is a great Miami Staycation spot. It can be on the more expensive side but with some careful planning you can enjoy great meals, good company and a well-rounded two-day tour for just about 300 dollars.
Stay $71 (143 for 2 nites split among 4 people)
Food $180 (average $60 a day. You can certainly spend far less than that)
Conch Train $38
Gas $20 ( $80 total, to and from Fort Lauderdale)