photos by Barry Fizgerald & Michael H. Irwin
Welcome to the end (and the beginning) of the road. There aren’t many places in the world where you can say you’re both beginning and ending your journey at the same time. But when you rent this Heavenly Hideout at Rainbow’s End, you’re spot on, and you can do exactly that.
This tropically tantalizing penthouse is literally the first and last vacation rental on U.S. Highway 1, where the route gently peters-out to become charming, historic Whitehead Street in Key West. In case you didn’t know, Highway 1 on the East Coast of the U.S.A. stretches over 2000 miles from the top of Maine near the Canadian border to the Southernmost Island City in the continental United States, and since Key West, Florida is at the ‘bottom of the map’ the signage reads ‘END.’
Popular Key West mythology maintains, “The end of the road promises new beginnings,” for all who capture the spirit of the rainbow’s end. It’s true that visitors from all over the world come for a photo opt of this charming scene which has become an island icon. Not just for snap-shots at the famous Mile 0 road markers, but also to admire the exotic grandfather Kapok tree standing proud in front of the steadfast 1890 red brick courthouse and the colorful vintage sign that reads “END OF THE RAINBOW – AND END OF THE ROUTE U.S. 1 KEY WEST FLORIDA – UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITIES – TROPICAL VACATIONLAND.” Whatever you believe or wherever you’re from, you can choose to stay by this famous rainbow’s end, comfortably hidden away in a stylish Penthouse suite and enjoy four-star hotel amenities.
When you rent this beautiful one-of-a-kind penthouse hideout you’ll be enveloped in original artistic flare done-up for leisure and luxury. This place is a statement of what I love about embracing the special possibilities of living an urban life-style on the tiny island of Key West. I like the feeling of being downtown in the midst of it all, yet quietly perched above the crowd with a birds-eye view. Nestled in the top of a welcoming historic house with all the comforts of a modern 4-Star hotel suite, this hidden retreat is discretely situated in one of the most desirable and convenient locations. Plus, it has an unbeatable look-down view of one of the most fashionable urban corners on the island. A view of the gorgeous old brick courthouse and famous Mile 0 scene is out the front, an expansive deck and tropical garden overlooks the back, complete with a banana grove and crimson Royal Poinciana Tree.
Interior Design: The property was a new acquisition in September 2012, for the owner who has been renovating and decorating historic houses in Key West and the Florida Keys for over 25 years. Sometime during the last decade, the floor plan was reconfigured to essential modern standards that included beautiful hardwood floors and plenty of sash windows in every room to let in the light. But what it had gained in potential it lacked in luster and individuality.
All that changed in November 2012, when an inspired decorating effort took it over-the-top. A creative collaboration began with local artists and builders, both inside and out. The distinctive interior focal points are two custom life-sized hand painted murals by folk artist David Wegman, and his brother Jim Wegman who are known for their Key West and Caribbean art. One piece encompasses a large wall in a living room/ kitchen area and features the Mile 0 monument with all its prominent characteristics; the other a fabulous fantasy garden mural is painted in a bedroom and gives a convincing illusion of sleeping in a magical tropical garden.
For the back-drop throughout the apartment, vibrant tropical colors like ‘sangria red’ and ‘Florida Keys blue’ were paired with soft historic Victorian tones of Georgian Green and Hawthorne Yellow. An eclectic arrangement of imported and antique furnishings and original art work were carefully grouped to create a special mood of laid-back luxury for each room. Set against the dark hard wood floors and sisal carpets, the effect is beautiful. The end result is a captivating artistic penthouse with an authenticity reflecting a contemporary Bohemian Key West lifestyle.
You’ll feel as if you’ve left home far behind the minute you walk up the steps to the front door of this completely redone early 1900’s wooden island house. Tropical landscaping and pretty Caribbean coral color siding with light blue front porch ceiling make certain you’re staying in a little bit of Key West history. The main entrance to the penthouse is from the front porch through the door that takes you immediately to the 2nd floor via a beautiful traditional wooden staircase. The landing at the top of the stairs leads to you to your colorful hidden haven.
A colorful hallway leads you to the main open concept kitchen / living room overlooking the back deck, where you’re treated to the life-size mural of the Mile 0 scene that will beg you to stop and have your picture next to the lamp post. Furnishings for the cozy room were selected for their retro 1960’s style, complete with apple green davenport and oval shaped coffee table. Two side chairs with a delightful rooster print are a reminder of how much Key West fancies its chickens. Painstaking efforts were taken to find artwork and lighting fixtures that reflect the tastes of the ‘peace-and-love’ decade. The full kitchen offers everything you need to cook, and to assure you can sit and share a meal together, a drop leaf table can easily be pulled out and chairs placed around.
When your group is ready to spread out, you can spill into the 2nd great-room space, that we call the ‘red room.’ Thoughtfully decorated with island style imports, art work was chosen to bring the feeling of the outside indoors. A large original Dominican painting of a colorful parrot is prominently displayed on one wall, while a painting of a vase full of red hibiscus hangs on the other. Full of striking color contrasts of red and apple green, this beautiful room is set with a chocolate brown cushy loveseat, comfortable woven banana grass reading chair, and silky paisley slipper chair. Our hope is you’ll love this room for lounging, maybe playing cards, reading a book, or watching TV. It also has the added feature of an extra kitchen and eating island.
When it’s time for sleep, or lazing in artsy luxury, there are four beautiful bedrooms to choose from, each with an en-suite bathroom. All bedrooms provide wall mounted flat-screen TV’s, and each has a unique décor theme which is described below in the order presented on our slide show.
Bedroom One, we call the ‘blue room,’ and it was designed to feel like a luxurious island beachside room. Set with a sea-grass headboard, white cottage-style dresser, sea inspired art work and sand-tone accessories, this large ‘L-Shape’ bedroom provide a king-size bed and large walk-in closet. A beautiful white vanity / computer table with elegant blue fabric chair is nicely tucked away in the corner, the perfect place to catch up on some work or browse the net. A door next to the vanity leads to the private en-suite bathroom that provides a double size shower and free-standing sink.
Bedroom Two, we call the ‘garden-room,’ feels like a ‘Still-life’ garden painting you walk into, and it is definitely the wild-card in the design of this penthouse. The owner loves the enchantment of Key West gardens and it was her idea to make it possible to sleep in the garden while comfortably staying inside. To accomplish this, master carpenter Jerry Levine built a custom ‘picket-fence’ which is anchored on the wall as an art piece headboard. Then artist David Wegman painted an alluring fantasy tropical garden as the background, complete with hand painted bricks you would swear are the real thing. When you sleep ‘in the garden’ you have two twin beds topped with fern print matelassé coverlets. The en-suite bathroom provides a bathtub with in-tub shower (with hand wand), and vanity sink.
Bedroom Three, we call the ‘West Indies room.’ It feels very island-opulent with a grand dark wood four-poster king-size bed and dark wicker dresser set against historic green and tan walls and fancifully framed artwork. A dark wood vanity / computer table and beautiful chair are nicely tucked away in an alcove, set as a place to get some work done or … do up your hair, whatever your passion may be. There’s also a beautiful upholstered bench at the end of the bed for added comfort. This bedroom has a walk-in closet, and the en-suite bathroom provides a double size shower and free-standing sink.
Bedroom Four, we call the ‘love bird room.’ Offering a queen-size bed, it reflects the owner’s feminine love of dreamy cozy bedrooms done eclectic style in lavender, turquoise, and blue. Starting by painting the walls a color called ‘Dreamy Cloud,’ she combined wicker furniture of white and natural, a small white cottage dresser, and a precious wood patina night stand. She fell in love with a Pier One painting of colorful perching love birds placed it over the headboard then complimented it with a small original Haitian art painting, and a small French-style mirror. This bedroom offers an en-suite bathroom with bathtub and in-tub shower (with hand-wand) and a vanity sink.
Grounds: At the back of the property is a spacious sun-deck set with lounge and deck chairs and an outdoor table with sun-umbrella. It does not provide a water feature, but we encourage you to enjoy this unique property for its four-star interior amenities, and explore nearby Fort-Zachary Taylor Beach for your sun time and water play.
Bedroom One: 1 King size bed
Bedroom Two: 2 Twin size beds
Bedroom Three: 1 King size bed
Bedroom Four: 1 Queen size bed
Parking: Private off - street parking is provided for 1 car maximum in lot. Parking permit provided. If you arrive by car, please plan to park it and forget about it. Enjoy walking or biking around the island.
Amenities: New artistic renovation. Two fully equipped kitchens, central a/c, two washer/dryer units, 6 wall mounted flat-screen cable TVs. (Each bedroom has a TV.) Linens and towels are provided. Catering can be arranged. Maid service can be scheduled.
Activities: Downtown Old Town Key West at Mile Marker 0, historic monument location on Whitehead in the 500 block. One short block from Duval Street, one short block from the Green Parrot Bar. We consider this one of the best places to view the Fantasy Fest Parade as this event is staged just around the corner at Fort Zachary Taylor, and this location is the very first to see the floats! From here you're down the street from Fausto’s Fine Foods for grocery shopping, Mallory Square Sunset Celebration, Mel Fisher treasure Museum, Ernest Hemingway Museum, Custom House and Lighthouse Museums, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and Key West Aquarium are all in the neighborhood. You’re also perfectly situated to walk to excellent internationally recognized downtown restaurants, night life, popular clubs, the Historic Seaport, and tropical shops.
Restrictions: Smoke free property. This 2nd floor property is downtown and it is not "child-proof". It is not well suited for children due to the steep staircase. We do not accept guests less than 25 years of age unless accompanied by a family group or guardian. No pets. (Please don't ask!) This home is offered as an exclusive vacation rental in the most requested location in Key West.
Area: This neighborhood of Key West is the "island urban" area. When you stay in this little district it's amazing how much there is to see on each street. The original city infrastructure was built here to create a diverse array of shopping, offices, entertainment, restaurants, bars, hotels, and churches, and these features are still offered in a modernized mode. There is an impressive display of historic commercial buildings and residential Victorian, cottage, and bungalow style residences. Beautiful tree-lined streets and never ending people watching make you want to walk everywhere and see everything from here.
Notes: This is an upscale property is ideal for professionals and executives who have discerning tastes looking for a spacious and luxurious accommodation.
*** Please Note: During Fantasy Fest the rate for this exclusive property with a porch on Whitehead St. where the parade goes by, is $6000 for the week.