March 3, 2019

REVIEW: Light Haven Motel at Hollywood Beach - The Perfect Dose of SoFla Nostalgia and Tradition

I spent my formative years in South Florida. While I never grew to be a huge fan of the area, I can't deny that I have some wonderful memories from the time I spent there, and I also acknowledge certain aspects of the area that continue to charm me to this day. I appreciate South Florida more now when I return as a tourist, but even when I lived there - I loved any excuse to stay in a little efficiency apartment near the beach... and I always had a fondness for Hollywood Beach specifically. On a recent visit, we discovered a fantastic, quaint little place that checked off all the boxes for a fabulous (and affordable) beach weekend - Light Haven Motel.


We've stayed in vacation homes, mountain cabins, standard hotels, Disney hotels of all levels, and other elaborate resorts. We truly are the type of people who appreciate the variety of accommodation styles that exist in modern-day tourism - but nothing is quite like a cozy little studio when vacationing in a beach town. Light Haven Motel is a small cluster of efficiency apartments and studios. Consider it the pre-Airbnb version of a home-away-from-home, beach bum style! The site is lovingly maintained by local owners and a couple staff members. They went out of their way to be personally welcoming when we arrived, and we noticed immediately that our fellow guests all seemed very fond of the whole crew. Any lodging staff can be attentive, but the staff at Light Haven went beyond that, showing a very thoughtful and friendly side to their hospitality. A crazy close encounter with a member of South Florida's infamous iguana population led to a lively conversation about just how much the ecology of South Florida has changed since we were residents ourselves. 



This leads me to share a tip... the iguana "infestation" is not folklore. While they are not known to be particularly aggressive, it's not uncommon for them to fall from the palm trees they reside in. Be aware of your surroundings - even from above! The lush, mature gardens in the Light Haven courtyard were beautiful and fragrant, but I confess that I'd be much quicker to spend my time at the non-tree covered patio tables than chilling in the hammocks that hang beneath those palm trees! I did thoroughly appreciate our wildlife encounter (since no direct contact was ultimately made), and the whole family spent the rest of our stay keeping watch for more iguanas whenever we were outside - which added a new level of tormenting fun to our visit.


Light Haven Motel has about a dozen units - from studios to a two bedroom apartment - situated in an almost u-shaped, one-story building, including a laundry room with FREE, top-of-the-line machines. Each unit has its own personality with fun splashes of color, Pinterest-ish organization and decor techniques, and brilliantly maximized space. Our unit was only 269 square feet, but it never felt cramped. In fact, even though it was really no bigger than any standard hotel room, this was one of the more pleasant stays my four-member family has had (and trust me - we have a knack for annoying each other). Our space included two futons in a sitting area in front of the kitchenette. On the other side of a pallet-wall divider, there was a bunk bed, and a small cafe table with a large flat-screen TV mounted above it. The bathroom was SO retro South FL - pale pink tiling, and functional enough (albeit smallish), but the shower was huge! As a family, we can be particularly difficult to satisfy unanimously, but we all felt that we had the space we needed, and the beds were even more comfortable than we had expected. Although we didn't end up eating any meals in the unit, we took note of the attention to detail that went into supplying it. Not only could we have prepared and eaten a meal here - we could've been a bit creative with our choice of menus. There wasn't anything missing to prep a great meal - except for the food, and luckily enough the location of Light Haven made this easy to come by as well.

One of the last homes we lived in in South Florida was just a few blocks from Light Haven, so we knew the area well - and we loved it. Located off US1 on Washington Street, Light Haven Motel is just a short walk from the arts and culture of Young Circle - and just a few minutes from Hollywood Beach. Various eateries (chains and local favorites) and shops are just moments from this location, including a snazzy Publix that has undergone quite an overhaul since we lived there. It can be a bit tricky to figure out the navigation and parking involved with any of the businesses along Young Circle, but it's a hurdle worth jumping. 

Most of the units at Light Haven Motel can be booked for around $60 per night. The two-bedroom apartment is still less than $100 per night. If you're looking for fluffy robes, spas, and lobbies with fountains - this is not the place for you. If you want a clean, friendly, cozy place to call home with the perfect vibe to enhance your Hollywood Beach experience - this is all that and more, for an unbelievable value. I went into it with low expectations and left very anxious to book our next stay. 

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