Chelsea House Historic Key West Inn Review – Relax in the Real Key West

 

Chicagoans will be interested to learn that the affordable, centrally-located Historic Key West Inns are owned by a woman who hails from Illinois, Julie Fondriest of Lake Forest.  

 

 

She not only fell in love with Key West—as so many transplants to Key West had—but found her calling in preserving the many Victorian, Queen Anne and other style homes that help give Key West central its iconic laid back feel.

 

 

Now with six hotels—each being systematically rehabbed and groomed for circa 2015 tourists---Historic Key West Inns aims for a hospitality style that they call “island local”. 

 

 

What they mean by this is that you’ll find a poolside to relax by and nearby bicycles to rent and you are always just a short stroll away from happening Duval Street, Key West’s main commercial strip.

 

 

Their Chelsea House is one of the oldest wooden structures in Key West. 

 

 

History buffs will likely get a tingle in their spine to read the historic marker across the street for the Catholic Convent of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary

 

 

During the War of 1898 this convent was converted to a United States Army hospital and was the first ever to use then new X-Rays to locate shrapnel and bullets in wounded soldiers, sparing them pain and sometimes death from blind probing procedures.

 

 

Chelsea House Hotel includes two former estate properties, both in the Victorian, Queen Anne architectural style that features ornate details like turned posts, porches, turrets, wooden finials and scrollwork, among other features. 

 

 

One of the buildings was originally built for the Captain of the steamer Mascotte, which ferried tobacco and cigar makers from Havana to Key West and other ports—economic activities that you learn are central to the history of the area in the 1800’s. 

 

 

Another building first belonged to the Cashier at Key West’s First National Bank.  A third building is also part of the Inn, sharing the pool area that does double duty as the free breakfast nook in the mornings.

 

 

Eight rooms of the Chelsea are currently down for total refurbishment.  You will see paw prints of the ongoing historic preservation efforts here and there throughout the property.   How glad we were to stay in such a place instead of a plastic cookie cutter chain hotel!

 

The top feature of this hotel is the convenience. It has parking and also is in walking distance of most of what you want to see in Key West. 

 

You get a great location, old building charm and affordably, albeit with some signs of ongoing transitions that inherently go along with historic preservations.

 

Chelsea House

709 Truman Avenue

Key West, Florida

 

For reservations call 800 549 4430

 

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Photos courtesy of Historic Key West Inns unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

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