Communal, Comfortable Living at Roam Miami
Imagine an early 1900s boarding house, with cheerful pastel wood-frame cottages circling a serene courtyard. Think private rooms and baths, with communal living areas, cooking spaces and shaded garden seating where boarders can meet, socialize and form their own little makeshift community.
Add palm trees and a pool, and you have Roam Miami – a new concept in lodging called co-living, where travelers and those who can work from anywhere bring their suitcases and a willingness to mingle. Location-independent workers tote their laptops and work in a shared space. Vacationers immerse themselves in Miami culture close to tourist areas. And all enjoy a home-like setting with none of the obligations.
Roam has updated the boarding house concept with killer wi-fi, a yoga space and co-working areas. So stay for a week or a couple of months. Make some friends. Work from your laptop. Get together with fellow boarders for a barbecue or an art opening.
There’s a one week-minimum stay, and rooms are reserved by the week or month only. A two-person room is $500 per week or $1,800 per month.
Set a block off the Miami River, Roam Miami is located in the former Miami River Inn, an early 1900s boarding house and former bed and breakfast.
Four homey, Victorian-style three-story cottages house the living and working spaces, a little oasis amid the nondescript condos and apartment buildings that surround it. Palm trees and tropical foliage shade the walkways. There’s an expansive center courtyard, several seating areas, a pool and a water feature.
A locked security fence surrounds the property, which has 10 parking spaces. The site is a 10-minute walk from downtown, close to a bike-sharing site and the free Miami trolley. Roam Miami also is working with Zipcar, a car-sharing service, to form an alliance.
Beautifully renovated with a vintage vibe, the old inn has retained architectural details like built-in pantries, wide verandahs and pine floors. Antique furnishings that are original to the site have been restored.
Each cottage, painted a different spring hue, has its own personality, said Dane Andrews, a Roam co-founder and Head of Growth for the company. The yellow house has the “co-eat” space, with an indoor kitchen and mobile outdoor kitchen under a charming arbor. The blue house is the “co-live” space, with a large sitting porch and a living room with an ornate stone fireplace. The green house is the “co-relax” center, with a dedicated yoga room and library with comfy chairs and a book nook. The pink house offers the “co-work” space, and is lined with tables and chairs. It offers a mini-fridge, coffee pot, and of course, a water cooler.
Roam Miami has 38 two-person rooms, each furnished with a king or queen bed, and with a private bath. The rooms are airy and bright, with crisp white linens. Each is a little different. Some have antique armoires and clawfoot bathtubs. Some have bigger closets and two arm chairs. There’s not a lot of storage, but that’s the concept. “This is for people who are moving from place to place, who are more minimalist,” Andrews said.
There’s weekly maid service, and a laundry room on site.
“We encourage people to treat it like home,” Andrews said. The gathering places encourage guests to get to know each other, whether it’s while cooking breakfast in the kitchen, or having a cocktail at the bar that’s occasionally set up on the blue house verandah.
“The core of the Roam concept is the communal kitchen,” he said. “It’s the heart of the property and a natural place for people to meet. If someone is cooking, it’s easy to say ‘hi.’”
There’s a private Facebook group for tenants that allows residents to share news and organize outings to upcoming festivals, events and gallery openings. Residents hold impromptu sushi rolling, yoga and other classes, whatever they are interested in, Andrews said.
Who’s it for?
The concept is popular with millennials, many of whom live this way already, on-the-go without being tied to a specific location, Andrews said.
But it’s catching on with all ages, not only younger couples who want to travel a bit before they settle down, but empty-nesters who want to see the world and have some of the comforts of home. Roam also has properties in Bali and Madrid. The beauty of Roam is that if you sign up, you can spend part of your time at one Roam, and move to another, if there is a room available, Andrews said.
How are rooms booked?
Here’s the fun part. Since communal living is one of the centerpieces of Roam, you can’t just book a room online. There’s a short application process that asks you a little bit about yourself and what you would like to do with other members of the community.
“So if you hate people and want to be by yourself all of the time, this probably isn’t the place for you,” Andrews said with a smile. “This is for people who like the simplicity of going from place to place, who want to meet interesting people from around the world.”
If you go:
Photos by Julie Landry Laviolette for VISIT FLORIDA