When it comes to Key West’s legendary role in inspiring so many modern artists and musicians, Bob Dylan’s connection to the island comes as a bit of a surprise to casual visitors. Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney? They make perfect sense. But Dylan? It’s hard to picture him sitting quietly on a stool in the back of Capt. Tony’s Saloon, listening to the infamous Tony Tarracino tell one of his many, many stories. And yet the 11-time Grammy Award winner and reluctant Nobel Prize recipient is a huge fan of Key West, immortalizing it (again) in the song “Key West (Philosopher Pirate),” from his latest album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways.”
Of course, Key West has come a long way since Dylan, and not just his name, appeared on that bar stool. As the songs of Buffett and Chesney, among many others, inspired beach bums to head south for vacation or longer, the island has adapted and new resorts, restaurants and attractions have popped up along the way. The most recent being the Barbary Beach House Key West, which was built and designed to promote the “explorer’s spirit.”
Located not far from Key West International Airport, Barbary Beach House is, more importantly, merely a quick walk from Smathers Beach, which makes it an ideal base from which anyone can enjoy a classic Key West adventure. If it’s a fishing expedition or simply a day spent wandering Old Town and Mallory Square, the hotel’s concierge will ensure that guests, and especially Key West first-timers, are properly acquainted with this iconic destination.
With rooms named for local legends like Captain John Huling Geiger and Asa Tift, as well as the Nuestra Senora De Atocha wreck, Barbary Beach House combines regional history with modern comfort. That’s even more evident in the interior design, as the rooms of varying sizes are adorned with Key West-inspired artwork and décor that makes these accommodations feel like beachside villas, even if they’re only overlooking the lagoon-style pool.
Dylan’s latest’s album’s release, and the nearly 10-minute tribute song, came at an unprecedented time for Key West, as the Florida Keys officially reopened to visitors on June 1. With Covid-19 cases still on the rise throughout the state and rest of the U.S., Key West isn’t being laidback with its health and safety protocols. As some destinations only require masks in public spaces, Key West officials have made it clear that masks will be worn “everywhere outside a residence, regardless of whether social distancing is involved.” Visitors are also required to follow all CDC protective protocols for hygiene.
Additionally, both Key West International Airport and Florida Keys Marathon International Airport are screening passengers from “hotspot states,” and those visitors will be isolated or quarantined for 14 days or the duration of stay, whichever is shorter.
Barbary Beach House Key West is also following the recommended health and safety guidelines from both the CDC and Monroe County health officials, having imposed social distancing policies and restrictive dining measures at the on-site Drifter’s Cove Restaurant and Shipwreckers Bar.