Versace mansion lives on as Miami hotel

The Versace name is synonymous with luxury, privilege and decadence, so it’s no surprise that the mansion where Gianni Versace lived in Miami ranks as one of the most coveted homes in America. When Gianni Versace was gunned down in 1997, his South Beach home became a place to pay homage to one of the world’s elite designers and purveyor of fine fashion. Now, his home is open for the night.

The 19,000-square-foot Versace mansion has been renamed The Villa by Barton G – a 10-suite hotel filled with fountains, Italian marble, stained glass, and featuring a pool and terrace tiled to resemble a hidden oasis in Italy.

According to the hotel’s website, the Villa’s 10 custom suites feature king-sized beds or custom double king beds, over-sized bathrooms with two shower heads, closet space fit for a fashion designer, separate living rooms or sitting areas and balconies or patios. There’s a rooftop lounge and a private restaurant. Gianni Versace’s former bedroom has a nine-foot-wide bed, two balconies and seven closets.

The New York Times reports rooms start at $2,100. If you can’t afford a night’s stay, the restaurant in the mansion is open for dinner (reservations are required) and starting April 15, there’s an afternoon tea service on weekends for $35 a person.

South Beach During Superbowl Weekend

After leaving the NFL Experience, we headed to Miami’s fashionable South Beach. In honor of the Superbowl, the City shut down several miles of Ocean Avenue, so visitors could enjoy the trendy area without worrying that oncoming traffic might slam into them. Thoughtful, eh?

When we arrived in Miami, the first thing we did was drive around for nearly 2 hours looking for a parking space. It was a total mess — cars were everywhere. We finally found a spot in a public lot a few blocks north of Ocean Avenue. We pulled in, got our things, and tried to feed the meter. Unfortunately, the meter was broken and wouldn’t accept any coins. What to do? Should we continue driving and look for another spot with a working meter? Or should we risk it, hoping we wouldn’t get ticketed — or towed? We decided to chance it. I thought that if I shoved a coin in the mouth of the meter, the Parking Meter person would realize the problem and forgive me.

So off we went. Walking along the beach, we made our way to Ocean Avenue.

The first thing we noticed was all the people. From the hotels, bars, and restaurants on the west side of the street, spilling across Ocean Avenue and onto the park on the east side of the street, there were people everywhere.

Some of the people were working…

…some of the people were prostletyzing…

…but most of the people were just relaxing and enjoying themselves.

We wandered around for a while, checking out the art deco buildings. We also stopped — like everyone else! — to imagine what kind of kickin’ party must be going on inside the Versace Mansion, which had clearly been rented out for the weekend. The Versace mansion is the only private residence on Ocean Avenue, and probably the most famous stop along this hallowed trail.

Of course, there were some particapants who didn’t look all that happy to be in the middle of this seething mass of humanity.

While others seemed very happy to be outside, in the fresh air, surrounded by people.

Generally speaking, though, everyone was excited for the Big Game — including us. Drinks were flowing. People were smiling. The air was thick with anticipation.

Finally, just before sunset, we returned to the parking lot. Was my car still there? Yes. had I received a ticket? Nope. Maybe the Parking Lot Gods were smiling down upon me, forgiving me for those two hours I had spent earlier, driving aimlessly, searching for a spot.