The former Versace Mansion - now a boutique hotel - is used to playing a starring role.
The latest must-watch drama, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, follows the story of Versace’s 1997 assassination at his fabulous Miami Beach home.
With murder, unsolved mysteries, fabulous couture and an all-star cast on the menu, American Crime Story’s latest mini-series has a lot to offer – but we think it’s the house itself that’s the real star of this show.
Bought by Versace in 1992, it’s just as magnificently maximalist as you would expect. No expense was spared and no surface was left undecorated.
Versace stumbled across the magnificent mansion by accident in 1992, when it was being used as a 24-apartment building. It was love at first sight. It wasn’t even for sale, but Versace got his lawyers on the case, made a generous bid and then went to work converting the 24-apartment structure into an eight bedroom palace, complete with two kitchens, three sitting rooms, 10 bathrooms, a bar, a library, and four living rooms.
Along with the Casa Casuarina (the name of the original building), Versace also purchased the 6,100-square-foot Hotel Revere next door for $3.7 million, knocking it down and using the land for his garden, with a generous terrace, guesthouse, and of course the infamous swimming pool.
Versace spent over $35 million on the elaborate renovation and expansion, complete with ceiling frescoes and Medusa mosaics, furniture upholstered in Versace fabrics, Picassos on the walls and classical antiques in every room, some rooms adorned entirely with seashells and another with pebbles, and even the swimming pool is inlaid with thousands of 24-karat gold tiles, all imported from Italy.
It’s no surprise, then, that much of the new series had to be shot in Versace’s actual home, as the rooms would have been impossible to replicate. But the set also offers something not many Crime Story filming locations can offer: the chance to visit in person.
After Versace’s murder, the house sat empty for three years before Donatella sold it in 2000. It changed ownership a few times (even attracting a bid from Donald Trump) until eventually it was snapped up for a cool $41.5 million in 2013, reopening as the Villa Casa Casuarina, a boutique hotel that had kept true to its past – complete with 24-karat gold swimming pool, and a restaurant appropriately named Gianni’s.
Thankfully, despite the many changes of hands, most of Versace’s lavish interiors remain intact, and a stay in “Donatella’s Room” can even be arranged.
The hotel has kept as close to Versace’s vision as possible, with the bedrooms seemingly untouched. Copying details from archival photographs, the hotel reproduced furniture, touched up murals and brought the lavish home back to its former glory.
The hotel has even retained some of the mansion’s mysteries; 23,000 square feet clearly wasn’t enough to hold all of the designer’s clothing, so Versace added hidden storage around the property to contain the overflow from his wardrobe. In some of the hotel’s rooms guests can still store their belongings out of sight. The Medusa mosaic still sits proud in the middle of the pool garden, made up of thousands of beautiful tiles that were imported by Versace from his hometown of Reggio Calabria, Italy.
The hotel even kept Versace’s 24-karat gold toilet – a luxe toilet carved from a slab of marble with a gold plated seat and lid. The only things that are missing are Versace’s trap doors and secret passageways that he used as shortcuts (the hotel has had to seal these shut), Versace’s bird coop full of carrier pigeons that he used to send secret messages with, and of course the legend himself. The man may be gone but the legend (and his mansion) lives on. We’ can’t wait to visit.