The art of hosting with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
The West Hollywood members share their tips for throwing a post-pandemic party
By Landon Peoples Photography by Andrew Woomer
The best parties are usually the ones you can’t find; ones that have a word-of-mouth invitation, secret location, and exclusive guest list. But for West Hollywood members Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka’s latest Soho Beach House Miami event, the requirements were simple: just bring yourself (and some good vibrations).
While the duo weren’t exactly trying to conceal their rooftop Sunset Cruise party, they admit it might have seemed that way: “It was a bit confusing because people thought we were going to be taking a boat out on the water,” Harris shares. Eventually, guests found their way up to the eighth floor and were greeted with sailor hats, life jackets, specialty cocktails, and Burtka’s signature guacamole recipe to celebrate what’s hopefully the beginning of a new era.
While in Miami for the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, we caught up with Burtka and Harris to learn how their party came together, and the art of entertaining in a post-pandemic world.
Walk me through the Sunset Cruise theme. How did it come about?
David: ‘Two years ago at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, I hosted a brunch at Soho Beach House Miami for my book Life Is A Party. As the festival came around again, I wrote an email to Jamie and said ‘Hey, I’m thinking about doing another fun collaboration for this year.’ She came back and suggested we throw a fun, big party on Ocho and come up with a theme. Neil and I decided to do a Sunset Cruise where we could trick out the rooftop pool area as a cruise ship, with a Love Boat kind of vibe.’
Neil: ‘Sunset Cruise was a bit confusing because people thought we were going to be taking a boat out on the water.’
David: ‘But the decorations were really cute! It looks like you’re on a cruise ship. There were deck chairs and a captain’s wheel you can take photos with.’
Neil: ‘We’ve been members of Soho House West Hollywood for quite some time. When I did The Matrix Four, I stayed at the Berlin location. And when we’re in London, we stay at Soho House when we’re seeing West End shows. With the Soho House brand comes a level of class and sophistication that makes hosting a cool party not devolve into a shitshow.’
‘We know that these types of events mostly appear as member bonuses that you find out about in the elevator. So, we were trying to reverse engineer it and have a nice, thirsty picture of something fun to do that you saw while going to your room or the restaurant.’
Why is Soho Beach House Miami the best place to have this party?
David: ‘You’re blocked from a lot of the wind and the sunset view is incredible. It’s so beautiful at night.’
What does the art of entertaining mean for the two of you?
Neil: ‘Now that most people are vaccinated, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival is a great way to test what can happen. People are so authentically appreciative that they can go out and mingle again. There’s a real sense of exhalation from everyone, that we’ve witnessed, for just wanting to reconnect.’
Post-pandemic, how has the science or art of hosting changed for you?
David: ‘With the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, people have been so grateful to get out, eat good food, see other people, and feel a sense of normalcy. That’s all we want: to feel like we’re back to normal.’
How do you know if a party was a success?
David: ‘Drinks flowing, hot guys, and people having a good time.’
Neil: ‘By the way, you better behave yourself!’
David Burtka's go-to guacamole recipe
½ red onion
½ diced jalapeño (seeds optional)
1 clove crushed garlic (into paste)
2 Roma tomatoes
1 tbsp of cilantro
Dash of hot sauce