The Raleigh Miami.

Rating

Unlike some South Beach properties, which can feel like kitschy fluorescent nightclubs by the sea, the Raleigh is more like a sophisticated hotel whose history speaks for itself; no gimmicks are needed.

The Raleigh’s lounge chairs are hard to miss when you’re on the beach.When guests pull into the hotel’s lush circular driveway, they can feel transported to another era: the fabulous ’40s. The 104-room Raleigh was meticulously restored to reflect the retro-Miami spirit of the original Art Deco design. Guestrooms maintain the motif with period furnishings, kingsize beds and gorgeous terrazzo floors.

That was a time when you might be in white tie one minute but casual the next. The Raleigh plays the spectrum effortlessly and appeals to the Miami mindset: casual by day, dressy by night.

A trip to South Beach is of course mostly about being outdoors, and the Raleigh does it right. AMC lovers will recognize the curlicue-shaped pool from many an Esther Williams swimming picture. Or, if you’re more fashionista than film buff, you’ll remember the pool as the backdrop for Chanel’s 2008-9 Cruise Collection show, where Karl Lagerfeld & Co. constructed a runway atop its scalloped border.

Diehard beach fans can book a private cabana near the signature pink-and-white loungers. Private changing rooms near the beach make it easy to clean off the sand before heading back to the pool for a late afternoon libation.

At night, the outdoor dining area sparkles with tiki torches and French festoon lights, while beautiful bartenders mix drinks behind the nautical pool bar. It’s all terribly stylish — as it should be.

What to do:

Finding Nemo. The blocks south of Fifth Street have become a must-see in South Beach, and Nemo is the must-dine. The menu changes frequently, with copious choices of seafood, steaks, and appetizers.

South Beach Italian. Dining at Casa Tua, the perennially hot South Beach restaurant, is like being invited to dinner at a chic Italian friend’s beach house. The décor is impeccable yet comfortable and the food is simple but expertly prepared.

The High-End Life. It’s hard to pick just one at the Shops at Bal Harbour, Miami’s high-end shopping haven. If your ABC’s are Agent Provocateur, Bulgari, and Chloe, you’ll find plenty to love here.

Linger. Take a moonlit garden tour along the lush pathways of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, an estate constructed during the height of the Gilded Age as the winter residence of American industrialist James Deering.

Swing. Most travelers don’t equate compact South Beach with spacious golf courses, but nearby is the Miami Beach Golf Club. This 18-hole course opened in 1923, and it was laid out by famed designer Arthur Mills, who was responsible for more than 160 courses.

Dine in Style. To fully embrace the Raleigh’s Deco-glam vibe, stop by the legendary martini bar, then indulge in hand-cut steak tartare or custom ceviches outside in the garden at the Royal Restaurant.

How to get there: Many flights are available to Miami International Airport (MIA) or Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) from major U.S. cities on a variety of carriers. Taxis to/from MIA Airport are approximately $35 per person, each way, and taxis to/from Fort Lauderdale Airport are approximately $75 per taxi, each way. If driving or renting a car, valet parking is available at the Raleigh for approximately $35 per day.

What I liked

Great service! We arrived the first day at 9:30am due to an early flight, and they allowed us to check in (very) early. That alone made it a great start. We had been to The Raleigh previously and I thought the Jetsetter description was pretty spot-on. It was good to note that the rooms are relatively small, which didn’t bother us, as we knew based on prior experience. The entire property was fairly quiet, even given it was 4th of July weekend. Prior to the 3rd, there were maximum 6 – 8 other people at the pool, and the poolside service was great/friendly (towels, drinks, food) throughout the trip. On the 3rd and 4th it was more crowded at The Raleigh, but again, it was never so much so that service suffered. They have a great martini bar ($7 martinis every day 5pm – 8pm) off the lobby with a very friendly bartender.

What I disliked

The placement of room (Garden View King) wasn’t ideal. It overlooked the top of the outdoor restaurant and the top of the building to the south of The Raleigh.

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