1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-6300
Enjoy this Art Deco marvel designed by Lawrence Murray Dixon in 1940, but be sure to order a poolside snack, otherwise you pay a $25 pool entry fee. The Raleigh has the old glamorous Miami Beach feel and stays loyal to its locals by allowing non-hotel guests to hang out (unlike many spots on the beach).
A curvy, three-foot-deep moat outlines the pool that was originally constructed for the swimmer/actress Esther Williams. Thick with foliage, the deck area almost hides the neighboring hotels on either side of the courtyard. A diving board fountain gives off the calm hum of a waterfall trickle, and a beach volleyball court rests beyond the cabanas lit seductively with red lights. Hammocks are lined up between the trees near an army of beds, and separate, slightly private showers.
Cabanas are $125 a day, allow up to six people, and include service, fruit, a bottle of water and scented towels. Saturday is the liveliest pool day, and the poolside bar closes at 8 p.m. The pool is open, however, until the last guest leaves, says Food and Beverage Manager Trent Nichols. “It’s probably one of the most photographed pools in the world,” he boasts. He also raves about the tasty Cuban sandwich and tuna tacos from the kitchen.
The hotel advertises rooms for $159 per night for Floridians (valet parking plus a room upgrade at check-in is also included). Typically, valet is a $15 flat rate, Nichols said.
— KYLE TEAL