MIAMI – It's almost a cliché to talk about the Art Deco wonders in South Beach, isn't it? The chic pastel colors, the elegant architectural lines, the massive swimming pools in flourishing shapes that defy geometric principles. And yet to go to Miami, and especially South Beach, to miss out on the Art Deco is to really depreive yourself of one of the city's best features.
A few years ago when I was launching DailyCandy Miami, I checked into The Raleigh Hotel on 18th and Collins Avenue for a few weeks of meetings, interviews, and Miami discovery. The "discovery" part became problematic because I never wanted to leave the hotel. I scheduled every interview in the lobby, ate my weight in crispy French fries, and unwound every night with midnight swims in that epic swimming pool. The staff nodded knowingly. Clearly, they were used to this kind of reaction.
Now I'm just going to gush unabashedly about why I love this hotel. The 1940s style, reflected in the furniture, the cedar wood pieces, the terrazzo floors, infuses the hotel with an impossibly beautiful aesthetic. And the world the hotel creates manages to include so many conflicting qualities: The Raleigh is cool and welcoming, gorgeous and high-quality, trendy and timeless. No matter where I am in Miami, I have to come at least once, if only for a drink at the Martini Bar. Pictures of course, speak louder than words: Click through the slideshow to see what I mean.
When I stayed, the hotel was owned by André Balazs of Chateau Marmont and Standard fame. It has since been purchased by Sam Nazarian's SBE, a hospitality company that specializes in gorgeous, striking, can't-leave-'em spaces, like the recently opened SLS Hotel South Beach a few blocks away on Collins. SBE is currently giving the Raleigh's 105 rooms and public spaces a multi-million dollar renovation that will enhance architect Laurence Murray Dixon's original vision. James Beard-award winning chef Michael Schwartz just opened an eponymous restaurant in the hotel, and the Pool Bar remains as big a draw as ever for guests and locals. The hotel will loan you a Raleigh bike to go out and explore the neighborhood, which you really should do.
Unless, of course, you're me, in which case we'll see each other by the poolside cabana.
Ready to go get your share of sunshine? The Raleigh is offering an exclusive rates for Fathom readers: 25 percent off, with prices starting as low as $195/night, for stays between January 1 and November 30, 2014. Book now and use code "FATHOM" at checkout for the discount.