Concierge.com's insider take:
One of the most significant buildings in the South Beach Art Deco district, the Raleigh is centered around the area's most beautiful and famous swimming poola scallop-edged jewel that was a setting for Esther Williams' aquatic film scenes in the forties and is now the scene of Sunday pool parties. Built in 1940, the 108-room hotel had lost its luster before hotelier André Balazs took over in 2002 and restored the Deco style and élan. Balazs moved on in 2009, but not before instilling the hotel with a cool, laid-back feeling that is rare in glitzy South Beach. With its Old Havana themebold colors, rattan and cane furniture, brown-and-ocher terrazzo floors, fluted pillars, and lots of plants and palm treesit pulls patrons from other hotels down the street. The stylishly eccentric rooms vary enormously; some are frankly on the small side. Why not splash around instead in the tub of the 980-square-foot Esther Williams Suite?
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