Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Attentive staff goes out of their way to solve any problems.
No help with luggage, but check-in went smoothly (and two hours early). The desk attendant walked me through all the features of the hotel in a practiced, self-promotional way (we're the Raleigh, we're awesome, yeah!), but she was perfectly friendly and greeted me every time I walked past.
Once at the room, I received a call asking if I enjoyed the accommodations (I didn't, the tub was a disaster), so they sent someone from housekeeping to check it out (within minutes), then another person (a few minutes later), then I received another call offering a different room (which had a shower). Sort of a hassle, but they went out of their way to make sure I was happy.
The wait staff wasn't starchy, but was very attentive. As soon as my editor turned his head to ask for an extra fork -- we had some very fruity sangria -- our server was right behind us.
The only flaw: housekeeping entered my room at 8:30 a.m. without knocking. (However, they were gone before my half-zombie head was off the pillow, leaving me to wonder if it was all a dream).
Surrounded in high-end happenings on the resort side of South Beach.
Beside the who's-who of the hotel bar circuit (the Delano, the Shore Club, the Sagamore, and it's own martini bar among them), there is lots of late-night revelry in the streets, behind the thick palm barricade.
The beach is less populous (though still booming). The Raleigh is on the resort side of South Beach, where every 100 feet there's a different group of matching umbrellas.
, bygone, boxy chrome Deco furnishings (Ikea-style before Ikea), , a , and a coral color palate from the 1940s -- the 60-year-old look is exactly that.
Aside from the well-appreciated DVD player (with a great DVD lending library downstairs), and high-def flat-screen TV, the room feels like a cross between a SoHo boutique and a senior citizen beach house in Boca. Small touches, like the old time , or the exposed pipe showerhead create a unique experience, but the wood paneled closet and stuck drawers just feel old and cheap.,
For every great feature, there is some kind of hidden negative. For example, some of the best, most comfortable towels in the city, but you have to use them all to block the excess water flow from a half-enclosed shower stall. The sofa is certainly comfortable, but there is no room for my legs (a table took up all the space). All together, the slight inconveniences ensure the scene is diva-free, which might be worth it.
The free-form pool is stunning. It's where Esther Williams leaped from the waterfall in a sequined bonnet. It's a Miami landmark. Still, there is a high concentration of leaves in the shallow rim and no one was using it when I was there, even with all the fun, black rubber floatie tubes to bask in. All of my instincts told me to leap from the short waterfall (about 5-feet tall) in a glorious belly-flop, but it is chained off from the rear -- it seems there were far fewer personal injury lawyers in 1940.
The food is more utilitarian than spectacular, but if they ever retire their iconic pool, the trademark mini-burgers could make great postcards. Most useful, however, is the 24-four lobby café , which pumped me up with enough espresso to turn me into a raving, on-edge Frank Sinatra, uncontrollably calling everyone "baby."
Even though the Raleigh was clearly designed for hip adults, I did spot some happy kids, digging the amazing pool and .
Lively hotel entertainment with a wild hostess but a low-key audience.
The Raleigh's jazz/comedy/game show/cabaret is fun and lively (to say the least). It's worth it merely to hear the hostess (wearing a gender-bending corset and a fedora combo) shout the word "cock" whenever the opportunity arises (about 42 times by my count). The crowd, mostly in their 30s or 40s (including a strong local contingent) is laid-back and casual -- some ladies in low-cut cocktail dresses, others in jeans, and most men wear their striped button-up Friday night uniforms. But with folks too embarrassed to strut up to the stage, they are a far cry from the velvet rope-crossing stunners found at hotels like the Delano or Setai.
Very clean and tidy, except for a few leaves in the pool.
The room where I stayed is virtually spotless. Though there are a few scratches and dings to the furniture, I'm entirely certain that the owner didn't pay extra for the distressing process.
While the pool has a few leaves and I needed to pardon a little construction dust (renovating the restaurant while I was there), there is nothing about the property that made me squeamish.
There's nothing luxurious about all-vintage, authentically nicked pool, great restaurant, plush beds, high-def TVs, lively bar scene, , and relaxed dedication to all things cool make it ideal for low-maintenance hipsters craving lackluster glam.(except maybe the price). But the Raleigh's iconic