PRETTY IN PINK: THE DON CESAR
It’s not everyday you have a chance to stay where authors, musicians and celebrities such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone and the Who have rested their heads on down-filled pillows. You may have guessed from the first two names that this supremely pink palace has been around for a bit (since 1928, in fact). Guests can stay in one of 277 luxurious guests rooms (including 36 suites), most with spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico or Boca Ciega Bay. An unforgettable architectural landmark in its own right, “the Don” sits on the ultra-soft, white sands of St. Pete Beach, named the No. 1 Beach in America by Tripadvisor in 2021.
Also worthy of note: The Don CeSar offers shopping on site, a kids’ camp, several restaurants (including a great beach bar) and Spa Oceana. Bring Fluffy, it’s pet-friendly!
Nearby: Discover tiny-but-charming Pass-a-Grille Beach; Fort De Soto Park’s stunning beach; rustic John’s Pass Fishing Village with restaurants, boat tours and more.
BAYFRONT CHIC: THE VINOY RENAISSANCE ST. PETERSBURG RESORT & GOLF CLUB
While not quite as pink as its beachy-luxe neighbor (the Don CeSar), the Vinoy’s salmon-hued walls and ornate tower loom large over Tampa Bay and St. Pete’s ultra-chic Beach Drive area. Completed in 1925 at a cost of $3.5 million, the Mediterranean Revival-style Vinoy has been “the place” to stay luxuriously in St. Pete for nearly a century. The lobby area, with its soaring archways and gold chandeliers, might well be described as palatial. Its gorgeous formal ballrooms have hosted many a society wedding. But the Vinoy has a less buttoned-up side, too: its rooftop pool offers stellar views, and the open-air Promenade Lounge is a great place to relax and watch the marina hub-bub while enjoying cool drinks and tasty snacks.
Also worthy of note: The Vinoy offers five restaurants, a private marina, a tennis complex, an 18-hole golf course and the Vinoy Salon & Day Spa.
Nearby: Walk to tony Beach Drive with its shops and restaurants, the Museum of Fine Arts, the St. Petersburg Museum of History and the Salvador Dalí Museum. Quirky, fabulous Central Ave. with its murals, indie restaurants and shops is just a quick bike or uber ride away.
JAZZY STYLE: THE FENWAY HOTEL
Born in the same era as jazz, flapper dresses, Prohibition and Darwin’s theory of evolution, this 1920s Meditteranean-style hotel recently reopened after a $30 million renovation. Part of the Autograph Collection of boutique hotels, the Fenway’s claim to fame (besides its history) is its focus on music: It was once home to the area’s first radio station and, today, offers live music every day. Enjoy a meal at the chef-driven Hew Parlor & Chophouse (named after the hotel’s architect Herman Everett Wendell) or hang out with friends at the Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar overlooking expansive St. Joseph Sound. You’ll find it in adorable, teeny-tiny downtown Dunedin.
Also worthy of note: The Fenway offers Tai Chi classes, morning yoga, hotel bikes and a daily sunset celebration.
Nearby: Explore Dunedin’s charming Main Street; beach and kayaking fun at Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands; plenty of local breweries; and Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training games.
OTHER HISTORIC AND LUXURY HOTELS TO CHECK OUT
Belleview Inn: Guests at this 35-room inn in Clearwater can enjoy a glimpse of the Victorian era in this “re-imagining” of the 145-room Belleview-Biltmore Hotel constructed in 1897 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant. Explore the original grand lobby (saved and incorporated into the new inn) where the Vanderbilts, Duponts and Studebakers once strolled. Guests will also see other original elements such as the grand staircase, fireplaces, Tiffany glass and hardwood floors.
FALL “INN” LOVE
The Birchwood: Just 18 guest rooms are available at this 1920s-themed boutique hotel on Beach Drive across from the gorgeous St. Pete bayfront. Those who choose this precious little property enjoy luxurious four-poster beds as well as oversized bathrooms with claw-foot tubs and rainfall showerheads. Whether or not you book a room here, don’t miss the chance to have an evening cocktail at the hotel’s rooftop lounge, The Canopy.
Cordova Inn: This award-winning boutique hotel in St. Pete’s vibrant downtown was once known as The Pier Hotel (a prized location since the opening of the new St. Pete Pier). Built in 1921, the inn boasts of “European service” and many of the 32 rooms have original clawfoot soaking tubs.
Crystal Bay: The likes of Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe and Robert Kennedy once stayed at this iconic 1915 landmark hotel in St. Pete near the Treasure Island Causeway. Expect “Old Florida” decor and take time to appreciate the hotel’s butterfly and herb gardens. The hotel completed a total renovation in 2015.
Hotel Zamora: Guests choose this 50-room boutique hotel on St. Pete Beach for its luxury suites, many with expansive views of the Intracoastal Waterway or the Gulf of Mexico. The Castile Restaurant is a chic place to enjoy dinner. Don’t miss the 360 Rooftop Lounge with its breathtaking sunset views.
Sandpearl Resort: Despite its grand lobby, this luxe hotel on one of America’s top beaches is more about barefoot elegance than a “look-but-don’t-touch” kind of luxury. The 253 guest rooms and suites are decorated in warm tones with dark wood accents. Pretty views vary from city to waterfront (Mandalay Bay, the Intracoastal Waterway or the Gulf of Mexico). If you’re in need of a relaxing respite, the Sandpearl Spa is a tranquil oasis. Even Fido finds a warm welcome here, through the Opal Paws program.
Wyndham Clearwater Beach Resort: Crisp, white decor, plush bedding and luxurious bath amenities are highlights of a stay at this 342-room upscale hotel, where (even better!) every room has a partial or full Gulf view. Live it up by reserving a Grand Suite with a dining area, seating area and balcony (sunset cocktail, anyone?).