Tropical Retreats in Palm Beach

.article-cta-top

I have long found Florida to be a source of both fascination and frustration. Geographically, it is one of the more varied of the Lower 48 states, with eerie cypress swamps, flatlands where some 15,000 producers raise cattle, the incomparable Everglades and, of course, beaches, miles of them, 663 to be exact. And then there are the man-made attractions: Miami Beach, the Disney and Universal Studio parks, and the Kennedy Space Center. And therein lies my frustration. With so much to offer to so many people, one might suppose that Florida would have an abundance of hideaways of the type that I strive to find. But there has been a relative dearth. Recently, unwilling to concede defeat, I decided to renew my efforts in the Sunshine State.

Seventy-five miles north of Miami, Palm Beach has been a favored wintering spot for the wealthy since the late 1890s, when Henry Morrison Flagler (co-founder of Standard Oil with John D. Rockefeller) brought rail travel to Florida and opened two celebrated hotels, the long-gone Royal Poinciana and The Breakers, which still stands (and which many consider the finest grand resort hotel in America). Among the famous were even-today-recognizable names such as Kellogg, Vanderbilt, Colgate and Kennedy. And Mar-a-Lago Club, an august 126-room estate that once belonged to Marjorie Merriweather Post, a leading socialite in her time and the owner of General Foods, is now owned by President Donald Trump.

Palm Beach today encompasses the original coastal island that was once the exclusive province of the wealthy, as well as West Palm Beach, across Lake Worth Lagoon (the Intracoastal Waterway), an area once set aside for tradespeople and the servants who worked in the great mansions.

The Brazilian Court

Quietly blending into an upscale residential neighborhood north of Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, The Brazilian Court reveals itself as more than a home, with a paved semicircular drive out front and a white-cloth porte cochère leading into the stylish Spanish Colonial low-rise building. Eager young staffers, in smart outfits of polo shirts and shorts, quickly helped us unload our bags and saw us into the reception area for check-in.

The grounds of Brazilian Court Hotel
The grounds of Brazilian Court Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

On the way to our suite, we passed through the first of two airy courtyards, around which the hotel’s 80 rooms are set. Stately palms line the perimeters, with inviting benches and splashing fountains adding to the appeal. Our spacious accommodations, done in a low-key style of dark woods and comfortable, contemporary furniture, had all we needed for a hospitable stay. The sitting area was particularly conducive to reading, and the bath was spacious and well-appointed with a large soaking tub.

In contrast, I found the pool area to be rather prosaic and not what the rest of the hotel’s aesthetics would have led me to expect. Fortunately, the property provided ample compensations, chief among them Café Boulud, under the direction of star chef Daniel Boulud. At the attractive bar, we enjoyed a glass of Champagne in the company of Palm Beach residents and then segued to a table on the outdoor terrace. There, under the clear evening sky, we delighted in dishes like fried stuffed squash blossoms, and grilled loup de mer with ramps and baby potatoes. Attentive service made the evening all the more enjoyable.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief stay at The Brazilian Court and was thrilled to find a smaller property in Palm Beach that I could recommend.

The courtyard at Brazilian Court Hotel - Brazilian Court Hotel
The pool at Brazilian Court Hotel - Brazilian Court Hotel
The Conservatory at Brazilian Court Hotel - Brazilian Court Hotel
The ballroom at Brazilian Court Hotel - Brazilian Court Hotel
Our One-bedroom Suite with a den at the Brazilian Court Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The bath of our One-bedroom Suite with a den at the Brazilian Court Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The One-bedroom Suite with a den at Brazilian Court Hotel - Brazilian Court Hotel
- Hotel at a Glance -

The Brazilian Court 93Andrew Harper Bird

Like

The mix of the informal atmosphere and the elegant setting.

Dislike

It is not always easy to book the hotel’s Mercedes for rides to the beach.

Good to Know

The hotel provides chairs, umbrellas and beach bags stocked with towels, sunblock and water.


Rates: Luxurious Studio, $350; One-bedroom Suite, $420
Address: 301 Australian Avenue, Palm Beach
Telephone: (561) 655-7740


View The Brazilian Court Listing

The Chesterfield Palm Beach

In the same neighborhood, The Chesterfield Palm Beach, with 53 rooms and suites, is housed within a handsome pink building with dignified dark-green awnings and flags flying out front. The hotel is part of the London-based Red Carnation Hotels group, which recently carried out a superlative renovation of Ireland’s Ashford Castle (on which I reported in the March Hideaway Report). A stay here seemed like a priority.

The exterior of The Chesterfield
The exterior of The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

We meandered through a lovely courtyard patio draped with tropical foliage — an idyllic spot for breakfast — into the lobby. This displayed a traditional European style, with plush furniture and matching concierge and reception desks manned by formally attired staff.

The décor in our spacious room was tropical in tone, the light walls trimmed with grosgrain ribbon and decked out with large prints of vintage Palm Beach scenes. Overall, the scheme seemed Caribbean Colonial. The bath had recently been redone in a striking mix of white and tan marble.

A similarly tropical motif adorned The Leopard Lounge & Restaurant, the hotel’s atmospheric dining room. The menu featured some favorites of Red Carnation owner Bea Tollman, whose excellent cookbook, “A Life in Food,” occupies a prominent place in the Harper kitchen. I greatly enjoyed one such dish, shrimp stroganoff, which was preceded by exemplary crab cakes.

There is much to like about The Chesterfield, and I came prepared to be impressed. But, candidly, several things caught my eye that seemed disappointing. In the courtyard, wiring for the fans was haphazard and unsightly. The lock plate on our door was badly scratched. In the pool area, the lids of the containers for fresh and used towels were coming apart and had rusty hardware. In The Leopard Lounge, one of the punkah fans made a distracting noise. And throughout the property, we saw scuffed paint and smudging. These are cosmetic issues that can be fixed easily. I hope they will be. I look forward to a return visit once The Chesterfield has received some needed care and attention.

The exterior of The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The pool at The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The bed in our room at The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The desk in our room at The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The bath in our room at The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
Our bedroom at The Chesterfield - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
- Hotel at a Glance -

The Chesterfield Palm Beach 88

Like

The decorative touches throughout the hotel that give it a charming tropical feel, such as striking banana-leaf wallpaper leading to the pool.

Dislike

The small but pervasive maintenance issues.

Good to Know

A very civilized afternoon tea is served daily.


Rates: Deluxe King, $500; Junior Suite, $700
Address: 363 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach
Telephone: (561) 659-5800
https://www.chesterfieldpb.com/


Royal Blues Hotel

Deerfield Beach, a small middle-class town just south of wealthier Boca Raton, is not a place obviously destined for the Harper atlas. However, it does have a beautiful stretch of sand. There the Royal Blues Hotel is the dream project of Edward Walson, a successful Hollywood and Broadway producer, whose résumé includes several Woody Allen movies — “Blue Jasmine” and “Magic in the Moonlight” among them — as well as an acclaimed Broadway production of “An American in Paris.” Walson vacationed in Deerfield Beach as a boy, and the legacy of his childhood happiness is an airy, graceful building whose 12 rooms all look out directly to the beach and the Atlantic.

The exterior of Royal Blues Hotel in Deerfield Beach, Florida
The exterior of Royal Blues Hotel in Deerfield Beach, Florida - Royal Blues Hotel

The small number of accommodations makes possible on-site parking — at a premium here — and constant attention from the modest staff. An attractive young woman not only took care of the check-in formalities but insisted on helping with our luggage. Entering our room from the open breezeway, we immediately noticed the ocean, grandly visible through full-height windows. Awash in light, the room came with a rich mix of textures and materials. One wall of warm wood panels was complemented by others done in a light Venetian plaster. Most appealing was the large terrace that fronted our room on two sides, giving us a panoramic view of the beach. Although it came with just one sink, the bath provided a walk-in shower and was more than adequate.

On the ground floor, Chanson features contemporary cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood. A striking 1,500-gallon saltwater aquarium forms the ceiling at one end of the dining room; the other side of the aquarium is visible at the bottom of the small pool found on a second-floor deck. On a fine evening, we opted for the outside terrace. There we enjoyed a fillet of black grouper, accompanied by a vegetable flan, and pistachio-crusted yellowfin tuna, served with sweet-and-sour Sicilian pepperonata, olives, mint and spring onion.

The novelty of the aquarium aside, the pool didn’t offer much room for lounging, so we headed for the beach instead. There the staff were exceptionally attentive, setting up chairs and bringing towels and chilled water. With its beachfront location, distinctive design, excellent restaurant and friendly staff, Royal Blues Hotel is a fine property in a somewhat unexpected place.

The interior of <em>Chanson</em>, the restaurant at Royal Blues Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The view from <em>Chanson</em> restaurant of the beach at sunrise at Royal Blues Hotel - Royal Blues Hotel
Outdoor seating at <em>Chanson</em> restaurant at Royal Blues Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
Our bedroom at the Royal Blues Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
Our bedroom at the Royal Blues Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The bath in our room at Royal Blues Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
The balcony of our room at the Royal Blues Hotel - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
- Hotel at a Glance -

Royal Blues Hotel 93Andrew Harper Bird

Like

All rooms have terraces with panoramic ocean views.

Dislike

The pool is quite small.

Good to Know

Deerfield Beach lacks high-end restaurants and shops, but the staff can recommend several in nearby Boca Raton.


Rates: Classic Corner Room, $500; One-bedroom Suite, $820
Address: 45 N.E. 21st Avenue, Deerfield Beach
Telephone: (954) 857-2929


View Royal Blues Hotel Listing

From Deerfield Beach, we headed down to the Fort Lauderdale airport for a flight south. Continue reading about our experience in Key West, where we found a lovely hotel to recommend.

By Hideaway Report Editor Hideaway Report editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.
Learn more...
.article-cta-bottom

Keep Reading

Tagged: