The Don CeSar
What We Love
- Cushy beach loungers on the powder-white sand and two pools
- Spanish Colonial-style architecture makes this hotel a landmark (the pink color is hard to miss)
- Fun activities for kids at Camp CeSar
- Massages in the three-story spa, which also has a rooftop garden
What To Know
- Multiple grand ballrooms make this a popular place for weddings and conferences
- Guestrooms and bathrooms are cozy by modern standards
- You can happily stay within the confines of the hotel, but otherwise you’ll need a car to explore
- Rooms on lower floors have views of the parking lot
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Driving over the Pinellas Bayway bridge, the spires of the Don CeSar Hotel rise in the distance like some fantastical sand castle. A paragon of roaring 20s elegance, the palatial property’s many tiers and icing-like architectural flourishes have earned it the affectionate nickname “the Pink Palace.” The service too is reminiscent of more genteel times. But the place isn’t stuffy. A relaxed, beachy vibe reigns in the colonnaded lobby, where guests walk past the baby grand piano in flip-flops and bathing suit coverups.
Bed & Bath
At 250 square feet, the guestrooms may not be as big as in more modern hotels, but the decor is charming, with an airy beach-toned palette of blue and sandy hues and cozy touches like upholstered headboards, super soft throws and high thread count linens. Plantation-style shutters and ceiling fans remind you that this is the South, and gulf views set the mood.
Just beyond the lobby is some of the world’s softest, whitest sand and the tranquil, always warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Beach attendants will set you up with a shaded lounge chair, from which you can watch dolphins finning in and out of the shallows. Or roll out your towel on a chaise next to one of the two pools. Thoughtful touches include free sunscreen, chilled fruit-infused water and an underwater sound system. Head to the poolside bar for a Bloody Mary, or check out the three-story spa. Catch the sunset on the beach, before heading to Maritana Grille for New American fare prepared from local seafood and organic produce. Think Gulf snapper with red quinoa, summer squash and compressed tomato vinaigrette or black grouper with potato confit, chorizo and kale in a lobster-saffron emulsion.
In the Area
Take in surrealist canvases at the Salvador Dalí museum; you can buy melting clock cookies in the café. Try the grouper at the Wharf restaurant, a real local hangout with an overwater dining deck and boat slips out back. Take a lesson and learn stand-up paddleboarding; the Water Monkey Shop will teach you the basics and even deliver your board to the beach. Take a sunset excursion on a 50-foot ketch; you can spot dolphins and tropical birds in the evening glow.
How to Get There
I was there as a part of a Summit for business leaders and I would strongly recommend that you don't book this place. It actually is pretty nice with an amazing beach in the back with white sand. The rooms are reasonably nice. My issue is more with the actual hospitality and their response to cleaning my room and accidentally putting my wedding ring in the trash. Mistakes happen and being a maid isn't the easiest job so I want to be reasonable about that. Their response when I called was horrible though. Never heard from a manager. Only talked to security where they kept interrupting me and not even allowing me to talk. They said they looked in the room, but said they looked near the sink. The ring was near the table by the bed so they didn't even really ask where it probably would have been lost. Really if they just would have been reasonable about being empathetic and at least act like they cared to make an effort I wouldn't be as bothered. Overall, I'd recommend people not go there as they don't seem to care about marriage or at least rings related to it. Maybe if you are single this could be a good place as they wouldn't have a wedding ring to lose and act poorly about.
Staying at the Don CeSar has been a long time in the making for me. I remember the building from many, many years ago when, even though unoccupied, it was the signature pink castle on the St. Pete's beach. Staying there was so much fun! It is as majestic as I imagined. The grounds are lovely. The rooms luxurious, though characteristically a bit small from the era when the hotel was built. Staff were all friendly. The pool is classy and elegant, leading right to the beautiful beach. Convenient location. We didn't eat there so I don't know about the food.
We rented two jet skis this past weekend for one hour. We had the pleasure of renting them from Thomas!! He is awesome!! Thanks Thomas, we had a blast!! The hotel was amazing as well. Very clean and attentive service at the pool.