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
My wife and I had an amazing stay at The Don. We were in St. Pete for my brother's wedding and the rest of the family stayed at The Tradewinds (such a dump). Sooo happy we chose to stay here instead. Great hotel with so much history - its big but it felt really homey to us. We got champs at check in, every door was opened for us - just great service. Our room was great with a lovely view as well.
The hotel even offers complimentary workout classes each day. We had a great time doing yoga on the beach and even tried an aqua aerobics class.
We had an amazing stay and can't wait to come back to the Pink Palace!
Maybe because it was Easter week, but we were amazed at the number of children. Our parents could never have afforded to bring us here. Unfortunately, the public spaces sounded like a gym most of the time with the piped in "music" a couple of decibels too loud. It was not really suited to a quiet, romantic tryst except in the room.
The room was very quiet and the view spectacular. The bed linens and mattress were of the finest quality. The entire hotel is meticulously maintained and sparkling clean. The beverages and food were delicious and the staff attentive and helpful. The Rowe bar was lovely, but we had to wait until 9 PM until it was quiet enough to hear each other talk.
Came all the way from London to see the beach for the first time! Enjoyed it! Awesome food and bar service. I wish they had more live music!! Beach and pool service was wonderful. Ryan got me set up on the beach, very friendly and had a great attitude every day. I would defiantly come here again
the hotel itself was very good , a bit over priced for drinks (4 drinks at the bar - almost $80.!!!???) and the rooms very modern and attractive.BUT -BUT the main restaurant is a disaster. we should have guessed the first night with very few guests (the hotel was very busy)..but nevertheless we booked a table (again overpriced) for 4. MAAAN it was deplorable. the french onion soup was cool, served on an even colder plate - 3 of sent it back. it was obviously just fired back into the pan and reheated then reserved..when you do this the oil comes to the top and i got reserved a bowl of oil. sent back again.
one of us opted to choose another starter - again cool .do these guys ever learn by experience..??
main courses....my pompano was brown around the edges and like the sole of a shoe.
the "small bird" was overcooked rubbery and obviously had been reheated. we felt we had given the waiter a hard time (its not his fault really but must see yeuuch food going out), so we asked to see the chef. guess what........he had left for the night..!!!!
WHAATT..?? a supposedly AAA 4 diamond restaurant with prices to match and the chef had gone home...?.....we got our money back......speechless....
Tru at the beach stand was so lovely and accommodating when there were no chairs left. He went on a hunt and found me a front row to the gulf of mexico. All young men should be as helpful as he was. He was just delightful.