Town mouse visits Palm Beach

Take me to the beach.

Not a blade of grass was out of place in Palm Beach last week: it never is. The only sound to disturb the peace of this Shangri-La is that of the leaf blowers—Palm Beach doesn’t do ‘the sear, the yellow leaf’, its inhabitants being as manicured as the lawns. Having last visited in the 1980s, I found it not merely unchanged, but improved. One of the buildings, which looks as if it might have been erected by the buccaneering architect Addison Mizner in the 1920s, but actually went up about a decade ago, is the headquarters of the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation, where I gave a talk.

You can’t miss Mar-a-Lago, built for Marjorie Merriweather Post and now a club: the Stars and Stripes outside it isn’t much smaller than a football pitch. Owner Donald Trump is causing some amusement by suing the county for the planes flying overhead. Next door—and created by the same architect, Joseph Urban, stage designer for the Ziegfeld Follies—is the altogether more discreet B and T Club (Bath and Tennis, although no real Palmer Beacher has to ask). Ineffably low key, it combines informality with decorum (absolutely no mobile phones, shirts tucked in). I can quite see why the cabana, a kind of beach hut, is so highly prized—and so expensive. Relaxation has become an art.