In Tampa for theme park thrills? Book one of these hotels with Culture Trip and you’ll sleep easy after each pulse-raising day.
Tampa Bay so wants to prove that Orlando isn’t the only place in Central Florida with adrenaline-peaking rides. Take its theme park, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: close to the city, it’s no simple roadside attraction. Expect exhilarating roller-coasters and fun water rides, safaris and animal encounters (the wildlife count exceeds 200). Ramp up the fun with a stay at one of these great hotels near Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
The good times sure roll at Seminole. Live performances, hundreds of casino games, and eight bars will keep you busy 24/7. Dining’s the business – from pasta classics at Cipresso to fried chicken and waffles at the Rez Grill, which sizzles with American favourites. The few moments that you spend in your room will rock as well. Ask the roadies (technically the concierge) to send a Fender guitar and amplifier up to your room (yes, they really will) – turn it up to 11 and act out your rock and roll fantasy. Or grab front-row seats for one of the weekly concerts.
When Busch Gardens closes, the historic neighbourhood of Ybor City wakes up. Here you’ll find boutique-chic Hotel Haya, on the outskirts of downtown Tampa. Rooms ranging from classic to deluxe and suite are all similarly pared-down, thickly carpeted, and curtained, with blackout drapes. Local creatives have helped hone the experience: for instance, taste the area’s Latin roots with octopus tostada and salmon ceviche in Flor Fina restaurant. Sated, head into town for a Cuban cigar and frothy glass of Coppertail beer.
Got an early post-holiday flight to catch? Want a quick colleague conflab on arrival before you head on to your resort hotel? Business and pleasure are equally effortless at this tech-friendly little number (thank you, Marriott) close to the terminal. Staying’s no headache: corner rooms may have work desks but separate sitting areas are made to be lounged in, once room service delivers your hearty breakfast. When you’re ready to head out for hedonism – or throw on that “out of office” message – catch a quick cab ride over to Busch Gardens and raise a glass to the wildlife at the Giraffe Bar.
You couldn’t be better placed for your theme park close-up: this Hampton Inn & Suites stands directly across the street from Busch Gardens. Just what you need to maximise your multi-day pass. Being a Hilton brand, it guarantees unfussy, corporate comfort – carpeted rooms in beige with plump mattresses – and there’s a dinky pool edged by loungers. The free shuttle is perfect for parents who need to take the little ones back to the room for a well-deserved nap. If you want to double your fun without blowing your budget, the concierge desk will also sell you discounted tickets to nearby Adventure Island.
The Aloft label is the result of big brand Marriott seeking something funky for after-work corporate types: quirky chairs in the lobby, crazy-stripe rugs in Japanese-minimalist bedrooms. This outpost, in Midtown Tampa, is just the ticket when you’re footsore post roller-coaster riding. Our advice? Skip the 24-hour fitness center – you’ve already put your steps in. The only reason to leave your room is a trip to the rooftop pool or a visit to the WXYZ bar to knock back a few Cigar City brews. If you do get itchy feet, head out to MacFarlane Park’s playground and walking trails, then head back to Aloft’s Sal y Mar rooftop bar, for a chipotle-charred chicken dinner.
Water Street is an evolving urban development downtown. And this Marriott is a neighbourhood emblem. Home in on the resort-style pool on the sixth floor (towels provided) and progress your tan as you take in the surrounding sea and scenery. Amazing Florida sunsets are served with your clam chowder and seared rib eye at Six restaurant – the in-house American bistro number. Step out and Amalie Arena is one block away if you fancy center seats for a Tampa Bay Lightning game. Or put those plans on ice and switch off with a scalp and neck massage at the Spa by JW.
Need to speed from the roller-coaster tracks to the runway? You’ll be happy you booked a room at Hampton Inn Veterans Expressway. A tidy 20-minute transfer from the park, it’s even closer to Tampa International Airport – a great option if you’re in town for a lightning-quick trip. The usual Hilton interior rules apply: fun-looking furnishings in candy-cool shades. Check in early and you can idle by the hotel’s bijou pool before bedding down for that early departure. And be sure to fill up on the free breakfast before you fly.