Disclaimer: My family was provided complimentary brunch and a lovely bottle of wine and a meat and cheese plate (for me, not my kids). All opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links.
The Epicurean Hotel‘s lobby lets you know what this Tampa hotel is all about: A front desk made out of wine crates, cute bicycles with picnic baskets propped on a wall (to rent), modern and thoughtful decorations with cookbooks arranged just so.
It’s about food. It’s an upscale hotel for those who like to eat. And drink.
My family stayed at the Epicurean during a recent trip to Tampa Bay. I know! The hotel screams “Parents! Come escape from your kids here!” with its award-winning chef, its famous steakhouse, a rooftop bar, outdoor pool, spa and on-site wine store.
I brought my kids to the Epicurean. It’s not our typical choice of hotels – I tend to look for a place with a free breakfast or happy hour and Mr. Wondeful likes places where he’s not paranoid the kids will break something. And while I saw several families with young kids there, I would say it’s designed to appeal to us, the adults, in every way, not to our off-spring.
There is an outdoor pool, but we did not get to see it. Our flight out of Omaha was extremely delayed and the downtime I had planned for the pool was tossed out the window. I didn’t even tell my kids there was a pool. shhhh
The hotel is located in South Tampa in historic Hyde Park, a trendy neighborhood that’s an easy walk to Bayshore Drive with its mansions and bayside sidewalk. It’s a short drive from attractions like The Florida Aquarium and the famous Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. It was a drive to get to the beach, but when you’re from Nebraska, 30 minutes is nothing if it means you get to have your feet in the sand in that time.
The rooms are comfortable, like “lounge in your cloud-like bed in a robe while you drink your Tassimo cup of coffee” comfortable. But I had kids. So that didn’t happen.
The drawbacks to the room is that the basic rooms do not have a bath tub. They have a divine shower with the rain showerhead; us grownups will appreciate and ooh and ahh at. But, kids. Kids got to rain on my parade. I got my sand- and sunscreen-covered kids in there only after some heavy negotiations.
Shower aside, the room was great, with free wi-fi to boot. It’s part of the prestigious Autograph Collection® of Marriott International, Inc., but it felt more like a cool boutique hotel than anything belonging to a chain.
You can totally splurge and get a fab room with a balcony and that coveted tub that kids love.Go ahead. Book that balcony suite. You deserve it. Photo courtesy Epicurean Hotel
Epicurean has a couple dining options that don’t feel like hotel restaurants. There’s Élevage and its nationally recognized Executive Chef Chad Johnson, named a 2012 Best Chef: South Region semi-finalist by the James Beard Foundation.
It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a menu highlights of Lobster & Bacon Hash, a “Duck, Duck, Goose” foie gras burger and a brunch to die for.
The hotel invited my family to try their brunch.
A little tip: If you’re traveling with young ones, get there right when it opens for brunch, at 9 a.m. It’s not busy and the only other people in the restaurant are in your same situation, so you don’t feel very embarrassed when your kid throws his or her Winter the dolphin figurine.
Let’s talk about that brunch. Mr. Wonderful and I opted for Brunch Like Bacchus, a tasting menu featuring dishes like Truffle Vichyssoise and Sourdough Pancakes. Our courses took some time to prepare and, admittedly, not the best choice to make with our kids in tow.
I’d suggest everyone at your table brunch like Bacchus, or save it for another day and order just one dish. I suggest the one below.
My favorite was the Shrimp and Grits, which was a choice for the second course. Our waitress confirmed this was the most popular menu item for brunch. I could’ve licked the bowl.
There was no kid menu, so we got the kids each eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and toast. Here’s where it would’ve been wiser to split the plate. Neither finished their food and each dish was a cool $16.
They were, however, good sports and sampled some of our food, helping us finish that third course of brioche french toast.
Now on to the other dining options at Epicurean. There’s the in-house pâtisserie called Chocolate Pi, which serves High Tea daily, and the roof-top bar, Wines & Spirits Edge Social Drinkery, which has a small menu.
There’s also the Epicurean Theatre where you can sign up for cooking demos, and classes like Champagne 101 or Whiskey Making; The Bar at Élevage in the lobby; and Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits. Across the street from the hotel is Bern’s Steak House.
Near the Hotel
I don’t know what kind of vacationer you are, but I like a hotel near things to do. Epicurean is a walkable distance from a trendy strip of restaurants and bars, none of which would be great places to bring your pre-k kids to.
If you’re a runner, you’ll like the hotel’s location near Bayshore Boulevard with its continuous trail along the bay. Gorgeous! You can also rent bikes from the hotel and enjoy the view on two wheels.
The hotel is near Hyde Park Village, great for shopping with a mix of national, regional and local retailers, as well as an upscale cinema. Our quick trip didn’t allow for a chance to check this place out.
If you go
Where: 1207 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, Florida
Call: (855) U-AWAKEN (829-2536)
The Epicurean Hotel touts itself as being located just 15 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TPA), as well as St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE). That all depends on traffic, of course. You can fly directly to PIE on Allegiant Air.
*Partner in the Marriott Rewards loyalty program
* * * * *
Thinking of flying your family to Tampa? Check out my sample two-day Tampa Bay itinerary! We crammed a lot in, which I actually wouldn’t suggest. Mix and match my recommended places to see: