Review: Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront

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During my recent quick jaunt to Sao Paulo I had a six day stopover in New York on the return. I spent four of those days in Florida with my parents.

My mom works far too much, and on one of her days off she really wanted to do a “staycation” in St. Petersburg, so I booked the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. I don’t get too excited over staycations anymore (though now that I live in hotels full time I don’t think there is technically such a thing for me anymore), but happy mom, happy life… I think.

Anyway, one of the hotels in downtown St. Petersburg is the Hilton. While Hyatt and Starwood are my preferred hotel chains, neither have a property in St. Petersburg. Hilton is my back up hotel chain, as I have Diamond status with them through the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card.

Just for having the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card you get Gold status, and if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year you get Diamond status. So last year I figured it was worth putting $40,000 of spend on the card for Diamond status, especially since after $10,000 of spend you get a free weekend night certificate.

Anyway, I redeemed points for the stay. This is a Category 5 HHonors property, making it 40,000 points per night. Compared to the cash rate that turned out to be a really good deal, given that the hotel was going for $429+ per night. The reason the rate was so high is because the St. Petersburg Grand Prix was in town that weekend, which I hadn’t realized till after we booked.

So at over a cent per HHonors point I’d say that’s a heck of a redemption. Or more importantly, 40,000 points is a small price to pay for a happy mom (especially since she feels less “guilty” when I redeem points as opposed to paying — between us, even when I book a paid stay I always tell her I redeemed points so she feels better about it). 😉

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For reference, cash rates at this hotel seem to normally go for $150-200 per night. And even if that had been the rate I may have redeemed points, since I’m looking for any opportunity to burn Hilton points post-devaluation.

We arrived at the hotel at around 12PM and parked in the lot adjacent to the hotel. The property looks really tired from the outside, and still seemed to be stuck in the 90s.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront exterior

The lobby was a bit more modern, and felt like your typical US Hilton lobby.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront lobby

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront lobby

Check-in was located in the back left corner of the lobby, and we were checked in by a friendly associate. While the previous guest had been told their room wasn’t ready yet, the associate managed to find us an available room. She explained that we would have access to the club lounge and complimentary internet, and directed us to the elevators, located to the right of the reception desk.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront lobby

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront lobby

We were assigned a room on the seventh floor, about halfway down the hall to the left when stepping out of the elevator.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront hallway

It was room 716, a standard king room (they didn’t have any room with two beds available).

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room entrance

There was an entryway with the bathroom to the right and a closet to the left.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room entrance

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room closet

The room featured a comfortable king bed, chair with ottoman, and a desk with a rolling desk chair. The room felt “fresh” and certainly brand standard for Hilton.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room bed

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room bed

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room TV

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room desk

The room faced the parking lot, surrounding buildings, and in the far distance you could see the baseball field and bay.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room view

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room view

The bathroom was really small, and featured a toilet, sink, and shower/tub combo.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room bathroom

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room shower

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room sink

The toiletries were Peter Thomas Roth branded.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room toiletries

While the room felt fresh for the most part, the towel rack by the shower had a ton of rust on it.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront King Room bathroom rust

The club lounge was located on the top floor, and could be accessed by swiping the room key.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge entrance

The club lounge is large and featured nice views of the bay. The furniture felt a bit scattered and I couldn’t help but feel like it was furnished as if it was just the surplus furniture from their events/banquet department.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge

But the views really were very nice, as it even directly faced St. Petersburg Airport, so you had a direct view of the runway.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge view

Throughout the day the lounge had soft drinks and light snacks. I loved that the Coke products were in aluminum bottles. Yes, I’m like a five year old. And I also loved that they had syrups for the coffee.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge drinks

The lounge also had a handful of snacks available throughout the day, including Goldfish, Chex Mix, pretzels, “yogurt” covered pretzels, etc.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge snacks

Then evening happy hour was available from 5PM till 7PM. On the plus side, they have an open bar with beer and wine and it didn’t seem like they charged for that, which seemed generous for a US property.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge evening drinks

On the other hand, the lounge had quite possibly the lamest food spread I’ve ever seen, consisting exclusively of “chicken wellington,” cheese, and crackers.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge evening snacks

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge evening snacks

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge evening snacks

The breakfast spread was available from 6AM till 9:30AM, and was a bit better than the evening spread. It consisted of toast, muffins, bagels, cereal, fruit, eggs, and sausage.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge breakfast

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge breakfast

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront club lounge breakfast

In terms of the hotel’s other “features,” there’s a legitimate Starbucks located in the lobby. Fortunately I didn’t have to resort to that, since I managed to keep my mother occupied for an hour or two by exposing her to “Real Housewives of Atlanta” on my iPad. “Zhis NeNe lady, I don’t know about her…”

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Starbucks in lobby

There’s also a decent gym located on the ground floor. Unfortunately there were always people in it, so I didn’t have a chance to take any good pictures.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront gym

Then there’s also an outdoor pool, though it was only about 60 degrees when we were there, so not really swimming weather.

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Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront pool

St. Petersburg is actually a really cool area with beautiful bay views and tons of nice shops and restaurants, so we enjoyed our time there. There are also very nice beaches in St. Petersburg Beach, but that’s about 10 miles from “downtown” St. Petersburg, and this isn’t really the time of year for that anyway (yes, apparently Florida has seasons).

Anyway, there are definitely nicer hotels in St. Petersburg, like the Vinoy Renaissance, but I still feel like I got a great value on points. This isn’t an amazing hotel, but given the normal rates I’d say it’s a decent value given the location.

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Comments

  1. Ha, we do the same trick with our parents- “We’ll just redeem some points, don’t worry about it.” Like you, we’ve found that taking our parents on trips is the most fulfilling part of this whole game. It’s really such a privilege to have the means to do it.

  2. FWIW, I received a suite upgrade here on a three-night stay last year in January. However, the suite was composed simply by housekeeping having opened the double set of locking doors to the adjacent room, which also had a sofa. Since I was by myself I didn’t get any use out of it.

    I was also comped 1,500 points for the shuttle van not coming to pick me up at the Vinoy after I waited 30 minutes.

    Agree about the lounge — oddly decorated, but nice views, decent breakfast service, and exciting aluminum bottles. 🙂

  3. Have you stayed the Vinoy? I’d really hoped to have made it there, but with again the recent hotel category changes, it is way too rich for my points.

  4. I’m pretty exclusively a Marriott guy, trying to get more into Hyatt and even Hilton these days, though. Hope hotel living is going well!

  5. My mom would probably ask to be moved to another room on account of the rusty towel rack. Hope the rest of the room was in better shape.

  6. Last Dec when my family went to Disney World at Orlando, FL, we soent two days at Residence Inn St Peterburgs (Category 3), and we watchedf sunset and went to the clear water beach. It is was a great town.

  7. Terrible Management, The Hotel Staff was nice and went out of their way to may our stay pleasant but the hotel billed my Credit card $100.00 for Incidentals and I used none of the hotels amenities. Garry Sims is the GM there and even he was not sympathetic to the issue and refused to do anything to fix this issue so I had to Disputer with my Credit card Company and Hilton Corporate and still have not gotten a irresolution from this and it has now been 2 weeks since my stay.

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