I spent the first few weeks of June in Tampa, and spent most of it at my “home” hotel, the Grand Hyatt Tampa.
On the morning of June 16 I happened to randomly notice that Le Meridien Tampa was opening that day, and had reasonable rates of $119. I had never stayed at a hotel during a “soft opening” before, so figured I might as well give it a shot. I made my reservation literally as I was getting ready to leave for the hotel, and had no clue what was awaiting me. I expected chaos since it was their first day.
Le Meridien Tampa
While the Grand Hyatt Tampa is located close to the airport, Le Meridien Tampa is downtown. That’s really one of the downsides of the hotel for me. When I’m in Tampa it’s to visit my parents, and they don’t live downtown. For that matter I don’t think downtown Tampa as such has much to offer within walking distance (I prefer Channelside and Ybor City if I am going out), and unlike the Grand Hyatt Tampa parking isn’t free.
Nonetheless I couldn’t wait to check out the new Le Meridien, which is a converted century old federal courthouse. Let me start by saying I just love when historic landmarks are converted into usable “modern” spaces. As much as I’m someone that prefers ultra-modern architecture, I think it’s so awesome when something historic is converted into something modern while still keeping some authentic touches, which this hotel did a marvelous job with.
I arrived shortly after noon, and the front office manager informed me that the hotel hadn’t yet been “signed off by legal,” so their systems weren’t live yet. He was super friendly, asked if I wanted something to drink, and invited me to make myself at home.
The lobby was beautiful, with plenty of seating, a bar area, and the reception desk at the far end.
There was also a small “market” area with drinks, snacks, medicine, etc.
The front office manager informed me that Bizou Brasserie, the hotel’s restaurant, was serving lunch, so I headed up there.
I loved that the restroom had the original “United States Hearing Room Entrance” door. How awesome is that?
Bizou Brasserie was beautifully designed, with a cafe and bar area, along with a main dining room.
While the hotel’s lobby was empty, I was amazed by how full the restaurant was, with dozens of diners, none of whom seemed to be staying at the hotel.
My server presented me with the menu, though explained that it was still the soft opening, so they didn’t have a lot of the items available.
The lunch menu read as follows:
Of the options that were actually available, I selected the smoked salmon flatbread, which was tasty.
I don’t usually have dessert with lunch, but per the server’s suggestion, I had the cheesecake, which was amazing. She explained that they have a great pastry and dessert chef, and that almost everything is made in-house.
The service throughout lunch was over the top good — my water must have been refilled a dozen times. Every time I took a sip it would be refilled.
Upon conclusion of lunch the restaurant manager came by my table to thank me for visiting them during the soft opening. He asked for my feedback and said lunch was “on the house,” and just asked me to “take care of his servers.”
By the time I went back to the lobby, the hotel’s reservations system was just about “live,” and I was apparently the first person to check in. I was checked in by Evanlee, who was extremely friendly. It was funny, because she had two people looking over her shoulder as she processed the check-in, so it was comically by the book. I had a hard time not laughing during the process.
I was assigned an Executive King room on the fourth floor, room 451.
I took the elevator up there. The hallways were wide and “original,” which I loved.
You would never expect how modern the rooms are based on the hallways and public areas.
The room was simple and large, and felt a bit like a higher end aloft hotel, which I mean as a compliment. The room featured a king size bed, two night stands, and a desk in the corner.
The desk was unique in that it was a “hi-top” and right in front of the TV. On top of the desk was an ice bucket, complimentary bottle of water, and illy coffee machine.
Inside the desk console was an empty mini-fridge.
The king bed was super comfortable, both in terms of the mattress itself and bedding. Since I’m generally grossed out by hotel beds, it was comforting to know that I may have been the first person to sleep in this one. It was also easier to sleep thanks to the blackout shades throughout the room, which I wish more hotels offered.
Next to the bed was an alarm clock, power outlet, and USB port. It always frustrates me when hotels don’t have power outlets close to the bed, so that was well thought out.
Over by the wall was some closet space, not that I use that much, living out of a carry on.
The bathroom was a decent size and functional. It featured a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.
The toiletries were Le Meridien branded.
The room faced a church on one side and government building on the other side.
In the morning I had breakfast in the restaurant again. I had selected continental breakfast as my Starwood Platinum amenity, though apparently that wasn’t needed since breakfast was again “on the house” during the soft opening, as many of the items on the menu weren’t available. I was told that apparently the “countryside breakfast” will be the standard Starwood Platinum breakfast.
The breakfast menu read as follows:
For breakfast I decided to have berries, yogurt, and an English muffin. The orange juice and illy cappuccino were both excellent, as was the food. If I were paying, however, I would have been pretty pissed about the portion of berries they served for $15 (not factoring in the $2 supplement for yogurt).
I also had the chance to use the hotel’s gym, which was small though well equipped.
Service throughout my stay was excellent. I expected all the employees to be enthusiastic, but beyond that they were attentive and extremely polished. For example, during check-in Evanlee asked me how lunch was, and I mentioned that it was great, especially the dessert. I mentioned that the pastries in the case also looked amazing. An hour after checking in a box of pastries were sent up to my room, with a note from the general manager. Now that’s attention to detail!
I also got a phone call from the general manager and front office manager during my stay to ask for feedback and wish me a pleasant stay.
Bottom line on Le Meridien Tampa
This is just an all around fabulous hotel. I love the concept behind the hotel, that you have a historic building that’s converted into something modern and usable, while still keeping some of the “original” touches. The rooms were gorgeous and I loved the public spaces.
The employees were also top notch, so hopefully that continues over time once they get more “settled” into their roles.
The location isn’t all that practical for me since my family doesn’t live downtown so it only adds complexity to staying there, though I’d definitely still return if the price is right.