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Four of the best food-focused hotels in Tampa, Florida

Florida’s Gulf Coast city is booming with a string of stylish new food-focused hotels.

Bar at Hotel Haya.

Photograph by William Zbaren / Hotel Haya
Published 17 Oct 2021, 06:00 BST, Updated 25 Oct 2021, 12:42 BST

1. Hotel Haya

Like much of Florida and the American South, Tampa is a gumbo of cultures, and nowhere is that fusion more obvious than in its food scene, where modern American mixes with the many variations of Latin cuisine. And doing Tampa’s tradition proud is Hotel Haya, which opened its doors last autumn. You’ll find it in Ybor City, the area just north of Downtown, once famed for its cigar factories run by an immigrant workforce. Today, with the factories closed, Ybor has undergone something of a transformation: there’s a thriving nightlife scene and it’s the host for a calendar of annual food-focused festivals laid on for dishes such as cupcakes, flan and the Cuban sandwich — a pork, ham and cheese behemoth much beloved of the former cigar factory workers.

Hotel Haya brings it all together, adding a dash of hipster glamour. Rooms are playfully retro, with bright artwork and mustard-toned chairs lifting the royal blue carpets, headboards and curtains. The zigzag stone tiling in the showers elevates the standard marble-clad bathrooms to something altogether more chic, too.

Yet, like Tampa itself, this is somewhere to come for the food. Restaurant Flor Fina takes its lead from the area’s Latin heritage, with ceviche featuring strongly on the menu and a live-fire grill taking pride of place inside (groups will love the semi-private dining area, where you can order a whole suckling pig ‘feast’). Café Quiquiriqui is Cuban-inspired, meanwhile, and the rest of Ybor City — and Downtown Tampa — is just a few minutes’ walk away. From $189 (£138).

Pool area at Epicurean Hotel.

Photograph by Epicurean Hotel

2. Epicurean Hotel

Launched by the owners of one of Tampa Bay’s best steakhouses, this hotel’s specially created ‘Epicurean Theatre’ hosts everything from coffee lessons to a Latin barbecue course. The lobby off licence, meanwhile, carries more than 1,000 bottles of wine and spirits, and even the spa treatments use coffee scrubs. From $229 (£166).

3. The Current Hotel

Floor-to-ceiling windows mean you’ll have bay views no matter which room you choose at this outpost of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The main draw here is the rooftop bar (Tampa Bay’s highest), which also does dinner, as well as the small plates at Julian Restaurant. From $339 (£248).

4. Aloft Tampa Midtown

Aloft was Starwood’s (now Marriott’s) brand for budget-conscious hipsters, and this property — which opened in January, sharing a building with the eco-orientated Element hotel — is no different. The main event is rooftop restaurant Sal Y Mar, with Latin-inspired food and sixth-floor views. From $211 (£154), B&B.

Published in the November issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

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