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Situated on the west coast of Florida and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay encompasses a range of beautiful sandy beaches, tranquil bays, lagoons, and well-developed city landscapes with a ton of entertainment attractions. While the best beaches are to be found in the St. Petersburg and Anna Maria Island areas — which offer dazzling white sands and panoramic ocean views — there are several beaches within the city of Tampa itself. They offer a great beach holiday experience while also being in close proximity to restaurants, museums, art galleries, and other city diversions. Elsewhere within Tampa Bay, there are innumerable state parks and aquatic preserves with an abundance of nature viewing opportunities. With so many attractions in the region, visitors will often want to stay in a beachfront hotel to maximize shore time in between all the other excursions on offer. Below is a selection of the best to be found in the area.
Best Overall: Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Though guests looking for wide sandy beaches may want to look elsewhere, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is a worthy inclusion due to its excellent location and luxurious amenities. Set amidst 3.5 acres of tranquil nature reserve and with unsurpassed views over Tampa Bay, the hotel offers a rare oasis of calm within the city of Tampa. Guest rooms are spacious and modern, with rich, comfortable furnishings, large flat-screen TVs, views over the Bay, and 24-hour room service included. A well-equipped gym, tennis courts, and bicycle rentals are available for guests wishing to keep active. Dining options include award-winning Italian cuisine on the scenic alfresco terrace of Armani’s Lounge, casual bites served while lounging around the two outdoor pools and whirlpool hot tub, and fresh seafood accompanied by stunning sunsets on the Oystercatcher’s patio.
Best Budget: The Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas
Close to restaurants, golf clubs, and Tampa International Airport, the recently renovated Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas offers great value for your dollar and in an easily accessible location. The lobby is surprisingly grand and spacious, with large columns, vividly-colored artworks, and elegant light fixtures. Ocean-themed paintings and murals can be found throughout the hotel, lending a pleasant ambiance to common areas. Large modern rooms are well illuminated by natural light which enters through large windows that lead out onto furnished balconies to reveal great views of the Bay. The hotel courtyard contains a large, angular pool, numerous sun lounges and shade umbrellas, and faces over a small adjacent beach and the Tampa Pier. The famed Tampa Boardwalk is only a short distance away. The WTR Pool & Grill serves fresh seafood and handcrafted cocktails in the flashy modern restaurant or in furnished private cabanas.
Best Boutique: The Inn at Little Harbour
With a private beach, beautiful Bay views and both suite and townhouse accommodation options, The Inn at Little Harbour provides the quintessential Florida island holiday experience. Set amongst beautifully landscaped gardens, the luxurious accommodations feature modern furnishings with traditional elements, kitchens with marble-topped counters, and spacious bathrooms. Rooms come with views over the mangrove waterways, hotel gardens, or the Bay. Numerous hotel amenities include three heated outdoor pools, an outdoor jacuzzi tub, five tennis courts, a basketball court, two fitness centers, and a kids’ playground. Relaxing massage services in the privacy of your suite are available by appointment. The beach area hosts chaises and umbrellas and a fire-pit for cozy sunset viewing. Dining options include the scenic Sunset Grill, poolside Hooks Bar & Grill, and the lively Sunset Patio & Tiki Bar, which features nightly live entertainment with complimentary sunset shots.
Best for Families: Sailport Waterfront Suites
Situated at the tip of an island that offers 270-degree views of the Tampa Bay and easy access to entertainment districts of downtown Tampa, the Sailport Waterfront Suites is a modern hotel that takes advantage of its scenic location. Hotel suites come with full kitchens, separate bedrooms, and comfortable living areas with traditional beach hotel furnishings and balconies that overlook the private beach, sundeck, and pool facing over the water. On the oceanfront sundeck, brightly-colored chairs and beach umbrellas make a cheerful location to enjoy the sunshine and take in the expansive Bay views. On the small private beach, thatch-shade umbrellas make a cool retreat for the sun lounges scattered along the water’s edge. The Big Bamboo Bayside serves fish tacos, juicy burgers and refreshing libations accompanied by spectacular sunset views.
Best for Romance: Tradewinds Island Grand Resort
Couples looking for a romantic getaway should definitely check out the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort on St. Petersburg Beach. With excellent views out into the Gulf of Mexico, the resort offers a relaxed and indulgent location for traveling lovebirds. Book a pecial romance package and your room will be kitted out with champagne-filled flutes, chocolate-covered strawberries, and other delectable nibbles. For a truly memorable experience, guests should stay in the Romance Room, with its own whirlpool hot tub and ocean views from the balcony. Also included are meal vouchers for intimate dining experiences in both the candlelit Palm Court Italian Grill and amid hordes of tropical fish in the aquarium-filled RunFish Grill. The adults-only pool courtyard comes with a relaxing whirlpool spa and cool libations from the tiki bar. On the beach, spacious two-person sun lounges come with individual shade sails. A variety of water sports activities are available, from snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking to flying above the waves with a water jetpack.
Best for Luxury: The Don CeSar
Rising proudly above the white sands of St. Petersburg Beach, the giant pink silhouette of the Don CeSar is an instantly recognizable local landmark and has become synonymous with opulence and luxury in the Tampa Bay area. Since it opened its doors to fashionable high society in 1928, the hotel has specialized in providing the highest level of service and indulgence for its well-heeled clientele. Rooms and suites feature traditional décor in a minimalist style, with a wide variety of room types and views. The hotel is particularly noteworthy for its variety and quality of services, with concierge, shoe shine, and room services supplied by professional and discreet staff. Amenities around the hotel include a private beach, a butler service around the two heated beachfront pools, a jacuzzi, and a full-service spa and salon. Restaurants and bars vary from gourmet dining at Maritana Grille and top-shelf spirits at the sophisticated Lobby Bar to casual meals and drinks at the Sea Porch Café and Beachcomber Bar & Grill.
Best for Singles: Shephard’s Beach Resort
Though it's located in Clearwater Beach and not Tampa Bay proper, given its close proximity to the area and its lively party atmosphere, Shepard's Beach Resort is hands-down the best option for singles looking to mingle. On the tropical pool terrace, guests are indulged with poolside drink service from the Soak Bar, and a nightly buffet of fresh seafood, roast meats, and Asian cuisine is followed by a mouth-watering dessert selection at the Ocean Flame restaurant. A range of drinking establishments adds variety to your evenings, with the Salt Tequila Bar & Tap Room stocking over 100 varieties of tequila and live bands providing entertainment at the social Tiki Bar. Later in the evening, the Wave nightclub keeps the party going into the early hours with live DJ sets accompanied by an impressive sound and light system.
Best for Business: Westin Tampa Bay
With over 10,000 square feet of event space spread out over nine separate salons and a location less than five minutes from Tampa International Airport, the Westin Tampa Bay is a great location to hold events, conferences, and seminars of any size and purpose. A complete range of audio-visual equipment is available to facilitate presentations, including LCD projectors, microphones, and large-screen TVs. Hotel staff provide technicians, photocopying and catering services, and can assist in event management as required. Guest rooms are large and comfortable, with spacious bathrooms and balconies. They also come with work desks, mini-fridges, and a coffee and tea stations. A hotel pool and fitness center is available for enjoying downtime. The AQUA restaurant prepares international seafood dishes in a modern open kitchen and boasts a walk-in wine cellar. Room service will also deliver fresh meals at any time of day, as well as fresh-brewed coffee from the on-site Starbucks café.
Best B&B: Harrington House Beachfront B&B
Located on the quiet, atmospheric Anna Marie Island, the Harrington House Beachfront B&B offers an idyllic stay filled with quaint, old-fashioned charm. Tucked away amidst lush gardens filled with fountains, wooden pagodas, and colorful tropical flowers, the main house and private bungalows offer secluded lodgings and friendly common areas. Rooms in the main house come with private bathrooms, kitschy tropical décor, and French doors which open onto large wooden verandas and uninterrupted ocean views. Meanwhile, the Huth House offers spacious lodgings with fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs. An ever-changing daily breakfast is prepared by skilled chefs, who also offer delicious gourmet luncheons and high teas, not to mention complimentary, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. The paved pool courtyard features a shade pagoda and deck chairs and offers beautiful views over the beach and ocean.