Florida‘s Gulf Coast has no shortage of hotels where you can earn and redeem points. You’ll find everything from cheap and cheerful Hilton Garden Inns to more refined options from the Autograph Collection by Marriott. However, the wide range of accommodation options in Tampa used to lack any true standout properties … until now.
In September 2022, the city’s hotel scene changed when Marriott opened a Tampa outpost of its luxury Edition label (created in collaboration with renowned hotelier Ian Schrager). Here’s what you need to know about the new Tampa Edition hotel.
A centerpiece of Tampa’s $3.5 billion redevelopment of the Water Street district, The Tampa Edition has a lush lobby filled with hundreds of mature indoor plants, while the Mediterranean-style rooftop pool deck is the place to be seen while enjoying the South Florida sunshine.
Why you’ll love The Tampa Edition
This isn’t a forgettable cookie-cutter corporate hotel — luxe touches like live plants and faux furs give the property plenty of texture, a ton of personality and a distinctly organic aesthetic.
A jungle oasis lobby
Prepare to gasp as you enter a truly unusual hotel lobby, where hundreds of potted plants create a verdant sanctuary for visitors seeking refuge from the Florida heat and humidity.
There are so many plants, in fact, that it can be difficult to find the check-in desks at first glance, as giant kentia palms and banana leaf trees screen them from the entrance. It’s initially a bit disorientating, but it’s a clever way of creating distinct zones in the vast space.
While armchairs with shaggy faux fur coverings may seem odd for a hotel in such a warm climate, well-calibrated air conditioning provides guests with a cool welcome.
Cool Scandic design touches
The 172 spacious guest rooms, including 30 suites, display Edition’s typical juxtaposition between bright white and dark neutral tones.
There are plenty of light, airy design choices, from the white bedding and upholstered chair to the signature Edition faux-fur throw, all of which reflect the sunshine flooding through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Black accents (think: a series of abstract black photographs, a black-and-white marble table and a white rug with black stripes) give the space definition and contrast.
Everything feels unfussy and harmonious, with the gold cupboard and draw handles on the wardrobe and the minibar echoing the hardware in the bathroom and adding high-end finishes throughout the room.
Also in the bathroom, guests will find full-size bottles of Edition’s signature Le Labo toiletries, frosted privacy doors to the toilet and a shower with dual gold-plated showerheads — one overhead and one handheld. However, a double vanity would have been merited at this price point.
Plenty of dining and drinking venues
An impressive eight food and beverage venues offer everything from grab-and-go coffee at the cafe-style Market at Edition to a four-course, prix-fixe menu from award-winning chef John Fraser at the vegetarian-focused Lilac restaurant. Glinting green tiles in the open kitchen, emerald upholstery and a profusion of potted plants underscore the latter’s vegetal focus.
Nighttime visitors can enjoy the Punch Room, which the hotel claims is North America’s first bar dedicated to celebrating Caribbean punch. There’s also the Arts Club, which offers cabaret-style entertainment in a dark red, adults-only setting.
Personable, efficient bartenders whip up signature cocktails at the Lobby Bar, including a harissa margarita with mezcal and lime, in a communal meeting space where friends and strangers mingle seamlessly.
The breakfast menu at Market is Mediterranean-inspired, with dishes like a generous portion of “eggs in purgatory” baked with capers, kalamata olives and chunks of rosemary focaccia to mop up the rich, spicy tomato Napolitana sauce. Note, though, that unfortunately, breakfast is not free at the Edition brand for Platinum Elite members of the Marriott Bonvoy program.
After breakfast, Market offers tasty casual fare, such as onion petals with Calabrian chili aioli and filet carpaccio as appetizers and a rich, spicy pork ragu rigatoni pasta with whipped ricotta for an entree.
Room service also features simple but tasty dishes like a Cuban sandwich with sweet potato fries. The city of Tampa claims to be the birthplace of this world-famous sliced meat-and-cheese-filled snack, though Miami and Cuba may vehemently disagree.
The rooftop pool sanctuary
The spacious rooftop pool on the ninth floor also follows a Mediterranean theme in both design and cuisine. Dozens of daybeds provide guests spots to unwind poolside with full sunshine or beneath olive trees for partial shade and privacy.
There are also roped-off cabanas for larger groups seeking bottle service that are bound to be packed until sundown on weekends when a DJ provides the soundtrack. There’s no longer a need to travel to Miami for Edition’s classic day party experience.
The poolside Azure restaurant offers classics like Greek salad and a juicy marinated filet mignon kebab souvlaki served on pita with french fries and hummus.
Also on the ninth floor is a well-equipped gym with great natural light and views of the nearby downtown area.
Why you might not love The Tampa Edition
Considering this is by far the most expensive hotel in Tampa, the guest experience is not perfect.
An imperfect location
While The Tampa Edition is in the trendy and redeveloped Water Street district, some frustrating drawbacks are evident.
The glistening, newly built tower right on the Garrison Channel may be where guests assume the Edition is located. This prime position is, instead, occupied by a new JW Marriott, which has snagged the single-best new spot in downtown Tampa. The Edition, on the other hand, is a block inland on Channelside Drive. Some entry-level superior rooms at the Edition enjoy glimpses of the water, but the enormous multipurpose Amalie Arena at least partially blocks most views, as does the JW Marriott.
A giant Yard House bar and restaurant is currently under construction directly next door to cater to sports and concert fans visiting Amalie Arena. It will be a great venue once constructed, but with its “summer 2023” scheduled opening date, it is still very much a building site with the construction noise easily heard from the Edition’s rooftop pool and outdoor restaurant.
Perplexing fake flowers
Purple bougainvillea flowers cascade over the lobby doors at street level and hang above the pool decks, cabanas and bar area. On closer inspection, it’s clear that all of the bougainvillea plants at the Edition are artificial, mixed in with the hundreds of real palms, ivy, trees and ferns.
Given how much the hotel has invested in real flora, especially in the spectacular lobby, and the abundance of sunshine, rain and natural light in this location, it is bewildering why a luxury property installed so many fake flowers.
Steep room rates
Tampa is not a cheap destination, and as the city’s most luxurious lodging option, you can expect room rates at the Edition to be high. With base rooms starting around $600 per night and increasing to more than $1,000 per night during peak periods, a stay here may be beyond many travelers’ budgets.
Marriott Bonvoy guests can expect to redeem at least 70,000 Bonvoy points per night here, though some nights are priced at six figures. This is significantly more expensive, in either points or cash, than the nearby (and also new) JW Marriott, which has a superior location and rates that tend to stay under $500 per night.
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The property arouses plenty of interest from Tampa locals, but prices may rule out staycations. The colorful lobby and sun-splashed pool deck are ideal backdrops for impromptu Instagram photo shoots.
What this means for hotel guests is a steady flow of people wandering in from the street, taking a long look around, posing for photos (and then retaking these photos repeatedly to perfect their poses) and eventually leaving without paying for any of the hotel’s amenities.
The people-watching might initially be more entertaining than frustrating. Still, the nonstop stream of intruders pretending they are in-house guests for the ‘gram will inevitably become tiring for staff and customers alike.
Marriott Bonvoy loyalists who may be put off by the high room rates at The Tampa Edition should consider the nearby JW Marriott Tampa Water Street. Also a new build, this luxury property enjoys an excellent waterfront location and houses the Spa by JW, complete with steam rooms, saunas, an outdoor shower and a warm mineral pool.
For something more cheap and cheerful, try The Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk. This affordable hotel combines sensible accommodation and waterfront views with a convenient downtown location across the road from the David A Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and close to the Tampa Convention Center.
The ground floor of The Tampa Edition is wheelchair accessible with flat surfaces and wide walkways, despite the clusters of potted plants. Staircases here are more for dramatic effect than essential transport.
While there are a few steps down to the Market restaurant, there is also thoughtful ramp access. Guest rooms and the rooftop pool, bar and restaurant can all be accessed by guests with reduced mobility thanks to elevators.