A hotel based around a gourmand experience with shopping to pleasure the palate and the senses and free bikes to ride, too?
If my recent trip to Tampa sounds up your alley, you'll want to check into the Epicurean.
The hotel, an homage to Bern's Steakhouse, the legendary eatery, is located in the Hyde Park historic district of South Tampa. The adorable neighborhood is the perfect spot for the food-focused home-away-from home. The rooms are decadent. The food is, as you would expect, divine, and decor is themed, but not overly done.
But as the shopping insider, it's the shopping I couldn't help but focus on.
First stop, the spa, Evangeline.
After indulging in a massage, manicure, pedicure, facial or any of the other services, shop the selection of organic and natural products. Each of the brands sold at the spa has a theme that ties back to the hotel's epicurean roots.
For instance, Caudalie is derived from grapes, while FarmHouse Fresh uses a farm-to-table approach to beauty. You'll also find robes from Sophistique Collection and candles from Byron in wine scents.
Next door, find Chocolate Pi, the dessert shop. Please your tastebuds with creative pairings, such as chocolate potato chip macarons, homemade sodas, blueberry cobbler and more.
The shop opens at 11, so plan on having a late breakfast of sweet treats. Fair warning: You won't be able to get out of this place without trying at least three different types of cookies. The Pink Velvet Cream Cheese Chocolate Ganache was my passion.
For those who like to sip their shopping scores, head to Bern's Fine Wine & Spirits, with a selection of wines you won't find anywhere else in Tampa. My personal favorite, rose, abounds here. The shop is located just across from the front desk in the lobby, making it easy to access should you need to buy a gift for those you left back home.
Once you finish exploring the grounds, head to the front desk to borrow a bike. And not just any bike, either. A cute cruiser with woven saddlebag baskets. I took mine around town to explore and found a cute shopping center in the Soho Building, where you'll find a nail salon, a hair salon, a surf shop and men's clothing boutique, all within minutes of the hotel.
Cruise a little further and you'll find yourself waterfront. After the ride, head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool, in your new suit from the surf shop, of course. You need to get a few laps, because dinner is just as decadent as the hotel itself and worth every calorie.
If you go …
1207 South Howard Ave.
Tampa, Fla. 33606
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