Tampa has a new culinary hotspot where foodies can eat, stay, and play. Part of the Autograph Collection by Marriott, the 137-room Epicurean Hotel in Tampa's hip SoHo neighborhood opened in late December. The property takes its culinary focus seriously with a collection of impressive noshing and imbibing options within the hotel, including culinary classes, a wine shop, and dining and drinking options. The shining star is Élevage restaurant where executive chef Chad Johnson—a 2012 James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef South—puts a new spin on classic Southern foods.
Elsewhere on the property, wine lovers can buy bottles for deckside sipping at Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits, or take culinary classes—topics ranging from tea blending to sustainable seafood—at the Epicurean Theatre. Craft cocktails are served at Edge Social Drinkery, a rooftop bar, with small plates and cheese boards. Decadent indulgences like chocolates, macarons and pastries are available at the patisserie Chocolate Pi.
Each room features free WiFi, a 42-inch television (so you don’t miss an episode of “Top Chef”) and rainshower heads in the bathroom. There are five room categories, including one with a private outdoor terrace (a plum spot for picnicking) and another with a wet bar and a seating area. The food-and-wine theme extends to the hotel’s design with wine crates crafted into a desk in the lobby and butcher-block cabinetry in guest rooms.
Spa Evangeline expects to open in February. Food-focused produect—like Cauldalie’s wine-themed line from Bordeaux, France, or FarmHouse Fresh’s Texas-made moisturizers and scrubs culled from fruits and vegetables—are folded into treatments.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.