The Floridan Palace is one of the only hotels in Tampa listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Construction was completed in 1926, and in 1996 the City of Tampa designated it as a landmark site. At 19 floors high, it was Florida’s first skyscraper and until 1966, was the state’s tallest building.
The Floridan Palace, or the Floridan Hotel as it was previously called, carries a wild history. In the 1920s after WWI, Florida experienced a population boom. The state had promised not to seize income or inheritance tax, thus gaining a reputation as a tropical paradise. Tampa’s population doubled, and it bustled with land speculators and orange grove barons.
During WWII, the Sapphire Room, located inside the hotel, drew crowds of servicemen in training at nearby Drew Field. It had a reputation for wild nights; it was nicknamed “The Surefire Room.” According to The Floridan Palace website, Gus Arencibia, a the bartender, recalled that during the war, “you couldn’t get a room.”
In the 1960's, tastes changed and travelers began to favor more modern establishments. The hotel attempted to market toward a different audience and transitioned into a rooming house. By 1989, it had become more of a homeless shelter, and was finally closed down when Tampa’s Fire Marshall cited safety concerns. The estimated cost to repair the structure was $18 million, and in 2005, it was scheduled for demolition.
Luckily, an international developer saw its potential and invested money for repairs. In 2012, The Floridan Palace was reopened, restored to its original craftsmanship and splendor. Amenities include a historical tour with lunch in the Crystal Dining Room, and Concierge Service.
Cover image: "Hotel Floridan" by Photomatt28 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.