We arrived after 4 pm and were warmly greeted by several people at the desk. Both Hilton Gardens where I have stayed have had the friendliest front desk teams of any Hilton property. I had called the night prior to our arrival and asked if we would receive a room upgrade as I was not happy with the choices offered for on line check-in. I really don’t like the Hilton web site. It is not very user friendly and needs a lot of work, but that’s not the hotel’s fault. The nice lady found us a king suite on the top floor. She went above and beyond, but not sure of her name. (She was working Thursday evening around 9 pm on 24 January 2013.) Todd, the manager, checked us in. He was very busy and assumed that one of the ladies had prepared our keys, but when we arrived at the room that was written on our welcome card, neither key worked. (I don’t know if one would have worked in the room we were supposed to be assigned-see the next line) I returned to the front desk and was told that we were actually in Room 724 and not 728. They apologized and offered 2 bottles of water. When I got back to the 7th floor, only one of the keys worked in Room 724. I returned again and was given a card for 2 drinks this time. Todd told me not to come back down but to call if there were any more problems, and they would come and take care of any issues. The second card worked this time. The first room had a sofa, a chair, a coffee table, and a table in the corner with a lamp. There also was a desk with another lamp and a work chair plus a 3 drawer dresser with a tv on top. The room had a ceiling light with fan, but we didn’t use the fan. There was a small hallway to the bedroom. There was a large piece of furniture which had a microwave on the top shelf and a small fridge in the lower section. On the shelf above the fridge was a place for the coffee pot with supplies and glasses plus the ice bucket. The ice machine was just steps down the hall near the elevators. Just past the microwave and fridge area was a closet. There was a good sized safe in the closet which made leaving my computer in the room worry free. There was also a fold up luggage rack plus extra linens for the sofa bed. On the left was the bathroom with sink, toilet, and tub. There were ample soft towels, including large body size ones. There was also a hair dryer, Kleenex, and more glasses. The tub was not too deep. Unlike the Hilton Garden near the Orlando Airport where I stayed about a month earlier, there were no jet sprays in the tub, but it still was good for a relaxing bath. Several amenities were provided. Past the small corridor was the main bedroom. This room had a king sized bed with bed side tables on each side. There was another 3 drawer dresser with another tv on top and another chair. The window in the bedroom looked out on the area between the Hilton Garden and the Homewood Suites. Another issue was the outlets in the lamps. It is always nice to have ample outlets, but the ones in the two bedside table lamps did not work. I needed an extra outlet so I moved the one from the living room desk to the bedroom. Its outlet worked fine. I let the front desk know so that housekeeping would not move them back. Everything else seemed to work correctly.
Because of our Gold Status, we received free breakfast each morning. It was good with made to order eggs plus a buffet which included bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes and more. There were 3 types of juices plus fruit and bread. Coffee and hot tea were also offered. I’m not sure it was worth the $11.95 price per person, if you didn’t receive it complimentary. The ladies at breakfast were very attentive the first day but adequate the second day even though we were the only for the first 15 minutes. The first night we went down to the bar for our free drinks thanks to Todd. I had a Stella Artois beer, and my other half had a glass of wine. The bar area was popular, and everybody seemed to be having a good time! There were two elevators, and sometimes they were very slow. The hotel was clean, and staff was always available to help.. There was a work out room which several pieces of equipment, but I didn’t use unfortunately. Maid service was good, and all amenities were restocked. When we left the first morning, the maid was nearby and said hello. The hotel was also quiet on the our floor most of the time. Late Saturday night, there was noise next door for a few minutes around 1 am. There were a few rooms on the 1st floor near the back exit. I would not stay in one of those and would request another, if possible, if you are put there. We parked outside as I don’t like the garage, which is used by at least two hotels plus there are many cars of people who parked and flew. Everything seemed safe in and around the hotel but not sure about parking garage. Another issue: when I called on Thursday night prior to our arrival, I asked if the hotel was totally smoke free since I was given choices for smoking rooms on the on-line check in page and was told that they have 2 smoking rooms on the 2nd floor-Really in 2013, all hotels, restaurants, and any building should be smoke free. I thought I smelled smoke in the elevator one time, but it could have just been the after effect of an ashtray smelling smoker committing slow suicide!
In summary, I am giving the Hilton Garden Tampa Airport a 4. I gave the one in Orlando a 5 because there were no issues, and everything went smoothly plus we were offered even more goodies, including water at check-in and a free appetizer or drink each when we went down for dinner, because of our status and not because of other issues. It may have just been a busy day and they did eventually get everything right, but it was a bit inconvenient. They wanted everything to be right so I give them credit for caring and with the aim to make everything perfect! It has the potential to be a 5. I would consider staying here again but would never stay at the Homewood Suites next door (see my November 2012 review). If the price is the same or close (and definitely if you have Hilton Gold or Diamond status), then stay at the Hilton Garden. I prefer a location closer to downtown, but for the price and the newness (and the free parking which the two downtown properties plus the Embassy Suites-Westshore don’t have), this is a great choice.