I reserved and pre paid for the room about 15 days in advance, at the Holiday Inn website, locking in a large discount. I chose this hotel because of a) Tripadvisor reviews; and b) I like Holiday Inn Express.
I arrived at around 7:00PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 for a 3 night stay. My main idea for making this trip was to spend a day at Busch Gardens, and the hotel's advertized free shuttle service back and forth was also a deciding factor, avoiding parking fees at the park. Therefore, for the purposes of this trip, the hotel's location was perfect. That is why I rated it a 5 star for location.
I asked for and received a non smoking king leisure, on the second floor. I took a few pictures, which I will attach to this memo. The modern flatscreen TV, the HVAC unit and the microwave all worked great. Lots and lots of TV stations. The bathroom was super sparkling and nicely decorated too, and very large. The room itself was spacious as can be. I did not use the coffee maker. There was always some coffee ready in the lobby! If not, they would make some, I was told. By the way, I drink coffee 24-7. I did not use the outdoor pool either, though it looked very nice, and the fitness room had just 3 cardio machines, and I tried 2 of them and they both worked.
I was driving a rental car anyway, and to get around this city you just have to have a car. There is plenty of free parking just outside the front lobby; also tons more around the sides of the building. The day I went to the park, I just left my car behind.
The hotel was quiet and there seemed to be not too many guests. I could tell this because at breakfast time, 6:30 to 9:30AM, there were not many coming to the Express Breakfast area. When busy, these are usually packed.
I am a breakfast person, usually up and at 'em before 6AM. The 'standard' Holiday Inn Express breakfast is something I always look forward to. Here, I always know what to expect. Holiday Inn Express has never let me down, their breakfasts are identical everywhere. The short list: An automatic pancake machine, sausage patties, hard boiled eggs along with either scrambled eggs or omelet, biscuits and sausage gravy which I love the best, bacon sometimes, bagels and toast and toppings for them, 3 juices, milk and coffee and yogurt, sweet rolls, cold cereal choices and more.
The condition of the property was very good, what you would expect from a recently opened hotel; it's about 2 years old I think I read. Housekeeping was above average, including employees constantly cleaning, sweeping and polishing the lobby and hallways and seating areas. I was very impressed by that. My room was cleaned perfectly every day while I was out.
The front desk personnel were extremely friendly and helpful, greeting guests with a "Good morning, sir" or "hello, sir" every time you pass by. I did meet the manager, on my last day as I was checking out, and told him that I was pleased with my stay.
The shuttle service was ready to go, on time basically, according to the published schedule.
When I say on time basically, I mean give or take 15 minutes. I was not the only one on the bus that day, and we were all 5 basically pleased with the service. For me, I could drink a couple of beers at the park, (guess what, Budweisers!), and not have to drive "home".
Now a final note about location. Busch Blvd, and the entire north side of Tampa, is not known for its beauty. I don't think there is any neighborhood within 10 miles of Busch Gardens where you could go out safely and fearlessly for a walk after dark. That is a little confining, but not unsettling as long as you stay indoors. I did walk down the street a couple of times for dinner, but stayed pretty close to the hotel, watching when I crossed the street, and generally on guard at all times. 2 of the 'better' places to eat require 2 u-turns to get to if you drive there. So walking made more sense to me. Personal preference, and I am a vigorous male too and that makes a difference.
I would highly recommend the Holiday Inn Express at Busch Gardens and USF if you will be going to Busch Gardens.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Brand New Holiday Inn Express & Suites is adjacent to Busch Gardens / Adventure Island and is the closest hotel to the University of South Florida and University Community Health Hospital. Enjoy a comfortable stay at the new Holiday Inn in Tampa, a preferred hotel of Busch Gardens, located within walking distance of the hotel. Your family will love staying at our Florida Green Lodging designated hotel in Tampa. We're located just off I-275, directly across the street from Busch Gardens and just a mile away from USF and University Community Health Hospital. Located in the heart of Tampa, we are in close proximity to several other local attractions, including Lowry Park Zoo, Port of Tampa, Florida Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry. Business travelers will appreciate the amenities and services provided at our hotel too! Our Green Lodging hotel is in close proximity to many area businesses, such as Syniverse, Verizon Information Technologies, USAA and the Anheuser-Busch and the Yuengling Breweries. In addition, we provide meeting space that can accommodate up to 60 people with free wireless Internet access. While staying at our tropically landscaped Tampa hotel, you can enjoy our premium amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and complimentary, hot breakfast bar. Book your reservations now to take advantage of our great Tampa, FL hotel room deals and rates. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tampa Usf-Busch Gardens Hotel Tampa
- Holiday Inn Express And Suites Tampa Usf-Busch Gardens
- Holiday Inn Express Tampa
- Holiday Inn Tampa