When the majority of people hear the phrase “budget-friendly hotel,” the thought of hostel-like accommodations comes to mind. And in turn, they tend to think something along the lines of a European vacation – on a budget. They may even think of the gruesome horror movies that bared the same name which took place in rundown hotels. But what they fail to realize is that hostels are not just a foreign luxury of sorts. And they’re definitely not all dumps. Many are actually located in cities all over the U.S. And no, they’re not just small/cheap hotels to sleep at, for some of them enact more of a lifestyle during one’s vacationing. The sole element they do have in common with the above-mentioned European relation though: they’re still quite affordable and can also give you more bang for your buck. Here’s a select few in Tampa Bay that provide a nice alternative and/or can save you some cash.
3109 N. Ola Ave.
Tampa, FL 33603
Inspired by a trip to Amsterdam, and legendary musician Gram Parsons, this bed and breakfast came to fruition and has thrived for over 20 years. The theme that flows throughout the joint is all about the spirituality of music; specifically around Parsons genre of country rock music. But the quaint, easy-going place also adopts and therefore plays themes from other musical genres such as Jazz, Big Band and classical. The rooms are also throwbacks to the time when the founder, Mark Holland, visited Amsterdam back in 1991. Rooms have cassette players and are decorated with music-inspired gear (album covers, posters, memorabilia, etc.). Outside by the sundeck area, an over-sized jacuzzi is open to all guests. Just keep in mind that this joint was European inspired, and nudity is permitted around these parts. Dubbed “The Crow’s Nest,” a stairway takes one up to the 2nd and 3rd level decks where patrons can venture through the trees and stargaze at night. And it’s an ideal spot for a smoke break. This is essentially a mini-resort as there are day hammocks lying around and a fully operational BYOB bar that all guests can use along with the outdoor kitchens. And naturally, there’s a stage set-up for live music engagements.
The Beachcomber Beach Hotel and Resort
6200 Gulf Blvd.
St. Petersburg, FL 33706
Consider this place a hybrid between a hostel and fully-equipped beach hotel; with a ton of perks. In other words, it has a the spirit of a hostel in terms of how it functions on a daily basis, yet its location and pricing suggests all-inclusive getaway. Boasting its own private beach located right on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline of St. Pete’s Beach, those looking to find tropical-like amenities – without paying the exuberant resort prices – have found their lounging spot. “Free” is a common word you’ll find when reading all that’s included during one’s stay: “free parking, use of fitness center, unlimited wireless internet access with your own computer, pool towels, chaise lounges at the pool, coffee in the lobby every morning, local phone calls, HBO movies, Disney Channel, use of amenities at our sister property Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Hotel & Conference Center.” There’s also a nightclub and the staff is at your service 24 hours a day. Considering what you’re paying and what you’ll get, perhaps the informal slogan of, “You’ll run out of vacation before you run out of things to do” does in fact ring true. It’s like the Cadillac of hostels and/or the hidden affordable gem that still gives visitors that lavish beach-bum lifestyle.
Related: Beaches of Sanibel Island
La Quinta Inn
9202 N. 30th St.
Tampa, FL 33612
For those that just want the straight “meat-n-potatoes” type place to set up camp while checking out the sites in Tampa, this chain hotel is probably the most ideal. Just a mile away from Busch Gardens and Adventure Island, and having the Museum of Arts & Sciences and Lowry Park Zoo only a five-minute drive from the property, this pretty much puts you in the middle of everything you need to see outside of the beaches over the bridge in the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Having updated modern amenities at your disposal, free of charge, and all the services of a five-star hotel, one will be able to spend more money on the fun rather than the lodging.
Joe Belcastro is an established journalist based in Tampa, Florida. His vast coverage of the local, national, & international scene has led his work to appear all over the world in respected print and online publications. After making a name for himself in the realm of film criticism, his candid approach & style to reporting has enabled him to cover such beats as music and nightlife, all while conducting interviews with people who have way more money than him. His work can be found at Examiner.com.