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Lounging in luxury in Lakeland
The Terrace Hotel wraps guests in grand 1920s style, an impressive base for a lazy weekend exploring this Central Florida city.
By Shannon Colavechio-Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer
Published July 22, 2007
If you're looking for a special dining experience, try the hotel's Terrace Grille, where entrees include lavender-crusted lamb.
[SHANNON COLACECHIO-VAN SICKLER | Times]
LAKELAND - The Terrace Hotel had me at the gorgeous lobby with the soaring ceilings. By the time we got to our suite and saw the bathroom filled with travel-sized Aveda products, I was officially in love.
Yep, that's right. A hotel just a short drive away, in little ol' Lakeland, turned out to be a surprisingly luxurious weekend getaway.
In our house we have three framed postcards of downtown Lakeland, one of which shows the Terrace Hotel, which was near demise when a $7-million renovation brought it back.
Itching to get out of town for a weekend but not eager for a long, gas-guzzling haul, we decided to check out the new old hotel.
We splurged and booked one of the 15 guest suites, at $199 a night.
Our suite was roomy, outfitted with a down comforter on the bed and waffle robes in the closet. Out one window, we had a view of Lake Mirror and its nearby amphitheater and public gardens.
From another, we could almost make out the beautiful trees and upscale homes circling Lake Morton. We got an up-close look Sunday morning, when we took a jog after fueling up on the hotel's complimentary coffee, fruit and muffins.
But the Terrace's public areas were even more impressive, a reminder that this hotel was built during the rich land boom of 1920s Florida.
Leading into the main entrance is a shaded sitting porch with cozy wicker furniture. The main lobby features floors of Italian granite.
Past the reception desk is the Terrace Grille, one of Lakeland's best and most upscale restaurants.
As we sipped generous glasses of wine and savored jumbo lump crab cakes and filet mignon that evening, we marveled at the enormous wrought iron chandeliers hanging overhead and the original Mexican tile floors underfoot.
It's hard to believe that for two decades the hotel sat crumbling and neglected, a symbol of Lakeland's dying downtown.
Today the Terrace is proof of city leaders' success in bringing back this quaint downtown.
Lakeland is not a major urban destination by any means. But exploring its pubs, art galleries, antiques shops and restaurants is a perfectly fine way to spend a lazy Saturday.
We read the newspaper and sipped coffee at the Black & Brew, a daytime coffeehouse and bistro that turns into a clubby gathering for Lakeland's younger set after dark.
We had happy hour at Molly McHugh's, a genuine Irish pub if ever there was one.
There's also Lillian's for live music, and Main Street Creamery for an old-fashioned cone or milk shake.
Our stay at the Terrace Hotel reminded us that some of the best getaways are the most unexpected ones.
You know the Ritz in San Francisco will be amazing. But it's pretty cool when you go somewhere like Lakeland and come away very, very happy.