I still owe you guys the full video from of our engagement. It's coming soon, I promise! What I can drop now as far as an update on “us” is that we took our first little getaway since committing to one another as fiancés.
Wedding planning is in full effect, and we kind of needed a vacation from that. It’s crazy because planning our engagement was so much work…that we thought we’d get a little time off before diving into wedding planning. The truth is NOT REALLY!
We’ve got a tight timeline and planning a legit wedding takes about a year. All this wedding culture stuff is so new to me--but I'm quickly learning it's no joke. There's SO MUCH STUFF TO DO!
Our trip to Tampa definitely helped to take our minds off it all for a nice, relaxing long weekend. We stayed at Hotel Haya in the Ybor City historic district where there are lots of bars, cigar shops, art galleries, trollies into downtown and most uniquely a center square inhabited by protected chickens local to the area. I kid you not. They live in the town square and they OWN IT! It’s super cute once you get over the shock of seeing them squacking in packs literally everywhere.
We went to Tampa primarily to visit our friends who are an adorable couple (also in the midst of planning their wedding). We love them! Their names are Sam and Sarah. We wanted to be somewhat close to them so we could hang out over the course of the weekend, so Hotel Haya seemed like the perfect place. When I discovered it on Tablet Hotels I knew it was going to be a great because Tablet only lists the best boutique hotels across the globe. I always check their site first before I look anywhere else. What really intrigued me was that I had never heard of Ybor City before, and I liked the idea of seeing something new. Staying in Ybor City is hip but also a different view of Tampa than if you were to stay on St. Petersburg beach. It’s cool because it feels industrial and urban, and it’s completely walkable with a few great coffee shops and restaurants to chill at.
Most of our time in Ybor City was spent inside Hotel Haya, and not just because we were staying there. It's a hotspot within the district attracting people to it's bustling coffee shop and restaurant called Flor Fina. We ate here a few times and ordered from here while laying out at the pool. Our room was a killer suite with a balcony facing towards the main street in Ybor.
At night, it definitely got noisy from the bar crawlers on the street, but we liked it because it was lively. We stood outside on our balcony watching everyone hang out—it was cool! We enjoy nightlife so it was nice to be in the thick of it. Besides, we watch movies before falling asleep so the noise was overpowered by the last few episodes of Ozark, which OMG was so freaking good. I won't spoil the end for you...but I'm really gonna miss that show! With regard to room selection, if you're sensitive to noise, don't even worry! At check-in, Hotel Haya told us the quieter rooms face inward to the hotel (towards the pool) so if that's important make sure to book one of those.
The parts of our suite that I loved the most were the sitting area with red lounging couches, the super spacious bathroom and our long balcony. The bedroom was spectacular too, set against exposed brick walls, which made us feel like we were staying at a New York City loft. The room as a whole was perfection and included a fridge, endless drawer space, an armoire with a safe, and nice quality shower products which were refreshed every day. I loved the bathroom and open shower design! Overall, the layout of the suite was brilliant and made us truly feel like we were on a vacation with plenty of room to spread out and relax wherever we wanted.
As you know, Frida doggy travels EVERYWHERE with us. One of the main reasons I discovered Hotel Haya is because I’m always filtering my searches for pet-friendly hotels. I love that Hotel Haya had so many dog lovers working at the establishment (constantly saying hello to Friday) as well as visitors traveling with their own furry companions.
Frida made a friend at the pool and was welcome to lay out wherever she wanted. She was keen to the cabana as was I.
The food at Flor Fina restaurant was really nice. We mostly ate brunch there, and what I love is that you can try a little of everything and share without spending too much money. The Bellini’s were my favorite drink served!
Aside from the pool, my favorite communal spots within the hotel were the gym and lounge. I liked that the gym faced the street so I could look out at the locals as they walked by. It was nice and sunlit with an impressive offering of cardio machines and weights. The central lounge is very open and full of light too, extending into the pool area and the restaurant.
Sitting on the couches next to the Flor Fina with a cocktail and an appetizer was my jam. All parts of the restaurant and bar kind of flow into one another, so it feels very open, allowing for people to socialize easily. Our friends who we were visiting loved the hotel so much they decided they’re going to make it their recommended hotel for their wedding guests and maybe even do their bridal suite there.
We did so much in a short period of time visiting Tampa. We went to Oxford Exchange for champagne cocktails and brunch (which is exquisite and such a vibe). We had an epic beach day at Caddy’s on St. Pete’s (this was by far my favorite day as it was so sunny and the beach in front of Caddy’s bar & restaurant is really fun and low key). I also had time to check out a new fitness studio that had just opened up called BodyRok which is a megaformer-type workout. Since Frida was with us, we took a bunch of walks and explored a little bit of downtown Tampa.
Before we knew it, the weekend was over. If you’re considering a trip to Tampa, definitely check out Ybor City and hang at Hotel Haya. You’re going to need a rental car as a lot of the good things to see are spread out and Ubers can get costly. The really nice thing is that the hotel has valet service and they’re quite speedy grabbing your car whenever you needed it. Normally vallet is a hassle but I watched these guys work in the pouring rain one night and really had to hand it to them.
I’m actually relieved that when I have to book a hotel room for my friend’s wedding in 2023 that I won’t have to think twice at booking at Hotel Haya again. Let me know if you end up staying here and what you think of the chickens in the square!!!