Just looking at a local map, Hotel Zamora would seem to be at a disadvantage compared to many other St. Petersburg Beach hotels in the Tampa Bay area since it’s across the street from the sand and sea. Once you step inside, however, you realize this hotel is a major upgrade from most of its competitors on the strip.
This hotel does face the water at least. It backs up to the intracoastal waterway between this barrier island and the peninsula, plus the roof deck bar offers the awesome view you see at the top of this post when the sun goes down. It’s a couple minutes’ stroll to get to the beach and the hotel has an arrangement with a place about 50 meters north where you can get a lounge chair and towel for the day.
With somewhat of a Mediterranean vibe going in the original building design, Hotel Zamora is not as overtly contemporary as many others, but it just may be the best-designed hotel south of Opal Sands in Clearwater. Cool but comfortable furniture fills the public areas and original artwork adorns the walls throughout.
You enter a parking area on the ground floor when pulling in off the main beach road and then take an elevator up to the impressive lobby with sitting areas. Valet parking is available and there are even two plug-in stations if you’re arriving in a Tesla. The lobby has complimentary coffee or tea in the morning, infused cold water during the day, and a complimentary wine and canapes hour at 5:00.
Off the lobby is the main bar, which lead into the Castile restaurant. Serving all three meals, this is one of the best spots in the area for dining. If offers the kind of standards people expect on a Florida beach vacation—grouper sandwiches, seafood platters, salads, and burgers—but here many of them are given a special twist and the chef tries to open up more global possibilities. The breakfast menu items often feature manchego cheese and the pulled pork hash is excellent. The charcuterie platter is a nice start at dinner and the Mediterranean theme extends to paella and spiced rack of lamb. There’s indoor seating that’s flooded with light, or when the weather is nice there’s outdoor seating facing the boats and docks.
The 360 Degrees roof bar has lounge seating all around plus a good selection of wine and beer at the full bar, including a few Tampa Bay brews. Most guests gravitate up here at sunset and then spend some time watching the sky put on a show over the Gulf of Mexico. There are a few meeting rooms and a good-sized gym on site also, plus the hotel rents complimentary kayaks and cruiser bikes to guests.
Rooms here are all contemporary and comfortable, well-stocked with amenities and with controls and outlets that make sense. You won’t be hurting for places to charge your gadgets and the included Wi-Fi works well throughout. Robes, Frette linens, and nice toiletries add to the comfort and there’s a well-stocked minibar. Most rooms have a balcony, with the ones in the back of the building facing the intracoastal water and some at the top facing the street getting a partial sea view.
All rooms are about the same size, at a generous 480 square feet. The differences are in the layouts and bed configuration, with some having two queens and others a king bed. Those set up as a suite have a curtained glass partition between and a living room set-up on one side. If you want a bathtub, go for the King Spa category, which has a large soaking tub in addition to the shower with rain nozzle and hand nozzle.
Some rooms look down on the pool deck, which has a whirlpool, comfortable cushioned lounge chairs, and a few daybed set-ups. There’s another bar here that’s staffed when occupancy is high.
Fans of the Kimpton chain will be disappointed that this property is no longer a part of that chain, so check in to see if some Kimpton perks (like a daily wine social hour) are still included or not. Still, this boutique beach hotel offers a sense of style not often found in Florida beach resorts and with an attentive staff on hand to take care of your needs. This is clearly one of the best hotels on St. Pete Beach.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at Kimpton Hotel Zamora while researching an article for another publication.