If you want to avoid the throngs of people who are at every intimately-lit steakhouse/Italian restaurant/romantic hotel tonight, flip the holiday. Earlier this month I wrote a Road Trip about taking a staycation at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, and by the time I finished writing it I had focused not only on the facility and why you’d want to go there, but also on the amazing resilience and ingenuity of the Seminole.
As it’s Valentine’s Day, though, I imagine at least a few of you might be thinking less about history and more about ways to do things as a couple. I’m a new fan of the Seminole Hard Rock (the hotel and its amenities), and if I hadn’t just done all these things, I would do them again.
10. Get a room.
What’s more romantic than a hotel? You’re away from your everyday life, you don’t have to make the bed, and someone cleans up after you every morning. When I stayed here, though, I was blown away by the beds, which are super-comfy. The rooms have a fantastic rock and roll vibe, in obvious and subtle ways. Obvious: framed prints of rock stars. Subtle: Instead of the fancy toilet paper fold-over, here the toilet paper rolls get a “general admission” sticker.
9. Download a playlistThe room key folio includes the code for free music.
As part of your stay you get access to a playlist curated by Hard Rock staff, and you can download and keep the music. Here’s a sample of what you get — you can stream the music even if you haven’t stayed there. It’s a nice way to remember your romantic getaway after you check out.
8. Rock omC
I’m almost as in love with the Hard Rock as I am yoga, and I was delighted to learn they have a yoga program at the hotel — and you can do it in your room. Here’s how it works: you call the front desk and they send up a yoga mat and carry case, and you can follow one of three on-demand yoga videos (Zen, Zeppelin or Zenith) on your TV or phone (or computer or tablet).
7. Don’t get flowers
Look, flowers die. And I know what you’re thinking — you’re thinking I’m gonna tell you to go buy Hard Rock merch. I’m not. Look, you can, but wouldn’t it be even sweeter to find the one you love something special at Rainmaker, which has handmade items from the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
6. Take a walk down memorabilia lane.
I think somewhere I forgot about the “Hard Rock” part of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s name. I’ve been out to the one at Universal a bazillion times, but never to the one almost walking distance from the CL offices. What I love most about Hard Rocks is the memorabilia — more than 1,000 rock artifacts. Buddy Holly’s linen pantsuit? An Elvis sequined jumpsuit? A Les Paul guitar from Paul Townshend’s personal stash? The Gibson you hear Gary Rossington play on the original recording of “Freebird”? They’re here, and not just along the Memorabilia Rock Walk — all over the hotel, except in the spa treatment rooms. Speaking of which…
5. Get a couple’s massage
Hey, you already have a room for the night — the spa can get you relaxed enough to enjoy it. They have all kinds of creative massages capitalizing on the Hard Rock theme, but, hey, you’re on a date, right? Go for the coupe’s massage.
4. People watch
Look, I’m not a big gambler, but I don’t judge anyone who is. I will say, though, that even if you’re not a gambler, people watching at casinos is one of the most intriguing things ever. There’s a bar across from the gift shop, and you can watch families check in, couples grabbing a souvenir and people all headed to the casino from your seat.
3. Grab a burger at the actual Hard Rock Cafe
Remember what I said about how I’ve overlooked that actual rock component? Yeah. They have a stage, outdoor patio and — I really don’t care what anyone says — nothing compares to a Hard Rock hamburgers (i have to eat them sans bun because I have celiac, but they’re still amazing).
2. Drinks at Council Oak
Council Oak, long the upscale eatery mainstay of the Seminole Hard Rock, gets its name from Seminole history. The Seminole evaded capture by hiding in swamps in the Everglades, and children of the last generation who hid in the swamps would meet beneath a big-ass oak tree on the Hollywood Reservation. These meetings led to the establishment of the Tribal Council. The restaurant name honors this, which makes it even cooler. They also have a 300-plus wine list (I’d spring for the 2013 Latour if I were you), but I can assure there they make excellent Manhattans, too. They have a special Valentine’s Day menu, so I’d bet there’s going to be a crowd, but you can have a pre-dinner drink in the lounge and then head to…
1. Dinner at the Rez
My husband described this as one of the best meals of his life. I cannot disagree; the meal was excellent from start to finish. I ordered the ribeye cap with apprehension; ribeye tends to be too tough for me. I swear to you, the steak was like butter. Valentine’s Day menu includes a prix fixe dinner.