The Terrace: Florida’s most luxurious year-round hotel

Department of Commerce Collection

A view of the skyline, featuring the Terrace, circa 1971 | Photo via Florida Memory

After writing about former hotels that once graced the streets of Lakeland, it’s clear that each paved the way for The Terrace. Before you read this one, we recommend brushing up on local hotel history with the Tremont House Hotel, the Hotel Thelma, and the New Florida Hotel.

The Terrace Hotel Lakeland, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, or Lakeland Terrace Hotel as it was once called, was built on the property where the Tremont House Hotel once stood. When the Tremont House fell, leaders felt it was only natural for a new hotel to take its place.

Purchased for $750,000 in 1923, the Terrace features a Neo-Classical style both inside and out. The curvature of the entrance, its column work, gilded ceilings, and chandeliers brought a level of grandeur that Lakelanders hadn’t seen at this scale.

According to “A Guide to Historic Lakeland, Florida,” the hotel donned a bright orange paint job at its opening in October 1924 but was immediately repainted to its signature gray after city officials expressed their disdain for the orangey hues.

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A Terrace postcard, circa 1948 | Photo via Florida Memory

Upon its opening, the hotel would face a first for the area and the state, hailing as one of the only year-round inns. How? Before the Golden Age, most hotels were without air conditioning and would close during the summers due to the scorching Florida heat.

As time progressed, so too did operations at the hotel. Did you know that back in the day guests would enter off of Main Street? Guests would enter through a lush garden that led them to Massachusetts Avenue. Over the years, the hotel saw famous guests such as Henry Ford, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Sinatra due to its pristine reputation as “Florida’s most luxurious year-round hotel.”

After decades of success, the hotel experienced hardships in the 1970s and closed in 1986, where it stood vacant for 12 years. Luckily, the historic building was re-purchased for $150,000 and reopened its doors in 1998. This restoration saw modern updates, an additional 15 suites, a conference room, banquet space, and more.

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The Terrace Hotel today | Photo via the LALtoday team

Today, after its purchase by five local investors in 2020, the hotel became part of the Hilton brand, now referred to as Terrace Hotel Lakeland, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Since its sale, the hotel features new ownership + management, plus an even more updated renovation starting in the lobby + the Terrace Grille, all the way up to its guest rooms.

Did we miss a bit of the Terrace’s history? Tell us about it here.

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