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The Terrace: Lakeland’s oldest, most luxurious hotel

This historic building has been a staple of Swan City’s skyline for nearly a century.

Exterior shot of the Terrace Hotel

The Terrace Hotel’s facade has been a marker of Lakeland’s skyline since 1924. | Photo by LALtoday

Over the last 139 years, Lakeland has had numerous historic hotels grace its city blocks — from the Tremont House Hotel and Hotel Thelma to the New Florida Hotel. While those historic hotels have all come, gone, or been transformed, they paved the way for another historic hotel to join Lakeland’s skyline, where it continues to stay today.

Purchased for $750,000 in 1923, The Terrace Hotel Lakeland, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (historically, The Lakeland Terrace Hotel) was built on the property where Tremont House once stood. Featuring a Neo-classical style both inside and out, it brought a level of grandeur that Lakelanders hadn’t seen at this scale. According to “A Guide to Historic Lakeland, Florida,” the Terrace donned a bright orange paint job at its opening in October 1924, but was immediately repainted to its signature gray after city officials expressed disdain for the original color choice.

Reference Collection

The Hotel Thelma (right) was torn down in 1962 + was one of The Terrace’s historic hotel predecessors. Now, its site is home to downtown businesses such as Frescos Southern Kitchen + Bar.

Photo via Florida Memory

The Terrace was also hailed as one of the only year-round inns at the time since it had air conditioning, and it quickly gained the reputation of being “Florida’s most luxurious year-round hotel.” As such, it saw several famous guests over the years — including Henry Ford, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Sinatra.

After decades of success however, 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.

A couple dance in the middle of the floor in a hotel ballroom. They are surrounded by guests at various tables.

Couples from all across Florida can utilize The Terrace’s Cypress Ballroom as an excellent wedding reception space.

Photo by @marialejaphoto

In 2020, the Terrace was purchased by five local investors and became part of the Hilton brand, so it is now known as The Terrace Hotel Lakeland, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Since its sale, the hotel features new ownership + management, plus an even more updated renovation spanning from the lobby to its guest rooms. This October, it will officially celebrate its 100th anniversary.

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

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