The vibe: A community-centric retreat in Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood
Location: 1412 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, Florida | View on Google Maps
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The AFAR take
In Ybor City, Tampa’s historic Latin quarter and a former cigar-rolling hub, Hotel Haya is buzzy. Opened in 2020 as part of the Aparium hotel group—known for its independent lifestyle hotels celebrating each location’s character—Haya has become a community hive of visitors and locals. They linger in the Quiquiriqui café over Cuban coffee; at the palm-lined lap pool; around the cooler that holds dozens of cigars; and lining the warmly lit bar Flor Fina, part of Haya’s inventive Latin-inspired restaurant. Meanwhile, on a lone pedestal by the elevator stands a statue of a rooster, a playful nod to the neighborhood’s protected population of chickens that roam the streets (due to a decades-old Tampa ordinance that declared the area a bird sanctuary).
The hotel has a Director of Lifestyle, whose purpose is to engage with the local community and deepen collaborations. To that end, it works with more than a dozen local businesses, from its coffee roasters to its beer purveyors. Community artisans are responsible for many design elements, including the blown glass for the central chandelier and the wrought iron for the staircase railings. And the hotel’s architects are Cuban born and Tampa based, leading to such surprising flourishes as wood tiled floors that are reminiscent of Havana streets.
Who’s it for?
Hip urban explorers who enjoy art, thoughtful design, and local history.
Hotel Haya is in the heart of Tampa’s Ybor City in downtown Tampa. So named for Ignacio Haya, the city’s first cigar roller (a tradition that continued until World War II when cigar factories began to close), Haya is committed to honoring the neighborhood’s heritage and in doing so, boosting the local economy. “It was important for us to be part of the renaissance and revitalization [of Ybor City],” says Peter Wright, Hotel Haya’s general manager. “It’s about building a hotel to be part of that community for a long time to come.”
Today, Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District. As a result of the revitalization, visitors can enjoy the brick-lined streets, art galleries, live music venues, and thrumming nightclubs. The Ybor City Museum State Park showcases the area’s history through preserved photos and paraphernalia, as well as a 20-minute video that highlights the various cultures that influenced the area.
The hotel has 178 guest rooms with local touches, including abstract paintings by local artist Kristin Texeira and lamps designed to look like Ybor City’s irregular ovoid streetlights. The bathrooms feature modern rain showers, herringbone tile work, and toiletries from Grown Alchemist.
Nine ADA accessible rooms are available upon request. Throughout the hotel, there are ramps in all public spaces, an ADA pool lift, and single-use restrooms with shower facilities near the pool deck.
The food and drink
The hotel’s two restaurants include the upscale bar and restaurant Flor Fina and the casual Cuban-style café, Quiquiriqui (Spanish for “cock-a-doodle-doo,” another nod to the neighborhood’s prized residents).
Flor Fina offers Latin-inspired fare, with an extensive ceviche menu, paellas, and wood-fired steaks. Cocktails are finely crafted; if you like mezcal, go for the Black Diamond, which is garnished with black lava salt. On weekends, there is often live music, perhaps Spanish guitar music or a well-known local DJ.
I left the Haya wishing that Quiquiriqui was my neighborhood café. I spent every morning enjoying a strong coffee and Cuban toast served with butter and an addictive guava jelly. The space is beautifully designed, with large windows, round marble tables, and red cane chairs.
So, about those chickens . . .
Walking around Ybor City, you are bound to come across a roaming chicken. It may even be, um, crossing a road. A century ago, when the neighborhood was established, many households owned livestock. As the area became more urbanized and owning farm animals became less commonplace, the city of Tampa adopted an ordinance deeming it unlawful to kill birds, thereby making chickens protected in Ybor City. (Not everybody is happy about this, though.)
Hotel Haya has embraced the local celebrities in sweet ways, from the rooster statue in the lobby to the café name. And in 2022, it hosted several “chicken yoga” classes in collaboration with the local nonprofit the Ybor Misfits Microsanctuary, which helps injured and sick neighborhood chickens. During class, chickens would walk around and cluck as students perfected their downward dogs.