Checking in at The Karol Hotel
When I heard that The Karol Hotel was planting its roots in Clearwater, I was intrigued. Not just because it was a new hotel option to check out in my hometown, but because rumor had it that the Karol was coming equipped with a rooftop bar. I didn’t need much more than that to anxiously await the arrival. “Rooftop” and “bar” are probably two of my favorite words to hear together in a sentence.
The Karol Hotel is located on Ulmerton Road near Carillon Park. Its location puts the hotel near the main roads that take you to a night out in Tampa or a day well spent in Saint Petersburg. That convenience alone makes it a great option for the traveler looking to hit a couple of major bay cities on their trip.
Upon pulling up to The Karol, I immediately fell for the ivory columns, rounded arch architecture, and palm tree attributes. It felt very Florida, almost Key West-like with a modernized appeal. Ben and I checked in, eager to get a look at the room we’d be calling home for the night.
Home Sweet Hotel
Our room was nestled on the seventh floor. The space was large and bright with an espresso machine to boot. It’s a nice touch in my opinion since most hotels only offer in-room coffee machines. The marble bathroom took me by surprise and my first thought was: “THINK OF THE GRWM TIKTOKS I COULD SHOOT IN HERE.”
Content creation. It’s always on the brain you guys.
Ben and I had a few hours to kill before our evening reservation at Vantage, The Karol’s rooftop bar. We had yet to eat anything that day so we decided to check out the K Club Bar & Bistro. Located on the first floor, you almost miss it when walking through The Karol’s lobby. It’s tucked away in its own corner of the hotel which is perfect because when you sit down in the dining room’s leather chairs, you almost feel transported off property.
Lunch Date at the K Club Bar & Bistro
To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the K Club Bar & Bistro. It’s no secret that onsite hotel restaurants can be a complete hit or miss. In most cases they could be a gamble to rely on, especially when your trip is a few days long.
If you’re staying at The Karol Hotel, then you’ve hit the jackpot with the K Club Bar & Bistro as your onsite dining option.
The Karol’s onsite restaurant is an absolute hidden gem among many places to enjoy in Tampa Bay. K Club holds its own in the lunch, dinner and even the breakfast sectors (yes, we tried all three). If you’re familiar with Bascom’s Chop House then you will love this: the K Club is actually its sister restaurant.
Our first foodie venture at K Club was over lunch. My pescatarian self was thrilled to see a menu full of seafood options. K Club offers a variety of rich coastal cuisines that appeal on all levels. If you don’t like fish, that’s okay too. Their menu comes equipped with chicken and steak options as well.
I was torn between ordering a Lobster Roll or the Fish and Chips. As someone who has never ordered fish and chips in her life (I’m not sure who I was trying to be that day), I decided to go with the tried and true lobster roll. Having skipped breakfast, it sounded like like the meaty option I needed. Ben opted for the Bistro Burger.
The only thing the K Club’s lobster roll lacks is space on its brioche bun. It proved bite after bite that it was clearly the right choice that day.
Drinks and a Bite at Vantage Rooftop Bar
When I say I love Vantage Rooftop Bar – you have to understand that it’s a multileveled love, pun intended. I break it down into three levels: cocktails, tapas, and THE MUSIC.
I’m a girl who loves her 80’s music especially when tipsy (I happily blame The Karol’s Lavender Lemonade). There’s nothing quite like the singles out of that decade. Vantage was blaring hit after hit through their speakers that night. I have no idea if that’s an every night thing or not, but I honestly loved every second of it.
Ben and I ordered the Big Board to share. It’s a combination of Vantage’s three boards: the cheese, charcuterie and Mediterranean. The spread is delectably endless. By the time our waiter had walked us through the goodies to the end, I needed a refresh of what was in the beginning. I’m telling you, it was the length of our table.
We sat inside, but we could see for miles from the window complete with a sighting of Downtown Tampa. My recommendation is if you want to snag a patio seat – definitely get there early. It’s worth it to kick your feet up and take in the views while you sip on a Karol Bliss.
Dinner for Two at the K Club Bar & Bistro
I’ve said it once in this post already and I’ll say it again: the K Club Bar & Bistro is literally a hidden gem among Tampa Bay restaurants. In my experience it’s unexpected for an onsite hotel restaurant to deliver both incredible dishes and excellent service all in one. The K Club does both and they do it well.
Ben and I found our table on the patio, beneath string lights for our dinner date. Our waitress poured him a glass of The Stag’s Cabernet Sauvignon. I enjoyed a Chandon Brut Rose. While the drinks flowed, we placed our orders: the Grouper Piccata for me and the Filet Mignon for Ben. Both dishes aimed to please visually – vibrant sauces and contrasting colors. We love an edible art moment.
I would order the grouper again and again. That caper panko crust paired with the zesty piccata sauce – my palette savored every bite of it.
Our date came to close on a awhhh sugar, sugar sweet note. When you visit the K Club, do not miss The Cookie Melt. It’s perfect parts peanut butter, butterscotch, vanilla bean and whipped cream. Crunchy, creamy, ooey gooey. Oh yes. They done did it.
A Goodbye Breakfast
Our stay at The Karol was short and sweet. We couldn’t check back into reality with checking out the breakfast fare first so, Ben and I made our way back to the K Club for one last meal. The Smoked Salmon Toast caught my eye while Ben made his leap for the Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy.
The herbed cream cheese on my toast was a nice earthy touch; however, it was spread on just a little thick for me (I’m picky that way). It was a quick fix to level it out by tiering off some of the cream cheese. I eyed Ben’s biscuits and gravy heavily contemplating if it was worth breaking my pescatarian diet if even for a second. I held strong, but he was sure to spill the details on how hearty it was. Luckily, I ordered my own biscuit to enjoy. Though gravy-less, it still gave me the pillowy carb fix I was looking for.
Next Time You’re in Town
The Karol Hotel is a welcome addition to the Tampa Bay Area. It’s less than 20 minutes away from my house which, personally, might be my favorite part. When it comes to a staycation – you don’t have to travel far in order to feel like you’re away from “real life”. It’s a bonus when the hotel room is as cozy and spacious as The Karol’s.
From a local’s perspective, I could easily see hitting Vantage for a few rounds of drinks before Ubering to downtown St. Pete for a night out. The K Club also holds its own as a nice date night option for travelers and locals alike.
The Karol Hotel is located at 2675 Ulmerton Rd Clearwater Florida 33762. Check out their website for more information on rooms, bookings, and offerings: https://www.thekarolhotel.com
Thanks so much to The Karol Hotel and Hayworth PR for hosting Ben and I. All opinions expressed here are my own.