Hidden Gems of Winter Park: The Park Plaza Hotel

Park Avenue’s Winter Park Hotel Eludes European Charm. The Park Plaza Hotel is tucked away between Tuni’s and Bebe’s. From the outside, it’s easy to miss as it blends in with the rest of Park Avenue. The only visible signage is the awning outside its entrance. The awning itself is classic Winter Park: vintage style with forest green and white strips with “Park Plaza” written in a classic script typeface. It’s a style that makes us nostalgic for a Winter Park of a different time, even an America of a different era. I felt as if I stepped in another era as I took in the tiled lobby, the Floridian plants, dark oak and brass accents. The walls of the entrance are rich dark oak wood, a Persian rug is running through the lobby, and chestnut leather chairs and couches adorn the lobby with antique chairs arranged in front of an impressive black marble fireplace.

“The endlessly inviting Park Plaza Hotel is a European style retreat nestled in the heart of Winter Park’s chic Park Avenue district. Located directly on the avenue, guests are surrounded by an abundance of dining, shopping, history and culture. Personal service and genuine hospitality are the tradition of the Park Plaza Hotel. Each of the hotel’s 28 guest rooms and suites offers modern comfort and unique furnishings. Built in 1922, this boutique hotel has carefully preserved the simple elegance of Winter Park and serves as one of its most gracious landmarks.” – Park Plaza Hotel

The History Behind the Gem

Park Plaza Hotel was built in 1922. It has managed to maintain the charm and elegance from that era. Architect Peter C. Samwell designed the Park Plaza Hotel. Originally, the hotel was built by the Orlando & Winter Park Railway Company (The Dinky Line) to house workers during the railroad construction. John and Cassie Spang purchased the hotel in 1977. Their renovations included the charming wrought-iron balcony. It underwent a major renovation in the late 1970s but it still managed to hold onto its old-world charm.

Since its establishment, the Park Plaza has become a cultural icon in Winter Park and Florida history. Back in 1941, the price of a room was $2.50 a day. The Park Plaza staff informed me that it was the first hotel in the state of Florida to have private bathrooms with each guest room. Before all hotels in Florida had bathrooms, you had to go outside. Can you imagine going to use the restroom outside in Florida? We’re hoping it didn’t attract any lizards or other critters. Inside the Park Plaza hotel, the brass door elevator designed by The Jacksonville Elevator Company still works.

Winter Park’s Premier Wedding Destination on Park Avenue

Winter Park is full of romantic wedding getaways – The Capen House (Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens) and Casa Feliz to name a few. The Park Plaza Hotel is more than a hidden gem and local haunt that is perfect for the vintage lover or your next honeymoon stay. They have honeymoon packages including the balcony suite and honeymoon suite. Right at the heart of Park Avenue, it’s the ideal location for a newlywed on their honeymoon. The location makes it ideal for spending a day on the lake, checking out shops and dining in Winter Park. If you ask us, there is nothing more romantic than spending a morning on the balcony overlooking Park Avenue. Guests can open their French doors and kick back on the balcony and enjoy the view as well as the potted ferns and hanging plants. Enjoy a fresh complimentary breakfast. Enjoy your honeymoon Winter Park style.

Plan Your Next Adventure in Winter Park

The Park Plaza Hotel is a treasure for any type of adventurer: tourists looking to explore Winter Park, newlywed couples planning their honeymoon, Florida natives exploring the area or Winter Park citizens who never stepped foot in the hotel. Next time you are strolling through Park Ave, stop by and admire the stunning lobby and charming balcony. This hotel represents the quintessential Winter Park – it’s charm, elegance, history, and culture.

Fun Facts about The Park Plaza Hotel

  • The price of a room in 1941 was $2.50 a day
  • The first hotel in the state of Florida to have
    bathrooms’ inside
  • The brass door elevator still works. The Jacksonville Elevator
    Company designed this elevator.

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Park Ave Magazine. Titled “Hidden Gems of Winter Park” by Alex Dimovski © Copyright 2019 – Park Ave Magazine. To read past issues of Park Ave Magazine, go to the “Editions” tab on the main menu of our homepage. To order past issues of Park Ave Magazine, please call (407)951-5341.

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