I assume the families of some of Tampa's most notorious criminals didn't walk the rather intimidating twenty-two stairs of Tampa's Old Federal Courthouse Building, now the beautifully restored Le Méridien Tampa, with the same sense of anticipation and glee I had last Friday while walking those same stairs.

I also don't think they were greeted with a gorgeous plate of freshly made Salted Caramel, Coconut, and Chocolate Eclairs in the elegant, yet comfortable Bizou Brasserie.  

Le Méridien Tampa, a 130 room boutique hotel, opened last summer in Tampa's Old Federal Courthouse, a notorious Beaux Arts style building dating back to 1905.  

The building was used exclusively as a Federal Courthouse from 1984 until the Court relocated in 1998.  It sat empty for 10 years until the extensive $27 million dollar hotel renovation was completed.  

Here's a photo of the Courthouse from 1931, thanks to www.tampapix.com.

In my younger days, I was a runner for a law firm in Downtown Tampa and used to frequent this building so I was thrilled when I received an invitation to tour the new hotel. All I can say is, it was worth the wait.

Everything about Le Méridien Tampa is simply stunning. Style and sophistication are intertwined with architecturally intriguing features and memories of the buildings storied past.  They just don't make buildings like this anymore.

 I'll let some photos do the talking:

The original black and white terrazzo mixed with sleek modern styling:

Past meets present at my old stomping grounds:

The View of Sacred Heart Catholic Church from the picture window of the stunning Courtroom Ballroom:

The back driveway, where defendants awaiting trial would enter the courthouse, is now a beautiful pool deck:

A former jury selection desk is now a business center work-table for hotel guests:

A historic cartoon on the inside of a ladies restroom thankfully remains intact:

The heartbeat of the hotel, for both hotel guests and local patrons, is the gorgeous Bizou Brasserie.  Bizou Brasserie is much more than a standard hotel restaurant.

It's a neighborhood gathering place to enjoy French inspired foods, unique crafted cocktails, wines by the glass, local craft beer, live music, and those world famous eclairs in a one-of-a-kind setting.  

This case will get you in trouble!

Bizou Brasserie is the perfect place to pop in for coffee and a pastry. The Le Méridien brand was established in 1972 by Air France and is world renowned for their eclairs.  

Each Le Méridien Hotel features eclairs inspired by their individual destination and all pastries are made on site daily by their own pastry chef.  My favorite eclair was the coconut but the salted caramel was a close second and there are a host of other tantalizing treats.

There are ample places to relax and enjoy the beautiful ambience at Bizou Brasserie like this one:

Bizou Brasserie is also a great place to kick off a fun evening or wind down after a night on the town.  

Bizou Brasserie offers a unique cocktail program featuring local craft beer flights, wine and Moscow Mules on tap (Wow!), and ten distinctive cocktails including "Not Your Father’s Old Fashioned" featuring Jameson Black, Bitters, and Orange, the "Bizou Bramble" featuring Flor de Cana, Blackberry, Lemon, and "B.O.C." (Breakfast of Champions" featuring Crown Maple, Buttershots, and OJ.  

The Bar is open nightly until Midnight and offers a Work Release Happy Hour on Thursdays and Fridays from 5-7:30pm.  There's also live music on Friday nights. Here's a photo of the beautiful bar area:

Bizou Brasserie is a five star restaurant offering a taste of France with an American twist using locally sourced ingredients.  The restaurant serves Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Sunday Brunch as well as Small Plates.  

It's a great place to celebrate a special occasion but also relaxed enough for a Date Night or a quick bite before or after hitting the town.  I can't wait to try their Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar at Sunday Brunch, I hear they pull out all the stops! 

I'm thrilled with what's become of this wonderful historic landmark and the excitement it brings to Downtown Tampa. 

I'm also excited Le Méridien Tampa and Bizou Brasserie have teamed up with our friends at the Animal Coalition of Tampa to host the first Pastries for Pups  fundraiser event on Saturday, April 25 from 12-3pm on The Patio at Bizou Brasserie. Stay tuned for more information on this awesome event!