A Florida Hotel With a Past
Off Season Daytona
Daytona Beach has never been my dream destination. But Don and I have visited a few times, when there were no beach crowds or motorcycle rallies or NASCAR happenings.
On our first visit, we took in a lot of the fun, retro flavor of the beach city. I was delighted when I spotted the curious Art Deco hotel. But its paint was peeling and we heard its reputation was a bit tarnished. Three years later, we noticed some renovation going on!
Then and Now
The black and white, mid-century photo, shows the sleek 4-story hotel when it had a few more signs and less landscaping. The white and green image from our visit, shows little structural change... thank goodness!
Our Boat-like Hotel
When we arrived, we had a great view from the large parking lot. The rounded corners and the rooftop railings made me think of a boat. There were even porthole windows on the north side.
A Riverboat Tangent...
Later, I figured out which boat the hotel reminded me of...
The Art Deco, Admiral (along with its powder rooms and big band ballrooms) started cruising the Mississippi in 1940. That was the same year the Streamline opened! The poor Admiral was eventually used for scrap metal, but the Streamline dodged the wrecking ball and made a strong comeback, in 2017.
White and Mint Green
The parking lot was empty when we parked and headed towards the white and green stucco hotel. The pool area was empty too, but that was probably because it was January and chilly.
The lobby desk was as shiny as the old Admiral riverboat! The marble (or marble-like?) floor and columns were so clean and slick, they looked as wet as the Mississippi.
The huge race car image on the wall was there to remind me, we weren't all about boats and rivers. The decor and the welcoming woman at the desk greeted us with much enthusiasm. I'm afraid I can't remember her name, but she was very cheery. "The bars aren't open yet, but I can make you drinks anytime!" We said we were fine for the moment and took some time looking around.
The curvy ceilings were glowing, along with the triple ring light fixture, in the sitting area. I don't know all the decorator terms to describe the lobby space, but Modern and Fun are the words come to mind!
Dividing the lobby and the bar, was a giant fish tank with pristine glass and graceful fish. Our host pointed out her favorite swimming friends. I was tempted to have her make us some tropical drinks and pull 2 bar stools up to the glass.
Cars on the Wall
On the north side of the building, the original, garage-door-style-windows were cleverly renovated, to look as if we were looking down towards the stock car races. A large TV on the east wall, played historic film footage of interviews and racing clips.
After a little lobby time, we took our key and bags to the elevator.
The hotel's original elevator was decorated with old photos and news clippings. While we traveled to the 4th floor, I learned that our hotel was the first fire proof building in the city. It was used as an air raid shelter in WWII.
We asked for a room with a view and got a nice corner room, facing the ocean. Some of the buildings across the street were not too lovely, but I just looked further out towards the Atlantic. We could see the rollercoaster and a few of the boardwalk's more recent additions. I was glad we were in the area, without spring break crowds.
The room was a bit cramped with 2 beds, dresser and chair. But we pretty much had the whole hotel to ourselves and we were a block from the beach... and the newly renovated hotel was clean and classy... and the price was right!
The bathroom was small, but nicely updated and very clean.
But, before that, The Streamline also spent time as a Youth Hostel and a Retirement Home. It was even owned by an evangelist, who claimed he ministered to Elvis. Hmmm?
To The Roof
At 5:00, the rooftop bar opened, so we made a trip. It was too chilly for lounging on the deck, but the staff went ahead and made the space inviting, with seat cushions and pillows.
To the Top
There was an even higher level, that we visited for just a moment. The wind was whipping in every direction...
...but the evening colors were warm!
After wandering a bit, Don and I ducked inside the Sky Lounge. The cozy, enclosed space was surrounded by roof deck. Again, I felt like I was on a boat.
Our young bartender Nathan, couldn't have been more welcoming. He shared every bit of hotel history he knew.
The Birth of NASCAR
Nathan showed us the photo of Bill France Sr. and all the men who gathered on the hotel's rooftop bar in 1947... called Ebony Bar, then. I wonder how windy it was on that December day, when the men created the association, that united all stock car racing under one set of rules.
Nathan told us a few more bits about Streamline's earlier years. Evidently there was a little bootlegging going on and a tunnel was discovered, that went from the hotel to the beach. I wasn't clear about what the big black safe was for. "Al Capone" was written on the door. Funny, how just about every historic hotel claims to have a connection to Al Capone. ??
Sunset on Deck
I had to step out a couple times to catch the evening colors.
It would have been so pleasant on a warm, tropical evening.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!