The Hotel Cordova boasts a rich history, reigning in Downtown St. Petersburg from 1921. Although the Cordova was well known throughout St. Petersburg for over 7 decades, the truth is that the Cordova Family sold the hotel in the early 1950’s. For the next 50 years Hotel Cordova changed owners several times, though the name never changed — until 2001 when the extensive renovations completed to the original standards of exemplary workmanship earned her a new name as The Pier Hotel. In 2014, the property embraced history once more, rebranding as The Cordova Inn.
In 1999 the hotel closed, having been in a state of decline for several years. During the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, downtown St. Petersburg was seen as a less than a desirable place to be after sunset. She sat empty, waiting to serve again after her long winter sleep. During this time, schoolboys would occasionally break into the old hotel at night, and tell the story the next day of hearing the major-domo howl with disapproval in the empty halls of the hotel. Ghost Tours continue to seek this wayward spirit. Then, a metamorphosis took place in downtown St. Petersburg!
It was called BayWalk (now the Sundial), and the Downtown Shops. Seeing the potential of this lady with an aging dirty face, a local investor purchased Hotel Cordova, saving her from the wrecking ball which had claimed her sister hotel next door (now a parking lot). She was completely gutted, then installed with new fixtures, wiring, paint and finally, the period decor. Each detail lovingly restored to the exceptional standards to which it was built in 1921, right down to the water basins in the hall (where servants washed up before serving their wealthy employers).
Currently, you’ll see the same great arches, the same spacious rooms, the same elegant verandah and the same attention to artisanship from a time gone by. In the 2000/2001 season, she reopened as The Pier Hotel. The major-domo reflection was never seen again. We like to think has was satisfied with the result, and could finally rest at long last!
Today, The Cordova Inn’s guests enjoy the same service as was originally provided in the 1920’s, coupled with her location adjoining Sundial, fine museums, ever expanding list of restaurants & night-life venues, recreation opportunities, waterfront parks, and as always, the sparkling, beautiful waters of Tampa Bay!
The Cordova Inn boasts 32 tastefully appointed guest rooms, most with microwaves, refrigerators, wet-bars and all with French duvets and high-speed Internet access.
Many of the rooms have the original clawfoot ladies’ soaking tubs. Imagine the comfort and peaceful escape from the outside world while soaking leisurely in these tubs, then dressing later for an evening on the town! Today, The Cordova Inn is known for its European service and discreet privacy for both high-profile guests and tourists alike.
The property was awarded the 2002 Restoration of the Year Award from the St. Petersburg Preservation Society.
The Legend and the Legacy of Cordova’s Major-Domo
The Roaring Twenties were filled with prosperity and cultural explosion as the United States saw booms in the use of films, radio, telephones, and automobiles. Rising economic fortunes in conjunction with the increase in automobile use made travel for leisure more possible. The Hotel Cordova (The Cordova Inn, currently) joined the scene with its European Art Deco style in 1921. Owned by the Cordova family for more than thirty years, local legend states Hotel Cordova still holds the original spirit of service excellence from decades ago, and that spirit can still be felt roaming through the foyer and hallways.
The Cordova family’s head butler made the long journey south from their northern estate and became the Major-domo of their new hotel. Reginald, Jeeves, Alfred, or Geoffrey, no one remembers his name but his extraordinary attention to detail and his no-nonsense method of service gave the hotel its superb reputation. Imagine if you will, a solemn-faced gentleman fully suited with European flair welcoming guests and providing impeccable and personal concierge service.
The Major-domo gave twenty years of service to the Cordova guests before his life ended in the very hotel he meticulously served. Many have heard rumors of the Major-domo’s ghost lingering in the halls overseeing the accommodation of its current guests. Rest assured we don’t fear this spirit, but we welcome it as we strive for service excellence and desire to continue the legacy of Cordova’s infamous Major-domo.