I thought that the EO Inn had closed. Since Panera moved out, every time I’d round the lake or drive down Robinson I’d think, “What a cute hotel. I wonder what happened to it.” So, y’all it’s been there, letting out hotel rooms the whole dang time. In the past couple of months, after a change of hands, a lot of new things are happening.
First of all, this cute little boutique hotel, built in 1938 on the edge of Lake Eola, is as charming as can be. You enter from the parking lot or walk along either side of the building to reach the covered entryway. A little stone lion head stuck high up on the front wall still drools out a steady stream of cool clear water that splashes down into a three tiered fountain. It’s lovely and strangely relaxing even though cars go whizzing by on nearby Robinson Street.
The new owners have given General Manager Jennifer McCauley carte blanche to do what needs to be done to update, modernize, and maximize this unique property. And there’s work to be done. She’s started with the common areas and has plans to update the rooms one by one. We chatted about what might happen to the space that Panera vacated, but you’ll have to ask her yourself for that info. (Refusing to scoop my pals at Bungalower and Orlando Weekly, LOL) Jenn and I chatted last week and she shared a bit more about what’s going on.
I stayed on the third floor overlooking Lake Eola park. Waking up in a puffy white cloud of covers and pillows was something I haven’t experienced since I was a kid, and sitting in a bathtub that looks right up into downtown was surreal. Let’s start with the building and I’ll show you around.
Things to know before you go:
This is an older building and as such, doors don’t close all the way and walls are fairly thin. So be aware of that if you, like my neighbor on the third floor, like to work out in the hotel hallway. I’m usually pretty understanding, but all that panting and heavy-breathing outside my door was just creepy.
It’s a work in progress. While the common areas have undergone a big change, the hotel is slowly being renovated. You may spot issues with the AC unit or fixtures as you wander about but that’s temporary and certainly doesn’t detract from the LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION that this quaint boutique has to offer.
If you are missing anything, need anything, or forgot anything, the front desk concierge is seriously all about making you feel like you’re top priority. They’ll do their best to find it, provide it or source it. You can’t miss the coffee nook with free newspapers, water, and a solid selection of hot beverages.
The hand-painted murals were done by Lemonpress and fill the entryway and common areas on each floor. The top floor’s creamsicle colored sunset with metallic birds and stars was my favorite.
The room refresh will include fixtures and soft coverings and headboards and flooring so if you’re in a room that hasn’t been updated yet, you’ll just have to come back again. For the sleep I got and for the ability to walk around the lake to Deeply Coffee or grab a Lime Bike to head off just about anywhere, it was so great.
Things you can do while at EO Inn:
Speed walk around the lake which is especially nice in Spring when the baby swans are waddling about.
Walk to a concert in the bandshell.
Watch the Lake Eola fountain change colors in sync with music played through the speakers on the walking path.
Visit the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market on Sunday morning.
Join in a marathon or road race.
Walk up to the Amway Center to catch a sportsball game or to the Dr. Phillips Center for a performance, the Veranda for a party, wedding, or concert, over to Sak Comedy Lab for an improv lesson, or City Arts for the latest installation or gallery show.
Yoga on the lawn on Sundays.
Grab a cold drink from Eola General, make your way back up to your room and relax on the balcony.
Hustle up to Deeply Coffee and then back to your room to pretend that you never left. Buttermilk Bakery pastries in bed with a perfectly done flat white. Perfection. Take it out onto the porch on the second floor to relax under sunbrellas and read the paper or flick through the news on your tablet.
It’s possible to sit in an enormous bathtub and soak. With a book…or with a friend, your call. The tub looks out over Robinson and on into the park and it was so lovely with the sun coming in and the City Beautiful in front of me. I was only slightly disappointed that the bathroom balcony doors did’t open. I know, I know…safety…but still. Double sinks and double mirrors and double hairdryers and double robes and the fact that you don’t have to share is a luxury in itself isn’t it?
Also, if you’re at all worried about light while sleeping. (I like a pitch black dark room, y’all.) The black out blind goes across all the bathroom windows and doors. The blinds close almost completely and it’s glorious. The darkest room. There’s a sliver of light from around the hotel room door but like I said it’s an older shifting building and that’s to be expected.
The thing that happened that I was most impressed with, honestly, was the peace and quiet I got when I really wanted to sit down and write or get work done. It was so relaxing and so easy to concentrate. The balcony was great for that as was the built-in desk and workspace in the room.
You can look over into the park to give your eyes a break or watch the swans waddle around closer to the water. How fun would it be to stay there during the annual Swan Roundup? There are five kinds of swans at Lake Eola, Trumpeter, Black Neck, Whooper, Royal Mute and Australian Black swans and they have lived at the park since 1923. Remember to only feed them fresh lettuce or cracked corn from the swan feeders located around the park. Bread can make them sick.
All in all it was a four-star stay. I would say that the only drawbacks were my loud neighbors who would let their door slam and do workouts in the hallway. Although maybe they were so comfortable, they felt like they could behave as if the place were all their own? It does that, this special place. You know you’re in a hotel but something feels more personal, more unique.
To get there, head to Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, north of the airport and right in the heart of the City Beautiful. It’s on the corner of Robinson and Eola. Convenient to the Orlando Executive Airport, Milk District, Thornton Park, and South Eola neighborhoods. Next to downtown and accessible as heck.
EO Inn sponsored this blog post, but all opinions are my own. I’m super grateful for such a relaxing, convenient visit to downtown Orlando. They made it easy to be a tourist in my own town!
Photos by Arlene Laboy.