Throw on your jodhpurs and riding boots or pack your suits and sneakers — it’s all about that chic equestrian lifestyle in the “Horse Capital of the World” but the luxury Equestrian Hotel is ready to welcome you whether you’re one of the show jumping set or merely a spectator.
The Equestrian Hotel is at the heart of the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida. It boasts 248 rooms, many of them suites, and many of them looking over the Grand Arena. And a stay at this five-story hotel property grants guests access to the entire 380-acre estate that boasts multiple indoor- and outdoor-arenas, stadiums, expo centers, and more.
The highest of expectations are met here. Equestrian accents are everywhere, but in subtle touches like nightstands with horse bit handles, bridle patterned carpets in the hallways, trophy cup lamps, and houndstooth chair fabrics. Additional elegant touches include high-end Italian marble, mahogany, and Swarovski crystal chandeliers draped all over.
The magnificent lobby lounge is the centerpiece of the action inside, attracting sitters and saunterers all day by the crackling fireplace or at any of the dozens of vignettes. It’s not only a popular place for people-watching, but also for gazing at hundreds of custom canvas animal portraits.
A stay at The Equestrian is a resort-style experience as the full service hotel has seven restaurants, a pool, a spa, and plenty of retail shopping at all levels. One of every guest’s favorite places to peruse is Mr. Pickles and Sailor Bear Toy Shop, named for two of the owner’s pups, which has diversions for the young and young at heart.
But of course the action is really in the arena. Fast becoming one of central Florida’s favorite playgrounds, The Equestrian is surrounded by the World Equestrian Center. Staying here is an opportunity to get up close and personal with world-class equestrian events and Olympian-level athletes. And the best part is that competitions here are free and open to the public!
When you are ready to give the horses a rest, there are plenty of other places on property to visit, including a chapel, a pool, a spa, walking trails, and seven — yes, seven — on-site themed restaurants helmed by Executive Chef Ryker Brown.
There’s the popular Yellow Pony, a sports bar complete with custom saddle stools around a horseshoe-shaped bar and live music on the patio; FILO’s Mexican Cantina; Ralph’s Burger and Sandwich Shop; Viola and Dot’s Italian Kitchen; Emma’s Patisserie; Miss Tilly’s Lollipops; and the fine dining room Stirrups, where guests gather to hobnob with the Who’s Who of the horsey-set and enjoy recommendations from renowned on-site Master Sommelier Roland Micu.
This is truly peak equestrian chic — the ultimate destination for anyone who rides, loves to be around horses, or anyone who just loves the stylish equestrian lifestyle.
Kate Michael is a Writer, Emcee, On-Camera Host and Fashion/Commercial Model. Follow her at @kstreetkate