Florida

10 Best Places to Stay for your Universal Orlando Vacation

Whether you want pampering, an over-the-top theme or just a whole lot of room, these Orlando hotels can make your theme park vacation that much better.

I’ve seen the wonder of a toddler’s face when he walked into Seuss Landing, the Universal land that’s a lifelike tribute to a favorite storybook. I’ve heard the gleeful screams of teenagers swishing down the slopes of the thrilling Incredible Hulk roller coaster. And the Harry Potter lands? Little beats the joy of strolling through an immersive Hogsmeade replica with kids who’ve been obsessed with the Harry Potter books since first grade.

Maybe your family wants a serene escape after a day of hanging upside down with Spiderman and flying through Jimmy Fallon’s New York. The kids can cool off in the pool while the grown-ups sip chardonnay. Or maybe you want to stay in full-on active mode. In that case, choose a themed hotel that’s decorated with playful elements and has water play areas, bowling alleys or contests by the pool.

Luckily, you’ll find whatever kind of hotel is best for you in and near Universal Orlando Resort—home to two theme parks, a water park, and a dining/retail/entertainment complex. Here are the 10 best, from value-priced motels to full-service resorts.

Break Out the Poodle Skirt, or the Mini Skirt

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Universal’s Seuss Landing wows the tots, and The Incredible Hulk draws thrill-seeking teens. Likewise, Mom and Dad, or even Grandma and Grandpa, will get a kick out of the theming at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando. The entire hotel is an ode to the more mature grown-up’s’ childhoods: Groovy ’60s-style guest room artwork, rounded ’50s-esque retro architecture, and odes to those eras like the Swizzle Lounge.

With 1,800 guest rooms, many of them family suites, Cabana Bay was able to invest in major recreational enticements. Take one look at the 6,000-square-foot beach with the 8,000-square-foot zero-entry pool, the sparkling lazy river and the steep water slide, and you may choose to put on a bathing suit and stay right where you are. Hula Hoop contests and character visits only add to the fun.

When you need a spell in the A/C, put on your Ralph Kramden and go bowling. With neon-colored balls, a playful throwback look and table-service foods, Galaxy Bowl is a great bet for a friendly family competition along with a burger and beer.

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Top rated
Orlando, 7.5 miles to Amway Center
9.4 Excellent (33420 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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Get All the Essentials, for Less

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Sometimes you just need a place to stay–a friendly, affordable, safe and clean room with a bed or two and a few essential amenities. That’s where Rosen Inn comes in.

Rosen Inn is a barebones member of a locally owned hotel company, and it’s a darling of budget-oriented travelers. That’s not just because of its price—though free parking, WiFi and kid meals for cuties five and under, plus no resort fee, can be a dealmaker for thrifty travelers.

Still, you’ll get that vacation experience. Along with 315 guest rooms—each with two queen-size pillow-top beds, a microwave, and a mini-fridge—the Rosen Inn has a pool, a business center, flat-screen TVs, restaurants, a bar, and a 24-hour deli and store. What’s more, as an official Universal Partner Hotel, it provides free rides to and from the Universal parks some retail discounts.

Rosen Inn Universal

Orlando, 7.5 miles to Amway Center
8.1 Very good (12020 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.1 / 10
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Park Yourself in Polynesia

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Get a dose of the South Pacific at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, a sophisticated take on the South Seas in Orlando. Located right on Universal property, this full-service hotel caters equally to families and conference attendees with tempting amenities plus exceptional food and beverage facilities.

Each of the 1,000 guest rooms and suites has tropical touches such as vividly colored flower images on the walls. You might attend a torch-lighting – with a fire dancer – by the lagoon-style pool, or splurge on the weekly Wantilan Luau.

Other than that, the Royal Pacific is merely a pampering hotel with great extras including water taxis and buses to the Universal parks, Universal Express Unlimited passes so you can shoot to the front of every line, and early admission to some Universal Studios Florida and Volcano Bay attractions. Jake’s American Bar is a cozy must for a tête-à-tête with craft beers and American classics, while Islands Dining Room brings in tastes of Asia. For extra fun, have a Universal character’s voice at the other end of your morning wake-up call.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

Top rated
Orlando, 7.1 miles to Amway Center
8.9 Excellent (23990 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Rock Your Way to Relaxation

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The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando is all about rock ‘n’ roll, and it adds in tempting music-related extras. A program called The Sound of your Stay, for instance, allows you to borrow guitars and DJ mixers to tinker with in your room. Likewise, the hotel has downloadable playlists to enjoy during your visit. The hotel also happens to be walking distance from Universal Orlando’s theme parks.

The Hard Rock itself is a rock ‘n’ roll museum, with rocker costumes and memorabilia displayed throughout the property. On Sundays, the Acoustic Brunch in a restaurant called The Kitchen features a live musician. For every meal, that restaurant, with modern American fare, has a play area for small children, which keeps them entertained while grown-ups dine nearby. Colorful characters—Simpsons and Minions characters, for example—often stop by for surprise visits during mealtimes.

As a “premier” Universal hotel, the Hard Rock has all kinds of amenities, such as transportation to the parks, Express Unlimited passes, and early entry. You’ll also find a pool with underwater music, sand volleyball, a spa, and the stylish Velvet Bar.

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

Top rated
Orlando, 6.5 miles to Amway Center
9.2 Excellent (17378 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Do It Island-Style: Everything but the Pirates and Buccaneers

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Get the reggae going and settle into the chill vibe at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. You’ll be right near the Universal parks at this mid-price resort yet, in concept, on a Caribbean island. Vivid watery blues and visions of palm trees carry the relaxed feel into the 1,000 guest rooms, but why spend time there? The 16,000-square-foot pool is ready for a dip or swim. Not tempting enough? Look for the waterfalls, water slide, and sand beaches. Rent a cabana and you might wonder if you really want to head to those theme parks after all.

A stone turret in the lobby hints of Caribbean history at Sapphire Falls, and the Strong Water Tavern takes on the culinary cornucopia. Settle around a lounge table and taste foods from the entire region – curry goat from Jamaica, empanadas from Colombia, crab salad from Puerto Rico. Wash it all down with one of the dozens of rums. Amatista Cookhouse provides a more traditional menu for those seeking familiar fare, albeit with Caribbean accents.

When you’re ready to return to Orlando, board a shuttle or water taxi to the Universal parks. You’ll get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Volcano Bay an hour earlier than folks staying off Universal property.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Orlando, 7.3 miles to Amway Center
9.0 Excellent (1920 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Be Practical: Covering All the Basics

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The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando is so close that you can walk to the Universal parks, but you don’t need to. It’s a partner hotel, which means Universal will send a shuttle for you and other guests. You’ll also get discounts at several Universal restaurants and stores.

Essentially, this DoubleTree is a sensible place to stay. It has predictable contemporary decor in the common areas and the 742 guest rooms, plus whatever you might need whether you’re bonding with the kiddies, enjoying a romantic getaway or closing a business deal.

You’ll be greeted with a chocolate chip cookie, invited to dine at the daytime and evening restaurants, snack at the pool bar, swim in a junior Olympic pool with a spa, and get online in the business center. Guest rooms have comfy beds, coffeemakers, and flat-screen TVs. Elsewhere on the property, you’ll find a fitness center, an arcade, and a children’s play area. Just what you need, whatever that is.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando

Orlando, 6.1 miles to Amway Center
7.9 Good (5474 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.7 / 10
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How Suite It Is

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You wouldn’t call Floridays Resort Orlando fancy, yet you’d call it something better: like home. Show up with as many as eight and you can comfortably spread out in a two- or three-bedroom suite. Each is set up like a spacious apartment with bedrooms, kitchens, balconies, washer-dryers, and even both walk-in showers and whirlpool tubs.

Reserve your spot on the Floridays shuttle for a free ride to the Universal theme parks, or stay and play. Within the 20 acre property, you’ll find a zero-entry pool, a kid-friendly water-play area, a splash pool, a hot tub, and a beach. You never know when a water aerobics class, a dive-in movie or a DJ pool party will be going on.

While you can cook all your meals in your Floridays residence, a cafe, a pool bar, and room service are available to take over the culinary duties.

Floridays Resort Orlando

Top rated
Orlando, 12.1 miles to Amway Center
9.1 Excellent (27302 reviews)
Excellent Rooms 9.2 / 10
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Live Like Royalty

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From princes to wizards to purple dinosaurs, Orlando’s theme parks are all about fantasy. So how fitting that the Castle Hotel, Autograph Collection provides a regal backdrop to your Universal holiday. Located a quick 10-minute car drive, or leisurely I-Ride Trolley ride, away, this fanciful hotel stands out from its peers by the pointed turrets jutting from its street-front facade.

The Castle is aimed at business travelers as well as families, so its blue-blood shtick takes a turn toward the tasteful. Crystal chandeliers and faux antlers both abound, evoking a Bavarian variety of charm. Guest rooms have elaborately carved headboards, or gilded cushioned ones, along with tech-ready work stations. The feeling is posh.

The rooftop terrace provides sweeping views. Head up to see a “real” castle – Hogwarts, and theme park fireworks. The Castle also has a spa, a bright garden-themed restaurant, and Antler’s Lounge, an indoor-outdoor restaurant with seasonal fare and lounge seating.

Castle Hotel Autograph Collection

Orlando, 8.6 miles to Amway Center
8.3 Very good (1730 reviews)
Excellent Location 9 / 10
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Choose a Chic Home Away From Home

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The Pointe Hotel & Suites has an urban polish, yet also all comforts of a condo. Lodge in an executive studio or a suite and you’ll have not only a gel-infused king bed but a kitchenette with dinnerware, two closets, and a dedicated workspace. Make it your love nest, or pack in the whole family.

Sunbathing by the pool and hot tub is always tempting. Towel service is included, and cocktails and tapas from the pool bar only make the experience better. You may find yourself at those Universal parks though. A shuttle will bring you there. Have questions? Need tickets? The concierge will help.

You’ll find plenty of extras at The Pointe. You can park on the premises, exercise in the fitness center and add on breakfast in the lobby cafe.

The Point Orlando Resort

Top rated
Orlando, 7.5 miles to Amway Center
8.8 Excellent (15695 reviews)
Excellent Rooms 9.1 / 10
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Immerse Yourself in an Italy Imitation

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If you’re looking for the ultimate Universal vacation, choose Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando as your home base. Not only is this sprawling premier resort with a spa right on Universal property, offering loads of perks like free Express Unlimited passes. This hotel was designed to look like Portofino, Italy, and it has an array of features to enhance the theme.

The resort centers around a man-made lake surrounded by pastel buildings. The open-air Harbor Piazza fronting it serves as a central locale, where Musica della Notte musicians entertain nightly with an opera-romantic-festive style of tunes. The pool slide resembles a Roman aqueduct. The Italian lawn bowling game called bocce ball is among the sports offered. In Mama Della’s Ristorante, one of eight places to eat, a trio performs Italian favorites tableside.

Toast with prosecco under the stars, or unwind with a grappa at the warmly hued Bar American. Share cicchetti (small plates of food) with pals at The Thirsty Fish. Entertain kids with rental games and ping pong tournaments. Or simply open to the aura of Italy as you stroll along the piazza. It’s all a walk, bus or boat ride away from Universal Orlando’s attractions – including those open free to hotel guests an hour early the mornings of your stay.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel At Universal Orlando

Top rated
Orlando, 6.2 miles to Amway Center
8.7 Excellent (4566 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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