The Best Place to Stay at Universal Orlando
If you’re looking for the best place to stay at Universal Orlando, look no further! Today we will break down all of the Universal Orlando hotels so you can figure out the best place to stay at Universal Orlando for you.
Before we get to the list of where to stay at Universal Orlando, we also have a 2023 Universal Orlando planning guide, so make sure to check it out when you’re finished here. What to pack for Universal might also help plan your Universal vacation.
Do I need a rental car for a Universal vacation?
I like to get around as needed while on vacation, so I like to rent a car. If you decide to rent a car in Orlando, I renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
Discount USA Car Rental offers the best pricing available whether you’re flying into Orlando or Sanford. As a bonus, you don’t have to pay anything until you arrive at the airport, and cancellation is completely free.
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The Best Place to Stay at Universal Orlando
Now, let’s get to the best place to stay at Universal Orlando. Here at Florida Travel with kids, we’ve stayed in all of the Universal Orlando resorts, so we can give you all the details! I listed the resorts by price and amenities. Meaning the top of the list has the most expensive resorts with the most amenities.
The more affordable resorts with fewer amenities (but still some!) are at the bottom. Also, all Universal resorts (with the exception of Endless Summer) have access to the Garden Walk, a walking path from the hotels to Universal theme parks and CityWalk.
Hard Rock Hotel
Hard Rock Hotel Orlando is a short walk away from both Universal Parks. Add in the spacious rooms and modern amenities, and you have the perfect place to stay. This is my favorite resort for adults! Check out What to do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for adults for more Universal fun for adults.
There are more than 600 guest rooms at this hotel near Universal Studios Orlando. Some rooms offer views of the garden. Others show off views of the pool. Families may prefer booking the Future Rock Star Suite. It offers enough space for 5 people. Plus, there is a color-changing stage for those impromptu shows at night.
Mealtime is simple, with three on-site restaurants and a grab-and-go marketplace. The Hard Rock Cafe is a short walk away in CityWalk, making it a great option for those nights when you want to have dinner away from the resort. You can look at all sorts of music memorabilia while waiting for your food.
Make sure to check out our CityWalk Orlando Restaurants List for more dining options at CityWalk.
Hotel guests who have theme park tickets or annual passes will receive free Universal Express Unlimited ride access. These express passes are good for select attractions at each park. You can also gain access to Universal’s Volcano Bay and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ one hour early.
The pool is fantastic and offers a unique feature – underwater music! Plus, you’ll get a view of the giant spinning guitar on the way to CityWalk.
If you have the budget for an Express Pass resort, Hard Rock Hotel is my favorite!
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Loews Royal Pacific Resort is located directly on the grounds of Universal Orlando. This tropical paradise oasis will be where you want to spend your time outside the theme parks.
You can lounge on the sandy white beach while the kids go swimming in the lagoon-style pool. The best way to spend the afternoon is to take part in all the fun pool activities included in your stay.
In my other life, I’m a Hawaii Travel Agent, so I love the south pacific theme of this resort!
All the guest rooms are spacious and offer island decor. This is perfect for those days you are tired and need to see a bright, airy space.
If you are traveling for business, the workspace in the room will be a welcome sight. There is a business center open during the weekdays too. This way, if the family comes with you, there will still be a quiet place to work.
Dinosaur fans will prefer staying in the Jurassic Suite. They can stay in their own dinosaur-themed room while you stay in a king room.
There are plenty of on-site restaurants designed to make mealtime easy for every guest. These restaurants are all within walking distance of the guest rooms. Like the other Express Pass Resorts, the theme parks and CityWalk are just a short walk away.
Loews Portofino Bay Resort
Like the two previously mentioned hotels, at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, you get a few perks you won’t receive at all other Universal Orlando Resort hotels. Those perks include free Universal Express Unlimited ride access with a valid theme park ticket and priority seating at Universal Orlando restaurants.
This Italian-style resort is filled with cobblestone streets and Italian cypress trees. You will think your plane took a detour to the town of Portofino, Italy!
The spacious guest rooms offer extra space for your luggage and purchases. Although, the suites are better for families. The kids will love the Despicable Me Suites. The kids get a room all decked out Minion-style, and you get some privacy. Even if you stay in a regular room, they are more spacious than the rooms at the other Universal hotels. Oh, and the beds are very comfortable!
There are three huge pools at this themed hotel. The kids will love the Roman aqueduct slide! The Florida Travel with Kids-kids say this is one of their favorite pools (although Hard Rock Hotel beats it just a little!)
You may prefer the Mandara Spa or a quick workout in the fitness center.
There are 8 restaurants and bars to choose from when you are hungry or need a drink. At night, sit in the Harbor Piazza, as live music plays in the background.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is one of the many Universal Orlando hotels you can choose from for your vacation. This resort offers a nautical theme throughout. It’s Universal’s only “moderate” resort, meaning you do not have Express Pass, but you do have some amenities not available at the value resorts.
These amenities include easy access to the water taxi and some nicer dining options.
Like the above-mentioned resorts, Sapphire Falls Resort has an incredible pool with daily activities and a water slide!
Modern amenities are available in every guest room and suite. You can choose to stay in a standard hotel room. However, the Kids Suites are best for families. They allow everyone to have their own space at the end of a long day.
We have a YouTube video of the kid’s suite, and we know you’ll love it as much as we did!
There are 4 restaurants and lounges on-site for meals and drinks. You can walk right to one when the free water taxi service or shuttle service brings you back from a day at the Universal theme parks.
Hotel guests can enter the Volcano Bay water park or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour early. This Universal hotel even offers resort-wide charging privileges. Everything you purchase at Universal Resorts can be charged to your room.
As with all the Universal Resort hotels, this one is close to the Orlando International Airport. This is one of the best hotels for business travelers because they can get a little fun on the side.
Many families who avoid Aventura believe it has fewer amenities, but we think that’s a mistake! If you have older kids, they might love Aventura just like we do!
At Universal’s Aventura Hotel, you get to be close to all the action at Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park. You can easily walk to that theme park at Universal Resorts. Free shuttle service is available to the other theme parks. You can also walk across to Loews Sapphire Falls and catch the water taxi; it’s a short walk!
The guest rooms and suites are all spacious at this hotel. You will have views of the theme parks from your room. However, the best views can be seen from the rooftop bar. Although Aventura does not have large suites like some of the other resorts, they do have a family-style room with more space.
Pro-tip: Pay for a high-floor room! It’s worth it for the views, plus movie night at the pool can be a bit loud.
Any downtime can be spent at the pool, hot tub, or splash zone. Although, at night, you may prefer to sit by the fire pit with a drink.
One of our favorite parts about this modern hotel – is the robots! You can request small amenities be delivered to your room via robot. It’s so much fun! Check out a YouTube short we made about the robots here.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is part of the Loews hotels family. This is one of the few hotels in Orlando that offer affordable family suites. These suites sleep up to six people. They are quite spacious at 430 square feet. You get a bedroom, living space, and a kitchenette.
Of course, you can always choose a standard room if you don’t need as much space. However, we recommend the family suite for 4 or more people because it’s spacious and has a kitchenette!
The fun never stops at the best hotels at Universal Orlando. This hotel is within walking distance of both Universal theme parks. However, it’s a pretty long walk. You can hop on the free shuttle buses if you don’t feel like walking one day. Of course, that means you have easy access to Universal CityWalk too!
The best part of staying at this hotel is you can skip the regular lines and enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Volcano Bay an hour early.
When you stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, you will likely find yourself relaxing at one of the two massive swimming pools. If you have kids, you’ll likely spend a lot of time in the pool area!
There is a lazy river and water slide in one of the pool areas too. Extra downtime can be spent at the on-site bowling alley or arcade. The fitness center is great if you enjoy working out on vacation.
There are 3 restaurants at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Those are perfect when you need to grab a meal quickly.
Surfside Inn is one of the two hotels within Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. This is a prime value hotel that offers luxury at an affordable price. This is the right hotel for you if you want to be part of the action at Universal Studios Florida while staying on a budget.
This Universal property offers standard rooms as well as two-bedroom suites. Each one is full of the amenities you need while away from home.
Complimentary transportation is available to take you to Universal’s Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida. Hop on the shuttle bus, and you will be at the park in minutes. While you can walk, it’s quite far, and I don’t recommend it.
You even gain access to many of the popular attractions at Universal Studios one hour early. Just for being a guest at Universal’s on-site hotels!
On the days you are not visiting the theme parks, you will find plenty to do at this Universal property. You can swim in the surfboard-shaped pool. The kids will have a blast in the game room.
The best part is mealtime will be easy thanks to the food court. Everyone can get exactly what they want to eat. No complaining – for the win!
The Dockside Inn is the other Endless Summer Resort on Universal property. This is another one of Universal’s value hotels. It offers standard rooms, as well as two-bedroom suites. I recommend the suites as they are not much more and have so much space and a kitchenette.
There are two swimming pools. Each one has its own pool bar. The food court makes mealtimes simple. Kids will love the game room when they have a little downtime.
And don’t worry. You still get some of the exclusive theme park benefits when you stay at this Universal hotel. One of those benefits includes early park admission.
The Best Place to Stay at Universal Orlando
I hope this list of Universal hotels helped you figure out the best place to stay at Universal Orlando. Which resort do you think is right for you?
My favorite Express Pass hotel is Hard Rock. Between the fun environment, great music, and incredible pool, it’s an easy choice. Sapphire Falls is also great since it’s moderately priced and has a great pool with activities, nice rooms, and the water taxi. If you’re on a budget, Aventura is a great option for older kids. While Cabana Bay and Endless Summer Resorts can be busy, they’re also an incredible value!
If you’re heading to Universal Orlando (or even Walt Disney World), check out our other Universal Travel Tips and Disney Travel tips:
- The Best Instagram Spots at Universal Orlando
- Things to do in Orlando for Christmas
- Hidden secrets of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The best bags for Universal Studios
- 7 things to buy at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 30 Things to Do at Disney World Resorts
- The Best Fanny Pack for Disney
- 32 Things to do at Hollywood Studios
- What to do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for adults
Are you planning a Universal Vacation?
I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist. Unfortunately, there are many scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner like Undercover Tourist.
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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