If you’re planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort, the first thing you should book is a place to stay. While you’ll certainly find cheaper hotels nearby, there are so many great benefits to staying onsite.
First, you get early access to the parks. The rides don’t necessarily open early, but this is what has allowed me to be in line as soon as some of the Harry Potter rides opened.
Some of the hotels also give you express passes to go to the shorter lines. These hotels also have unrivaled access to the parks, accessible via paved walking trail or complimentary transportation via buses and boats.
Souvenir purchases can be transferred to your room without lugging them around the parks all day. And you can also receive the perks from being under the Loews brand.
The Universal Orlando hotels span over 6,000 rooms and range from under $100 to $350 USD per night, so there’s something for every budget. Which property is right for you?
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Be sure to get your Universal 2-Day Park-to-Park Ticket – Plus Extra Day before you leave for your trip.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Read our review here)
Step into yesteryear at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, one of the most colorful Universal properties. The over 2,000 poolside or standard guest rooms can sleep up to four with flat-screen televisions, coffee makers, and mini-fridges. Toiletries like V05 and midcentury-style furnishings add to the vintage appeal.
Cabana Bay has multiple dining options including pizza that you can enjoy poolside or in your room. Kids will love the arcade and bowling alley. Your stay includes early park entry and transportation to the park via bus. It’s also the closest to Volcano Bay.
Mood: 1950s Americana
Perfect For: Young Families
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Read our review here)
For a taste of the Caribbean, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a great option for mid-range budgets. Built in 2016, the 1,000 rooms come with standard amenities like in-room coffee makers and flat-screen televisions. Nautical family suites are one of the options.
There is a sprawling pool complex, the largest in the resort, and a number of in-house eateries. Amistata Cookhouse serves Caribbean-inspired fare and New Dutch Trading offers coffee and light bites. Strong Water Tavern specializes in top-shelf rums and cocktails.
There are also weekly dinner shows and Despicable Me character breakfasts. Your stay includes early park admission and transportation using the boats.
Mood: Caribbean vacation
Perfect For: Girlfriend Getaways
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Read our review here)
The colorful buildings and the open piazza at the Loews Portofino Bay gives you “la dolce vita” without crossing the Atlantic. Accessible to the parks by boat, this is the top-tier hotel at Universal.
There are three different room types that include coffee makers, televisions, and bathtubs, with 750 rooms in total. Three pools and a spa are also a part of the property as well as nine restaurants.
Mama Della’s is as authentic as it gets and Bar Americano is where you can get your Aperol spritz fix. There’s also a Starbucks, casual deli, gelateria, and Thirsty Fish, a casual bar and restaurant. Early entry and express passes are included.
Mood: Italian Riviera
Perfect For: Couples
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Hailing back to the Golden Age of Travel, the Loews Royal Pacific Resort boasts 1,000 rooms and suites at mid-tier prices. Themed rooms are available for families.
The hotel also boasts five restaurants, including a sushi bar, and lounges and a pool where you can spend the afternoon relaxing. There’s also the unique luau show where you can learn the hula. Groups can take advantage of conference rooms and all guests get both express passes and early entry.
Mood: Pacific without the price tag
Perfect For: Older Families
Hard Rock Hotel Orlando
Built in 2001, Hard Rock Hotel is where the party is at. The name is licensed from the world-renowned brand and appeals to music lovers. The mission-style design is actually inspired by The Eagles’ Hotel California. It’s also the closest hotel to CityWalk.
It has that offer themes for families and in-room yoga for those trying to stay fit. The entire property is decked out in rock memorabilia and the hotel even hosts monthly Velvet Sessions concerts. Enjoy tunes in the pool’s underwater sound system or grab a meal at their restaurants, including The Palm Steakhouse.
Mood: California mission
Perfect For: Multi-generational groups
Universal’s Aventura Hotel (Read our review here)
The modern but affordable Aventura Hotel opened next to Cabana Bay and Volcano Bay. The 600 rooms are modernly furnished with tablet controls for televisions and lighting as well as plentiful outlets. Each room has floor to ceiling windows.
Aventura also has a pool, a dining hall with a variety of styles of food, a Starbucks outpost, and a rooftop bar. There’s also a virtual reality game room and a large fitness center. Guests can take the bus from Aventura or walk next door to take the boat from Sapphire Falls.
Mood: Futuristic and swanky
Perfect For: City slickers
Endless Summer Resort’s Surfside Inn and Suites
Endless Summer Resort is made up of two hotels, including the Surfside Inn & Suites. Located across the highway near International Drive, these rooms are by far the cheapest within the resort, starting around $79 per night. Simple rooms are inspired by the surfer culture.
Guests have access to bus transportation to the parks, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and a game room. The Beach Break Cafe serves hot dishes throughout the day as well as to-go items like beer and wine, chips, and other snacks. There’s also a Starbucks in the lobby.
Have you stayed at any of these Universal Orlando properties?
Hard Rock and Royal Pacific images courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort. Some of my stays were hosted through my partnership with Universal Orlando Resort Blog Squad.