Universal Orlando Resort has grown into a vacation destination from its meager beginnings in 1990. Guests can choose from various hotel options near Universal Orlando Resort. What are the best hotels near Universal Orlando Resort?
Universal Orlando Resort, in partnership with Loews, operates eight different hotels. These range from value-level hotels to luxury-style hotels. Regardless of your budget or group needs, Universal Orlando Resort has a hotel choice.
In addition to that, many quality off-site hotel options exist near Universal Orlando Resort. Based on Universal Orlando Resort’s location within the city limits of Orlando, unlike Walt Disney World, several “off-site” hotels reside within walking distance of Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks and Universal CityWalk Orlando. In fact, some non-Universal-owned hotels are closer to the theme parks than two Universal Orlando Resort hotels.
Deciding which hotel provides your best option can be challenging. For a Universal Orlando Resort vacation, the hotel options near the theme park resort should fit anyone’s budget.
This resource will explore the best hotels near Universal Orlando Resort. We will start with the less expensive, more budget-friendly ones. After that, we will explore moderate-level hotels followed by more premier hotels. Also, this article will reflect on the reasons to stay here for your traveling party. A rundown of the best hotels near Universal Orlando that are “off-site” will occur later in this resource.
In this article:
Universal Orlando Resort Hotel Basics
Universal Orlando Resort has grown over the last thirty years or so to a legitimate competitor in the theme park game in the Orlando area. Due to this, groups searching for hotel accommodations near Universal Orlando Resort property have become more prevalent.
Universal Orlando Resort has eight official “on-site” hotels. These hotels vary in level. Universal Orlando Resort describes these levels as premier, preferred, prime value, and value.
The theme park resort also partners in various ways with 36 additional “off-site” hotels. According to Universal Orlando Resort, those hotels are divided into value and moderate.
Those hotels allow you to stay there, receiving extra perks by booking a Universal Orlando Resort vacation package. By doing this, guests will receive additional bonuses for their vacation, such as discounts and possibly early park admission. Still, guests should know that several “off-site” partner hotels offer limited shuttle service to Universal Orlando. In addition, several of these Universal Orlando Resort partner hotels require a 20-minute drive to reach the theme parks.
Hotels Nearby Universal Orlando
This resource will focus on hotels near Universal Orlando Resort within a reasonable walking distance or with consistent free transportation to the Universal Orlando Resort’s two theme parks and one water park, Volcano Bay. We have divided the hotels near Universal Orlando Resort into two categories for our purposes.
One category will be the on-site Universal Orlando Resort hotels run by Loews. Those will be broken down by level.
Also, we will cover the best hotels near Universal Orlando Resort considered “off-site.” These must be a short distance from the Universal Orlando Resort property.
All these best hotels near Universal Orlando Resort involve clean rooms, a short distance from Universal Orlando Resort, and basic amenities for your stay. For our purposes, some hotels we enjoy staying at failed to make this list since they offer limited transportation to the Universal Orlando theme parks, and the walk to the theme parks would be more than 20 minutes.
Best Hotels Near Universal Orlando: On-Site Hotels
The partnership between Universal Orlando Resort and Loews Hotels created some excellent “on-site” hotel options for guests wanting to stay at a hotel near Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Orlando divides these hotels into four categories:
- Premier- top-level hotels with unlimited express included
- Preferred- excellent accommodations but without unlimited express
- Prime Value- these hotels offer more amenities than a value hotel but not as lovely accommodation as the Premier or Preferred level hotels.
- Value- least expensive level of the Universal Orlando/Loews hotels
Premier Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando offers three premier-level hotels. Each one provides a short walk to the theme parks. Also, guests may take complimentary water taxis to the theme parks. During regular park operating hours, guests staying at these three hotels receive complimentary express passes to the two land-based theme parks.
Universal Orlando Resort extends the option of more luxury-style hotels. The Premier level hotels provide guests with more amenities to empower them to feel like VIPs during their vacations. Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel are those three hotels. Regarding advantages and perks for a Universal Orlando Resort vacation, only the on-site hotels can extend this level of service and benefits.
These hotels also provide a dedicated bus service to the entrance to Volcano Bay entrance, avoiding security in the CityWalk garage hub area. This advantage means a lot to anyone who has visited Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort’s excellent water park.
In addition, the Premier hotels have dedicated security entrances to CityWalk. This allows guests to avoid the CityWalk security hub. This enables Premier Resort guests to save time and potential frustration on their way to Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure.
The three Premier resorts have larger rooms and higher quality dining than other nearby hotels. Guests staying also receive priority seating at specific CityWalk dining options. Most importantly, guests at these hotels receive an unlimited express pass for their stay. It starts the day they check in and ends at the close of park operations on check-out day.
Universal Orlando Unlimited Express for Premier Hotel Guests
One of the most amazing perks of staying at these three hotels near Universal Orlando Resort involves unlimited express passes. For those unfamiliar with the magic of “Express Pass” at Universal Orlando Resort, guests can enter a shorter queue for almost every attraction at Universal Orlando’s two theme parks.
If you are more familiar with the Genie+ system and lightning lanes, Universal Orlando’s express pass comes with several considerable advantages. You do not have to stress scheduling them in advance or start doing it at 7:00 a.m. With Universal Orlando’s unlimited express, you enter the express queue, like a lightning lane or FastPass queue, anytime (and as often as) you desire.
As the name implies, you can do these for an unlimited amount. You can do this if you want to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey four times in a row with a low wait time. For those of you prone to motion sickness, we would not advise this. Still, those who do not face that obstacle can enjoy a trip through Hogwarts Castle numerous times in one day with unlimited express passes.
Guests looking to experience all the attractions at Universal Orlando Resort quickly should consider staying at a premier-level hotel. Especially if your group is large, the hotel price would be canceled out by the high cost of purchasing express passes in the parks for a day.
We have one more word of advice about Universal Orlando express passes. That perk will not grant you access to a shorter queue for Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure. That ride does not accept express passes at the time of writing.
Guests staying at any of the eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels receive early park admission to at least one of the land-based theme parks and Volcano Bay. This advantage, combined with express passes, makes a stay at these Premier hotels feel magical.
Loews Portofino Bay Resort
Each Premier hotel offers some unique features. Portofino Bay Resort earns the reputation of being the nicest hotel on Universal Orlando Resort property. Also, this hotel provides the quietest experience for your Universal Orlando Resort vacation.
This resort is considered more romantic than others with the Italian theming. Also, the Musica della Notte happens each evening (weather permitting) around sunset. This music of the night involves a male and female opera singer performing. Universal Orlando encourages guests to “Catch this impressive performance of classic opera, festive melodies, and ‘popera’ favorites to end your night on a high note.”
For Starbucks fans, Portofino Bay Resort is the only Premier-level resort offering a true Starbucks. The Portofino Bay Resort allows guests to use their Starbucks app or gift cards to make purchases. The other two Premier hotels have lovely coffee shops that “proudly serve Starbucks.” Starbucks fans know the difference. Nevertheless, Starbucks fans know the difference. Still, you cannot redeem Starbucks rewards at the Portofino Bay location, but you can earn “stars” to use when you get home.
The Portofino Bay Resort rooms are the largest on the Universal Orlando Resort property. In addition, the bathrooms provide wonderful amenities and most space for hotels at Universal Orlando. Also, the only spa at Universal Orlando Resorts resides at Portofino Bay Resort.
Hard Rock Hotel
The Hard Rock Hotel claims to allow guests to stay and live like rock stars. In fairness, the idea of being a rock star looks apparent with music videos playing in the lobby area and music memorabilia. This resort has well over $1 million in rock music memorabilia for visitors to view.
The rooms here exude that “Rock Star” lifestyle with all the expected amenities. Guests find these rooms comfortable and enjoyable.
Hard Rock Hotel guests and visitors can enjoy some of the top dining options on Universal Orlando Resort property. For example, the Palm Restaurant serves the best upscale meals at Universal Orlando Resort. Also, The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel Orlando serves excellent food and an acoustic brunch on Sunday mornings.
The Hard Rock Hotel provides guests with easy transportation options to the Universal Orlando theme parks. Hard Rock Hotel is the closest to Universal Orlando Resort theme parks. Guests can enjoy an easy walk to Universal Studios Florida, with this hotel being less than ½ mile away.
The ease of walking from the theme parks to your nearby hotel makes a stay here feel magical. Especially if you are attending a specially ticketed late-night event like Halloween Horror Nights, the opportunity to walk back casually to your hotels in a few minutes feels so lovely.
As you might expect, Hard Rock Hotel has themed pools with music even playing underwater. This resort brings fun for its guests. The pool bar and poolside entertainment rates as great. Many guests love the fun vibe of the Hard Rock Hotel.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
The final of the three Premier hotels features more of an island vibe. This hotel usually costs the lowest amount of the three Premier hotels. The rooms at this hotel are not as spacious as at the other two Premier hotels. Of course, that does not mean the hotel rooms lack quality.
This hotel offers the same perks as the previous ones. Also, this hotel has completed several renovations. Some aspects of this hotel stand out for some groups over Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay Resort. For example, the quick service location at this hotel, Tuk Tuk Market, offers a better quick service option than the other two Premier hotels. The Islands Dining Room Restaurant at Royal Pacific offers an excellent weekend evening all-you-care-to-eat “Wok Bowl” meal.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort is not as close to the Universal CityWalk Orlando as the Hard Rock Hotel. However, Loews Royal Pacific Resort sits closer to Universal Islands of Adventure theme park than any other hotel. On days that Universal Islands of Adventure opens for guests for early park admission, this hotel provides a relaxing walk.
Preferred Level Hotels: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Oddly, this Universal Orlando Resort on-site hotel category includes only one hotel. This may be a sign that the hotels at Universal’s Epic Universe will fall into this category, but now, we have only one.
However, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort offers some of the best rooms and amenities of any Universal Orlando Resort hotel. This hotel costs less than the Premier hotels for one reason. Guests staying at this Preferred level hotel do not receive unlimited express passes. For many guests, that difference pulls this hotel down.
Still, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort provides some aspects that look better than the Premier hotels. In terms of room quality, the rooms at Sapphire Falls offer better quality than many of the Premier hotels. The pool area at Sapphire Falls Resort consistently receives high marks from guests.
Regarding dining, Loews Sapphire Falls offers some standout options. For example, arguably, the best bar on the property resides here. The Strong Water Tavern draws locals and tourists consistently to experience the top-of-the-line rums.
This Preferred hotel offers a complimentary water taxi service, just like the Premier hotels. In addition, based on its location, guests with cars can easily access Interstate Four from here to visit other area attractions.
We love the beautiful appearance of the common areas of this hotel. The quality of the hotel itself, with a beautiful lobby, great amenities, and ease of transportation to the theme parks, presents guests with valid reasons to choose this hotel. Guests looking to enjoy their hotel should consider Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. You can easily make a fun day out of just being there. Also, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort remains the quietest hotel on Universal Orlando property. For those reasons, we love staying here.
Prime Value Level Hotels at Universal Orlando
With its partnership with Loews Hotels, Universal Orlando offers several fantastic value-level theme park resort hotels. Two of them are considered Prime Value. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel are those hotels. Both cater to different audiences. We will briefly describe each one.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
This hotel resides right next door to Volcano Bay Water Park. This incredibly family-friendly hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, offers guests standard rooms, family suites that sleep six, and even two-bedroom suites that sleep eight. Several rooms offer a spectacular view of Volcano Bay.
This hotel presents guests with the vibe of 1950s and 1960s Florida beach hotels. One of the biggest strengths of this hotel involves that retro theming. Guests even have specially made soap and shampoos that reflect that era of United States culture. The theming overall reaches the level of almost any hotel in the Orlando area. Considering it is a lower-priced hotel, the attention to detail regarding the theme impressed most guests.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort covers a large amount of space. With about 900 rooms total here, the walk from the lobby to your rooms can be longer than most would like. However, that means more amenities to enjoy. Guests can enjoy the two pools, a lazy river, the bowling alley, on-site Starbucks, an excellent food court, and quality amenities throughout the resort. Like each Universal Orlando Resort hotel, this one provides free transportation to the theme parks. This hotel makes an excellent option for families with kids and teens. If you are staying here, we suggest taking some time to enjoy your resort.
Universal’s Aventura Hotel
This hotel sits across the road from Cabana Bay Beach Resort. In contrast to Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel lacks intense theming. This hotel resembles more of a modern style hotel.
Also, in contrast to Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the hotel utilizes three towers for the rooms. The ease of navigating this hotel provides guests with a relaxing experience. From check-in to getting to your room takes less than five minutes. No room at Aventura requires a long walk.
Each room comes equipped with an iPad to control room settings such as TV, lights, and sounds. This will require a bit of a learning curve for new guests.
Aventura provides guests with a Starbucks in the lobby, an outdoor pool, a gaming area, and the impressive Bar 17 Bistro rooftop bar. Combine those things with a straightforward check-in process and the short time it takes to reach your room. This makes it an excellent option for Universal Orlando Resort visitors. Frequent Universal Orlando visitors dine at the Urban Pantry, the quick service food court here, for arguably the best theme park resort food court in the Orlando area. Universal’s Aventura Hotel makes a great choice for adults without kids enjoying their Universal Orlando vacation.
Universal Orlando Resort Value Hotels
The Endless Summer Resort hotels are the most recent hotel additions to the Universal Orlando Resort lineup. These two sister hotels sit across Universal Boulevard from one another. They are the Dockside Inn and Suites and Surfside Inn and Suites.
Having stayed at all the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, we can confirm that they all provide wonderful service and clean rooms. Even these value hotels stand up nicely in terms of quality. Sure, they lack the style and abundant amenities of some of the other hotels. Still, these make great options for those looking to stretch their budget.
These two hotels reside outside the main campus of Universal Orlando. Guests will be staying near the intersection of International Drive and Universal Boulevard. These hotels lack a feeling of being “onsite” compared to the other six Universal Orlando resort hotels.
Nevertheless, this location has some advantages over the other six hotels. For example, you can take a short walk from these resort hotels to a nearby Walgreens store and several chain restaurants. However, we would not recommend walking from these value hotels to the rest of Universal Orlando Resort.
These two hotels offer continuous shuttle service to Universal Orlando Resort. These bus rides take about five minutes. Both hotels provide solid value-level food courts, pools, on-site Starbucks, and an on-site guest Universal Orlando Resort travel planning desk. These hotels offer standard rooms and suites with three queen-size beds.
Best Hotels Near Universal Orlando: Off-Site Hotels
We recommend staying at the Universal Orlando Resort hotels if possible. Especially comparing prices of “off-site” with the values at Universal Orlando Resort, the price difference is usually slight. Nonetheless, staying at a non-Universal-owned hotel may fit your vacation plans better based on your group. Based on our stays at “off-site” hotels, we have several suggestions for the best hotels near Universal Orlando Resort.
Staying “off-site” comes with a few advantages, like more access to less expensive restaurants and grocery stores and more choices for accommodation for larger groups. However, those looking for a high-end hotel experience near Universal Orlando Resort will be disappointed. The level of hotels around Universal Orlando Resort not considered on-site near the property includes only moderate or value ones. Our quick list of these hotels contains the ones we have stayed at and would stay at again.
Value Hotels Near Universal Orlando Resort
Several hotels not operated by Universal Orlando Resort are closer to the theme parks than the Endless Summer Resorts. These offer the ability to walk to Universal CityWalk Orlando in about 15-20 minutes.
Comfort Inn and Suites Near Universal Orlando Resort
This hotel is in the Kirkman Road area near Universal Orlando Resort. Kirkman Road is the main road on that side of the Universal Orlando Resort property. This roadway qualifies as busy most of the time. Based on that, a tall walkway has been created to allow guests staying in that area to walk over the traffic to Universal Orlando Resort. Guests staying at the Comfort Inn and Suites Near Universal Orlando Resort should utilize this walkway when walking to the theme parks. Other hotels in this Kirkman Road area will use the same method.
The Comfort Suites provide a clean, safe, basic hotel stay. A complimentary breakfast also comes with staying here. The rooms are a reasonable size with the quality you would expect for a value-level hotel near a major theme park resort. Also, a complimentary limited shuttle service is provided to reach Universal Orlando Resort.
Holiday Inn & Suites Across from Universal Orlando
This hotel sits closest to Universal Orlando Resort of any off-site hotel. A TGI Friday’s restaurant is located at this hotel also. This hotel provides all the standard amenities. Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool area and kid’s splash zone area. This hotel has a video arcade and fitness center. This hotel offers many different sizes and styles of rooms to accommodate all types of groups. As a partner hotel to Universal Orlando Resort, this hotel offers limited shuttle service in the mornings, late afternoon, and early evenings.
Moderate Level Hotels Near Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort’s vacation packages define the partner hotels as value or moderate. In some cases, we will disagree with how Universal Orlando categorizes a few of these hotels.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando
One of the hotels we would agree with regarding a moderate rating would be the Doubletree Hotel. Some sites list this as equal to Premier hotels. That is a stretch, but we enjoy the amenities and rooms at this hotel near Universal Orlando Resort.
This hotel is technically not as close to Universal Orlando Resort as the Holiday Inn and Suites. Still, it takes us the same time to walk from here as it does from the Holiday Inn. Of course, this DoubleTree hotel greets you with a warm cookie at check-in.
The DoubleTree hotel contains a vast amount of convention and meeting space. Based on that, you can often find good deals here when convention bookings are down. The hotel provides several quick-service dining options and a table service option. The pool area presents guests with a great spot to relax. Several charging stations for electric vehicles are also located at this hotel.
Hyatt Place Orlando and Hyatt House Orlando
These two hotels near Universal Orlando allow guests to walk (20-minute walk) and take the limited shuttle service to the theme parks. They both offer the quality you would expect at a Hyatt. Guests staying here also receive a complimentary breakfast that includes hot breakfast items.
Drury Inn & Suites Near Universal Orlando Resort
If breakfast at your hotel matters to you, we suggest considering the Drury Inn & Suites Near Universal Orlando Resort. This hotel offers some moderate level rooms, pools, and other amenities. However, the food and beverage options provided make this a good choice near Universal Orlando Resort. We would not recommend walking to Universal Orlando Resort from here. However, as a partner hotel, guests can use a complimentary shuttle service to the theme parks.
The Drury Inn and Suites Near Universal Orlando offers an excellent hot breakfast buffet. In addition to nice accommodations, this place offers guests a “Kickback” dining option from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. nightly with a light meal and complimentary alcoholic beverages. For groups looking for a more relaxing vacation while staying off-site, this hotel provides that feel.
Universal Orlando Resort Partner Hotel Shuttle Service
Universal Orlando Resort partners with numerous off-site hotels. However, many offer one shuttle pickup or drop-off time if they offer a shuttle service. Though these hotels are subject to change, the following off-site partner hotels offer the best shuttle service for those staying off-site:
- Rosen Inn
- Comfort Inn and Suites
- Coco Key
- Rosen Inn International
- Drury Inn
- Rosen Shingle Inn
- Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando
- Hilton Orlando
- Avanti International
- Avanti Palms
- Rosen Center
- Holiday Inn Universal
- Hyatt Plaza
- Hyatt House
- Home2 Suites
- Homewood America
- Sheraton Four Points
- Clarion Inn and Suites
- Holiday Inn Express
- Residence Inn
- Fairfield Inn
These partner hotels currently provide three pickup times in the morning. They also have three pickup times at Universal CityWalk Orlando starting around 5:30 p.m., the latest being 8:00 p.m. The theme parks often stay open that late or later, so the shuttle service is nice, but other plans will need to be arranged if you desire to return to your hotel in the afternoon or late in the evening. These schedules may vary during your Universal Orlando Resort vacation.
Though this service can be helpful, we find it hard to thoroughly recommend depending on the shuttle service for your Universal Orlando Resort vacation. The loading process can be awkward. Also, the schedule may not match your desired plans. Still, staying at most of the hotels we recommend allows for walking or paying a low ride-share fee to return to your hotel.
In contrast, guests staying at the on-site hotels have constant free transportation until CityWalk closes. You must consult with your travel advisor on the best options for your group.
Looking to Plan that Universal Orlando Vacation?
At DisneyDose, we can help you plan your next vacation to Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World. We offer a free newsletter to keep subscribers updated on theme park news. Also, our staff of writers continues to update the blog with details about the latest events at Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Resort. For more information to help plan your next vacation, we placed a few links to more resources below.
- Disney Complaints
- Disney Springs Hotels
- Worst Time to Visit Disney Parks
- Universal vs. Disney
- Airport Transportation to Universal Orlando
Hotels Near Universal Orlando FAQ
Premier Hotels at Universal Orlando offer the most significant number of perks for staying. With private security entrances, complimentary express passes to skip the lines, higher quality dining, and larger rooms, the Premier Hotels may be worth it to many groups.
Based on your budget, we think the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort, or Universal’s Aventura Resort make excellent choices for couples visiting Universal Orlando.
The Loews Royal Pacific Resort is the cheapest Universal Premier Hotel but is still expensive. This hotel has rates that start around $260 per night. However, the price per night will increase on weekends and busier times of the year.
The official Universal Orlando Resort/Loews hotels do not have shuttles from Universal to Disney. Using Uber or Lyft is typically best for getting between Disney and Universal hotels.
The walk from Loews Royal Pacific Resort to Universal CityWalk is only about 7-10 minutes. Also, this hotel offers a complimentary water taxi to take you to Universal CityWalk Orlando.