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The Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Updated: Oct 15, 2023

If you are planning a Universal Theme Park vacation, then you probably are also wondering where to stay. This guide will help you determine which hotel is right for you based on the amenities, benefits and options available at each resort. As a travel agent who travels frequently, I have personally stayed at six of the eight different hotels at Universal Orlando Resort and I'm excited to share my review with all of you! Bottom line: there is a perfect hotel for every traveler and budget. Keep reading to see which Universal Orlando hotel is right for your vacation.


Universal Orlando Resort hotels review- guide for hotels at Universal Studios orlando
Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

As a full service travel agent I can help you book a Universal Orlando Resort package with flights, hotel, theme park tickets and airport transfers at no cost to you!



Why should I stay on site when visiting Universal Studios in Orlando? I’ll give you three reasons:


Perks, Convenience and Fun Theming!

Exclusive Perks for Onsite Guests


Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel means you get extra perks to enhance your vacation. All the hotels at Universal Studios come with exclusive benefit's, such as Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, free water taxis, shuttles and walking paths between your hotel and the theme parks as well. It doesn’t stop there- you can also charge in-park purchases to your room and even have them delivered to you later.


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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade

Early Park Admission

Universal Orlando Hotels Universal studios guide

Early Park Admission means you get to enter the theme parks an hour before they open to the general public. During Early Park Admission, guests can experience select attractions and areas of the park like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the crowds arrive. This gives guests the opportunity to enjoy popular rides with shorter wait times and explore the park with fewer people around. Early Park Admission is

available at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure.







There are even more perks when you stay at one of the 3 Premier resorts: Skip the lines!


Staying at a Premier Resort means you also get the Universal Express Pass for FREE which allows guests to skip the regular lines. Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Hotel all come with this exclusive and time-saving perk. I have personally stayed at all three of these hotels and can tell you that cutting your ride wait time by at least 2/3 of what is posted, is amazing and if your budget allows, well worth it!


Loews Portofino Bay Universal Orlando Premier Resort Universal Guide
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Convenience


Staying at a Universal Studios Resort hotel means you will never need a car to get around since all eight resort hotels offer complimentary transportation. Water taxis are available at many resorts as well as shuttles that come every 10-15 minutes right to your hotel lobby and walking trails connect the entire complex.

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Water Taxi at Universal City Walk

This convenience goes beyond just the parks. When you stay at a resort hotel onsite, you can enjoy being close to Universal City Walk. Here you can enjoy endless entertainment like the Blue Man Group, character meet & greets, mini golf, a movie theater, shopping, night clubs with live music & dancing and a large variety of restaurants. All accessible by the FREE transportation that comes with staying at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel.



Universal Studios City Walk Universal Orlando hotel guide
Universal Studios City Walk

Fun Theming


Each hotel at Universal Orlando Resort is decked out in fun themes that transport you to a different place and time! Some of my personal favorites hotels is the Premier resort, Loews Portofino Bay which will whisk you away to the beauty of Italy or the Prime Value Hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which transports you back to the beach hotels of the 1950’s and 60’s.




Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal studios orlando guide
Cabana Bay Beach Resort Retro Pool


Not only are the resorts filled with fun theming, but some even have special character themed rooms. At Loews Portofino Bay Hotel you can stay in a Despicable Me Kid's Suite or a Jurassic World Suite at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.


Photos Courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort


Which hotel is the best for your vacation?


Now that you know staying at a Universal Resort Hotel is a great way to spend your vacation, how do you know which of the eight hotels is the right one for you? Enlist my free vacation planning services to help you pick the best hotel for your vacation.


Universal Studios Orlando Florida guide
Universal Studios Orlando Florida


At Universal there are 4 hotel categories to fit every vacation style and budget:


Value hotels ($)

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is the value hotel which consists of Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites. Both hotels feature standard rooms and two bedroom suites that can sleep six. Staying here means you get early admission to the parks and a free shuttle bus to take you City walk and the theme parks.


Prime Value hotels ($$)

Aventura Hotel and Cabana Bay Beach Resort are known as Prime Value properties. Both are conveniently located within walking distance of Volcano Bay, and you can take a free shuttle bus to the other theme parks and City Walk. Be sure to check out the rooftop bar, Bar 17 Bistro at Aventura Hotel for amazing views of all three theme parks and beyond.


Preferred hotel ($$$)

The only hotel that falls into Universal’s Preferred category is Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

Staying here means you are walking distance to Volcano Bay but as an added benefit that is different from the above-mentioned hotels, you also have the perk of taking the free water taxi to the theme parks and City Walk as well. Shuttles are also available.


Premier hotels ($$$$)

For travelers that want the best Universal has to offer look to the Premier hotels category which includes Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.

Only guests of Premier resorts get Universal Express Unlimited passes included with their stay at no additional cost. This means guests staying at one of these hotels will be able to skip the regular lines at the resorts’ most popular rides and attractions like the Velocicoaster, Escape from Gringotts, Hulk, King Kong, Revenge of the Mummy and more. Staying at one of these resorts means you can get to the parks via a short walk, the included water taxis or by taking the shuttle bus.

and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites. Both hotels feature standard rooms and two bedroom suites that can sleep six. Staying here means you get early admission to the parks and a free shuttle bus to take you City walk and the theme parks.




Let’s dive even deeper into each hotel!


The Premier Hotels


Loews Portofino Bay

Staying here will truly make you feel like you are in Italy! Loews Portofino Bay is beautifully decorated in a classical Italian theme. The Harbor Piazza outside is the perfect place to grab some gelato and enjoy the weather and scenery. At night you will find live musical performances here. All the suites and rooms are spacious. There are eight restaurants and lounges as well as three themed swimming pools and waterslides.



Loews Portofino Bay Room Universal Orlando Guide
Loews Portofino Bay Room 2 Queens

Hard Rock Hotel

The hotel is themed around the world of rock 'n' roll and features rock-inspired décor and memorabilia, as well as a variety of amenities and activities to keep guests entertained. Music lovers will enjoy the guitar-shaped pool, sandy beach and live music performances in the lobby.


Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Pool Universal Orlando Guide Hard Rock Hotel Universal Studios
Hard Rock Hotel Pool

Loews Royal Pacific

If you love the tropics, then this resort is for you! Loews Royal Pacific Resort’s theme is inspired by the South Pacific, with lush gardens, waterfalls, and a lagoon-style pool with a sandy beach a water play area and a fun game room. The rooms are decorated in a tropical style and offer modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi.


Loews Royal Pacific Room  Universal Orlando Hotel Guide Universal Studios Orlando where to stay
Loews Royal Pacific Room Water View


Preferred Hotel


Loews Sapphire Falls

The theme at Loews Sapphire Falls is inspired by the Caribbean, with lush landscaping, a tropical pool area with a waterslide and sandy beach, and Caribbean-inspired cuisine. This resort offers a variety of room options, including standard rooms, club-level rooms, and suites. All rooms are decorated in a tropical style and offer modern amenities.



Prime Value Hotels


Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort offers a fun and nostalgic getaway that takes you back to the California beach hotels of the 1950’s and 60’s! The lobby features a classic car, a jukebox, and a check-in counter that looks like a drive-in movie theater. Here there are two pool areas, including a lazy river and a water slide, a fitness center, a game room, and a bowling alley.


Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal Studio orlando guide
Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Aventura Hotel

Universal’s Aventura hotel has a modern and stylish design. This resort has a focus on technology and sustainability. All rooms have tablets where you can control the temperature and lighting in your room, order rooms service, make dining reservations, and get resort information like maps, attraction details, and hours of operation. Adults will love the rooftop bar and grill with panoramic views and kids will enjoy the virtual reality game room. There is also a pool area with a splash pad for kids.


Aventura Hotel Universal Studio Guide where to stay at Universal orlando
Aventura Hotel

Value Hotels


Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites

Rooms at the Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites are decorated in a coastal and beachy theme. Both resorts also have a large pool with a water slide and kiddie splash pad. Traveling with a larger family? The two-bedroom suites can accommodate 6 people and every room comes with a minifridge and microwave.

Surfside inn and suites dockside inn and suites
Surfside Inn and Suites Photo Courtesy of Universal Orlando Resorts

What’s the best way to get from the airport to my hotel?


Getting from the airport to your Universal Studios hotel is easy. For the 20 minute ride, you can get an Uber or Lyft or take the Universal SuperStar Shuttle. Although not complimentary, Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle service is available to and from the airport. As your travel agent, I can add this to any vacation package.


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Universal Volcano Bay

As you can see, there are some great perks to staying onsite at Universal Orlando Resort. With all the different options that fit every budget and vacation style, there is one that is just right for you and your family. For free vacation planning assistance, reach out for my help. I am here for you not only before your vacation, but during and after as well. That’s the kind of thing that keeps my clients returning year after year to plan their next vacation!






ABOUT ME

Hi, I’m Megan, the owner or Paradise Travel. I travel as often as I can to gain first hand knowledge to share with others so I can plan the best vacations possible. I'd love to be your travel agent! Thanks for stopping by!






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