The Best Universal Studios Orlando Hotels for Every Age Group and Interest

The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Staying at one of Universal Orlando Resort’s onsite hotels comes with perks like complimentary theme park transportation, early admission, and special discounts on room and ticket packages. Each of the Universal Orlando hotels also has its own unique array of perks that may appeal to your family’s interests, ages, and budget.

Whether your number one concern is a wallet-friendly price tag, spacious suites, or cool pools, here’s how to choose from among the many Universal Studios Florida hotels.

What Are the Different Types of Universal Orlando Hotels?

At Universal Orlando Resort, there are four different tiers of hotels that start at different price points and come with varying degrees of theme park perks: value, prime value, preferred, and premier.

The resort’s least expensive hotels are its two the Endless Summer properties, Dockside Inn and Suites and Surfside Inn and Suites. These value hotels are the furthest away from the parks but still come with select benefits such as complimentary shuttles and early park admission.

Universal’s two prime value hotels, Cabana Bay and Aventura, come with the same benefits as the value hotels and offer a cool additional perk: a special guests-only entrance to Universal’s only Orlando water park, Volcano Bay.

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The pet-friendly preferred hotel tier is more expensive, situated closer to the parks, and comes with additional perks such as valet parking, 24-hour room service, and water taxi transportation to the parks. Universal’s sole preferred-tier hotel is Sapphire Falls.

The most expensive of the Universal Studios Florida hotels are the premier properties, which come with all of the above-mentioned perks as well as priority seating at restaurants and complimentary Express Passes for the parks. The three hotels that fall into this tier are Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay, and Royal Pacific Resort.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites

Best of the Universal Orlando Hotel for Families on a Budget

Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Universal Orlando’s newest hotel is also one of the best onsite hotels for families looking to save money without sacrificing space or quality. The seaside-style Universal’s Endless Summer – Dockside Inn and Suites has two pools, a kids’ splash pad, a game room, and a large food court serving up everything from chicken and waffles to coconut shrimp.

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There’s a Starbucks in the lobby to perk you up before a long day in the parks, and also a lounge to help you wind down at the end of the day. Standard rooms start at less than $100 per night, but the biggest benefit of this Universal Orlando hotels is its two-bedroom suites, which start at less than $132 per night. 

Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn and Suites

Best of the Universal Orlando Hotels for Families Who Need a Little Extra Space

Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn & Suites (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn and Suites (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

The sister property of Dockside Inn and Suites, Universal’s Endless Summer – Surfside Inn and Suites boasts the same budget-friendly value as Dockside and many of the same amenities and room types (including those spacious two-bedroom suites). But Surfside also gives off major “hang ten” vibes with its surfboard-shaped pool, beach-inspired cocktails, and gorgeous ocean photos in the guest rooms.

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It’s important to note, though, that the budget-friendly pricing of both of Universal’s Endless Summer hotels does come at the cost of proximity to the parks. While most Universal Orlando hotels are only a short walk or boat ride to the theme parks, the only way to get to the Universal parks from Surfside and Dockside is by (complimentary) bus.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Best of the Universal Orlando Hotels or Families Who Love Pool Time

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will make you nostalgic for the beach resorts of the 1950s and 60s, even if you weren’t alive yet. From the V05 and Zest in guest bathrooms to the bowling alley and old-school TV commercials playing in the food court, staying at this Universal Studios Florida hotel is like traveling back in time.

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And while it doesn’t have an actual time machine, it does have something you won’t find at any of the other Universal Orlando hotels: a lazy river. In fact, the hotel actually has two pools, one with a water slide and the other with a meandering lazy river. Tubes can be purchased at a small stand in the pool area. For more opportunities to swim, slide, and splash, you can take the walking path or a bus next door to Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. 

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

Best for Families Who Want to See It All

Universal’s Aventura Hotel (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Universal’s Aventura Hotel (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Universal’s Aventura Hotel is centrally located to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay water park. In fact, you can see the water park’s 200-foot-tall Krakatau volcano from certain “skyline view” guest rooms on the hotel’s higher floors. If that’s not enough, you’ll find even better views from Aventura’s rooftop lounge, Bar 17 Bistro.

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In a departure from the typical Universal Studios Orlando hotels, Aventura has a sleek, minimalistic style reminiscent of a chic beachfront high rise. Transportation options include shuttle buses and walking paths, including one that will lead you directly to one of the best Orlando water parks, Universal’s Volcano Bay. 

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando

Best of the Hotels Near Universal Orlando for Families Who Love the Beach

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Staying at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is as close as you can get to staying in a tropical island resort without leaving Central Florida. You’ll find white sand beaches in the pool area, serenity-inducing touches of sapphire blue all around you, Caribbean-inspired food (and cocktails!) at the bars and restaurants, and cascading waterfalls surrounding the waterway that takes you straight to Universal’s theme parks.

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The kids’ suites at this Universal Orlando hotel even have nautical-themed bedrooms where the young ones can play out their own island adventure while parents relax in the room next door.

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

Best of the Universal Studios Orlando Hotels for Families Who Want to Be Close to the Parks

Hard Rock Hotel (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)
Hard Rock Hotel (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Kids of all ages can party like a rock star at Universal Orlando’s Hard Rock Hotel. There’s rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia in every nook and cranny of the hotel, a large pool with an underwater sound system, and stylish guest rooms. Your family can really live it up in the Hard Rock Hotel’s Future Rock Star Suites that have a separate bedroom for kids, complete with velvet bedding, a starlit ceiling, and a stage where they can belt their little hearts out.

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The Hard Rock Hotel is also the closest of the Universal Studios Orlando hotels to the theme parks, so when you stay there it’s easier to get to the fun faster. And as with all of Universal’s Premier hotels, your family will receive free Universal Express Unlimited access for the entirety of your stay, allowing you to skip the line on most theme park attractions. 

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando

Best for Families Who Want Early Theme Park Access

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Photo: Tarah Chieffi)
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Photo: Tarah Chieffi)

The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando is modeled after the charming seaside village of Portofino, Italy. During your downtime, you can sit by the water with a cup of gelato, zip down a Roman aqueduct-themed water slide, and dine on Italian cuisine.

This Universal Studios Florida hotel also has a handful of Despicable Me Kids’ Suites with custom-made missile beds and wall-to-wall Minions in the kids’ room, but they book up fast. Book early if you want to say “Bello!” to Bob, Kevin, Stuart, and the other Minions.

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In addition to Universal Express Unlimited, all onsite hotel guests at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel get Early Park Admission. Your family can get into the parks one hour before opening time and hop on select attractions, including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. 

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Best Universal Orlando Hotel for Families Who Want Maximum Park Time

Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Photo: Tarah Chieffi)
Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Photo: Tarah Chieffi)

The Loews Royal Pacific Resort may make you feel as if you’ve been transported to a serene South Seas paradise, but you’re actually just minutes from the action at Universal’s theme parks. Depending on your room location, you can even see some of the rides peeking out from the tops of the tropical palm trees. And if your kids love dinosaurs, they can actually sleep with their favorite prehistoric friends in the Royal Pacific’s Jurassic World Kids’ Suites.

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Loews Royal Pacific Resort is one of the three Universal Orlando hotels in the Premier class, so you’ll get skip-the-line and early admission benefits along with a less-than-ten-minute walk, boat ride, or bus ride to the parks when you stay there.

Are There Any New Hotels Coming to Universal Orlando?

Universal’s newest theme park, called Universal’s Epic Universe, is currently under construction. The publicly revealed plans do show that new hotels will be built as part of the project. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Universal’s Epic Universe will include “an entertainment district with shopping, restaurants, and hotels,” in addition to rides. The park isn’t scheduled to open for a couple years, so it may be a while before we know more.

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Tarah Chieffi
Tarah Chieffi is a theme park and family travel journalist who discovered her words were best used to help travelers plan fun-filled family vacations. When she isn't eating theme park food and riding roller coasters, she can be found cycling wherever her bike will take her, tucked under the covers with a good book, or planning her next adventure with her husband and three young sons.