It's safe to say we are huge fans of staying on-site at our favorite theme park resorts, and Universal Orlando Resort is certainly no exception. It's actually the PERFECT example of why we love staying on-site so much. All of the Universal Orlando hotels are absolutely fabulous, with incredible theming, dining, recreation and pools ... you know how we frogs feel about pools.
Of course, the Universal hotels also offer terrific park benefits for Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal's Volcano Bay. You don't have to stay far from the action, as all of the hotels are in close proximity to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk Orlando. And even better, we can help save you a little green on your vacation with our discounts on theme park tickets and Universal Orlando hotel rooms! Let's leap into the Universal Orlando hotels and their benefits!
Universal Orlando Hotel Categories
Universal Orlando hotels are split into categories by price point. Some tiers offer different benefits and amenities, which we'll dive into below. The Universal Orlando hotel categories are:
- Universal's Endless Summer Resort — Surfside Inn and Suites
- Universal's Endless Summer Resort — Dockside Inn and Suites
Top Benefits of Staying at Universal Orlando Hotels
1. Location, Location, Location!
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls, Universal's Aventura Hotel and Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort are all located on Universal Orlando property. Meanwhile, Universal's Endless Summer — Surfside Inn & Suites and Universal's Endless Summer Resort — Dockside Inn and Suites are located just on the opposite side of Interstate 4, only a quick shuttle ride away.
The rest of the Universal Orlando hotels are all within walking distance of each other, the Universal Orlando theme parks and Universal CityWalk. On my last visit, I jog-hopped to each one of them for a bit of exercise. The proximity to other major Orlando attractions and the International Drive area is another Universal Orlando hotel benefit.
In terms of proximity to the theme parks, the Hard Rock Hotel is the closest to Universal Studios Florida. Loews Royal Pacific Resort is closest to Universal's Islands of Adventure. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal's Aventura Hotel are closest to Universal's Volcano Bay and have their own separate entrance to the water park. All official Universal Orlando hotel guests can use these entrances, but if you're not staying at one of these hotels, it's easier to take the bus.
2. Variety of Universal Orlando Hotel Room Types and Budget Options
There is a wide range of room types at the official Universal Orlando hotels, from budget-friendly options all the way up to luxury suites! The standard rooms at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (as low as $421 a night) are the largest, at least 450 square feet. Standard rooms at Loews Royal Pacific Resort (as low as $353 a night) and Hard Rock Hotel (as low as $403 a night) are at least 375 square feet. Standard rooms at Loews Sapphire Falls (as low as $254 a night) are 321 square feet. Standard rooms at Cabana Bay (as low as $185 a night) are 300 square feet, although there are also 430-square-foot family suites! Universal's Aventura Hotel (as low as $185 a night) offers 314-square-foot standard rooms and 575-square-foot family suites.
Standard rooms at Universal's Endless Summer (as low as $123 a night) include 313-square-feet standard rooms and 440-square-foot, 2-bedroom family suites. Hard Rock, Portofino Bay and Aventura have deluxe-level rooms that are larger than standard rooms and offer slightly better views. Premier resort guests can upgrade to the Club Level and enjoy additional privileges such as access to the private lounge, continental breakfast and hors d'oeuvres.
Cabana Bay's family suites offer kitchenettes with microwaves and mini-fridges, as well as two queen beds and a full sofa bed. Additionally, Cabana Bay now has a limited number of two-bedroom, two-full bathrooms, 772-square-foot suites that sleep up to eight. Many offer views of Universal's Volcano Bay, and they are fabulous! Aventura's kids' suites feature wall-to-ceiling windows, sleep five and have a special interior kids' area.
3. Fabulous Universal Orlando Hotel Amenities
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has three pools, a spa and fitness center, jogging and walking paths, eight dining options (plus room service), on-site entertainment, a Starbucks, a game room and wonderful waterfront views.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort has one lagoon-themed pool, a complimentary fitness center, five dining options (plus room service), a game room and extensive walking and jogging paths.
Hard Rock Hotel has a 12,000-square-foot rockin' pool (with underwater music and a waterslide), a fitness center, jogging and walking paths, five dining options (plus room service) and The Sound of Your Stay program which allows you to rock out with playlists, guitars and turntables in the privacy of your hotel room.
Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort has two massive feature pools, a water slide, a lazy river, a children's water play area, poolside activities, a bowling alley, a fitness center, a Starbucks and an array of cuisine at its various on-site restaurants.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort has a massive, lagoon-style pool (with cabanas for rent, a water slide, a children's play area and more), a fitness center and multiple dining options, including a rum bar!
Universal's Aventura Hotel has a HUGE selection of what we like to call "gourmet quick-service" food and a rooftop lounge, as well as a pool and an awesome gift shop. All rooms are equipped with a mini-refrigerator.
Universal's Endless Summer — Surfside Inn and Suites has a surfboard-shaped pool, a pool bar, a cafeteria-style dining area, a fitness center and a game room. Universal's Endless Summer — Dockside Inn and Suites features two large pools with sand beaches, a pool bar, a food court, a fitness center and a game room.
4. Early Park Admission
All of the official Universal Orlando hotels offer Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (at either Universal Studios Florida or Universal's Islands of Adventure) and Universal's Volcano Bay up to one hour before opening. (You must have valid Universal Orlando admission.) This perk is so toadally awesome that we've devoted a whole post to how Early Park Admission works!
5. Free Universal Express Unlimited (at Select Universal Orlando Hotels)
This is the best perk of them all! Select Universal Orlando hotels offer guests Universal Express Unlimited that allows them to bypass the regular lines at the participating rides at Universal Studios and Universal's Islands of Adventure. Universal Express Unlimited is valid for the entire length of stay, including days of check-in and check-out, and there is no limit to the number of times you use it. Your hotel keys (each person has a personalized key) double as your Express Passes. (You must have valid Universal Orlando admission.)
We cannot understate the value of Universal Express Unlimited. This skip-the-line perk is one of the best ways — if not the best way — to experience the parks. And if you know you will need or want Universal Express passes, it is almost always way more economical to stay on-site than to stay off-site and purchase these passes separately. Here are more tips on when to use Universal Express.
6. Hoppin' Easy Transportation to the Parks and Universal CityWalk
Guests of the official Universal Orlando hotels can use the free transportation to and from Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal's Volcano Bay and Universal CityWalk. There are two forms of free transportation: water taxis and shuttle buses. When your frog legs are tired of hopping, free transportation is a life-saver. (Watch a video of the water taxi ride from Loews Portofino Bay Hotel here.)
Additional on-site hotel benefits include resort-wide charging privileges with your room key card, free club-to-club access (aka no cover charges) at select Universal CityWalk venues and complimentary merchandise delivery from Universal stores to your hotel.
7. Priority Seating (at Select Universal Orlando Hotels)
Guests staying at Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel, Lowes Royal Pacific Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel receive priority seating at select restaurants. Note that this list is subject to change and availability may be limited during peak times or some weekends. Call 407-224-FOOD (3663) for more information.
Universal Studios Florida
- Finnegan’s Bar and Grill
- Lombard’s Seafood Grille
Universal's Islands of Adventure
- Confisco Grille
- Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
- Bob Marley — A Tribute to Freedom
- The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
- Pat O’ Brien’s
- VIVO Italian Kitchen
Portofino Bay Hotel
- Bice Ristorante
- Mama Della’s Ristorante
- Trattoria del Porto
Hard Rock Hotel
- The Kitchen
- Palm Restaurant
Lowes Royal Pacific Resort
- Islands Dining Room
- Jake's American Bar
Sapphire Falls Resort
- Amatista Cookhouse
Take a Video Tour of the Universal Orlando Hotels
Want to get a better look at the Universal Orlando hotels? Check out our video tours!
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Pool Areas
- Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Family Suites
- Universal's Endless Summer — Surfside Inn and Suites
Have a question about the Universal Orlando hotel benefits? Want to share your favorite Universal hotel? Drop us a line in the comments below! And be sure to check out our Where to Stay in Orlando page inside the Orlando Planning Timeline.