The Universal hotels – best choice for visits to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
The hotels are a fast growing business for the Universal Orlando Resort. Six on-site hotels with two more currently being built.
The flagship being Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort, no other single hotel in the whole state of Florida has more reservations with FloridaUSAguide.
The Universal hotels are the best hotels you can choose if the Universal parks are your focus during the Orlando visit. You want the benefits, whether it is a free express pass or early park admission, and you want to be close to the action.
Universal has made it clear that they want to invest a lot of money in new hotels. A total of 15,000 hotel rooms was mentioned a few years ago. Back then it felt exaggerated, today we see them heading in exactly that direction with a speed that reminds us of their roller coasters.
Express pass for free at three Universal hotels
The first three hotels built by Universal are still the three best hotels regarding their standard. Add perfect locations and the free Express passes (which can safe you as much money as the hotel room costs) and it is easy to understand why they are popular among our followers.
Royal Pacific is our favorite, and our readers choice. Its theme is the islands of the Pacific Ocean, inspired by Bali. Among our Universal bookings, this hotel accounts for over 70 percent.
Hard Rock Hotel is rock’n’roll – the well-known restaurant, hotel and casino concept, available worldwide. High volume, which we always emphasize when someone asks for advice. The kids love it though…
Portofino is Italy-inspired and an almost exact copy of the village with the same name on the Italian Riviera. Something has gone wrong here, Universal seems to have difficulties. The hotel feels deserted, a little of the chart.
Low-price and budget for next generation hotels
Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a budget hotel without the same style and comfort as the first three of Universal hotels. This is a low-price initiative, and in giant format – 1,800 rooms!
The hotel has a retro beach theme, the 50’s and early 60’s. Although the hotel is new and fresh, Cabana Bay had not been included in our selection if it had not been for the Universal connection.
The Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort has a Caribbean atmosphere with 1,000 rooms. For reasons we dont fully understand it is marketed in the same bracket as Royal Pacific.
Aventura Hotel is the sixth hotel in the Universal family, opened in August 2018.
Hotel number seven is Surfside Inn and Suites. Opens 2019 with 750 rooms and is part of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, which will also consist of Dockside Inn and Suites (hotel number eight with 2,050 rooms opens 2020).
Insiders in Orlando are mentioning prices as low as $ 73/room, which means cheaper than a normal I-Drive hotel.
Our guess: The hotel family will grow with more hotels on a lot located behind I-Drive 360.
Benefits at Universal hotels
All hotels have early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Volcano Bay.
When staying at the Royal Pacific, the Hard Rock or the Portofino, a free Unlimited Express Pass is included in the price.
At most of the Universal hotels you can use the water taxi.
Exceptions are Cabana Bay and Aventura, which instead have private walkways to Volcano Bay.
As a guest at any of the Universal hotels you can use the amenities, like swimming pools and restaurants, at the other hotels within the resort.
Universal has managed to create an environment with a South Pacific theme. Great breakfast buffet and you can take the free water taxi (or walk) to the park entrance.
Elegant and tasteful. The absolute best of the Universal hotels.
Hard Rock Hotel at
The Hard Rock Hotel is Rock’n’roll, so the noise level is high. The editor is a spoiled with more complete Hard Rock facilities in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale while Gunnar often says that Hard Rock is too noisy in his opinion and he prefers Royal Pacific.
It’s supposed to feel like in the famous Italian fishing village of the same name – and the feeling actually comes true. However, after recent reports from the hotel it seems as if Universal is having trouble with reservations. Nevertheless, we rarely see any special offers here, which we find strange.
Bay Beach Resort
The fourth Universal hotel was an investment in space and volume and offers mid-range prices. We are not impressed by the standard and the hotel does not have the same feeling and comfort as the three first hotels and a considerably longer walking distance to the parks.
The 5th major hotel in the Universal family follows the Cabana Bay model, i.e. it does not have the same ticket benefits as at the three first hotels. The guests find themselves in a Caribbean atmosphere in and around more than 1,000 hotel rooms. The parks can be accessed via an air-conditioned walkway, by water taxi or by bus. The hotel is located between the Royal Pacific and the Cabana Bay.
Universal’s sixth hotel opened in August 2018 and is characterized by simplicity. We like the different dining options, the big pool area and the proximity to the water park Volcano Bay.
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All content on this page and other parts of FloridaUSAguide is based on information from the Scandinavian online publication Florida.nu, established in Clearwater Beach, Florida, 2006.