The colossal Universal Studios entity, in business since 1912, taps into every tourist’s desire to not just visit Hollywood, but penetrate its very core. From new attractions like Walking Dead and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, to classic backlot studio tours and the always-exhilarating Jurassic Park ride, the theme park is a hive of activity, and its surrounding hotels make it easy for guests to get to and from the attractions (almost all have free shuttles). Inside the park itself, there are two resorts with breezy outdoor pool areas, or you can opt for something more casual at one of the retro inns along Ventura Boulevard. Wherever you end up, chances are you'll fall under the Hollywood spell.
Hotels near Universal Studios
It’s easy to spot this silvery Hilton; it sits directly across from the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood. In fact, with close to 500 rooms and a massive buffet-style restaurant built inside the soaring atrium, there’s nothing inconspicuous about this place. Rooms are tastefully done in cream and mahogany (many have stunning views), and suites add extra comforts like a parlor and a chaise lounge. The hotel's many ammenities include a gym, pool, sight-seeing tours and more—plus, it's pet-friendly, meaning you can bring Fido along on vacation. Have a couple kids in tow (of course you do, you're staying near Universal)? Family packages are offered as well, along with cribs, a children's menu and weekly children's activities.
Predictability is an asset at this classic high-rise, with hanging crystal chandeliers in the lobby and an epic view of the mountains. The friendly staff goes out of their way help individual guests and groups maximize their time at the park—which you can access by a complimentary tram. Not that there’s any shortage of recreational options here: a heated outdoor pool, cabanas and a fully-equipped gym round out the amenities. Meanwhile, the restaurant, Californias, does eclectic gastropub fare (chili con queso, steak, fish and chips) in a lively dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Sat right off busy Ventura Boulevard, it’s not hard to see why this old-Hollywood hideout is a favorite among visiting film executives and their families. The rushing cars seem miles away when you’re inside the lush 6-acre grounds, which back up to the Los Angeles River. The towering palms and smaller garden plants offer a sense of seclusion, whether you’re sipping a martini at the Pool Bar, eating steak at the country club-esque River Rock restaurant, or riding one of the free bike rentals. The rooms are an even mix of comfort and style, boasting Gilchrist & Soames toiletry amenities alongside white leather ergonomic chairs and balconies that overlook either the pool or the gardens. Bonus: the hotel offers a free shuttle to Universal Studios, as well as the opportunity to purchase tickets directly at the Front Desk.
Stepping in front of a roaring fire in the wood-paneled lobby at The Garland is a welcome treat indeed. The 7-acre former Howard Johnson property has lived through its share of remakes, though current owners have embraced, rather than disparaged, the hotel’s schmaltzy Tinseltown vibe (that’s no accident, either—the name references Beverly Garland, a small-time TV actress who also happens to be the owner’s son). Make a beeline to late-night happy hour (10-midnight on weekdays; 10pm-1am Friday and Saturday) for tuna tartare and $4 beers, served alfresco at the intimate Front Yard bar. Ride the free shuttle to Universal Studios. Or just unwind in your room—the bright, 70s-style design perfectly frames the garden views from your private patio or balcony.
This throwback motor court motel is marked by a burst of greenery along a lackluster strip of Ventura Boulevard. The 12 connected cottages form a U-shape around the interior courtyard, where each unit comes with a dedicated garage to park your car. Despite the 1950s exterior, rooms are still sparkling from a 2014 revamp that installed shiny wood floors, flat-screen TVs and ivory shutters. The WiFi is free, there are microwaves, minifridges and coffeemakers in every room, and best of all, the lobby agents are always eager to help guests plan an outing to Universal Studios, which is just a mile away.
If you’ve come to LA with one goal—to hit every thrill ride, set tour and themed restaurant inside Universal Studios—but want your lodging to be away from all the action, this neon-lit roadside inn is your join. The location can’t be beat, you’ll save plenty of money, and the rooms aren’t too shabby either. Unadorned and functional, there are 27 of them in total; each one promises a TV with HBO, a minifridge and a microwave. The free continental breakfast is extremely basic, but who cares when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is across the street?