Best hotels in Orlando
Tucked within the gates of Walt Disney World Resort, Four Seasons Resort Orlando is luxurious without feeling stale. Considering its upscale trappings, it’s uniquely child- and pet-friendly. There’s a complimentary kids’ program and free meals for little ones under five years old. The Disney park perks are here, too: Among them are character breakfasts, In-Room Celebrations and complimentary transportation to Disney’s parks. Adults can get their fun on, too, thanks to the Tranquilo Golf Club, the Spa, and tennis and basketball courts. Facilities include the interactive fountains at Splash Zone, a Lazy River, water slides, a family pool and an adults-only pool. You can even book a room with a view of the nightly park fireworks.
Spread across 500 acres, Grand Lakes Orlando is a two-for-one property experience worth dishing out the dollars for. Two sister properties flank the premise: The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott, equating to hundreds of rooms, six Presidential Suites, more than a dozen food and beverage outlets, and access to a 18-hole par-72 Greg Norman Signature Golf Course. Grande Lakes also features bocce ball, tennis courts, heated pools, sand volleyball and a spa. Over at the Ritz, patrons can order in-room dining 24/7. At JW, little ones can request an in-room overnight camping experience. And no matter which theme park or hotel you choose, you can arrange shuttle transportation with the hotel concierges.
The freshly minted Grove Resort & Spa on Lake Austin is making a splash—literally, and figuratively—in the Orlando hotel market. The all-suite property oozes casual chic with dark wood furniture, cool gray walls and blue accents: Each suite features stainless-steel appliances, a full-sized washer and dryer, and screened balconies. Its location on the waterfront means plenty of watersports access and verdant views. Three pools, cabanas and a kids’ area keep daytimers busy, and the Escape Spa even offers poolside treatments. Grove isn’t done expanding either: Two additional food and beverage outlets are on the way (there’s currently six operating), as is a waterpark in 2018.
Since opening in 2013, the Alfond Inn in Winter Park has earned plenty of cred, including AAA Four Diamond status. The 112-room building blends romantic elements with contemporary touches: Wooden beams add warmth and arched windows give way to natural light that splashes off the white-washed walls. The Inn displays the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College (part of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum), and is within arm’s reach of local attractions. While chic, the Inn is also pet-friendly, and boasts a pool, fitness center, and meeting spaces.
The good times roll at the Hard Rock Hotel Orlando, which has a casual coolness that caters to a younger, energetic clientele. Take the rooms, for instance: They come with spunky checkered curtains and vinyl decor punched up with message pillows and popcorn tray delivery. Club Level rooms give exclusive access to the Rock Royalty lounge, and the sprawling suites tone down the funkiness for a more refined, VIP feel (The Graceland Suite flaunts a Baby Grand Piano and an oversized tub). Grab a bite at one of the five food and beverage outlets, or take time to listen to music underwater at the main pool. And because it’s the Hard Rock, guests can browse a menu of 20 different lender Fender® guitars and have them delivered to their rooms.
Decked out in Victorian style, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa sits at the top of Walt Disney World Resort’s food chain. Its classic red and white facade is reminiscent of San Diego’s Hotel Del Coronado, and the tiered Grand Lobby oozes old-school elegance. The offerings match the waterside locale: Guests can book cruises on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, and the kiddos can venture off on a pirate sail. But the exterior charms don’t carry into the room design, which are lathered in beige. Still, the Disney amenities outweigh the snoozy quarters: The famed Disney monorail passes by the property, as does the electric water pageant. There’s also a spa, waterfall pool, arcade and campfire activities.
Want to see what $2,000 a night will get you at a Disney property? Set your search to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort—specifically, the private, eight-person, over-the-water Bungalow. Here, a private lake deck with plunge pool, full kitchen, two beds and a sleepy lead to the hefty price tag. The property is a AAA 4-Diamond resort, so expect extras like park water taxis, grocery services, a luau-themed dinner feast and mail services. Lilo’s Playhouse entertains kids 3-12 whenever parents need an escape, and the Polynesian’s two distinct pools offer something for everyone. These rooms also have a little more “oomph” than the nearby Grand Floridian, thanks to high, two-tone headboards, textured palm prints and thematic details.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando does sophistication without getting overly stuffy: With exceptional service standard and an emphasis on dining, the Waldorf Astoria is best for those with refined palates. There are 12 food and beverage options boasting signature selections like the Peacock Egg—made with lavender Syrup, Blue Curacao, lemonade and gin over an egg-shaped cube—and the Scotch & Cigar menu. The Suite Life Private Dining Experience brings the award-winning plates and wines from Bull & Bear to your room, and local concierge specialists can ensure your favorite treats are stocked in the room before your arrival. When you’re not eating, there’s plenty of golf, spa and kids-activities to keep everyone busy.
The Omni at ChampionsGate has been an Orlando staple since 2004, but 2017 marked a new era for this laidback but refined haunt. Omni debuted Orlando’s only wave pool in May of that year and over a dozen new cabanas—the additions joined the property’s existing 850-foot lazy river and kids waterslides. The resort also recently unveiled putt-putt, and it will soon welcome 23,000 square feet of tiered deck space and seating. More rooms and conference space, a sports training complex, and the onsite Mokara Spa make a stay here hard to beat—especially for active types.
There are some properties that proudly carry a dedicated returning clientele, and Orlando’s Villas at Grand Cypress is that kind of place. Guests return year after year with wedding and warm weather golf stories in tow: They come back to their beloved spacious quarters (the villas don up to four bedrooms) to remake family memories. Villas has that all-American vacation feel thanks to its unmatched recreational offerings. There’s a golf academy and club, a racquet club, and even a rock wall. To boot, spa treatments can be in done in the privacy of one’s room and kids can stay busy at the game room or waterslide donning pool. While there’s plenty to do at Villas, there isn’t much to eat: Villas only houses a pool bar, golf club restaurant and in-room dining, so be prepared to go off-site for any culinary explorations.
The picturesque edifices of the Italian Riviera land stateside at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. While the crystal blue Mediterranean waters are missed, the red, orange and peach hotel still makes heads turn. The Portofino Bay Hotel fearures replicas of Italy’s stone streets, actual Cypress trees, and even a Musica della Notte show. There’s enough pasta on property to fuel a theme-park marathon—and, as an official Universal hub, guests get Universal Expresss Unlimited ride access and early access to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Portofino's rooms swap the sun tones found outside for cool blues, seafoam greens and off-whites. We wish the Despicable Me Kids’ Suites had an adult version: Who doesn’t love being amongst Minions?
The Bohemian Celebration is ideal for intimate, kid-free vacations thanks to its mere 115 guest rooms and suites. This Autograph Collection Hotel is decked out in old-world inspirations, creating an ambiance that feels part luxe Safari lodge and part Floridian enclave. The rooms are accented with forest green walls and natural elements like gold dipped branches. Only a restaurant and pool live onsite, but the Celebration Health Fitness Centre & Day Spa and Salon 720 Beauty and Body Spa lay nearby.
On a budget?
Not all rooms in Orlando need to break the bank (leave that work to the theme parks)