Best cheap hotels in Orlando
If a city stay is in the planning, the Aloft Orlando Downtown is a reliable, trendy choice: It’s near the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Amway Center, and shops and restaurants. Those familiar with the Aloft brand will recognize the usual amenities: The grab-and-go snack bar and gym are open 24/7, the Splash pool beckons afternoon dips, and an XYZ bar hosts a nightly happy hour (and boasts a particularly impressive Scotch selection). WiFi is complimentary, pets are welcome free of charge and special goodies await kids. Those who “Make a Green Choice” receive a $5 snack voucher or 250 extra SPG Starpoints for every night they go without housekeeping. This property suits casual business travelers and on-the-go couples.
The Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando opened during summer 2016, unveiling 1,000 guest rooms and suites, four food and beverage concepts, pet-friendly facilities, a fitness center, and the signature Loews Loves Kids program. The Caribbean-inspired pool is also the largest across the Universal Orlando Resort™ family and features two sand beach areas and a waterslide. Guests receive Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, complimentary water taxi rides, shuttle service to and from the Universal Orlando theme parks and Universal CityWalk™, and complimentary shuttle service to and from all on-site hotel restaurants. Late-night hunger pangs can be quelled with 24/7 in-room dining, and young ones can receive morning wake-up calls from their favorite Universal characters.
The Hyatt Regency—situated on the buzzing International Drive—is alive around the clock: With 1,639 rooms that harbor 192 spacious suites (650–2,068 square feet!), this property offers something for everyone. There is complimentary WiFi, seven food and beverage concepts (including a 24-hour diner), and a business center. The whole family is encouraged to visit as Hyatt Regency maintains pet accommodations (dog stations dot the property) and three pools: The waterside fun includes an Olympic-sized terrace pool, hot tubs, private cabanas, slides and waterfalls. Book a Regency Club room and gain access to the Regency Club Lounge, which serves a daily continental breakfast, light bites, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert. Break a sweat inside the StayFit™ Gym and then unwind at the Spa, complete with steam rooms, saunas and private outdoor pools. While the location is prime, the Hyatt lacks shuttle options or park-themed partnerships; we’d say it is best for business, low-key types, or couples looking to stay away from the theme-park fanfare.
The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Palace got a facelift in November 2016. While the furnishings are sleeker than most of its Hilton neighbors (think dark woods, neutral tones and pops of blue in the rooms), the hotel’s Disney Springs location makes it especially attractive for families. As an Official Walt Disney World® Hotel, guests can buy park tickets onsite, hop on complimentary park shuttles every 30 minutes, and reserve a seat at the Disney Character Breakfast. Babysitting services are available to parents looking to escape to the new Kay Casperson Spa, Salon + Boutique and four outlets provide food and drink: The pool and adjacent bar get busy quickly, so grab a spot as early as possible.
For a stay layered with authentic Floridian charm, Marriott’s Harbour Lake is the way to go. The vacation club’s one- and two-bedroom villas boast bright, Caribbean and Key Western architecture on the outside and modern amenities on the inside. While food options are minimal (there’s a three-meal patio restaurant and a snack kiosk), Harbour Lake is big on recreation, boasting a mini golf course and water playground. WiFi and parking are also free. Harbour Lake is close to SeaWorld and just off Interstate-4, but holds no theme park affiliations, best serving those looking to do their own thing.
Contemporary design greets visitors at the B Hotel Resort & Spa. The property is bathed in funky hues that stand out thanks to all-white walls. The B is also the newest hotel in the Disney Springs area, which means you get the expected Disney perks coupled with a few unique extras. As the name implies, B Hotel Resort & Spa claims the only AVEDA lifestyle spa in the Orlando area; after all of that Mouseketeering, few things sound better than a 50-minute Stress-Fix Body Massage. Kids and teens can join in on their parent’s spa day, too, thanks to AVEDA’s teen facial and kid-friendly manicures. Back in the rooms, upgrades like kitchenettes, wet bars and pool-view balconies are available upon request. American Kitchen, the on-site eatery, hosts the daily breakfast buffet; while it isn’t free, like some properties nearby, it is presented on top of a photo-worthy bright red truck.
The Drury Inn and Suites Orlando is generous with the giveaways: Complimentary breakfasts start the day and the nightly 5:30 Kickback® keeps the noshing going with free soft drinks, beer, wine and hot plates. The kiddos can also enjoy free popcorn in the lobby from 3pm to 10pm—but that’s where the food options end. Thankfully, each room features a microwave and fridge so that leftovers can be stored without any issues. As a Universal Hotel Partner, Drury schedules free shuttles to Universal Orlando Resort™ and sells park tickets on the property.
As part of the Universal Orlando Resort family (and sister property to Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando), Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort keeps the perks coming. It’s the only property in the portfolio that offers kitchenettes, making it easier for large groups to save on meals—but note that in-room dining is limited. At the food court, insiders favor the brisket grilled cheese and Brazilian churrasco. Cabana is the only portfolio property that is not pet-friendly (sorry, Frodo!) and lacks a business center service. In sum, Cabana Bay Resort has family fun vacation written all over it: The colors are bright, and the signage is bold. Everyone in the group can keep busy thanks to a bowling alley, lazy river, game room, fitness center, kids club and a bustling pool area with waterslides.
If the budget requires dropping below $100 a night, it’s worth considering SpringHill Suites by Marriott Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Marriott Village. This all-suite property stocks mini-fridges and microwaves in every room, and offers a breakfast buffet—complete with five DIY waffle irons—and WiFi on the house. It’s also within one mile of Walt Disney World, so expect large, youthful groups eagerly parading about on premise. This SpringHill Suites is a Walt Disney Good Neighbor® hotel, so attraction tickets are available for purchase at Guest Services, and a shuttle loads guests to and from the parks. The Village Marketplace allows for quick meals, and recognizable restaurant chains are within walking distance. The most grown-up amenity is the gym, and while the pool isn’t spectacular, it does offer a hot day’s reprieve.
Overnighting at an official Walt Disney World Resort is on many bucket lists—that is until we see their prices. But Disney's Pop Century Resort keeps the monetary depletions to a minimum. In true Disney fashion, Pop Century Resort goes over-the-top with its cultural references and animation installations: Larger-than-life movie characters and toys (think giant Play-Doh containers) rise over a pool framed by saturated pinks, yellows and blues. The rooms are simple but have little Disney touches throughout: You can elevate the bareness with In-Room Celebrations add-ons like a Mickey Mouse-themed birthday gift or cake. In-room dining sticks to the basics with pizza, wings, and the like, and seven food stations offer a variety of cuisines at the Everything POP Shopping & Dining. As a resort guest, standard theme park parking is free (as is hotel self-parking), as is transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World Resort.