Finding the right hotel is essential to having an enjoyable vacation, especially when you are staying for several nights. With our vacation we had planned to stay in a hotel near Universal Studios Orlando for four nights. With a total of 7 people (Myself, Mrs C., our 4 kids, all boys ages 13, 7, 4, and 3, and my mom) we needed to make sure we found the right hotel.
Rubrick For Comparing Hotels Near Universal Studios Orlando:
We were looking at several primary factors in choosing our hotel:
- Distance From Universal Studios: The last thing I wanted to do was stay somewhere where I would need to drive an hour to and from the park every day. Originally I was looking at only a 5 mile radius, however I eventually expanded this a bit further.
- Adjoining Rooms Vs. Suites: Originally I was looking at getting 2 adjoining standard 2 bed hotel rooms, however suites are not much more expensive and also include full kitchens. For any family going on an extended trip of more than 2 nights, I highly recommend going for a suite. There are tons of 2 bedroom suites that are ideal for for a family of 3 – 5, but for 6 and up a 3 bedroom is best in my opinion.
- Shuttle To Universal Studios: Having the option to not have to drive in Orlando is a big plus. Many hotels in the area offer free shuttle service to the parks.
- Price Per Night: Obviously cost is a big consideration. In the Orlando area there is an AMAZING range of costs for rooms. I found rooms from around 50 bucks a night all the way up to over $500 per night. Our goal was to find a comfortable place for all seven of us for under $200 a night.
- Pool: Having a pool is a nice feature and gives us something fun and relaxing to do at the hotel.
- Distance to Grocery Store: We wanted to be able to bring our own snacks to the park and to make our own means and snacks at the hotel instead of eating out for every meal.
Tools For Comparing Hotels Near Universal Studios Orlando:
Priceline.com: I started looking for hotels on priceline.com and hotels.com. Unfortunately most rooms, even 2 bedroom suites state that they only accommodate 6 people, and we have 7 in our group. It was also difficult on these sites to tell them what I was looking for.
TripAdvisor: TripAdvisorreviews were a big help in narrowing down the hotels we were looking at. I found a hotel that looked really good, but when it came to the reviews about a third of them were highly negative.
My Sister, the amateur travel agent: I asked my sister for help in finding a place and told her what we were looking for. She has traveled a lot more than me and is excellent at finding the best deal. After asking for her help, within a couple days she told me about the hotel that we ended up going with.
The Winning Hotel Near Universal Studios Orlando:
The winning hotel was Floridays Resort. My sister actually found this place, and I hadn’t even come across it in my search, because it was a bit further from Universal than what I was originally looking at. Floridays resort is the number 1 Orlando resort on TripAdvisorand has very reasonable rates for its suites.
Floridays resort has 2 different room styles, a 2 bedroom suite and a 3 bedroom suite. Very few places have 3 bedroom suites, and the price difference for the extra space is well worth it ($30/night). The kitchen has a full size fridge, dishwasher, stove, and microwave, and there is a washer and dryer. This is a huge perk when travelling. The kitchen was stocked with dishes for cooking and with plates/cups/and utensils. Each bedroom has a TV and the TV in the family room has a DVD player.
Space: We were able to get a 3 bedroom 1300 square foot room from Floridays resort. 2 rooms had 2 double beds, 1 room had 1 king bed, and the living room has a queen sized fold out couch. The bathrooms were huge and the kitchen / dining room / living room were also spacious. For our littlest adventurer who is 3 we took the cushions off the couch and he slept on those next to our bed. It feels so much better than being in a hotel room, or even 2 for that matter. It is also helpful that the 3 bedroom suite has 2 bedrooms with double beds. Most of the 3 bedroom suites I found have 2 rooms with queen beds and only 1 room with 2 double beds.
Price: 2 bedroom suites start at $149 and 3 bedroom suites start at $179. Under their packages tab on the website they offer a 20% discount if you pay for your hotel in advance. We took advantage of this and our cost per night was $151, plus taxes, fees, etc, which brought our 4 night stay to a total of $746. It looks like their prices spike up on weekends and in the peak summer months, so booking ahead is a good idea. I feel like we got an amazing deal on the place. I’m sure it also helped our price that we were staying Monday – Thursday night.
Distance To Universal: It took about 20 minutes each morning to drive to the park, which was worth it for the hotel we were staying at. By day 3 it was very easy to get to the park. Disney and Sea World appear to be only 10 minutes from this hotel, so this is an even better deal if those are your destinations.
Distance To Grocery Store: There is a publix grocery store about a half mile down the road. We were able to walk there, although if you are getting more than a few things it’s probably a good idea to drive. There are sidewalks and crosswalks the whole way.
Shuttle: The hotel did offer a shuttle service, but with needing to take a double stroller and having 3 kids in car seats, it was easier for us to take our van instead. We had to pay $20 parking each day, but being able to leave when you want to is a big perk. Unlike with other hotels you can schedule ahead and reserve your spot on the shuttle to the parks.
Breakfast: The one con from this place was that unlike
Pool: Not only does this place have a pool, it has a pool with several kid sprinkers built in. We took the kids down to the pool twice while we were there and they had a blast. There are several chairs in the pool area and plenty of pool towels.
Skymiles Redemption For Hotels Near Universal Studios Orlando:
Hindsight is 20/20. When we returned from our trip Mrs. C and I started planning a mega-trip to Disney for about 3 – 4 years in the future. One of the options I wanted to look at was redeeming my Delta Skymiles for hotel stays or for tickets. Yes I know that hotel stays do not give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to Skymiles, but Mrs. C. has no desire to fly, and certainly has no desire to fly to other continents, so as far as value to US goes, cashing in my Skymiles on hotel stays isn’t a bad option. Currently I have around 130,000 Skymiles. My employer frequently flies me on Delta and I have a Delta Gold Skymiles card that also racks up miles.
Anyways, not only is Floridays a listed hotel for Skymiles redemption, but there are several other nice hotels near Universal Studios as well. In general redemption when booking ahead averages out to between 15,000 and 25,000 Skymiles per night for a 3 bedroom suite, meaning I could have redeemed miles and covered our entire stay. For our next trip we will be doing probably a 3 week trip if not longer to Orlando and it looks like I should have enough Skymiles to cover our entire stay by then.
Bottom line: When looking for hotels near Universal Studios do your research, it is amazing how different the costs are from place to place. Floridays Resort was perfect for a family vacation with several children, they offered a great value for us and I am certain if/when we go to the Orlando area again we will stay there.
Do you have any tips for selecting hotels near Universal Studios in Orlando?
This is part 2 in our series on our Orlando Vacation, check out my other article, How We Survived Our Drive To Orlando Florida.