Universal opened its first hotel in 1999. There are now seven Universal Orlando Resort Hotels, and Loews manages all resorts. All Universal Hotel guests benefit from being close to the theme parks, free internal transportation, and early access to a park for 1 hour each morning before regular park guests. Our Guide to Universal Orlando Resort Hotels gives you a flavor of what you can expect at each resort.
Current changes to Universal Orlando Hotels
Inevitably during the reopening of Universal Orlando Resort, there are several changes to how the hotels operate. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites are currently not open. All other resorts are operating, and we expect some of the closed resorts to open later in 2021.
Similar to other areas of Universal Orlando, restrictions are currently in place to keep guests safe. We expect these rules to remain in place throughout 2021. The video below highlights the current safety changes in place at Universal Orlando Resorts.
Universal Orlando Hotel Benefits
Universal Orlando Resorts are split into four classes, but all resorts offer a range of benefits including:-
- Early park admission
- Free transportation to parks, including Volcano Bay
- Package delivery from parks to your Universal Hotel
- Resort-Wide Charging Privileges With Room Key
- Complimentary club to club access at certain Universal CityWalk venues
- Priority access to park when capacity is reached
Hotels at Universal Orlando
Universal Resorts are in price brackets, with the top 3 Premier Hotels having a complimentary Express Pass included. Your Express Pass is valid on both your arrival & departure dates. Guests should price up Express Pass carefully as often it is cheaper to stay in a Premier Hotel than buy Express Pass separately. The three Premier Hotels also include priority seating at select restaurants throughout the resort.
Premier Hotels at Universal Orlando
The 3 Premier Hotels are the top resorts at Universal Orlando. Hotels include the best dining options, most luxurious surroundings and are closest to the parks. You will also benefit from an included Express Pass and priority seating at select restaurants. All 3 Premier Hotels have a club lounge available for some extra luxury at an additional fee. Concierge and 24-hour room service are just some of the benefits of the resorts.
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel was the first hotel to open at Universal Orlando in 1999. This luxury resort has an Italian Seaside Village theme and has 750 rooms. Assuming international travel resumes in 2021, it will be the third time lucky in our attempts to stay at this resort.
- Hard Rock Hotel opened in 2001 and has a rock theme. Music plays everywhere in the resort, including under the water at the fantastic resort pool. We have a review of the Hard Rock Hotel here on Modern Life is Good.
- Loews Royal Pacific opened in 2002 & has an enchanted isles theme. The resort has 1000 rooms. You can read our review of Loews Royal Pacific on this site. Overall, Royal Pacific isn’t quite at the same standard as Hard Rock and Portofino Bay, which is usually reflected in the price.
Preferred Hotels at Universal Orlando
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is the only resort in this category and opened in 2016. The resort has been somewhat downgraded in recent years into its own exclusive class. I’m not sure what the “preferred” hotel status means. Overall, this is a comfortable resort similar in standard to Royal Pacific but does not include an Express Pass.
Prime Value Hotels at Universal Orlando
Prime Value Hotels offer basic no-frill but comfortable accommodation. Forget concierge, luxurious furnishings, room service, and business centers. However, both resorts do include several dining options.
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort 2200 rooms are located in this no-frill hotel. Some of the rooms are classified as suites that sleep up to 6. The resort contains some excellent facilities for families, including a pool with a lazy river and a bowling alley
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel a modern tower hotel that opened in 2018. The hotel contains Universal’s first rooftop bar and grill.
Value Hotels at Universal Orlando
Universal’s latest resort is Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. The resort is split into 2 halves Surfside Inn and Suites opened in 2019, and Dockside Inn and Suites opened in 2020. Variably Endless Summer is either called Universal’s 7th or 7th & 8th resort.
Universal claims that these resorts are their most affordable yet. However, don’t expect any luxuries, including a coffee maker! Dining options are limited and are counter service. Family 2 bedroom suites are available sleeping up to six.
Should you stay in a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel?
We always recommend you shop around before deciding where to stay. However, there are significant benefits to staying at Universal Orlando Hotels. However, you can usually find cheaper options remaining offsite.
For large families, the rooms at Prime Value and Value Resorts that sleep up to six can represent great value for money. However, don’t expect any luxuries if staying in these resorts.
If you are purchasing an Express Pass, you should definitely consider staying in one of the Premier Resorts. At maximum room capacity, these are usually cheaper than buying an Express Pass for a family of four. We also love the Club Rooms at Universal, and these can work out good value by including snacks throughout the day, including your breakfast.
To learn more about Universal Orlando, visit our 2021 Guide to Universal Orlando Resort. The guide contains the latest planning tips.