Universal opened its first hotel in 1999. There are now eight 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.
Universal Orlando Hotel Benefits
Universal Orlando Resorts are split into four classes, but all resorts offer a range of benefits, including:-
- Early park admission, all guests can access parks, including Volcano Bay, 1 hour before regular guests.
- Free transportation to parks, including Volcano Bay
- Package delivery from parks to your Universal Hotel
- Resort-Wide Charging Privileges With Room Key
- Priority access to the parks 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 staying in a Premier Hotel is often cheaper than buying it separately.
Premier Hotels at Universal Orlando
The 3 Premier Hotels are the top resorts at Universal Orlando. Hotels include the best dining options and the most luxurious surroundings. They are also the closest hotels 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 for 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. We stayed in the resort on our last visit and loved it; we booked again for our next visit.
- 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 review 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. Royal Pacific isn’t quite at the same standard as Hard Rock and Portofino Bay, usually, but not always, 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 downgraded in recent years into its 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 has 2200 rooms in this no-frills 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 is 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 two halves Surfside Inn and Suites opened in 2019, and Dockside Inn and Suites opened in 2020. Endless Summer is called Universal’s 7th or 7th & 8th resort. At the moment, Universal says it has eight resorts.
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 and, in the evening, some alcohol.
To learn more about Universal Orlando, visit our 2023 Guide to Universal Orlando Resort. The guide contains the latest planning tips.