Whether you are a long-time Walt Disney World guest or visiting Orlando for the first time, planning a visit to Universal Orlando Resort poses lots of questions. Hotels, you gotta stay somewhere, right? Consider staying at an on-site Universal Orlando hotel for the theme park benefits and hotel amenities. In this article we’ll cover the four hotel tiers at Universal Orlando, their positives, negatives, and price ranges.
Note: Universal uses the terms “resort” and “hotel” almost interchangeably in the names of their hotels. We will be using the term “hotel” for each property and “resort” for the whole Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal Orlando offers seven on-site hotels priced from $100 to over $600 per night. Universal’s advertised pricing on their website is based on a four-night stay; the longer you stay on the property the bigger the per-night discount.
Unlike Walt Disney World where they operate their hotels, Universal’s hotels are operated by Loews Hotels, a luxury hotel company with hotels around the country. Universal’s properties are modern, clean, well-lit, and feature on-site security. Speaking of safety, all hotels have automatically locking side doors, monitored front entrances, room safes, and locked gated access to hotel amenities.
Just like at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando’s hotels come with hotel and theme park benefits. All on-site hotels include the following:
- Early Park Admission
- Resort-wide complimentary transportation – bus, boat (where available), and a hotel-to-hotel shuttle
- Room key charging around the resorts and theme parks
- Club-t0-club access at CityWalk
- Resort-wide package delivery to the hotel
- On-site dining
- Pools and pool bars
- Fitness Centers (yes, even at the Value hotels)
- Game Rooms
- Universal Studio Stores with resort merchandise
Premier hotels also feature these additional benefits:
- Unlimited Express Pass
- Priority dining at select Universal sit-down restaurants
- Sit-down dining
- Club Level rooms and concierge service
A deposit of one night is taken at booking; the remainder is due at the time of check-in. Cancelations five nights or more before check-in will receive a full refund; cancelations four days or less forfeit the deposit amount.
Finally, overnight parking is not free – parking fees range from $15 to $31 per night depending on the hotel.
Equivalent to Disney’s Deluxe Magic Kingdom monorail hotels, Premier hotels are the top tier at Universal and are rated four diamonds by AAA. These hotels offer high-quality textiles, large rooms, sit-down restaurants, lounges, spas, and luxurious amenities. Prices start in the low $300s to over $700 during peak season per night for standard rooms based on a four-night stay.
There are three Premier Hotels:
- Loews Portofino Bay Resort – Italian ambiance in the middle of Central Florida.
- Hard Rock Hotel – A little rock’n’roll attitude in a Southern California-inspired setting.
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort – Lush South Pacific island-themed hotel.
- The most luxurious hotels at Universal Orlando
- Unlimited Express Pass included with each room for up to five guests
- 5-10 minute walk to the parks
- Boat & bus transportation
- A complete resort feel with elaborate pools, special events, entertainment, and unique dining
- Cost – rates run from mid $200s up to and over $500 per night depending on the time of year
Preferred is equivalent to something like Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club. Amenities are similar to Premier hotels except they lack Unlimited Express Passes and are not rated four diamonds by AAA. Prices for standard rooms start in the high $200s to low $300s for a four-night stay.
There is one Preferred Hotel:
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – Caribbean-themed hotel inspired by rum production and Jamaican waterfalls.
- Premier amenities at a lower price
- Covered access to conference rooms at Loews Royal Pacific
- Boat and bus transportation to the parks
- No Unlimted Express Pass
- Longer walk to the parks than the Premier Hotels
Prime Value Hotels
Prime Value hotels are equivalent to Disney’s moderate resorts yet offer their unique amenities at a lower price. Standard rooms start in the mid $100s to high $200s per night for a four-night stay. Do not be fooled by the name of the hotels, they are still run by Loews.
There are two Prime Value hotels:
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Kitschy mid-century design of Atlantic seaboard motels with modern hotel luxuries, including an on-site bowling alley.
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel – Sleek, contemporary high-rise hotel inspired by Miami skyscrapers with high-tech rooms.
- Universal’s Stella Luna Resort – Twin resorts located near Epic Universe with space themes.
- Universal’s Terra Nova Resort – Twin resorts located near Epic Universe with space themes.
- Affordable accommodations with stellar amenities
- Starbucks and lobby bars
- Cabana Bay and Aventura are within walking distance of Volcano Bay
- No Express Pass included with your stay
- Sacrifices textile and furnishing quality for lower prices
- No boat access to the theme parks, just busses
- Stella and Terra are
Universal’s Value category is equitable to Disney’s All-Star Resorts: high value, low frill hotels. Standard rooms start under $100 per night with a four-night stay. Like Prime Value these hotels are operated by Loews.
There is one Value hotel complex:
- The cheapest on-site rooms
- Low-priced food and drink options
- Starbucks at Dockside
- No Express Pass
- Minimal frills or extras – bare-bones rooms
- No walking or boat access to the parks, just buses
- The fewest amenities of the hotel options
- Book Early – Universal uses variable pricing and offers refundable deposits up to a week before your trip. Lock in a lower rate early and rebook if prices drop.
- Book a longer stay and receive a per-night discount through Loew’s Stay More, Save More Discount program.
- It is often cheaper to stay at a Premier level hotel than to buy separate Express Passes and a hotel room.
Do you have questions about which Universal hotel to stay at? Leave your questions and comments below!
First published on October 24, 2020. Revised December 22, 2023.