Category Archives: Orlando Hotel Reviews

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, USA

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Review

Hotel Review of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Florida, USA

Situated in the Bonnet Creek resort area near Walt Disney World, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is the perfect choice for families who like to indulge in a little luxury travel as well as enjoying all that the Disney Theme Parks have to offer. We stayed here in September for five nights with our two boys aged 9 & 11.

Upon arrival the first thing you notice is the famous Waldorf Astoria Clock in the lobby area which is truly a stunning feature. We checked in early (around 10.00am) as we had just transferred from another hotel and while our room was not ready, our bags were stored and we were able to use the complimentary shuttle bus and head straight over to the Disney Parks.

Disney Shuttle Transportation

One of the great things about staying at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando or the neighbouring Hilton Bonnet Creek is that you are able to use the complimentary shuttle bus transportation provided by Mears Transport to all the Disney Parks including Downtown Disney. The bus picks up first at the Hilton and then five minutes later at the Waldorf. The Waldorf pick-up is in the driveway so you can wait just outside the Lobby while the Hilton has a bus shelter outside the hotel. You can access the shuttle times here.

Our Room – Deluxe Suite 

Upon check-in we were upgraded to a Deluxe Suite (we are HHonors Diamond). The suite was a good size, it consisted of a big living area with dining table, kitchenette (complete with espresso machine) as well as a couch that was made into a bed by housekeeping at night. We also had a fold away bed in the living area so our boys had separate sleeping beds.

There was a separate bedroom with king bed for the adults and a very good-sized bathroom complete with separate bath and shower as well as Salvatore Ferragamo bathroom amenities.

The suite also had a balcony with view overlooking the golf course. There are rooms available on the other side of the resort which have a view looking towards Disney’s Epcot where you can watch the nightly fireworks show.

We loved the little cards left on our bed each night during turn down service, it’s one of those fine touches that truly luxurious hotels provide.

Watch our Waldorf Astoria Orlando Suite YouTube Video here.

Dining at the Waldorf

There are quite a few dining and bar options at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and as we were travelling with kids we chose the more casual ones to dine at. Our favourites included;

  • Oscars Brasserie – serves a Buffet or A La Carte Breakfast. This was one of the most extensive and delicious buffet breakfasts that we have ever had at any hotel. If you have a sweet tooth you will love all the pasties and cakes, they were divine!
  • Peacock Alley – stop by for a refreshing cocktail or something light to eat. In the mornings they offer a croissant and coffee bar for something to grab and go on your way to the parks. You can also watch the nightly fireworks show from Epcot at this bar.
  • Aquamarine – for poolside drinks & snacks, we found ourselves grabbing a meal here after the parks while the kids cooled off in the pool. Loved their Prosecco Popsicle drinks! Be aware though, Aquamarine can suddenly close if the weather becomes inclement or if they are not busy enough.
  • In-Room Dining – we tried room service one night after we came back from the parks and were exhausted, have to say we were all very impressed with our meals.

Staying at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando also gives you access to dining & bar outlets at the Hilton Bonnet Creek next door, we only tried the poolside dining area called Beech for snacks and drinks – the kids loved the ice-cream sandwiches there!

Pool Areas at the Waldorf and Hilton Bonnet Creek

Guests have the choice of the two Waldorf swimming pools or the more family friendly Hilton Bonnet Creek pool which comes complete with water slide and lazy river.

Waldorf Pool Area

There is the Cabana Pool which is perfect for relaxing and swimming laps. This pool has quite a number of cabanas available for daily rental. The main pool is more family friendly with a zero entry point making it suitable for toddlers to splash around in. A jacuzzi sits in-between the two pools and there are plenty of sun lounges in the pool area. The pool temperature is really nice and warm which makes going for a swim bearable for those that do like cold pools!

The kids also enjoyed some lawns games and chess by the pool.

Watch our YouTube video of the Waldorf Pool area here.

Hilton Bonnet Creek Pool Area

Kids will love this lagoon style pool with its lazy river and water slide (slide open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm). This pool also has a zero entry point for the toddlers.

Watch our YouTube video of the Hilton Bonnet Creek Pool Area here.

Fitness Center

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando has a good-sized fitness center with plenty of cardio machines and weight-bearing equipment available. 24 hour access is included in the daily resort charge for hotel guests. They also have a fridge stocked with bottled water if you ever need to stop by and grab one to take out and about with you.

Waldorf Astoria Spa

If some pampering and rejuvenation is in order, the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Spa has treatments to suit. Here you can enjoy one or more of the following;

  • Facial Therapies
  • Body Therapies
  • Massage Therapies
  • Hand & Foot Therapies
  • Salon Services
  • Tea Lounge
  • Steam Room
  • Jacuzzi

Waldorf Astoria Golf Club

The Waldorf Astoria Golf Club comes complete with 18 hole golf course, pro shop, practice range and putting green. If you want to stop by for a bite to eat try out the Clubhouse Grille which has a modern pub lunch menu.

Conclusion

While we didn’t try it on this trip there is a WA Kids Club which provides plenty of activities for kids.

If you are looking for a family friendly resort which is in the Disney area but away from all the Disney hustle and bustle, then the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is a great choice. At about half the cost of a similar on-site Disney hotel such as the Grand Floridian, it is also a more economical option. We got a great nightly rate and found it easy to get to the parks so we were glad we gave it a try!

Just don’t forget to include the daily resort charge ($30 USD) plus tax not included in advertised pricing) in your total price when comparing hotels.

For more information on the Waldorf Astoria Orlando go to: www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Florida, USA

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

Review of the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Florida, USA

If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Orlando when visiting Universal Studios, then look no further than the Hard Rock Hotel. This hotel is the perfect choice for families who want to spend a few days exploring Universal Studios Orlando.

Theme Park Benefits

Booking a room at Hard Rock entitles each member of your party to express passes for Universal Studios for the length of your stay at the hotel. These passes are must haves and when you consider they are valued at up to $89 per person per day, the price of the room is almost recovered back just with these! We arrived at the Hard Rock around 10.00am and while our room wasn’t ready that early, we were still able to get our fast passes from the lobby kiosks and head off to Universal Studios straight away.

Each person will also be allocated their own room key as you need these for early admission into either Universal Studios or Universal’s Islands of Adventure. One of the two parks will be open one hour before general admission theme park opening and you just need to show your room key once in the park to be allowed through the barriers. This extra early morning hour allows you to experience the popular rides with no queues at all!

It only takes 5-10 minutes to walk from the Hard Rock Hotel to the Universal Studio parks but if you prefer, there are frequent water taxi shuttles that drop you off just opposite the park entrances. We actually liked to walk to the parks as it’s a nice picturesque path along the river.

Rock Royalty Room

We decided to splurge and book a room on the Rock Royalty level which is the Hard Rock’s version of a Club Level. All the Rock Royalty rooms are on the seventh floor and have access to the Rock Royalty Lounge. Our room was a good size for two adults and two kids, with a nice view of the pool area and Universal Studios.

A few features we loved about our room;

  • Pillows with room rules – BE NICE & QUIET PLEASE (rules not exactly followed by our kids!).
  • Mirror which shows the heights of various rock stars.
  • Big soft fluffy bath mat in the bathroom.
  • Drumstick art on the bathroom wall.
  • Turn-down service always left a little treat for the kids.

You can watch our room tour video here.

Rock Royalty Lounge

The Rock Royalty Lounge is open from 7.00am to 10.00pm every day and features include;

  • Continental breakfast from 7 AM to 10 AM.
  • All day complimentary coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • Bottled water available to take with you to the parks.
  • Hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine from 5 PM to 7 PM.
  • Evening Desserts from 8.30 PM to 9.30 PM.
  • Computer access with printer.

This lounge has to cater for 90 rooms and 5 suites on the Rock Royalty level and in our opinion is just way too small and cannot handle the crowd. At breakfast time most people arrive at the same time before heading off to the early park opening hour so there are usually no seats available. We found ourselves just grabbing a pastry or donut and eating on our walk over to the parks.

For the evening snacks and drinks it is best to arrive a little bit before 5 PM to try to grab a table to sit at, otherwise you will be grabbing a drink and bite to eat and taking it back to your room. There was good selection of beer and wines available and the food varied each night. The kids loved stopping by the lounge for the evening dessert, which was usually ice cream with a cookie or cake or churros.

Hard Rock Pool Area

The pool is a great place to unwind and relax after a full day of walking around Universal Studios. This is not a really deep pool so it’s great for the kids. Unfortunately the water slide was closed for maintenance while we were there but it looks like one the kids would enjoy. There are plenty of sun lounges around the pool and they also have  cabanas available for rental. Each night while we were staying at Hard Rock, there was a dive-in movie by the pool. So while the kids enjoyed pool time, we could also sit back in the beach club bar, watch a movie and enjoy a cocktail. During the day there is also some live music to you keep you entertained poolside.

See our video of the pool area here.

Dining at Hard Rock

There are all different sorts of dining options at Hard Rock including;

  • The Kitchen – A very family friendly eatery which comes complete with a Kid’s Crib where they can hang out and watch cartoons or movies. The Kitchen also has character dining available on selected days.
  • Palm Restaurant – Classic American Steakhouse.
  • Beach Club – Enjoy a light snack with a cocktail by the pool.
  • Emack & Bolio’s Marketplace – grab a coffee or snack for those on the go (was undergoing renovations when we visited).
  •  Velvet Bar – An adults area to enjoys cocktails, appetizers and cigars.

Other Amenities

Other features of the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando are;

  • Camp Lil’ Rock – For those that want to enjoy a nice night out without the kids, drop the kids off for some arts, crafts, video games, movies & other activities. Cost is $15 per hour per child and they can have a meal for $15. Open on Sun to Thurs from 5 PM to 11.30 PM and on Fri & Sat from 5 PM to 12 AM.
  • Sound of your Stay – Make your choice from Hard Rock’s Fender Guitar room service menu or become an instant DJ an transform the lobby into a nightclub.
  • Rock Shop –  Pick-up some of Hard Rock’s famous memorabilia.
  • Fitness Center – Open from 5 AM to 10PM.

Summary

Would we come back and stay at the Hard Rock Hotel when visiting Universal Studios again – absolutely! While we probably wouldn’t pay the extra money for the Rock Royalty level privileges, we certainly loved our stay here and would happily return on our next visit.

For more information go to: www.hardrockhotels.com

Hilton Orlando Hotel

Hilton Orlando Hotel Review

Hotel Review of the Hilton Orlando in Florida, USA

Located just 15 minutes from Orlando International Airport, the Hilton Orlando was our first stop on our two-week stay in Orlando. We used the Hilton Orlando as our base for 5 days while we were visiting SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica Water Park due to its close proximity to all three of these parks.

Unfortunately upon arrival we had a trainee who checked us in who did not really explain any features of the property, including how to access wi-fi or what the benefits were for HHonor Diamond members. We were allocated a room on the 4th floor which overlooked the pool area and it was a pretty good size for two adults and two kids. Beds were comfortable and the room had a good sized desk to work at. We had two bottles of water waiting in our room which were replaced daily. There is an empty mini-fridge in the room which we prefer so we can stock our own drinks and snacks, as well as an in-room coffee machine. The bathroom has a bath and shower in one.

Pool and Recreational Facilities

Our kids loved the Hilton Orlando pool area which features two pools (one adults only though), a lazy river, water slide and a whirlpool spa as well as some pool basketball rings. There are poolside cabanas available for rental as well. We found the pool area quite busy on the weekends but pretty quiet during the weekdays as the Hilton Orlando caters a lot to convention guests who were away from the hotel during the day.

Recreational features here include a huge fitness centre, 9-hole putting green, jogging track and basketball courts which can also be used for tennis, volleyball and bocce ball. There is an eforea day spa and salon if some pampering is in order. There are also a couple of fire pits by the pool area to sit by and relax.

Dining Options

There are a vast array of dining and bar options at the Hilton Orlando including;

  • Spencer’s Steakhouse (open Tues – Sat from 5:30pm to 10:30pm)
  • David’s Club Sports Bar & Grill featuring indoor and outdoor seating with fire pits (open daily from 4:00pm to 1.00am)
  • The Bistro (open daily for breakfast & lunch 6:30am to 2.30pm)
  • Tropics Pool Bar & Grill (bar open daily from 11:00am to 11:00pm and grill open Sun – Thurs from 11:00am to 9:00 and Fri & Sat from 11:00am to 10: 00pm)
  • Lobby Bar (open daily from 3:00pm to 11:00pm)
  • The Marketplace (for snacks on the go – open daily 24hrs)

We ate mainly at Tropics Pool and Bar which is more casual than the other restaurants and as the pool is open till late, the kids can still enjoy their swimming time while the adults kick back and relax with a few cocktails.  You can also grab a smore’s pack from Tropics Bar ($7 per pack) and let the kids make up and roast their yummy smore’s in the fire pits.

Another good restaurant to take kids is Davids’ Sports Club which had really good meals – must try the curly fries there, they were delicious!

Executive Lounge

If you are a HHonor Diamond member or have purchased an executive room you have access to the executive lounge for breakfast, snacks and evening canapés. Breakfast is continental style with only one hot dish, being scrambled eggs. There is also a waffle machine, bagels, muffins, toast and other pastries available. The evening drinks and canapés are available from 5.00pm to 7.00pm but be aware that alcoholic drinks are not free, you do have to pay for them (at a cheaper rate than the other hotel bars though). There is bartender service and we were able to set up a tab and just charge the drinks to our room. There are two hot canapés served which varied each night and plenty of cold snacks as well.

Location

The Hilton is located on Destination Parkway which is just off International Drive where you can hop on the I-Ride Trolley to explore the shopping and dining areas of International Drive or travel to the SeaWorld Parks – SeaWorld, Aquatica Water Park and Discovery Cove. The SeaWorld Parks are only five minutes from the Hilton Orlando – around $10 taxi fare and there were always plenty of taxis at the hotel waiting. There is a Hertz Rental Car on-site as well if you would prefer to drive around yourself. While there is a concierge desk at the resort, note that it is run by Expedia.

This part of Orlando also contains a lot of convention centers and the Hilton Orlando is directly connected to the Orange County Convention Center and not far from the International Drive Convention Center. For this reason the rates here can fluctuate quite a bit, depending if there are any conventions on in town. If you are planning to stay for family travel it is best to have a play around with dates to try and avoid any major conventions as it will be much cheaper.

Please be aware that the Hilton Orlando charges a daily resort fee of $22.00 + taxes so in total you need to add-on an extra $27.00 per night to any advertised room price when considering which hotel to book in Orlando.

You can also watch our following you tube videos of the Hilton Orlando;

For more information on the Hilton Orlando go to: www.thehiltonorlando.com