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 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.
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