All Universal Orlando Resort Hotels, Ranked

Vacation mode: activated. When it comes to staying overnight at Universal Orlando Resort, you have eight options to choose from. Whether you're on a budget or looking to splurge, Universal has accommodations to match your vacation plans across four its four designated price categories: Value, Prime Value, Preferred, and Premier.

Staying at a Universal hotel has its perks. The biggies are free transportation to the parks and early entry in the mornings before the parks open to other guests. All hotels have a fitness center and at least one pool, too. One hotel even has its own private entrance to Volcano Bay water park. The Premier-level hotels also come with free Express Pass Unlimited, granting you front-of-the-line access to rides at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

Never leaving Universal lessens the stress and decreases the hassle involved in planning a big Orlando trip. Once you check in, you don't have to worry about getting from place to place on your own, and can be fully immersed in the destination. Choosing your Universal hotel has a lot to do with what you're hoping to get out of your stay. Do you just want the park perks and a place to crash at night? A Value-level hotel will probably check all of your boxes. Do you want a little bit more in terms of theming and amenities? A Premier stay might be more your speed. Here are all eight hotels at Universal Orlando Resort ranked, taking into consideration overall quality based on price point, amenities, and the ever-important vibe-check.

8. Universal's Aventura Hotel

Modern and chic, the shimmering blue tower of Universal's Aventura Hotel can be spotted from miles away. Aventura opened in 2018 and is priced in the Prime Value category, with rooms starting at $140 per night and increasing based on time of the year and day of the week.

The big draw at Aventura is Bar 17 Bistro, the rooftop restaurant. From here (and, for that matter, from many of hotel rooms on the upper floors), you can take in amazing views of Universal's entire sprawling property, a horizon of fantastical silhouettes from roller coasters to Hogwarts castle. As you might imagine, Bar 17 Bistro is particularly majestic at sunset, when the view not only glows, but provides a nice excuse to get off your feet after a long day in the parks.

If the views aren't your thing, Aventura doesn't offer much by way of amenities and lacks in comparison to its Universal siblings. Its pool is smaller than neighboring hotels and its only transportation to the parks is via bus. (You could walk; it's about a 15-minute hike.) If you're looking for more excitement at a similar price point, your money might be better spent at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the other hotel in the Prime Value category.

7. Universal's Endless Summer Resort — Dockside Inn & Suites

If you want to stay at an official Universal Orlando hotel for the lowest price possible, two hotels are in the Value category. Both fall under the umbrella of Universal's Endless Summer Resort, and are located across the street from each other: Surfside Inn & Suites and Dockside Inn & Suites. Both offer standard rooms starting at $96 per night and two-bedroom suites starting at $144.

While Dockside and Surfside are in many ways two sides of the same coin, Dockside ranks lower than Surfside for us. Dockside has nearly three times as many rooms as Surfside, making everything feel hectically bigger: more people, longer walks to the lobby, more chaos.

Notably, both Dockside and Surfside are Universal's only hotels geographically removed from the rest of Universal Orlando. They're located across a bridge that goes over I-4. The bus ride to the parks is still only five to seven minutes, comparable to the other hotels that offer bus transportation. This issue also won't be as glaring come 2025 when Universal opens its new park, Epic Universe, which will be even more removed from everything else than Endless Summer already is. For now, though, the separation might be jarring to some. Other guests might not even notice. That being said, for a Value hotel, it gets the job done with the basics and provides a more than satisfactory stay that technically still keeps you conveniently homebound at Universal for your whole vacation.

6. Universal's Endless Summer Resort — Surfside Inn & Suites

Across the street from Dockside and aesthetically pretty much the same thing with slight variations, Universal's Endless Summer Resort — Surfside Inn & Suites is similarly removed from the main Universal property (with transportation available via bus) and Value-budgeted. Its pricing is the same, with rooms starting at $96 and suites starting at $144. We prefer Surfside to Dockside for its smaller property size. The rooms are nearly identical (Surfside opened in 2019, Dockside in 2020), but Surfside's campus is about half of the sprawling Dockside layout, and some of its rooms have lakeside views as opposed to Dockside being surrounded by tourist traps.

Don't let the "suites" in the name fool you, though. While the two Endless Summer properties are the only Universal hotels to actually have the word in their title, all Universal hotels offer suites. In other words, if you have a large party and prefer a suite as opposed to multiple hotel rooms, you have other options than Endless Summer, if so desired.

5. Hard Rock Hotel

Hard Rock Hotel's rooms take a serious leap forward in quality from other hotels ranked thus far. Hard Rock Hotel, which opened in 2001, is one of Universal's three properties in the Premier category, meaning a stay comes with free Express Passes to skip lines in the parks. Rooms here start at $372 per night.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a guest who won't be enchanted by the Hard Rock Hotel's theme, with rock 'n' roll memorabilia and music-inspired architecture abundant around every corner. Hard Rock is also the closest hotel to the parks, with water taxi transportation providing an idyllic ride to begin and end your day. Guests can even walk to the front gate of Universal Studios Florida in as quick as five minutes. While Hard Rock Hotel has its fair share of restaurants, the one you probably expect most — the actual Hard Rock Café itself — is nearby, but not attached to, the hotel. It's located at CityWalk, Universal's shopping and dining district adjacent to both theme parks.

At its price, though, other Universal hotels of similar cost have Hard Rock beat. It just can't compare to the perfection of the similarly priced Portofino Bay or the slightly less-expensive Royal Pacific. Additionally, rooms near the pool at Hard Rock are subject to noisy rock music. If only (perhaps unfairly) because of its inferiority to other Universal stays, Hard Rock Hotel, while nice, is difficult to recommend unless someone in your group loves the rock 'n' roll theme.

4. Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Themed to the South Seas, this resort is a haven of paradise. Loews Royal Pacific Resort opened in 2002. It falls into the Premier price category, with rooms starting at $325 per night. Everywhere you look could be a postcard at Royal Pacific, with luscious greenery providing a beautiful backdrop for bliss. Royal Pacific offers water taxi transportation to the parks, a big plus. It also has something you won't find at any other Universal hotel: a luau. The Wantilan Luau dinner show happens Saturday evenings and requires a separate ticket.

As with other Premier hotels, Express Pass Unlimited comes free with a stay at Royal Pacific, and it's a prime example of how to leverage this perk. Express Pass Unlimited lets you skip the lines of many rides in the parks as many times as you want. It costs anywhere from $100 to $380 per person, per day, depending on the day. While that's a pretty wide price range, figuring out the math could be worth upgrading to a more luxury-level hotel. For example, if your hotel budget meets the criteria for a Prime Value hotel, but you're planning on purchasing Express Passes at an additional cost and you've already budgeted them, you might as well upgrade to a Preferred or Premier hotel. The difference between the categories basically "pays for itself" with the Express Passes factored in, especially if you're buying multiple.

3. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

You can't not smile stepping into the lobby of Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Mid-century vintage artwork lines the walls while oldies music fills the air. This Prime Value hotel goes all-in on its kitschy aesthetic in a really fun way, coming across as charming rather than tacky. Cabana Bay opened in 2014 and its rooms start at $140.

For families looking to round out their time in the parks with hotel amenities for a reasonable price, Cabana Bay is a knockout. While some lower-ranked hotels on this list might outdo Cabana Bay in terms of room quality, we're ranking based on overall experience, and Cabana Bay is quite the experience. Its two pools are accompanied by a slide and a lazy river. There's a modest bowling alley. During spooky season, there's a Halloween bar. At the expansive food court, Bayliner Diner, patrons can eat while enjoying vintage-style commercials on giant screens.

Cabana Bay is also next-door neighbors with Volcano Bay water park. Many rooms offer gorgeous views of the centerpiece volcano and accompanying beach. Cabana Bay guests can even walk to their own dedicated entrance to the water park. It's that close. For the theme parks, Cabana Bay provides bus transportation. A cynic might approach Cabana Bay and be turned off by the "Aw, golly gee" of it all. The traveler looking to indulge in a creative accommodation that a destination only like Universal can provide, though, will find Cabana Bay Beach Resort to be fun in the sun indeed.

2. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel made history as Universal Orlando's first-ever onsite accommodation when it opened in 1999, the same year Universal expanded with Islands of Adventure. Immaculately themed to a seaside Italian village, the higher price of Portofino Bay is arguably worth it. As a Premier hotel, its rooms start at $388 per night and come with Express Pass Unlimited. This benefit makes the price tag slightly easier to justify, but it also helps that Portofino Bay is a delight of a hotel.

Portofino Bay extends the immersive storytelling and placemaking of Universal's most detailed theme park atmospheres into guests' overnight quarters. When strolling Portofino Bay's waterfront and alleyways, it's easy to forget this is a hotel. The architecture and visual details are more on par with something like Diagon Alley. Even inside, the main building's central hallway emulates a moonlit night, appearing to be outside despite being fully indoors. Portofino Bay is 100% worth visiting to have a look around even if you aren't staying there.

The hotel's three pools provide plenty of variety, from the excitement of its biggest pool's water slide and beach to its smallest pool's seclusion and calm. Portofino Bay also has exquisite dining, live opera music nightly at sunset, and water taxi transportation to the parks. It's a "no-expenses-spared" hotel that delivers on that experience.

1. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

This is it. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a near-perfect convergence of moderately priced rooms with welcoming, upscale theming. It opened in 2016 as Universal's only hotel currently in the Preferred price range, with rooms starting at $210 per night. Sapphire Falls is at the top of our list because it's the best of both worlds, offering a host of amenities without breaking the bank.

Sapphire Falls recalls the Caribbean, but with more restraint than the in-your-face, generically sunshine tones of fellow beach-themed hotels like Endless Summer and Cabana Bay. Its pool has a slide, and its grounds are lined with inviting foliage and bubbling waterfalls. The parks are a quick, relaxing boat ride away via water taxi.

In selecting a hotel, we sometimes feel guilty for splurging on a nicer stay. "Did we really need all that luxury?" On the other end of the spectrum, we sometimes regret cheaping out. "Was there any wiggle room to live it up just a little bit more?" At Sapphire Falls, there are no regrets. We felt fully satisfied with the fantastic experience we received for the price we paid. For guests with no interest in the perk of free Express Passes that the more expensive hotels offer, Sapphire Falls is the way to go. The vibe is serenity through and through, an incredible place to crash when not enjoying the splendor of the Universal parks. Our stay at Sapphire Falls was among our favorite Orlando trips ever.