Universal Orlando Resort has three absolutely luxurious hotels, and it is hard to decide which one to stay at during your trip. I have a lot of experience with all of the hotels, and I know all properties like the back of my hand. I compiled a list of the differences, pros, and cons of all of the hotels, so before planning your Orlando vacation at the Universal Orlando Resort, these are some things to look at.
Probably the biggest thing, especially for those on a budget. Generally, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel tends to be the most expensive, however recently the Hard Rock Hotel has been around the same price. It all depends on what kinds of rooms they have available (standard, better view, deluxe, suites, etc). Royal Pacific is always the least expensive.
This is basically relevant only to the people who are parking with their own car (not a rental) or people who do not want to pay the ridiculous price for valet. The Portofino has the best parking, hands down. Neither Royal Pacific nor Hard Rock have garage parking. When the hotel is sold out of rooms and there are more cars than you can imagine, it is very possible that you will get stuck in the very back of the parking lot. This is definitely not a fun walk, I can tell you that. During the peak of summer, the last thing you want to do is walk across something that feels like the Sahara Desert just to get to your car. The outside parking also has sprinklers. Anyone who has experience with this knows exactly what I’m talking about. The sprinklers spew water that has minerals in it, which leaves water spots. While baking in the heat and sun, these water spots make you take time of out your vacation to go to the car wash and possibly pay someone to clean it. My last experience with this was last winter break (2011) at the Royal Pacific. They paid for the car wash, but I would have definitely rather been in Universal Studios enjoying my time there.
All of the (standard) rooms are basically the same. However, the bathrooms all have a huge difference. The Portofino’s standard room has the best bathroom. It is remarkably bigger with two sinks in the bathroom itself, and it’s about five times bigger. It is much more luxurious than any of the two. The Hard Rock’s only difference with the Royal Pacific (bathroom-wise) is that it has both a sink inside of the actual bathroom and a separate sink outside of the bathroom, which does make a difference to the families who hate having to wait for someone to finish brushing their teeth for someone else to start when rushing out to the parks. Other than the bathrooms, there are small differences like the different views (standard rooms with views are more expensive than standard rooms without views) and the theme of the room, but nothing substantial.
Depending on your situation, you would want a different pool. No hotel necessarily has a better pool, but they have a better pool for your group. If you are traveling with young children, you would want to go with the Royal Pacific pool. I remember when I was a child I would play and have loads of fun in their pool. They have a wonderful interactive play area for children, so the kids can have a great time while you relax. If you’re traveling with teenagers, however, I would go with the Hard Rock. There are tons of teenagers always at the pool, more than anywhere else, and it’s a much more exciting scene. There’s a volleyball net and underwater stereo, and enough activities to keep them entertained. This is also good for a group of friends going together. The Portofino has three pools: the beach pool (the main one), the villa pool, and the hillside pool. Although the beach pool has a slide and can entertain children and teenagers, their pools are mainly for couples. The villa pool and hillside pool are extremely quiet, romantic, and relaxing, and they are perfect spots for the vacationing couple.
Even though you can easily walk or take a boat ride to the other hotels for a meal, it gets very inconvenient. Shouldn’t everything on vacation be as convenient as possible anyway? At every hotel, there are several dining options, including one “three meal per day” restaurant. For the Portofino, they have Trattoria del Porto, for the Hard Rock, they have the Kitchen, and for the Royal Pacific, they have the Islands Dining Room. All of these restaurants are very good with breakfast, lunch, and dinner (they are also open very late for the park-goers). For breakfast, all of the restaurants are the same. However, when it comes to dinner and lunch, Trattoria del Porto become an Italian restaurant, the Islands Dining Room becomes an Asian restaurant, and the Hard Rock hotel stays as an “American” restaurant. It all depends on what food you really like, because all of the restaurants at all three of the on-site hotels are superb.
I hope this information helps you in choosing the best hotel for you and your group. Whichever hotel you choose, however, will definitely satisfy you. After all, they are all four-star hotels.
Learn more about Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels
The OI Universal Center — the world’s largest and most up-to-date Universal Orlando vacation planning resource, has an unbelievable amount of information about Universal’s three on-site hotels. In addition to all of our information, we also have over 700 full-screen photos of the three properties. To learn more, click any of the following links:
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