In a city like Orlando, which welcomed a record 59 million visitors in 2013 alone, a good hotel bar can be a vital respite. If you’re on vacation, it’s a place to cool down and relax after a long day at the theme parks. If you’re here on business, it’s a great place to unwind with colleagues or to host an important meeting. And if you live in the Orlando area, a hotel bar offers a great opportunity to shake up your routine and to mingle with visitors from all over the country and world. Whatever your reasons, you’ll find dozens of resort hotspots throughout Orlando, all of them offering different types of perks and specials. The five on my list, below, are beloved by locals and visitors alike; whether you’re planning to stay in the hotels they’re located in, you may well find them worth a visit all by themselves.
This swanky lounge, set in the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort with a veranda overlooking the pool, is what you might expect an eccentric rock star’s living room to look like. This is where Orlando’s premiere rock n’ roll cocktail party takes place each month.
On the ground floor of the Grand Bohemian Hotel—Orlando’s downtown jewel—this lounge is a popular after-work spot for well-dressed Orlandoans. The walls are hung with eclectic artworks, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, guests can enjoy live soul and jazz performances while sipping wine or specialty cocktails.
California Grill Lounge
The premiere restaurant of Disney’s Contemporary Resort overlooks both the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon, offering some of the best fireworks viewing in Orlando. In the busy tourist season, it’s tough to get a table here without booking in advance, so try an early evening or off-season drink here.
Tucked away in the soaring Hyatt Regency Orlando on busy International Drive, Rocks is an upscale cocktail bar that’s almost always bustling. Popular with business travelers, it offers live music, big-screen televisions and a signature cocktail: Rocks Burning, made with vodka, serrano peppers and freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices.
Sir Harry’s Lounge
Leather banquettes, a beautiful dark wood bar, and an exclusive ambience make this Waldorf Astoria Orlando spot feel like a private club—or, more accurately, like the bar of the same name that sits in the New York City Waldorf Astoria. To get the full Park Avenue experience, order a Rob Roy—Scotch, vermouth and bitters—which, legend has it, was invented at Harry’s New York.