The Absolute Best Hotels Near Walt Disney World
You can find true luxury in Orlando without premium park prices and over-the-top theming—and it won’t even take a fairy godmother.
Though Walt Disney World offers plenty of hotel options when it comes to size, quality and experience, there’s something to be said for escaping frenetic theme park crowds and booking a serene luxury property separate from Disney-operated resorts. Not only are you likely to get much more for your money, but the level of sophistication and on-site amenities for Orlando’s finest resorts simply can’t be matched by Disney’s own hotels. (Distance isn’t even an issue, either; most are equally close to Walt Disney World parks.)
If you’re looking for actual relaxation when you hang your hat—or, well, Mickey ears—up each night, these are your best bets for a fantastic future Disney vacation.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World
This AAA Five Diamond Award recipient in the heart of Walt Disney World is the epitome of luxury, as well as the ideal choice for pin-drop silence amidst the region’s entertainment-driven chaos. Well-appointed rooms, extensive spa treatments, and an on-site adult pool are ideal for romance and relaxation, while expandable suites, poolside movies with popcorn and a daily kid’s camp make family travels a breeze.
At the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, you can have breakfast with Goofy and friends at Ravello twice a week or spend the evening at Capa, whose Spanish-inspired cuisine pairs well with the far-reaching multi-park fireworks views on its roof deck each night. With its Tranquilo golf club doubling as an Audubon sanctuary and an Explorer Island activity area boasting waterfalls, a lazy river, beach volleyball and large-scale splash zone, there’s so much to do that it may keep you from the actual parks. But, when you do eventually head to the Magic Kingdom, transportation is provided complimentary, as is an on-site Disney cast member ready to assist with reservations and recommendations.
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
With its elegant Mandara Spa, complimentary parking at Disney parks, and multitude of on-site dining options, this luxurious set of hotels hosts a seemingly endless list of perks. Guests can partake in on-site meals of every kind, including daily character dining at Garden Grove, upscale dinners at Shula’s Steak House and Il Mulino, and inventive mixology concoctions by way of Todd English’s excellent bluezoo. (The hotels even brew their own locally-crafted beer, Phins & Feathers.)
Amenities between the two Starwood-affiliated towers are interchangeable, providing shared access to five lap and grotto pools, a beach, watercraft rentals, sand volleyball courts and an ever-changing daily calendar of family-friendly activities. The duo are not Disney-operated, but come with a selection of exclusive advantages, like Disney’s own park-to-park transportation by bus and boat, as well as advanced FastPass reservations and Extra Magic Hours (with admission), but by far the best benefit comes by way of its prime location. Both hotels offer easy access to dining and entertainment at Disney’s Boardwalk and are walking distance to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which can be a time-saver. They’re ever-improving as well; Swan’s newly renovated rooms are luxe, containing thoughtful additions like handy USB outlets and double sinks, while the Dolphin is preparing to undergo a nearly $12 million lobby renovation in 2017.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
This central Florida iteration of the hallowed New York hotelier infuses an upscale city charm into its AAA Four Diamond Award recipient property, which includes airy hotel rooms with views of Disney’s fireworks as well as the sweeping nearby nature preserve. Along with its pristine cabana-lined pools, the resort is home to a signature spa, 18-hole golf course, jogging trails, children’s activities, and access to the neighboring Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek’s lazy river and pools, as well as complimentary transportation across Walt Disney World Resort.
The hotel is a delight for foodies, as the list of must-eat dishes while on property is extensive. Don’t miss famed items like Waldorf salads and Veal Oscar or the eye-popping Peacock Egg cocktail in Peacock Alley lobby bar, as well as dinner at Bull & Bear, the famed restaurant from Manhattan’s original Waldorf Astoria which doubles as the only location in Florida solely serving Certified Angus Beef Prime Grade beef.
Shades of Green
Exclusively available to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, this lagoon-lined resort offers oversized pools, an on-site Magnolia Spa, and two neighboring PGA Championship golf courses. Like Swan and Dolphin, Shades of Green guests also have access to certain Walt Disney World resort perks, such as door-to-door park transportation and Extra Magic Hours (with admission.) And, because of its central location, guests can even walk to the Polynesian Resort for meals, to see fireworks from the beach or to hop the monorail to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot parks.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
As the perfect blend between business savvy and familial ease, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is an ideal choice for a mixed-purpose vacation. Dine fireside with co-workers at Myth Bar while enjoying sharable bites and signature drinks, unwind with a spouse at Italian restaurant La Luce, or find your bliss as the kids frolic in the property’s three-acre lazy river and pool.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek’s newly remodeled lobby is expansive and welcoming, with couches worthy of crashing onto after clocking miles at the parks, and the 24-hour Muse coffee bar features an array of allergy-friendly snacks and healthy indulgences perfect for pick-me-ups before heading back in. An adjoined conference center even allows guests to share amenities and access to dining, golfing and pools with the neighboring Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
With its lush indoor atrium, waterfront views and modern accommodations, Gaylord Palms offers the best of Central Florida no matter the season. The on-site Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park hosts multiple waterslides and aqua play zones for an ideal outdoor pool day, as well as a palm tree-lined adult pool and Relâche spa for winding down after a long one in the parks.
Come Christmastime, the resort explodes with yuletide joy, transforming itself with the addition of extensive lighting displays, festive performances, snow tubing an expansive walk-through themed attraction made entirely of ice. A free shuttle bus to Disney parks is also available, as are on-site gardens, select dining options and access to the nearby Celebration Golf Club.