Best Hotels in Orlando
As one of the most popular family destinations on earth, Orlando isn't exactly synonymous with sophisticated accommodations. Yet, some of the world's best hotels can be found right by the city's famed theme parks.
Those looking for something more removed will appreciate a California-meets-Italy resort on 500 acres of undeveloped, well-tended land about two miles east of SeaWorld. You can also choose to stay downtown, where one decidedly grown-up property is filled with more than 100 pieces by artists like Odell Etim, Jean Claude Roy, and Mitch Kolbe.
Whether you're a Disney fan or not, let T+L simplify your search with this essential guide to the Orlando properties that will make your trip. Read on for the top hotels in Orlando—and their special amenities—based on readers' votes in our annual World's Best Awards survey.
No. 1 Waldorf Astoria, Orlando
In Walt Disney’s wildest imagination he probably never pictured a Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. The newest member of the luxury brand is situated on 482 acres of pristine woods, meadows, and marshlands at the southeast corner of Walt Disney World, close to Downtown Disney and Hollywood Studios. The 498 guest rooms (171 of which are suites) are decked out in stylish modern decor and marble bathrooms. Suites feature balconies from which to view lovely Bonnet Creek and the Disney compound. For those who don’t wish to hang with Mickey and Minnie, there are plenty of other sideshows including Rees Jones-designed, 18-hole golf course, two resort pools, a plush Spa by Guerlain with 21 treatment rooms, and outposts of celebrated dining venues from the flagship Waldorf Astoria in New York including Peacock Alley, the Bull & Bear Steakhouse, and Oscar's Brasserie.
No. 2 Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
The relative isolation of this property on 500 acres of undeveloped, well-tended land about two miles east of SeaWorld results in a pleasing quiet otherwise unknown in these parts. A businesslike hotel with a surfeit of Italianate pink marble, the Ritz has 584 rooms spread through a U-shaped tower. Large California-meets-Italy rooms have king-size beds, chaises, and balconies; bathrooms have separate bathtubs and showers and Bulgari toiletries. Outside, there’s a pretty pool lined with spouting statues, a 40,000-square-foot spa, a Greg Norman–designed golf course, and an elaborate free-form swimming pool.
No. 3 Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
While most guests book their stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to visit neighboring Disney World, anywhere else, the hotel would be a destination unto itself. Eighteen rounds at the adjacent Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, a three-and-a-half hour Serenity ritual at the Guerlain spa, or endless circuits of the lazy river pool are a few of the ways you can easily while away an entire day (or even several days) at the Hilton. You’ll be well-fed, too: La Luce by Donna Scala was named Orlando’s best hotel restaurant by the Orlando Sentinel and is popular with locals as well as hotel visitors.
No. 4 Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
From your balcony at this African-themed Orlando lodge, you just might spot a giraffe, bongo, or wildebeest roaming the surrounding savannah. Dinner stars Kenyan-coffee-braised short ribs and Swahili shrimp curry. At dusk, don night-vision goggles and tour the grounds by open-air truck. Don't miss the safari at the resort's companion Animal Kingdom theme park.
No. 5 Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas
The time: 1940. The place: Walt Disney World's version of the Jersey Shore, complete with a boardwalk, surrey bikes, and saltwater taffy. The rooms: think old-fashioned floral.
No. 6 Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
With gas lamps and wicker chairs in this sprawling neo-Victorian manse, Cindarella, Prince Charming, and the wicked stepsisters feel right at home. There are, or course, thoroughly modern elements: suites big enough for eight, a walk-in pool with a waterfall, and after-dark kids' activities. Don't miss the dingin at Citricos or Victoria & Albert's (one of the best restaurants in Florida) and take advantage of the hotel's proximity to Disney's Magic Kingdom.
No. 7 Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
A re-creation of the exclusive Italian fishing village, right down to the jut of its ferry dock and the rusty hue of the buildings, Portofino Bay has some of Orlando’s largest rooms (at least 450 square feet apiece), with terrifically soft beds. The 750 rooms, decorated in a combination of Italian-villa and southern-plantation style, have curvaceous, carved- and inlaid-wood headboards and armoires, and elegant fabrics. It’s no more than a 10-minute remove from the theme parks; however, the hotel is less suited to families than to romance, also evidenced by the Mandara Spa and the nightly opera performances on the quay. Guests here can skip the lines at both Universal parks' attractions.
No. 8 Peabody Orlando
As with its sister properties in Memphis and Little Rock, the Peabody Orlando (adjacent to the seven-million-square-foot Orange County Convention Center) employs a Duck Master to care for the North American Mallards that frolic in the lobby's marble fountain. The hotel combines traditional Southern style with eclectic notes like the cascading waterfall, duck-shaped soaps, and duck-shaped butter sculptures in Capriccio Grill. The high-rise tower—overlooking more than three acres with cabanas, terrace waterfalls, and sparkling zero-entry pools—has 1,641 rooms and common spaces decorated with palm trees, live orchids, and contemporary art by Alice Fellows and David Hockney. The Peabody Orlando underwent a $450-million facelift in 2010, adding 300,000 square feet, 105 meeting rooms, and a 22,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. Aromatherapy sessions, complimentary wine, and gourmet treats from the exclusive lounge are included in the 52 loft rooms on the Mallard Tower's top three floors. Be sure to be in the lobby at 11 a.m. when the Peabody Ducks descend from their penthouse palace via special elevator (accompanied by the strains of Sousa's "King Cotton March") to swim in their fountain.
No. 9 Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Nautical-crisp digs on Orlando's Crescent Lake. When you're not conquering the World, you can take out one of the resort's pontoon boats, or tackle the three-acre pool complex—climb a ship's mast to get to the top of the waterslide.
No. 10 Grand Bohemian Hotel
Art is everywhere in the 247-room Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Orlando, which has received numerous accolades, including the T+L 500. The Grand Bohemian Gallery features more than 100 pieces by artists like Odell Etim, Jean Claude Roy, Richard Hill, Danielle Miller, and Mitch Kolbe. The hotel is basically a white tower with curved corners, leading into a lobby with a barrel-vaulted ceiling inlaid with red glass Italian tile.