When you plan a trip to one of the world’s major vacation destinations, Orlando, Florida, you can choose among a plethora of hotel accommodations. With the area's popular theme parks drawing visitors by the thousands like a magnet, hotels in and around the “city beautiful” range from five-star resorts to budget motels. A short list of the five brightest and best, however, contains a couple of luxury offerings from renowned hotel chains along with some unexpectedly unique lodgings that stand alone.
Feel the Pulse of the City
For those who long to feel the pulse of that downtown city vibe, the Grand Bohemian Hotel definitely fills the bill. Situated in the center of downtown Orlando, the Grand Bohemian features a rooftop pool with a spectacular cityscape view, a grand ballroom for conferences and corporate conventions. Its fine eatery, the Boheme Restaurant, features the Boheme Jazz Brunch with live music. There’s also the Bosendorfer Lounge, considered a local downtown hotspot. Room amenities include pillow-top beds, free WiFi,two-line phones, 37-inch high-def flat-screen televisions, and in concierge rooms, signature bathrobes. Some rooms even have whirlpool tubs.
Some of that Spielberg Magic
For the charm and ambiance of a seaside Italian village, stay at the Portofino Bay Hotel by Loews at the Universal Orlando Resort. Build on the banks of the picturesque Portofino Bay marina, this sprawling, intricately themed resort was personally designed by famed filmmaker Steven Spielberg. It's rife with details -- there are cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, bocce ball courts, piazzas, jogging trails and three pools, including a beach pool. The rooms are large and feature views of the gardens, the bay or the beach pool. There are club-level rooms, and luxury, parlor and hospitality suites available as well, and all of them contain Keurig coffee machines. There’s free transportation to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures via motor coach or on of one of the resort’s yachts that dock in Portofino Bay.
Not Just Mickey Mouse Spots
Near Lake Buena Vista at Downtown Disney is the Hyatt Grand Cypress Hotel, which has standard rooms with balconies, five restaurants, a rocky lagoon-style pool with climbing walls, a 124-foot water slide and an 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed Scottish-style golf course. Nearby is Disney’s flagship resort, the Grand Floridian. Set on the banks of the Seven Seas Lagoon in view of the famed Magic Kingdom, this top-flight luxury Disney Resort features white sand beaches, five restaurants including Victoria and Albert’s, a world-class spa and a zero-entry beachside grotto lagoon pool with lifeguards and a water slide. Rooms range from two-queen-bed standard rooms to two-bedroom luxury apartment suites. There’s also free transportation to the parks by bus, boat and monorail.
Puttin' on the Ritz
Rounding off the list is the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Hotel. Situated between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, the resort is also just down the street from SeaWorld Orlando and is bordered by Shingle Creek, one of the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. Activities at the resort include kayaking, fishing and eco-tours. There’s even a rope course with zip-lines to fly along and a Greg Norman signature 18-hole golf course. There are three pools with poolside cabanas, 11 restaurants of varying levels. The 582 rooms include 56 club level rooms, 60 executive suites, two presidential suites and a royal suite. And you can even bring your dog or cat, as long as they weigh less than 25 pounds.