On A Budget? Orlando's Best Hotels for Your Bottom Line
By A.D. Thompson
Orlando Local Expert
The extravagance and allure of Orlando’s many luxurious resort properties notwithstanding, most of the traveling public takes its vacations on a budget. Fortunately, world-class destinations like the City Beautiful offer myriad options for those looking to spend a little less on their accommodations so they can spend a little more exploring the Magic Kingdom, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the dozens of other attractions that make our city something of a travel Mecca for families from all over the world. What’s especially nice is that giving up a star or two from a property’s name doesn’t have to mean sacrificing amenities or extras – not by a long shot. Cases in point: the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando isn’t merely across the street from of one of I-Drive’s most frequented destinations for dining, shopping and entertainment; it also has three swimming pools (two heated), a recently renovated arcade and free guest shuttles to Universal, SeaWorld and Wet ‘n’ Wild. Heck, you can even bring your dog. The Hilton Garden Inn Orlando at SeaWorld, located right on the famed park’s property, has a beautiful pool, as well. Guests here enjoy a fitness center and free high-speed Internet access to boot. A complimentary daily breakfast buffet greets guests at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Universal Orlando Hotel. The property’s free Wi-Fi – available in all rooms, suites and public areas – keep guests connected to the best the city has to offer. Of course, no matter where you choose to lay your hat, or mouse ears for that matter, you’ll find no shortage of amusements on which to spend the money you saved by staying smart.
10 Budget Inn of St. Cloud
When "budget" is in the name you know you've found a modest little 17-room property with an undeniably modest price. While amenities are limited, guests report the Budget Inn's rooms are clean and cozy, its management friendly and helpful. Located in St. Cloud, it's a little farther from the action than cities like Kissimmee and Lake Buena Vista, but that extra few minutes on the road equal serenity when it comes to sleep time -- the neighborhood is quiet and room standards include flat-screen televisions along with fridges, microwaves and coffee makers for guests looking to save time and money by eating in for some meals.
9 Super 8 Kissimmee/Orlando/Maingate
The well-known Super 8 brand has been offering travelers value and convenience -- avid road-trippers in particular -- since the 1970s, but this property's relatively recent renovation makes its clean and surprisingly well-appointed rooms anything but retro. With a location ideal for those looking to visit Disney or the kitschy charms of Old Town (just across the street!), its complimentary "SuperStart" breakfast -- coffee/tea, juice, milk, cereal and assorted baked goods -- helps stretch your vacation dollar even farther. Many nearby restaurants, a supermarket, free wireless Internet service and an on-site swimming pool for cooling off in the Florida heat certainly garner a mention, as well.
8 Hampton Inn Orlando/Lake Buena Vista
This property sits in the heart of Lake Buena Vista, just minutes from Disney's doorstep, and the complimentary shuttle service makes getting there -- or SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Universal Islands of Adventure, even one of Orlando's Premium Outlet Malls -- super convenient. In fact, you can even purchase Disney tickets right in the hotel lobby while the family enjoys a free hot breakfast. Other complimentary amenities include high-speed Internet access in every room and use of the gym and fitness center. Business travelers can split the difference between work and play while enjoying the convenience of the on-site center -- fax, photocopying and printer are among its amenities.
7 Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista
The 640-room Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista -- with its two swimming pools and colorful "Splash Zone" -- is an exceptionally family-friendly choice, making intermittent breaks from park-hopping not only relaxing for the grown-ups, but fun for the kids. Rooms feature either two doubles or one king bed, along with fridge, microwave, coffee maker, cable TV and free wireless Internet. Of course, when the time comes to head back to Orlando's signature attractions, the hotel's free scheduled shuttle service and advance ticketing make it easy. The on-site Boardwalk Buffet Restaurant offers a "Kid's Eat Free" program is available for children under 9 who are dining with a paying adult.
6 Drury Inn & Suites Orlando
Free is this property's middle name -- free hot "Quickstart" breakfast, free "5:30 Kickback" with hot food and cold drinks, free soda and popcorn in the lobby. Sure, Drury offers other freebies, like wireless Internet, but with so many free eats available, you may not even have room for the area's many fine restaurants. You'll have space to swim them off, though, in the hotel's neat indoor/outdoor swimming pool, which means random Florida rains need not send you scrambling for your room. Nearby, attractions like SeaWorld, Aquatica, and the range of Disney's theme parks -- not to mention the near round-the-clock excitement of Universal Orlando -- delight vacationers, but the Drury Inn & Suites Orlando is convenient for business travelers, as well.
5 Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Universal Studios
Great value in the closest Marriott property to Universal Orlando begins on a daily basis with the hotel's complimentary breakfast buffet and free Wi-Fi throughout the property allows guests to plan their days and nights with ease. Those looking to explore Orlando's fairways will find several courses, including those of Windermere, Disney and Falcon's Fire, all within about 10 miles of the property. Nightlife abounds in nearby downtown, though the spoils of CityWalk -- restaurants, bars, nightclubs -- not to mention its adjacent theme parks offer so much in the way of entertainment, you may not want to stray too far from home base.
4 La Quinta Inn & Suites Convention Center Orlando
Budget-minded guests can save even more at this La Quinta property since it's Bright Side Breakfast -- with waffles, bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, hot and cold cereal and more -- is included. Aside from its business-convenient location near the Orange County Convention Center, the hotel also boasts a swimming pool, fitness center, spa, free parking and free high-speed Internet access. Just minutes from Orlando's myriad attractions -- Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal CityWalk and more -- and about an hour from the sparkling Atlantic shores of the Sunshine State, the La Quinta Inn & Suites Orlando Convention Center's two-room suites are as spacious as they are bottom line-friendly.
3 Eo Inn
Looking for an altogether different Orlando experience than the one offered in the traditional resort area? Check out the EO Inn & Spa, a boutique experience on the shores of lovely Lake Eola and an ideal home base for exploration of beautiful Thornton Park and the excitement of downtown. Known as the "Crown Jewel of Thornton Park," the EO Inn & Spa is ideal for couples looking for romance -- even locals on a one-night "staycation". Much of the city's energetic nightlife is well within walking distance and the on-site spa serves up relaxation in the form of couple's massages, mani-pedis and all manner of upscale services. Take in the balcony views, relax on the hotel's deck and enjoy a soak in its outdoor Jacuzzi before getting ready for a night at the Amway Center, Bob Carr Performing Arts Center or one of the area's trendy restaurants.
2 Hilton Garden Inn Orlando at SeaWorld
You probably won't need to utilize this Hilton's complimentary shuttle to SeaWorld, since the hotel sits right on park property, but you may want to take them up on it if you're heading to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando for the days. And with the I-Ride Trolley stopping right out front, guests are just a quick jaunt away from myriad shopping, dining and entertainment venues. High-speed Internet access keeps guests connected and the on-site Great American Grill is open for all three squares if you're resting up between day trips and want to enjoy a relaxing meal by the pool instead.
1 Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando
Wonderfully affordable, the popular Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando is considered a "value" level Universal Partner hotel with easy access to all the theme parks (there's complimentary service to Universal, SeaWorld, Wet N' Wild and the Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Course) and all the entertainment, dining and shopping of the Pointe Orlando complex so "close to home," you may not even need to rent a car. Wondering if you should save the leftovers from your meal the night before? No problem. Each room boasts a mini-fridge and microwave, plus a coffeemaker to help get you out the door for early park admission if necessary.
About A.D. Thompson
A.D. Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and roughly 15 as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum. A roller coaster enthusiast, A.D. readily admits there is fun to be had amid the madness of the theme parks, but has found there is magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey’s long shadow. She is delighted to share with you the spoils of her adopted city. Visit her colorful compendium at www.amydrewthompson.com.
Read more about A.D. Thompson here.