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Concierge.com

Orlando + Disney World Hotels

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Celebration Hotel
700 Bloom Street
Celebration , Florida
34747
Tel: 888 499 3800
Tel: 407 566 6000
info@celebrationhotel.com
www.celebrationhotel.com

This waterfront charmer with just 115 rooms—practically a B&B by Orlando's bloated standards—is a successful evocation of the Old Florida vibe, down to the verandahs furnished with leather couches and gently swatting ceiling fans. In the rooms, wooden four-poster beds and faux barn wood bathroom ceilings evoke an antique sensation, even if the property opened only in 1999. Service is a priority, and check-in is conducted, in the old style, at private desks. One could wish for slightly larger rooms, deeper bathtubs, or better parking facilities, but there's no faulting the tranquil lakeside location, a respite from the usual din of Orlando hotels. The in-house restaurant might encourage an insular stay despite the fact that Disney's campus is just two miles west, but just outside, guests can ply the Disney-built lakeside quay, which is lined with cafés, boutiques, and wooden rocking chairs.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Courtyard at Lake Lucerne
211 N. Lucerne Circle
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 648 5188
info@orlandohistoricinn.com
www.orlandohistoricinn.com

This is as close as Orlando gets to boutique. An unexpected oasis of authenticity in a plastic landscape, these four neighboring historic buildings (the Norment-Parry, Orlando's oldest surviving house, dates to 1883) operate together as a 30-unit B&B. Owner Sam Meiner has decorated everything from his personal collection of antiques (blue velvet sofas, Persian rugs, walnut four-poster beds). The Art Deco Wellborn Suites, in a former apartment block, have kitchenettes, their own complement of mid-century furnishings, and the most space, but the I.W. Phillips House's brick courtyard, Tiffany window, and marbled bathrooms do the most to evoke the romantic gentility of Orlando's days as an Old South backwater. Tucked away on a quiet pond in the midst of downtown's skyscrapers, the compound is popular with honeymooners.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 939 6244
disneyworld.disney.go.com

By far the most interesting Disney-run hotel—and the best choice for guests who aren't enamored of the company's mythology—the 1,307-room property, several miles from the western frontier of the Disney campus, overlooks savannahs stocked with real African game. Giraffes, zebras, ostrich, and other animals roam carefree, and most rooms have a furnished balcony peering over the cud-chewing action (a fraction face the parking lot or animal-free gardens). The buzzy lobby mimics a luxury safari lodge and hosts regular wildlife talks and movie screenings beneath its 100-foot vaulted atrium. Away from the animals, in a secluded grove by the property's three restaurants (one counter-service, two by reservation), there's a pool with a water slide. Rooms are accented with carved woods and mock-Afro fabrics, but are standard in every other way. And if you actually want to do anything—from having dinner (with a reservation) to storing luggage—be prepared to wait in line.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
4401 Grand Floridian Way
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 934 7639
Tel: 407 824 3000
Fax: 407 824 3186
disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/resorts/resortLanding?id=GrandFloridianResortLandingPage

The ne plus ultra of Walt Disney World hotels, the lakeside Grand Floridian cribs directly from the palatial Victorian look of San Diego's Hotel del Coronado, down to the faux-cage elevator in the five-story lobby. You can't pick a more dreamily convenient Disney hotel—it's a single monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, and four from Epcot. There are tennis courts, boat rentals, seven places to eat (two at the gourmet end), two pools, a spa, and a well-used wedding pavilion. The service is less than solicitous, but the sense of elitism is as well stage-managed as you'd expect (cue the small orchestra in the lobby). Rooms are fairly standard and have the usual dark and tiny Disney bathrooms, but are somewhat embellished by flat-screen TVs and iPod-playing clock-radios. Since they're spread around six buildings, you'll likely have to walk outside to reach yours. Only the few "Lagoon View" rooms stand a chance of having a view of the Magic Kingdom (availability is first-come, first-serve upon check-in), but the park's nightly fireworks are visible to all from the resort's ferry dock.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Eõ Inn & Spa
277 North Eola Drive
Orlando , Florida
32801
Tel: 407 481 8485
Fax: 407 481 8495
info@eoinn.com
eoinn.com

The antithesis of a theme park hotel, the Eõ Inn & Spa in downtown Orlando is low on frills. The former hostel was reborn as a hotel in 1999, but the only hints of the dorm days are the individual AC units in each room. The 17 rooms are simply decorated in a gray-and–sage green color scheme accented by black-and-white photographs of Central Florida scenes by Orlando photographer Ben Van Hook. King rooms on the corners of the chocolate-brown building have large bathrooms with sunken tubs and desk space fronting windows that overlook Lake Eola, while rooms on the south side share a wide balcony with curtains as privacy dividers. (The hotel draws mainly business travelers, not theme park–bound families, so only one room has two beds.) The "spa" in the name refers to four treatment rooms for massages and facials. Other perks include a large hot tub on the rooftop terrace and free WiFi and off-street parking. Not that you will need your car that much—the boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants in the stylish Thornton Park neighborhood are right out the door.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Grand Bohemian Hotel
325 S. Orange Avenue
Orlando , Florida
32801
Tel: 866 663 0024
Tel: 407 313 9000
info@grandbohemian.com
www.grandbohemianhotel.com

At this 250-room property, urban sophistication and high art come to a city better known for animal mascots and scampering children. The decor is moody and classic while giving a nod to the city's sugary personality: red velvets, gold leaf, regal purple curtains, and some of the softest beds on offer in the region. Its owner and decorator, entrepreneur Richard Kessler, is courageous enough to adorn the walls with priceless paintings from his personal collection, including authentic Klimts, but he's also affixed his own image in a few too many public spaces. The hotel's Bösendorfer Lounge, named for its $250,000 imperial grand piano, is a popular spot for cocktails, and the hotel's weekly jazz brunch enlivens the property on Sunday mornings. The theme park zone is about 10 miles southwest of the hotel, so this is a good choice for those who prefer to stay well away from the circus.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
JW Marriott Grande Lakes Orlando
4040 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando , Florida
32837
Tel: 800 682 9956
Tel: 407 206 2300
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcojw-jw-marriott-orlando-grande-lakes/?ptnr=thayer_mcojw_banner

The seeming isolation of the location of this 1,064-room luxury tower, about two miles east of SeaWorld alongside swampland that will never be developed, lends the property an enviable natural tranquility that nearly all other Orlando mega-hotels lack. That might be enough to lure guests who crave respite from the city's usual hyperactive resorts, however even here, there's a full slate of kids' programs for weary parents. Bathrooms are enormous, with separate tub and shower, and king-size beds feel royally large, even if furnishings are a generic brand of hotel-room luxury. More enchanting still are the grounds: 500 empty acres including a Greg Norman golf course and a rambling, jungly pool area, with a lazy river that rivals the ones at the water-slide parks. The flagship restaurant, Primo, has an ever-changing menu, which emphasizes seasonal ingredients. On the downside, nearly every fragment of service carries a separate charge, including inner tubes for the pool area. Try to book one of the tower's west-facing rooms, which offer stunning sunset views. Next door, the local Ritz-Carlton outpost is a quieter, country club for high-end conventioneers. Marriott guests can use the 40,000-square-foot Ritz spa and its excellent restaurant, Norman's, as well as the pools at both hotels.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn
14500 Continental Gateway
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 866 462 6425
Tel: 407 387 5437
www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/fs/1/en/home

Universal's onslaught against the Disney monolith took another step forward in the summer of 2005, when a once-middling Holiday Inn completed a $20 million makeover in the image of Nickelodeon, and reopened as a mega-resort for kids. At this 777-unit all-suite hotel a mile east of Disney's gates, two lagoons gush with towering water slides and water cannons, and a central mall includes a food court and a studio where families can get green-slimed during live game shows. The two- and three-bedroom suites, which are kitted out with microwaves, mini-fridges, and free Internet, treat youngsters to their own bunk-bed areas splashed with giant murals of Nick characters such as Jimmy Neutron and SpongeBob, plus a TV with video games. Mom and Dad get their own grownup bedroom—and a door that closes. Of the two courtyard pools, the Oasis is less noisy.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Portofino Bay Hotel
5601 Universal Boulevard
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 503 1000
www.loewshotels.com/hotels/orlando_portofino_bay/

Re-creating the legendary Italian fishing village amid a buffer of lush vegetation a short stroll from Universal Studios, the luxe Portofino, which is run by Loews Hotels, hugs a private man-made harbor populated with anchored fishing boats, strolling musicians, and shops. Within the grounds, the reverie is embellished by trompe l'oeil murals, eight restaurants (including Bice, a successful Italian chain), three pools, a spa, and 460-square-foot rooms (on the large side for the city) accented with soft green bedding and pale inlaid woods. Universal boasts the property is its most sumptuous, and while it's truly comfortable, it's still at heart a very busy property catering to theme park vacationers. The tariff includes a free ferry to CityWalk, and best of all, the right to join the super-short "Universal Express" queues at most of the attractions at both Universal parks, a bonus that can easily shave hours of waiting time off a day's visit.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 206 2400
Fax: 407 206 2401
www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/orlando_grande_lakes/

The lakes and nature preserve surrounding the sprawling Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes makes the resort feel far removed from the theme parks. The truth is, you can be knocking on Disney's door in 15 minutes. With 580 rooms, this is one of Ritz-Carlton's largest properties. The amenities are oversize as well. There's an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course, and the spa is a two-story, 40,000-square-foot affair with a private outdoor pool, steam room, and a lush garden rooftop for alfresco treatments in hammocks. The guest rooms, most with golf course and lake views, are done in icy blues and metallic tones with light wood furnishings, flat-screen TVs, and white marble bathrooms. If you stay on the Club Level, you'll be privy to five gourmet meals and hors d'oeuvre services throughout the day (including a continental breakfast and nightly wine reception). There's a pretty outdoor pool fronting the lake, and guests can also use the jungle pool and lazy river at the JW Marriott right next door.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
The Waldorf Astoria Orlando
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando , Florida
32821
Tel: 888 353 2009 (toll-free)
Tel: 407 597 5500
www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com

Much as at the nearby theme parks, once you arrive at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando (opened in 2009), the experience is all-consuming. The towering structure rises from a flat expanse of Florida scrubland that has been converted into a Rees Jones–designed golf course, so even though the resort is surrounded on three sides by Walt Disney World and Epcot (the interstate highway skirts the other; Epcot is right across the street), it feels like it's in the middle of nowhere. There are some similarities to the original Waldorf Astoria in New York City: There's a replica of the bespoke clock that crowns the Manhattan hotel's lobby, and versions of Peacock Alley and the Bull & Bear Steakhouse are also present. But the overall feel is lighter and brighter than the Manhattan property, with gleaming marble floors, domed ceilings, and citrusy and sky blue accents throughout. The 498 guest rooms are formal and modern, with dark woods, plush Egyptian linens, and Italian marble bathrooms. Golf course views are everywhere, so it's no surprise that the resort is popular with golfers on family vacations as well as conventioneers and business types. The enormous Spa by Guerlain's treatment rooms have private baths and their own changing rooms, and South Beach–style cabanas fringe one of the hotel's two sprawling pools. The theme parks, predictably, are a complimentary shuttle ride away. —Terry Ward

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.