The Universal Orlando Resort has become its own vacation destination, with three theme parks (well, two theme parks and a water park), a shopping and dining district and a slew of on (and slightly off) property hotels. If you’re a Harry Potter fan or are totally into Halloween Horror Nights, finding the closest hotel to Universal Orlando might be crucial to your vacation plans.
Here’s a list of places you’re able to stay near Universal Orlando using your hotel program points (or free night certificates) to pay for the room:
Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
The hotels located on Universal Orlando Resort property are run by the Lowes Hotels. Lowes did away with their hotel loyalty program in 2018, but even at that time, the hotels at Universal Orlando were excluded from the program.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use points to redeem free nights at the on-property hotels. The Universal hotels are listed on the Chase portal so you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for free hotel nights.
If you have a Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each when booking hotels like the high-end Hard Rock Hotel the mid-priced Cabana Bay Beach Resort (which is so darn cute, with their Alberto VO-5 and Zest soap amenities).
But I was supposed to write about how you can use HOTEL points to stay for free near Universal Orlando. There’s a block of hotels conveniently located right across the street from the entrance to Universal Orlando, on Major Blvd. In fact, some of these hotels are closer to the theme parks than the hotels on Universal property.
I’ll try to list them in the walking distance from Universal Orlando. The closest hotel to the Universal Orlando Resort is located right across the street.
This hotel is located directly across from the entrance road to the Universal Orlando property. Since Hilton doesn’t publish award charts for their hotels anymore, it appears that award nights at this property run between 22,000 and 30,000 points a night. The hotel also charges a self-parking charge of $23 a night or $29 for valet parking.
Located just across the street from the DoubleTree is the Holiday Inn & Suites. Currently, a reward night at this hotel will cost you 12,500 IHG Rewards Club points. Previously this property charged up to 30,000 points a night. I’d suggest checking cash prices and use the estimate of 1/2 cent per IHG point to see if it’s a better deal to pay with cash or points.
Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Universal Orlando
The Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Universal Orlando are both category 3 Hyatt properties, costing 12,000 points per night. They can also be booked with the free night certificate earned with the World of Hyatt credit card.
Both of these hotels offer larger than normal rooms, with the Hyatt House offering a room with a full kitchen and the Hyatt Place giving 400 square feet with a sofa bed and free breakfast when booking through the Hyatt website.
Rooms at these hotels often go for $120 a night and up. Make sure you’re getting a good value before redeeming World of Hyatt points for a free night.
The Clarion Inn & Suites is part of Choice Hotels and you can book rooms using your Choice Privileges points. A free night at this hotel starts at 10,000 Choice points per night. Cash rates seem to run between $80-$120 so make sure it’s a good value before booking with your Choice points for a free night.
The Residence Inn near Universal Orlando is a category 5 Marriott Bonvoy hotel with award stays costing 30,000, 35,000 or 40,000 points a night. This means you can use a free night certificate from most of the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards for a free night here, as long it’s not a date with peak pricing.
This standard Holiday Inn Express is located a little further down Major Blvd. Currently, rewards night at this hotel cost 12,500 IHG Rewards Club points. This property does charge up to 30,000 points a night during a normal busy season (stays during the 2020 holidays are still pricing at that level). I’d suggest checking cash prices and use the estimate of 1/2 cent per IHG point to see if it’s a better deal to pay with cash or points.
If you find availability, you can take advatage of one of the Wyndham Rewards sweet spots and book a suite for the same 15,000 points a night or a slightly higher copay for a Go Fast award.
There’s no shortage of hotels to stay at if you want to be close to Universal Orlando. Whether you use your flexible points to pay for a night at one of Universal Orlando’s hotels or you want to redeem hotel points for a place just across the street, you have plenty of options. No matter if you collect Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Hyatt, Choice or Wyndham or Best Western points, there’s an option available for you.
I’m not even starting to include the places that are a short drive across Interstate-4 like the Four Points by Sheraton and the Homewood Suites.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary