Rock Your World: The Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Review

Looking at Hard Rock Hotel Orlando across small lawn of grass

Keep reading this Hard Rock Hotel Orlando review to see if this resort hotel is right for you to stay at when visiting Universal Orlando Resort!

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Location

Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida seen from the walkway to Hard Rock Hotel Orlando
Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida seen from the walkway to Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

There’s a walking path that runs along the boat canal that lets you out right next to Universal Studios Florida. It has its own security so you don’t have to worry about the long security lines like you do when you enter through CityWalk. You basically just check your bags right there and then you’re free to go in to CityWalk, Universal Studios Florida, and Universal Islands of Adventure.

Just as a reminder, Universal Orlando Resort does not currently offer any free transportation to or from the Orlando Airport to its resorts. You can, however, book a Mears shuttle bus through their website for a fee, as well as choose a ride share service on your own like Uber or Lyft. 

I have taken the Mears shuttle, and between the time it took to wait for the bus, drive to the resorts, and wait for the shuttle to drop people off at other resorts, it took me about one hour. You also tend to get to the airport about three hours before your flight leaves. Be sure to budget time if you’re planning on using this service.

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Rooms and Accommodations

Of course because this is a Hard Rock hotel, you’re going to see a lot of memorabilia from different rock stars and pop stars everywhere, including in the gift shops, the lobby, and the restaurants, so that’s really cool. The room is very spacious, and as with a lot of Universal Hotels, also smells very good. This particular smell gave me kind of Spring/Summer vibes without feeling tropical.

I stayed in a standard two queen, pool view room when I visited. There’s definitely more space in these rooms than in a Prime or Prime Value hotel. It was still two queen beds, but there is definitely more space in the room. 

There was some more furniture there – a chair, a table, of course a TV as well. The bathroom is pretty spacious, and then it had a separate room for the toilet. The beds were, of course, very comfortable, especially after a long day at theme parks. There was a really cool mirror that listed the heights of famous musicians on it, so that was a nice touch.

The hotel wasn’t super loud. I also didn’t notice a ton of little kids running around, possibly due to the price of this hotel. We definitely did see some families there, but not as many as if you Dockside or Surfside for example. 

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Restaurants and Dining

When I visited, there actually weren’t a ton of dining options available. They have a bar and lounge, Velvet Bar, but that was actually closed off for a private event the night I was there, so I didn’t get to experience that. But that’s right in the lobby and it’s very nice to overlook the pool a little bit if you sit outside. They have live music too, so I bet that’s really fun to experience.

There’s also The Palm – a really expensive restaurant that is only open for dinner. We were going to Halloween Horror Nights that night, so we didn’t get a chance to experience that since it’s only open for dinner. 

There is a restaurant called The Kitchen at the lowest level of the hotel right next to the pool where we had lunch and breakfast. I had pulled barbecue and fries and it was pretty good, but a bit expensive. Like the other Premier hotels at Universal Orlando, for breakfast you can pay one price and get an all you can eat buffet which that was really great. 

The Kitchen, just like the rest of the hotel, had a lot of really cool memorabilia from different pop stars and rockstars. That was really cool to explore as we were waiting for our food and see who we were going to get sat near. 

The restaurant is pretty good. I probably would do the unlimited breakfast every time, but not necessarily because the restaurant itself is mind-blowing. However, I will say that the staff was super friendly. They were chatting with us and were very nice, so it was pretty enjoyable experience. 

There’s also a grab and go place, Emack & Bolio’s Marketplace, that had a different selection of snacks, coffee, and even some alcohol you could pick up and take to the pool. I recommend the canned Hard Rock Mojito. They also had some cinnamon sweets cooking that made the entire lower level smell really really good.

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Pools, Perks, and Amenities

View of the pool and hotel itself at Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

First of all, the Hard Rock Hotel Orlando pool is great. The pool is pretty big and even has a waterslide which is fun. There’s also a hot tub which is really nice to relax in. They have a poolside bar and grill, beachclub, which I didn’t order from since I had already gotten my drink inside.

They had a DJ playing next to the pool playing some really good music and a pretty good variety as well. It was nice to just sit by the pool, drink, and listen to some music. One thing that’s really cool about this pool is they play music underwater, and you can hear it surprisingly well. I was expecting it to sound a lot more muffled, but it was really surprising to me how well you could hear the music under there.

View of Hard Rock Hotel Orlando from next to the pool

There’s of course a gift shop that sells various Universal merchandise, and I did like that this gift shop seemed to have some Hard Rock related merchandise as well. They also have a standard luggage service if you need to leave your luggage at the front desk. This is nice if you get there early and you want to go to the parks, but your room isn’t quite ready yet. 

Don’t forget about theme park early entry as well – get a head start on your day and get to the parks earlier than other guests staying off-property. Make sure to check ahead of time what park and rides are open for early entry. 

This is one of Universal Orlando’s top-level resorts, meaning that every person staying in the room gets free Unlimited Express Passes for the duration of their stay, including the day you check in and the day you check out. If you’re coming with a family or group, it can possibly be cheaper to pay more for the hotel room and get free Express passes than it is to stay in a cheaper hotel and have to pay for Express Passes for each person, which can be very costly.

Staying on Universal Orlando property comes with the usual perks, including free transportation to all the parks and CityWalk. As mentioned above, Hard Rock Hotel also has a free water taxi to CityWalk as well. You also get package delivery service for free: if you buy something in one of the parks, you get it delivered to your hotel for free. It’s super convenient since you don’t have to worry about carrying merchandise bags around a theme park all day.

Two things Hard Rock Hotel has that I did not experience: a fitness center (I’m walking around at theme parks, so let’s not push it) and a guitar rental. Yes, you read that right. You can pick from different guitars to rent out and play in your room. Just try to be mindful of other guests staying there if you do. They also apparently let you rent a turntable with some vinyl to listen to.

Wrapping Up This Hard Rock Hotel Orlando Review – Overall Impressions and Recommendations

That being said, if you’re looking for a hotel with lots of activities for little kids and an environment that’s more heavily themed to things like tend to appear to the younger members of a family, this hotel may not be the place for you to book your stay. They definitely have activities for kids, but not as many as other resorts on property. This is definitely a resort hotel that will be more appreciated by older members of the family, especially music fans.

Additionally, if you’re looking for the cheapest option when visiting Orlando, this hotel may also not be for you. However, the costs of this hotel are matched by its amenities, atmosphere, and Universal Orlando resort perks like early theme park entry and Express Pass. Remember, only Premier hotels on Universal Orlando property come with free Express Pass for everyone in the room. If that isn’t a priority to you, you may want to look elsewhere.

Just remember – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Have you stayed at Hard Rock Hotel Orlando? What were your thoughts? Tell me your favorite thing about it and let me know what your favorite memorabilia was that you saw!

Christian McIlwain

Christian has been a fan of theme parks since he was a child. He has over twenty years of experience both researching and working in the industry. He grew up visiting Kennywood Park throughout his childhood. Currently, he lives in Atlanta, GA where he frequently visits Six Flags Over Georgia and Orlando area theme parks.

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