DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando Review

The hotel strikes a healthy balance between affordability and close proximity to the Universal theme parks.
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Written by Sally French
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DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando

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For travelers who prioritize proximity to the Universal Orlando Resort (but are also on a budget), the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando checks both boxes.

Its greatest strength lies in its unbeatable location. Located across the street from Universal’s property, it is easily accessible via a pedestrian bridge.

Hilton Honors members with elite status can take advantage of benefits that are particularly lucrative for families on Universal vacations. Though benefits vary by status tier, they can include dining credits and space-available room upgrades.

Other than that, rooms are relatively unremarkable, and other amenities like the pool area are pretty forgettable. However, The DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando is one of the most convenient and affordable hotels near Universal theme parks — especially if you’re already a Hilton Honors member.

Here’s what to expect at the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando:

Location

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando pedestrian bridge

(Photo by Sally French)

Of the hotels not on Universal property, the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando ranks among the closest hotels to Universal Orlando.

It sits in the same two-block stretch across from Universal’s main entrance that is home to other hotels including Holiday Inn & Suites Across From Universal Orlando, and two of Hyatt’s most affordable brands: Hyatt House across from Universal Orlando Resort and Hyatt Place Across from Universal Orlando Resort.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando pedestrian bridge

(Photo by Sally French)

We didn’t break out our measuring tape, but since all these hotels are steps apart, consider any hotel in that area as the closest hotel to Universal parks besides those on actual resort grounds.

How far is Doubletree from Universal? It’s about a 1-mile walk from the DoubleTree to the Universal Studios globe. Once you cross the pedestrian bridge over the roadway, the trek becomes a delightful route that passes a lush waterway and through Universal CityWalk.

(Photo by Sally French)

Getting there and parking

Located just off Florida’s Interstate 4, getting to the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando by car is easy.

The DoubleTree is about a 30-minute drive to Orlando International Airport, which is Orlando’s largest airport.

Parking at the Doubletree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando

How is the parking at Doubletree Universal Orlando? When we visited, there were always dozens of spots available. That was on an October weekend, which is a busy season for Orlando theme parks, given popular events such as Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights.

But while plentiful, parking is pricey. Self-parking costs $31 per day ($40 for valet parking).

Annoyingly, there’s no airport shuttle for the Doubletree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando. So, consider a taxi or rideshare versus a rental car if you’re flying in. An Uber ride between Orlando International Airport and this hotel typically costs between $30 and $40, so you’d pay roughly the same in round-trip rideshares as parking alone for a two-night stay.

And if you’re spending your whole time at the Universal theme parks, you may not need a rental car given how close it is to walk. But if you’re visiting Orlando’s other attractions, you might benefit from a rental car. It’s about a 20-30 minute drive to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort and typically about $30 for that Uber.

Amenities

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando cookies walnut free

(Photo by Sally French)

This DoubleTree by Hilton offers kid-friendly amenities. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with DoubleTree’s signature chocolate chip cookie. Yes, DoubleTree still gives free cookies.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando patio cornhole

(Photo by Sally French)

Outdoor activities include lawn-style games such as cornhole.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando pool

(Photo by Sally French)

Then, there’s a massive outdoor, heated pool and a hot tub.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando kids pool splash pad

(Photo by Sally French)

Additionally, a separate children’s pool area entails shallower water and playful splash features.

Other amenities include electric vehicle charging, meeting rooms, a business center and fitness center.

Expect little in terms of pet-friendly amenities. This DoubleTree is pet-friendly only in the sense that pets are allowed. You can bring animals weighing up to 60 pounds, and you’ll owe a $75 pet fee per stay.

Dining options

Onsite restaurants

Dining options are plentiful, including:

American Grill: This restaurant and full-service bar sits in the hotel lobby and is open for dinner. True to its name, it serves a huge variety of classic American dishes.

Appetizers include toasted ravioli, mozzarella cheese sticks, wings and mussels. A lengthy entree menu spotlights burgers and sandwiches, with offerings to accommodate all sorts of dietary preferences including a plant-based burger, plant-based meatball sub and chicken sandwiches.

Non-sandwich options include pasta, ribs, quesadillas, salads, soups and fancier plates like filet mignon.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando gelato shop

(Photo by Sally French)

Gelato Shop: The Gelato Shop serves scoops of gelato, plus other bakery items like macarons. It also sells candy and grab-and-go drinks.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando pizza burgers pool bar

(Photo by Sally French)

Pizza, Burgers & More: This poolside cafe sells exactly that: pizza and burgers. It’s open daily from 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Starbucks: This on-site cafe is an official Starbucks, not another cafe that simply sells Starbucks coffee. That means scanning your Starbucks app earns you Starbucks Stars — and potentially even Delta SkyMiles.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando sunshine cafe free breakfast buffet

(Photo by Sally French)

Sunshine Cafe: Open for breakfast, the Sunshine Cafe offers standard breakfast a la carte options, including omelets, pancakes, bacon and waffles. Breakfast prices hover just over $20 per entree before tax and tip.

Though it’s a few dollars more expensive, you can have all of those things from DoubleTree’s breakfast buffet (offered at the same restaurant) for about $30.

How to get free breakfast

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando sunshine cafe free breakfast buffet sausage

(Photo by Sally French)

Typically, the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando does not offer free breakfast. However, Hilton sometimes offers special rates that include free breakfast for every registered guest. These rates tend to be more expensive than rates sans breakfast, but usually not by much.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando sunshine cafe free breakfast buffet fruit

(Photo by Sally French)

NerdWallet found that the breakfast-included rate was typically about $40 more per day than the standard rate, assuming two adults and two children per room. At just $10 more per person, that rate may be worth it if you’d otherwise buy breakfast.

Daily food and beverage credits for certain Hilton elites

Hilton Honors members with Gold or Diamond elite status get a daily food and beverage credit, which is offered at most Hilton hotels that don’t otherwise have free breakfast.

At the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando, the credit covers up to $15 per guest (up to two) per day. Though that’s not enough to cover a full Sunshine Cafe entree, it at least knocks $30 per day off your bill, assuming two registered guests in the room.

You don’t necessarily need to be a frequent Hilton guest to earn Hilton elite status. Certain Hilton credit cards offer elite status as a benefit simply for holding the card.

Hilton cards with elite status perks
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
NerdWallet Rating
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Annual fee

$150.

$550.

$195.

Earning rates

• 12 points per $1 on eligible purchases with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.

• 6 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

• 4 points per $1 on U.S. online retail purchases.

• 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 14 points per $1 on eligible purchases with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.

• 7 points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com and car rentals booked directly with select car rental companies.

• 7 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants.

• 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 12 points per $1 on eligible purchases with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.

• 5 points per $1 on other purchases made using the Hilton Honors Business Card on the first $100,000 in purchases each calendar year, 3 points per $1 thereafter.

Terms apply.

Other noteworthy benefits (see reviews for full rundown)

Hilton Honors™ Gold Status, which gives you an 80% points bonus, as well as complimentary breakfasts at select hotels and room upgrades at select properties where available.

Path to Hilton Honors™ Diamond Status. Get an upgrade to Diamond if you spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year.

• $200 annual statement credit for eligible Hilton purchases on your card (doled out in $50 statement credits per quarter).

Potential free night. Earn a weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Terms apply.

Hilton Honors™ Diamond Status, which gives you such perks, such as double bonus points on all base points you earn, room upgrades when available, premium Wi-Fi, late checkout and more.

• Free nights. Get one free night reward with the card each year. Earn an additional night after you spend $30,000 on purchases in a calendar year and another after you spend $60,000 in a calendar year.

• Flight credit. Get up to $50 in credit each quarter on flight purchases made directly with an airline or through American Express. Enrollment required.

$200 annual resort credit. Get up to $200 in statement credits semi-annually for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts.

Terms apply.

Hilton Honors™ Gold Status, which gives you an 80% points bonus, as well as complimentary breakfasts at select hotels and room upgrades at select properties where available.

Path to Hilton Honors™ Diamond Status. Get an upgrade to Diamond if you spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year.

Terms apply.

Welcome offer

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024. Terms apply.

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first six months of Card Membership.

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The rooms

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando sunshine cafe free breakfast buffet rooms bed

(Photo by Sally French)

Rooms are comfortable and functional. Standard amenities include a TV, desk, Wi-Fi, iron and hair-dryer.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando sunshine cafe free breakfast buffet in room coffee

(Photo by Sally French)

In-room coffee makers are also a nice touch. The rooms also have refrigerators, making it convenient for travelers who pack snacks to take into the parks (a smart way to save money on theme park vacations).

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando bathroom

(Photo by Sally French)

Bathroom fixtures are sleek and modern.

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando bathroom accessible ada

(Photo by Sally French)

And accessible rooms are available upon request.

Though some rooms tout views of Universal Studios (and they indeed do), accept that your eyes will inevitably gaze upon the parking lot and highway, too. Consider views from this hotel only ho-hum, even if you splurge for a room with a better view.

For more space without necessarily booking two rooms, the DoubleTree Hilton also offers suites. Suite sizes vary, but options include the two-bedroom suite, featuring one bedroom with a king-sized bed, and another with two queen-sized beds.

Is the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando worth it?

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando lobby

(Photo by Sally French)

When it comes to hotels near Universal Orlando, off-property hotels like DoubleTree tend to be much cheaper than official Universal Orlando hotels. Yet spending extra money on a Universal hotel might sometimes be worth it.

Consider Universal hotel benefits

Certain Universal Orlando hotels offer Universal Express Unlimited Passes as a benefit, which means less time spent waiting in lines. Given that Universal Express Unlimited Passes start at $109 (but can exceed $300 per person depending on the day), then the price difference between what's likely to be a more expensive Universal-owned hotel might be moot if you were going to splurge on line-skipping passes anyway.

Additionally, guests at all Universal-owned hotels get early park admission. This can be hugely beneficial for getting access to popular rides before the queue builds up.

DoubleTree vs. Universal’s Endless Summer Resorts

The DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando lacks the theming found at Universal hotels. Even Universal’s budget-oriented hotels — Surfside Inn and Suites and the Dockside Inn and Suites — offer more personality via colorful lobbies and pool areas.

But the DoubleTree has a huge leg up on Universal’s Endless Summer Resorts in terms of walkability. Whereas many guests will opt to walk from the DoubleTree, the trek from the Endless Summer Resorts is hardly walkable. It feels, well, endless — given that it not only takes more than 30 minutes, but the walk necessitates crossing over a highway.

Who the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando is best for

DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando lobby

(Photo by Sally French)

For budget-conscious travelers who value proximity to the Universal parks, it’s hard to top the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando.

Stays get even more affordable if you can book with Hilton Honors points, especially for longer trips. With Hilton, every fifth night is free for standard rooms booked on points. Note that NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each.

The location is excellent, and the amenities such as the pools are well-maintained. The classic DoubleTree cookies are pretty sweet, too.

(Top photo by Sally French)

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, see this page.

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