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Reviewed 6 February 2006

I recently took my family of six (2 adults, 2 children and 2 infants) for our annual pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida. This year we stayed at Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel® from 3-7 January 2006. We booked our four night stay in the middle of November 2005 in order to take advantage of the “Family Free For All” offer. This limited time offer, which was available from November 2005 through February 2006, was a great deal as we got free Universal Studios® theme park tickets for two adults and two children and the two infants went free. We booked online and planned our vacation by visiting the Universal Orlando® Resort website at ----. The only condition attached to this deal was that you stay four or more nights at one of the Universal hotels so we chose the Hard Rock Hotel®. This deal also included free admission to Universal’s CityWalk. Although the room rates at the Hard Rock Hotel® are significantly higher here than most Walt Disney World hotels and many of the hotels on International Drive, there are many advantages to staying onsite. The most notable advantage of staying onsite is the Universal Express ride access.

Hotel Facilities:
The Hard Rock Hotel® at Universal Orlando Resort is a AAA Four Diamond Award winner and is managed by Loews Hotels. This rating is equivalent to a British or European Four Star / Luxury hotel. The hotel offers an interesting mix of rock music themed entertainment and visually perfect surroundings. The architecture of this hotel is in the style of a California Mission and is reminiscent of The Eagles’ Hotel California album cover. The hotel features a number of rare rock’n roll memorabilia throughout the public areas rumoured to be worth in excess of one million dollars. The hotel also boats a large heated swimming pool with a great water slide and underwater audio system. Other facilities included a fitness center, steam room, sauna, whirlpool, onsite Hard Rock merchandise store (very expensive), game room, shuffleboard, life-size chess/checkers, volleyball, supervised children’s activity center, four restaurants and several lounges all of which were beautifully designed and immaculately maintained.

Dining:
We did not try all of Hard Rock Hotel’s restaurants and lounges. The main reason was the high cost. The Kitchen was great but we did not manage to catch any legendary rock star cooking their favorite recipe for us. The Beach Club bar and restaurant were great! The waiting staff here were very patient, friendly, polite and helpful. Overall the food in the Beach Club was great but a little expensive. Nevertheless we dined there most nights. The Marketplace area was disappointing. The variety and quality of the food on offer was below par. All they had on offer for breakfast was muffins (three varieties only: blueberry, chocolate chip and bran), regular and decaffeinated Starbucks coffee and a few varieties donuts!!! However, staff members in the Marketplace were very friendly and polite.

Hotel Location:
The location of the hotel is perfect; it is right next to Universal Studios (5 minute walk) and Islands of Adventure (10 minute walk). The CityWalk entertainment Complex is only 5-7 minutes walk from the hotel. If you don’t like walking or have mobility problems, complimentary on-site transportation is offered via water taxi or shuttle bus. The best perk of staying at this hotel is Universal Express ride access. You just show your room key card and bypass the regular lines at your favorite Universal Orlando rides and attractions. You do not need to purchase the Express Pass or get ride reservations. We did not wait in line for any of the attractions. Another perk is priority seating at select Universal Orlando restaurants although we did not use this

Rooms:
Our room was a standard garden view room (375 square feet) with two queen size beds. The room was on the ground floor and featured a color TV, stereo with CD player (you also get a free Hard Rock Hotel music CD to take home with you), 2 dual-line telephones, voicemail system, data port, internet access, coffee maker, safe, two sinks and a hairdryer.

Our Experience:

The Pros:
Staying onsite is great – a real bonus. I admit that the heated swimming pool at the hotel was fantastic. The pool is very clean and the kids loved the slide. The staff working in the Beach Club bar and restaurant were great! They were very friendly, polite and helpful.

The Cons:
I regret to report that we experienced quite a few problems during our four night stay. Although the room was spacious and comfortably accommodated all six of us, we felt that it was not cleaned very well. The carpets were really dirty. We had to keep asking for clean bath towels as the bath towels were stained and dirty. The poolside towels were cleaner than the bath towels!!! We had an infestation of ants in our room but the management were not very quick to deal with it. On our last night we had problems with noisy hotel guests who had just checked into the hotel. There was a huge national building convention in the new Convention Center. This convention started on Saturday 7 January 2006 but many of the attendees of this convention started checking into nearby hotels including the Hard Rock Hotel® the night before. Some of the convention attendees were not particularly well behaved and because of all the noise they were making and their drunken behavior we had to call security to deal with it. Unfortunately the hotel management and security did very little about this problem and we got no sleep at all on our last night at the hotel. This adversely affected our enjoyment of the last day of our stay.

In summary, we may have saved over $400 by taking advantage of the “Family Free For All” offer but we got a dirty, and ant infested room and noisy neighbors. My family loved Universal Studios® and Islands of Adventure and the Universal Express ride access was a real bonus. The hotel was visually very appealing but the level of service was unsatisfactory. I had hoped that $229 per night plus tax would guarantee a clean and quiet room – no such luck! On my next trip I will try another Universal hotel or just stay in Walt Disney World.

  • Stayed: January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
39  Thank Dr Ali M.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Cambridge U.K
110
Reviewed 5 February 2006

We stayed at the Hard Rock for 14 nights with our two children (15rs and 12yrs). Late arrival after longhaul from U.K, arrived by coach so had to be dropped off at lower level to reception, which was inconvienient because we then had to make our own way with suitcases upstairs to lobby. Dissapointed with first contact with reception staff and ignored by bell boys. However when we reached our room over looking the pool all our annoyance was forgotten. Room very good size, very clean and top quality enviroment, plenty of wardrobe space, very comfy beds, large bathroom with seperate dressing area. All the room lacked was a fridge to keep drinks cold, and for us English visitors tea as well as coffee. The hotel also had coin operated laundry which is very useful when staying along time (this information i could'nt even find out on their own website). Pool area great but the $10 charge for a pool float a little ludicrous, fitness centre good at $8 a day including sauna. The restaurants were very expensive, not really suitable for younger kids but the poolside beachclub food and service excellent (tipping automatic on bill). Hotel keys as fast passes to the two parks were very useful as was the transport to the two universal parks. Handy hint if you don't drive then a 12 minute walk from the front of the hotel towards the Doubletree resort will give you access to the i-ride trolley. Overall the hotel with all its rock and roll memorabillia and constant playing music was fantastic and we would definitely stay there again.

  • Stayed: December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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10  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
15
Reviewed 4 February 2006

This was our second visit to HRH and yet again we had a fabulous time. We upgraded to the Club floor on arrival and if you are booking your visit in the U.K through an agent, I would advise you to do it this way as it works out a few hundred pounds cheaper. Everything was perfect- rooms were spotless (AND I'M FUSSY)staff friendly, food yummy- especially at the Palm - and we just had a great time. The complimentary beer and wine in the lounge of an evening really went down too well, as did the cookies at bedtime. This really is a great place to stay and as has been said so many times before, the location can't be beat.

  • Stayed: January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2006

Stayed for 4 nights in a Kid's Suite (family of 5 w/ 3 children, aged 8, 6 & 2)

Pros - Fun Facility. Location cannot be beat. The beautiful walk to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure & City Walk is unsurpassed in Orlando (beats taking the monorail, etc. to get around Disney) All onsite Food & Beverage establishments were excellent! (we frequented them all, including room service) Bathroom in Kid's Suite is great with 3 sinks. The Express Pass used at the theme parks is also a great perk! The staff was always courteous & pleasant. Kids loved the pool...shallow enough that you don't have to worry about them as they can touch the ground. There is a pool table & game room on property. Water Taxi is also very nice. The entire City Walk "scene" is great! The Hard Rock Store has cool things too...Disagree that it is not family friendly...it is all about family. Just make sure that you enjoy music (they play all kinds). It is a fun place.

Cons - As expected from previous posts...our room was not ready. We drove 2 days and arrived at 3:30pm (check-in at 4pm) and waited until 4:45 for our room. That part sucked...with 3 kids that needed to change clothes, diapers, etc. They compensated us with some drink coupons.
I guess after "rushing" housekeeping, they did a poor job in preparing the suite. One child's bed had soiled sheets all over that appeared to have dried blood on them. We immediately asked for new ones. There were very visible dirty fingerprints all over the bathroom doors...personally cleaned them as it grossed me out. Although the furniture is cool, it is in desperate need of cleaning. As is the carpet...really stained. After paying $550+ per night, that really is unacceptable. However, this place is all about location and turnover...they are always busy & will get the clientele without having to fix every little thing. The beds also are not really that comfy...stark & cold. (bring your own pillows & blankets)

I even expressed all of the above to the GM who apologized but never offered any compensation of any kind. However, having said that, the staff and awesome facility really made up for the few downfalls of the hotel. We would definitely return there in the future!

  • Stayed: January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
10  Thank Atlantis13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2006

Had a great visit here. First of all, they have rooms which easily accommodate 5 grown people, the deluxe rooms. With two queen beds and a double foldout sofa, plus a dressing area and an extra sink outside the bath, we had no trouble fitting our family in.

Second, check Lowe's website for deals and their club membership. Free health club, a welcoming snack, and a daily newspaper are provided for members. The best deal was "Stay 4, Pay 3" or something like that - the last night's stay was free, which brought the cost of the room down to the level of most of the non-resort hotels.

Cost and perks aside, the resort was well located and well kept. The rock music is confined to the lobby and pool areas. Great pool, with something for everyone: two hot tubs, sand volleyball, ping pong and pool tables, chairside massages.

Best meal was lunch of crabcakes and Long Island Iced tea poolside outside the Kitchen Restaurant; the perfect weather may have had something to do with it. Also liked Sushi House on Sand Lake Road (it's next to Outback, a little hard to find).

2  Thank pgo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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