Universal’s Aventura Hotel is one of Universal Orlando’s newer hotels, having opened in 2018. This “prime value” hotel offers sleek, modern design and access to Early Park Admission at a reasonable price. Want to know whether a stay at Aventura might be right for you? Read on to find out!
The Basics and Booking Universal’s Aventura Hotel
This was my first time staying at a Universal hotel, and my first long visit to Universal Orlando as a theme park blogger. I knew I wanted to review a Universal hotel, and I knew I wanted Early Park Admission, a perk of all Universal’s hotels.
Guests of the premier hotels—two tiers above Aventura—also get complimentary Universal Express Pass Unlimited, Universal’s “skip the line” system. Those hotels start at about $85 per night more than Aventura, which is acceptable for one or two nights in order to get Universal Express Unlimited.
You can easily check the prices for Aventura—and all of Universal’s hotels—on the Universal Orlando website.
In hindsight, I regret not doing a split stay. That’s not a comment on Aventura, just that five nights is perfect for a split day that would have included a Premier Hotel. Torn between Aventura and Cabana Bay, I settled on Aventura.
This comes to about $186 per night without the discount and $143 per night with the discount. For an early August visit, that’s about the same price as a stay at one of Disney’s All-Star resorts.
Arrival and Check-In at Aventura Hotel
I took the Universal SuperStar shuttle from the airport (MCO) to Aventura. As detailed in that review, it took just under 100 minutes from the time I checked in to get dropped off at the hotel. As the shuttle costs $39 per person roundtrip, it will make more sense for most families to use Uber.
My check-in went quickly and I was immediately struck by how friendly the staff were, something that largely continued throughout my entire stay.
The hotel is relatively new (2018), and it’s clear that as a part of Universal’s ongoing push to become more of a vacation destination, the staff want people to feel good about picking this new Universal hotel.
Universal’s hotels are all a product of a partnership with Loews Hotels. Loews isn’t a huge chain, but they do have a solid roster of hotels in major destinations. I think this is a smart play as it allows the hotels to be managed by people who are, you know, hotel experts.
Aventura Lobby and Grounds
Aventura is a Y-shape (or Fidget Spinner Shaped?) tower. The first floor contains the check-in and vacation planning desks, a small bar, a food court, a store, a rental car desk, and—wait for it—a Starbucks! Use the arrows to scroll through the below galleries.
You can see that Aventura has no discernible “theme” to speak of. It’s a straightforward, modern hotel. That’s all some people are looking for, while others need theming. If you need theme, Aventura probably isn’t for you.
As always, I have to remind you that I’m a huge fan of food courts at theme park hotels. Having a straightforward food court to come home to basically gives you an extra hour to enjoy the parks if you can stay up for the late dinner.
This food court had a burger spot, a pizza spot, and a noodles and sushi spot. I only tried the burger, and it was satisfactory. Breakfast was also available, though I didn’t pay attention to the menu (sorry). My only issue with the food court is that I had to wait at least 15 minutes for my food, which could easily be the product of ordering a veggie burger in off-hours.
Having a Starbucks on-site is great, and I really enjoyed drinking my coffee during my daily walks to the parks (more on the walking path below).
The on-site store has a small selection of items, with Harry Potter gear being the primary focus. One evening, I decided I needed to return something I’d bought at the parks. I was able to return it to that store with no problem. As with the other hotel staff, everyone I encountered at the store was very friendly.
Outside the lobby is a pool, along with a small collection of outside games. There’s also an outdoor pool bar (in addition to the bar inside the lobby). You can click through the below photos.
Location and Transportation at Aventura
So, you can look Aventura up on Google Maps, but know that just looking at the map doesn’t give the full picture. Aventura is physically only about 0.3 miles from Islands of Adventure—but it’s not like you can just walk in the back of Islands of Adventure.
From Aventura, you have two routes to/from the parks. First, you can take roads to the Universal CityWalk parking and guest drop-off. Universal has shuttle buses that run every thirty minutes (in my limited experience, more frequently around opening and closing), and the ride takes about 10 minutes. An Uber should cost under $10.
From the CityWalk entrance, the walk is about 7 to 10 minutes to both parks. Buses pickup at the same spot they drop off.
Alternatively, you can walk The Garden Walk to a “back” entrance to CityWalk. This path is about a mile long and will take you to a spot right between Margaritaville and Islands of Adventure.
The walk from the end of the path to Islands of Adventure is about 2 minutes or less. To Universal Studios Florida is about 5 minutes.
The path is paved, well-lit, and marked—it just isn’t exceptionally well marked. I did a poll on instagram about one of the signs and found that only 50% of people could quickly understand it.
The path serves four of Universal’s hotels, so there are multiple intersections and forks and such. For the most part, you shouldn’t have much trouble following it, but I did help a few people find the right way a few times during my trip.
I recommend taking the path home from the parks first to get a sense of it. Begin your walk right between Margaritaville and Islands of Adventure, and follow the signs to your hotel.
Our Room at Aventura Hotel
Immediate apologies for only taking a set of nighttime photos, and for missing the light behind the headboard, which brightened that side of the room considerably. Here are some shots of the room (scroll with the arrows).
I was happy with this room. As you can see, there’s no theme to speak of. It’s a straightforward, modern hotel room. Although there isn’t space under the beds, the space under the TV and the closet should be sufficient for most guests.
USB Ports and outlets were prominent, including bedside. This is simply a must in the modern age, and it shocks me that some Disney hotel rooms still require you to charge your phone at the foot of the bed.
The most notable aspect of the room, to me, was the iPad. I’ve stayed in plenty of hotels with iPads, but this one really covered a lot—television, lights, temperature, and even the ability to request small toiletries.
Generally I had little problem with the iPad, though it always took me a second to stop looking for a TV remote as I fell asleep.
Here are some shots of the bathroom…
There’s not a ton of counterspace, but otherwise I have little issue with the bathroom. The sliding door is a must, so I was happy to see that.
The last photo in that sequence shows a small bit of smudginess on the shower’s sliding glass door. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotel rooms, and that’s about as small a cleanliness issue you can have that’s worth mentioning (maybe it wasn’t). It definitely didn’t turn me off the to room, hotel, or Universal.
Conclusion and Rating — 4/5
Unfortunately I have no other Universal hotels to compare Aventura to. For my first Universal stay, the hotel made an excellent impression, and I’d gladly stay there again if I didn’t have seven other hotels at Universal to review.
The room was good, and I was impressed by the amenities, including the on-site Starbucks. The food court menu wasn’t deep, but it should be enough to satisfy most two to three night visits.
A walking path to the parks—a common but not universal feature at Universal’s hotels—is clutch, as it allows you plan to arrive at the parks pretty much exactly when you want, rather than having to rely on a bus, boat, or Uber.
The only area that I could really fault the hotel is in a lack of theming—but that’s a conscious decision. Cabana Bay is a more themed “sister” hotel of sorts, just across the street. Aventura is sleek and straightforward. It’s a functional hotel, and it gets the job done at a reasonable price.