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On a recent trip to Orlando, we looked around at the various hotel options for a good place to stay for our family. We were planning on spending a few days of our trip at Universal Studios, so we knew that we wanted a hotel that was relatively close to the Universal Studios theme park (ideally with a park shuttle). The Homewood Suites chain is one of our family’s favorites, since they have larger suites where our whole family can fit in one room, in addition to free breakfast and free dinner several days a week. While Universal Studios has on-site hotels, the perks for staying on-property are not NEARLY as powerful as they are for staying on-site at Disney.
We ended up at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive / Convention Center. There are actually 5 different Hilton Homewood Suites hotels in Orlando, but it was a busy time for hotels in Orlando as the ones that were closer to Universal Studios (specifically, this one) were sold out on our dates.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive hotel review – location
The Hilton Homewood Suites Orlando International Drive / Convention Center is located at 8745 International Drive, about 25 minutes from the Orlando Airport (MCO), about 5 miles from Universal Studios and 10 minutes from Disney World. International Drive is the “extra-touristy” part of Orlando (think Main Street Branson or Gatlinburg), so there were plenty of things to do and places to eat.
The lobby is a decent size, with plenty of comfortable seating.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive / Convention Center cost
The Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando International has prices that vary between dates. On most dates that I checked, it ranged from $125 to $200 night. You can check prices for your dates here.
While many Hilton hotels seem to be doing variable pricing on award nights, this hotel did not seem to be doing that. The points cost was a flat 35,000 Hilton points per night for every night that I checked, even when the prices went up to $400 / night. With Hilton the 5th night is free, so we ended up paying 140,000 Hilton points for 5 nights, or 28,000 Hilton points per night.
Hilton Homewood Suites Orlando International Drive room
As I mentioned earlier, we booked a standard room for 35,000 points per night (with the 5th night free), but with Diamond status, we were pre-upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite, which is a pre-requisite for our large family.
One of the bedrooms had 1 king bed
While the other bedroom had 2 double beds.
One thing that I really appreciated about these bedrooms was that each bed had a padded headboard. It made reading and working on my laptop while in bed much more comfortable!
Each bedroom also had its own bathroom
Like all Homewood Suites hotels, our room had a full kitchen (microwave, refrigerator / freezer and stove top, though no oven). That worked fine, but Carolyn did mention that it was VERY time-consuming to try and cook lunch for our family 1 grilled cheese sandwich at a time. I know… I know… #largefamilyproblems :-). The kitchen table came with 2 chairs.
Our suite also had a living room area with a sofa bed, an additional chair and a 3rd TV
Orlando Hilton Homewood Suites Convention Center / International Drive breakfast
The Orlando Hilton Homewood Suites International Drive has a full hot breakfast every day. On weekdays it goes from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) it goes from 7 to 10 a.m. There were 3 trays of hot foods each morning, with a rotation of various styles of eggs, potatoes and meats.
There was also a variety of breads and bagels.
And my kids favorite, a rotation of donuts, pastries and other sweets. Interestingly, they tended to leave this out even after the breakfast was over, meaning you could often still find them available in the afternoons.
There were a variety of flavors of juices, along with water and milk.
The Orlando Homewood Suites Hilton International Drive also had a large and open seating area for breakfast and dinner
Personally, I enjoyed that that they had multiple places that could seat large groups including our large family.
Hilton Homewood Suites International Drive evening reception (dinner)
In addition to breakfast, the Hilton Homewood Suites International Drive / Convention Center in Orlando is one of the chains of hotels that offer free dinner. They have what they call “evening reception” on Monday through Thursday, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The full calendar is posted on the fridge of each room – I thought that I had grabbed a picture of it but can’t seem to find it. In any case, I can share what the Homewood Suites Orlando International Drive had for their evening reception / dinner on the nights that we were there. On Thursday they had “flatbread pizza” which was the non flattiest bread pizza I’ve ever seen.
One night they had “Soup and Salad” which I was worried would not be “dinner” but they also included chicken breast and rolls.
A 3rd night was a pasta bar with 2 different kinds of rigatoni pasta.
And the 4th night was what they called “happier hour” which was just cheese and crackers and NOT particularly dinner-y. Each night they also had a selection of beer and wine, along with the same juices from breakfast. No soft drinks.
Hilton Homewood Suites Orlando International Drive review – amenities
The Homewood Suites Hilton Orlando International Drive has pretty standard amenities – there’s a business center with 2 computers, a printer, and a paper shredder (Which I used when I accidentally printed 2 copies of one of our boarding passes)
There are laundry facilities on the 5th and 6th floors of the building.
Both the washer and dryers cost $3.50 each, and they are credit card only.
At the front desk they have their “Suite Shop”, with a variety of snacks that you can purchase.
It also includes an outrageously priced ice cream soft-serve machine.
The hotel has a heated outdoor pool. It was January when we were here so we did not brave the 50 degree temperature.
Near the pool area, there is an outdoor area with a grill.
The fitness center is on the 2nd floor near the rear elevators. There are a variety of cardio machines with some free weights.
Hilton Homewood Suites Orlando I-Drive Universal and Disney shuttle
The Homewood Suites International Drive is close to both Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando, and offers a free shuttle to both parks. They also sell tickets to both parks (and Sea World), though my guess is that you can find cheaper tickets elsewhere. Both the park tickets and shuttle can be arranged from the ticket desk which is located in the front corner of the hotel lobby.
For the shuttle, there was initially some talk that you had to buy tickets through the hotel to take the free Universal Studios and Disney shuttle, but that did not turn out to be the case for us. You do have to reserve spots for the theme park shuttles, and you can only do that on the day you’re wanting to take the shuttle. The concierge desk opens at 7 a.m., so on both of the days we were going to the parks, I walked down there at 7 a.m. and made a reservation for 8 for the 8:25 a.m. shuttle.
We were there at a fairly slow time for the parks (mid-January), so there was not much competition for shuttle space. One day we were on the shuttle by ourselves, and the other day we shared it with 2 other people. I don’t know if there is more competition when the parks are busier, or maybe they just send a bigger shuttle. The shuttle to the parks was a 15 passenger van, and the shuttle back was a larger mini-bus.
We had a great time at the Hilton Homewood Suites Orlando International Drive hotel and would definitely stay there again if we were in the area.