Orlando hotels have the perfect balance between offering a comfortable respite from the Florida heat while retaining a stylish ambiance. Away from the theme park resorts, Orlando is becoming a popular tourist destination with a number of buzzed-about boutique hotels. Here are the ten best boutique hotels to stay at while visiting Orlando.
A luxury landmark of downtown Orlando, the Grand Bohemian Hotel is the last word of opulence in Florida. Its 248 guest rooms are lavish and feature lush velvet drapes, oversized bath tubs and deeply toned Java wood furnishings. The Grand Bohemian Hotel has been awarded the prestigious AAA four-diamond rating for its numerous amenities, including: the Grand Bohemian Gallery, in-room spa treatments and massages and the renowned Bösendorfer Lounge, with its tasteful red-and-black décor and eponymous grand piano.
Orlando is not solely comprised of faceless tourist resorts. Among the theme park hotels and motels await architecturally significant guesthouses like the Park Plaza Hotel. The Park Plaza is in the historic Winter Park district, an area renowned for having the largest collection of Tiffany-glass in North America, all contained within the town’s Charles Hosner Morse Museum of American Art. A perfectly preserved facsimile of its 1922 origin, the Park Plaza Hotel evokes Parisian charm. After dinner, make sure to take a stroll in the enchanting nearby Central Park.
Lake Eola is one of Orlando’s premier beauty spots and as such, the Eo Inn enjoys an esteemed local reputation on account of its proximity to the lake. Each of the hotel’s 17 rooms represents a miniature oasis for escapists, offering a private bath and a balcony with panoramic views of downtown Orlando and the Lake Eola Park area. Additionally, the hotel’s close distance to the fine dining and shopping district of Thornton Park and the downtown club scene cement the Eo Inn and Urban Spa’s status as Orlando’s foremost boutique hotel.
For the beach bums who can’t manage a single day out of the water, The Inn at Cocoa Beach lies just 18 miles away from Orlando’s central business district and is located right on the water’s edge. Situated in the heart of the surfing mecca known as Cocoa Beach, you can choose to lose or find yourself in this seaside enclave, either out on the waves, in the comfort of your local craft maker designed room, or down the road at the world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop.
Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer’s resort caters to the active and the relaxed traveler. For the five-iron folk, Bay Hill is one of the PGA’s most beautiful and challenging golf courses that incorporates 27 holes along the Butler Chain of Lakes. Meanwhile, for those who might prefer to stay in the clubhouse while family members play the green, Bay Hill offers the signature version of Palmer’s eponymous cocktail.
Just minutes away from the Orlando Magic’s home court in the Amway Center is The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne, nestled into an intimate garden setting. This bed and breakfast offers 30 rooms spread out over four homes, each themed around a different historical era. For example, the Norment Parry Inn is centered around a Victorian style parlour and fireplace, complete with the collected works of Charles Dickens. Complimentary carafes of wine can be taken out onto the front porch of the Dr. Phillips House where guests can savor the last few rays of the day. After dark, more romantically inclined guests are encouraged to seek out the complimentary cocktail hour or check into one of the romantic getaway suites that includes a double whirlpool hot-tub.
If you’re in the mood for further respite from the baking Florida sun, Lakeside Inn is the tranquil haven of choice. Guests can sit on the veranda of this rustic boutique hotel in a wicker chair and bask in the afterglow of the sun setting over the historic, turn-of-the-century Mount Dora village and surrounding Lake Dora. For a change of pace, the annual Mount Dora Blues and Wine Festival is hosted at the inn, where the emphasis is squarely on the best local musicians around.
A former relic of the Orlando hotel circuit, the Edgewater Hotel has risen to become a seriously talked about bed and breakfast. The hotel originally opened in 1927 as one of the most technologically advanced hotels of the day, and the current hotel owners have strived to retain as much of that ambiance as possible while simultaneously adding the creature comforts expected of contemporary hotels, such as The Chef’s Table restaurant on the ground floor. Elsewhere, you’ll still find antique sinks and the hotel’s original 1920s Otis elevator. For the urban explorer, the Edgewater lies on the doorstep of the 22-mile Winter Garden biking and nature trail, where you can take a daily break after seeing the Orlando sights.
If the town of Celebration, Florida seems eerily quaint, homely and littered with hallmarks of Americana, don’t worry – it was designed that way. Celebration was built by Disney as the ideal suburb, a kind of orchestrated tribute to the United States and the culture of work and leisure. If that sounds too sinister and Stepford Wives-esque, the people, businesses, and hotels in Celebration do a great deal to charm and disarm tourists, making Celebration the perfect Disney Orlando vacation spot without visiting a Disney theme park. The Meliá’s rooms are all suites with full amenities and service, providing an expensive vacation resort package on a budget cost. Soak up the Celebration atmosphere by watching Independence Day fireworks from Meliá’s oasis pool.
Conveniently found on Orlando’s International Drive, one of the principal thoroughfares of downtown Orlando, and within touching distance of the main theme parks, the Castle Hotel is a Marriott-operated boutique hotel with a modus operandi of showcasing a vibrant and unique local artistry. Certainly, this artistry can be detected from the rooms (featuring elegant marble bathrooms and pillow top mattresses) and the Poseidon Spa, down to the Antler’s Lounge, a social hub for mingling and cocktails.