Where to Book a Stay in Orlando for a Local Experience

The downtown city skyline from Lake Eola Park, Orlando
The downtown city skyline from Lake Eola Park, Orlando | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Megan duBois
8 November 2021

Theme parks and attractions are not all there is to see in Orlando, Florida. From historic homes to national stadiums, this is our guide on where to stay in Orlando like a local.

Traveling to Orlando usually means staying close to the big attractions like theme parks, but for some it means rubbing shoulders with people who actually live in the city. When it comes to immersing yourself into the City Beautiful – whether it is your first or 100th visit – there’s no better place to stay than in the areas locals call home. Many of these hotels are surrounded by popular restaurants and lively entertainment, letting you see a completely different side to the city. Here is our pick, all bookable via Culture Trip.

Grand Bohemian Orlando, Autograph Collection, for plush interiors and classy cocktails

A turquoise headboard in an opulent bedroom with gold tones at Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando
Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, Autograph Collection / Expedia

Ask a local where to stay in Orlando for something a little bit different, and there’s a good chance they’ll suggest the Grand Bohemian. Both the speakeasy-style cocktail lounge and the Boheme restaurant – try the black bee honey cheesecake – are local favourites. The rest of the hotel is plush. Décor includes crystal chandeliers and one of the few Bosendorfer grand pianos in the world. The rooms are boudoir-like, with velvet headboards and drapes. Some rooms come with jacuzzis, too.

Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando/Downtown South – Medical Center, for hidden local spots

Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando:Downtown South_aca7e3ab
Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando/Downtown South | Courtesy of Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando/Downtown South / Expedia

Set close to Interstate 4, the Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando makes it easy to get to the city’s top theme parks – Universal Orlando is a 15-minute drive away, for example. The hotel is also close to some lesser-known spots that locals love. Ask reception for walking directions to the Orlando Brewing Company, where you can take a tour, or get the team’s recommendations for restaurants.

Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown, for apartment-style living

Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown_b475263f
Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown | Courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown / Expedia

The rooms at Residence Inn have been designed to be your home away from home. They come with living and dining areas and fully equipped kitchens, and the hotel offers a free grocery shopping experience to make it easier for you to make your meals. Location-wise, the Inn is set in the Business District, which allows exploration of some of Orlando’s less publicised attractions, such as Tinker Field baseball pitch and the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Dr Phillips House, for a true piece of history

Courtesy of Dr. Phillips House / Expedia
Dr Phillips is a legendary Floridian, known for his incredible citrus fruits business. This was once his home, built in 1893 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. Each room is furnished in a Victorian-era style, making for a cozy space for your stay in the city. The hotel is a short walk to the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where you can see a live stage performance.

The Delaney Hotel, for local-style dining

Courtesy of The Delaney Hotel / Expedia
For a taste of local food, drink and music, this hotel is the place to stay. The on-site restaurant at the Delaney features a variety of microbrews, some of which might have just been delivered that same day. Opt for the small plates and sharables – do not skip Mama Becky’s meatballs, which come with a spicy arrabbiata sauce and asiago cheese. When night falls, the restaurant brings in local bands to play while you enjoy your beer and dinner.

Eo Inn, for museums and fresh ramen

Courtesy of The Eo Inn - Downtown / Expedia
If you’re looking for an extended stay in downtown Orlando, book the Eo Inn. Choose from a range of modern rooms and suites, many with large bathrooms and private terraces. Lake Eola Park and the Orlando Museum of Art are both nearby, plus the popular JINYA Ramen Bar, serving up ramen with fresh seafood and vegetables, is around the corner.

Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown, for live music

Courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown / Expedia
Art lovers will enjoy staying at this hotel near the Milk District, known for its elaborate street murals, food and live music, which is almost always being played somewhere every night. Exploring this area can lead you to a few hidden-gem museums, including the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, where the world’s largest collection of works by renowned glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany can be found.

Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Orlando Downtown, for the nightlife

Courtesy of DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Downtown / Expedia
Lake views are endless at this hotel that’s near Lake Ivanhoe and its surrounding park. The hotel is just a few short minutes from the nightlife of downtown Orlando, and a free shuttle ride away from big venues such as the Amway Center and Exploria Stadium. After a game or concert, enjoy the rooftop pool and take in the sights and sounds of downtown Orlando.

Sarah Holt contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on November 8, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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