Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites is a hotel in Anaheim, California across the street from Disneyland. This review features room photos, thoughts on amenities, plus pros & cons of the accommodations. Right off the bat, the biggest pro of Desert Inn is that it’s only a 5 minute walk to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
Of the Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels at which I’ve stayed thus far, Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites is a sentimental favorite. We stayed here many times during our first few trips to Disneyland, and have a lot of fond memories from those trips. This shouldn’t be misconstrued as me claiming it’s the best hotel in Anaheim or in any way luxurious.
Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites is still a 2.5 or maybe 3-star hotel with fairly basic rooms and limited amenities. It’s not even the best hotel on Harbor Boulevard. However, for the low price, great location, and fairly solid rooms, I feel it offers great bang for buck, and is one of my preferred off-site Disneyland hotels…
People often ask us about money-saving Disneyland-area hotel options, and as we’ve stayed at a good number (although there are a lot of hotels near Disneyland, and we haven’t stayed in nearly all of them) of these “walking distance to Disneyland hotels,” we thought we’d put together some quick-hit reviews of each hotel along Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue.
Save for Park Vue Inn and Best Western Plus Park Place Inn, Desert Inn & Suites is the closest off-site hotel to Disneyland. For me, its location is by far its strongest selling point. This is almost universally true of the off-site Disneyland hotels, although we’ve noticed refurbishments occurring to a few of these, and with more and more hotels opening in Anaheim, there’s a good chance that the competition will compel other existing hotels to raise their game.
Another caveat worth mentioning that you’ll see as a preface to most of these reviews is that we do not recommend Desert Inn & Suites if you are not visiting Disneyland. For what it is, Desert Inn is priced at a premium. This is due almost entirely to its proximity to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Like I said, location is its #1 amenity, but if you are not planning on visiting the Disneyland Resort theme parks, you are paying a large amount for an “amenity” you won’t use. If you’re in Anaheim for other reasons, you can find nicer accommodations at this price point or similar accommodations at a much lower price point. All of the hotels along Harbor Boulevard are charging about a 50% premium for location.
With that said, let’s take a look at what Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites brings to the table…
Again, location is first. We have already touched upon this above and I don’t want to belabor the point, but that 5 minute walk to the front gates of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure makes it worth the premium. It’s great to be able to run back to the room for an afternoon nap, to grab snacks, or coats and other things we’ve left behind.
There is relatively no time lost in the commute to and from the hotel, which is great. Staying farther away off-site means every trip to and from the room can eat up valuable park time, and that isn’t really the case at Desert Inn.
As for the rooms, I have to admit that I actually like them. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely generic, budget accommodations, that aren’t exactly cutting edge.
They are also clean, fairly updated, and offer a good amount of room for spreading out. Unless you pay considerably more or stay farther away, that’s the best you can really expect at off-site Disneyland hotels, at least in my experience.
At Desert Inn, I’m particularly partial to the full size sleeper sofa included in some of the rooms: the “Executive Room” that costs ~$10 more per night and sleeps 6 people is a great option if you want some space.
This room provides a place to relax on a sofa and “work” on my laptop after a long day in the park.
The bedding is nice here, and I know some or all of the rooms have been refreshed in the last year or so. You can see the new look of some/all of the rooms (I’m not sure if they are done with the update–I had an updated room last time I stayed here, but forgot to photograph it) on Desert Inn’s room tour page.
Each room has a fridge, WiFi (included in the room cost), flat screen TV, coffee-maker, and iron. The in-wall AC unit is very effective, albeit noisy. Speaking of noise, this is actually helpful as the walls here are thin so the AC noise can drown out the outside noise.
Also helpful to combat the noise is requesting a room away from the pool, lobby, or breakfast area. My pick for rooms here is on a higher level, closer to the front of the hotel.
The bathroom is fine, with pretty standard stuff.
The sink is outside the shower and toilet room, which I prefer.
There’s a pool, hot tub, laundry, dry cleaning, and other assorted amenities, but I haven’t used these, and probably never will. The pool and hot tub don’t look especially nice, and the indoor area where they’re located is unimpressive–very utilitarian. I’m guessing most people aren’t staying at a hotel on Harbour Boulevard for the pool, though.
One amenity that I really love here, that I think is really under-valued is the luggage lockers. Past the pool in the parking area, there’s a small room with a bunch of coin-operated luggage lockers. I have used these extensively when traveling to Disneyland Resort, in many cases when not even staying here!
While all hotels in the area will hold your bags at Bell Services if you arrive before check-in or have a flight well after check-out, it can be a hassle, and with all of the electronics I carry, I don’t exactly trust some of these hotels. (Especially the “lovely” Anaheim Plaza Hotel that offered to store our luggage in an open area outside of the check-in desk and then quickly disclaimed that they weren’t responsible if anything happened.)
Although it has nothing to do with this review, a Disneyland travel hack that we’ve used on our day of departure when staying at a hotel that’s farther away is to take our luggage to Desert Inn, store it in the lockers, and arrange SuperShuttle pick-up from Desert Inn as opposed to the hotel at which we stayed.
If your hotel is a 15-20 minute walk from Disneyland, this can save some time and allow you more time to play in the parks on your last day if you’re taking a shuttle and have a later flight.
Nightly rates at the Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites are pretty consistently in the $99 to $140 range. Their prices sort of spiked after Cars Land opened, but still aren’t too bad most of the time. Even on New Year’s Eve last year, I saw a room a couple of days in advance at Desert Inn for only $130, which is not bad given prices elsewhere.
Personally, I wouldn’t pay more than $125/night here except in extenuating circumstances, so do some comparison shopping before booking your dates if the price seems high. Remember that every hotel in Anaheim has high taxes and other fees added, so expect to pay about 25% more than the listed base rate above. Parking costs an additional $8/night at Desert Inn.
Overall, Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites is a solid hotel near Disneyland. To be sure, it’s not on par with the Grand Californian or even other off-site hotels like the Hyatt Regency, but it’s also a fraction of the price of the former, and much closer to the parks than the latter. Choosing a hotel near Disneyland is all about compromises, be it in terms of theming, location, price, amenities, room quality, etc., and for me, Desert Inn is in the sweet spot of all of these.
I prefer a close place to stay that offers good value and rooms that aren’t necessarily lavish, but also aren’t off-putting. To paraphrase the great Cosmo, this hotel scratches me right where I itch. Preferences and needs are going to vary for everyone, but for those wanting to spend the bulk of their days at Disneyland Resort, Desert Inn is a great option for a nearby hotel to crash at the end of the day, while providing safe and clean accommodations at moderate rates.
Have you stayed at the Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites? What did you think of it? Do you prefer staying off-site or on-site at Disneyland? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!