Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites Hotel Review
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.
You can find an index of our other off-site Disneyland hotel reviews in our Disneyland Hotels Reviews & Rankings post. Plus, get an idea of our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.
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.
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
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!
We found the Desert Inn to be a great option for the price, and the convenient location makes up for many, many shortcomings. It was clean and, as mentioned, spacious. We had no problem with noise, being on a higher floor and away from the pool. The breakfast was awful. The sofa bed mattress was about an inch thick, and I personally could not have slept on it, but our 14 year old didn’t mind, and he appreciated the fact that it was in a separate area from the main room, giving him a bit of privacy. The rooftop patio for watching the fireworks was much appreciated.
Stayed here in September 2017. Probably the worst I’ve stayed at. Very old beat up furniture and typical continental breakfast. I don’t like free breakfast at any hotel. When we arrived it was encouraged to tip the person that parked our car. He said 20.00 would do and laughed, sorry didn’t get the joke. We are A.P. holders from out of state and until they remodel or do upgrades won’t stay here again.
I’m really curious what to know what was offered at the continental breakfast. Do you remember what was offered, specifically if there were any protein items like yogurt or eggs? 😀 I got a great rate on a Family Parlor Suite there for an upcoming trip. Normally for Disney trips I just bring yogurt and cereal to eat with me in my room while I get ready in the AM. If there was something comparable that’s complimentary, that’s one less thing for us to have to fit into the car to drive over from AZ.
It was all fine until the shuttle didn’t show….
You will see from this ratings I gave my wife and I loved this hotel…. until the return shuttle didn’t show at Disneyland (DL). The schedule given us at check-in states that the shuttle arrives at DL arrive every hour on the half-hour until 30 minutes after closing. On Thursday, September 28th, DL closed at 10pm. No shuttle at 10:30. I called the desk at 10:45 and was told that the shuttle stopped running at 9:30. When I told the desk person that the park closed at 10pm and it was posted on the DL website, she told me that was contrary to the DL schedule the hotel had, and they do not check the DL website to verify hours.
We had to take a taxi at 11:15pm. Lucky for me I had cash to pay the taxi driver, or we would have had to walk to the hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel, we entered the lobby to speak with the counter person. She had no sympathy for us, stating that was the way it was with their shuttle service, despite the fact that the park was open late. The attitude she gave I interpreted as “well, you’re here, so what’s your problem?”. There was no offer of compensation of any type.
Earlier that morning, the 8:30am shuttle was full and left with 6-8 hotel guests not able to get on the shuttle. I spoke with the counter person and was told there would not be another shuttle for one hour (shuttle runs every hour). When I asked why, she told me a group of Girl Scouts (GS) were able to reserve the 8:30am run. Nowhere does it say on their schedule given to guests that only one shuttle will run even with guests waiting and that you can reserve the shuttle. When I point that out and that I was not told when I checked in that the GS had reserved that shuttle, she told me I arrived before they did, and that was worked out with the manager. When I asked where my notice was that there would not be a shuttle for the rest of the hotel guests, she said one was not written or disseminated. However, she did arrange for the shuttle to make a second run for the rest of us when the driver returned from his first trip. THAT is the way to give customer service!!! Epic fail for the night crew.
What did we like? Rooms have been refurbished nicely… close to DL, microwave and mini-fridge, pool, big ice machine. Continental breakfast was minimal, but that area was under construction and we were told that upon check-in. Morning staff was great, especially when we got the second shuttle run.
So, this went from a 5 to a 1 rating. We were so excited to find such a nice hotel near DL… You can see the fireworks from the parking lot!!! One of the big selling points was the shuttle to DL. But, the non-shuttle that almost stranded us was a -10… and you cannot rate a hotel lower than a 1.
As a veteran and a senior, I cannot and will not recommend this hotel until they fix the broken shuttle system.
I’m really confused by this review? I was under impression you could walk?
It is right across the street from the park. We always walk. Perhaps this reviewer stayed at the Desert Palms which is farther away. ??
You must be talking about a different hotel. Because the one in this story is literally right across the street from the Disneyland entrance. There would be no usage of a shuttle from there.
Why would you need a shuttle at this hotel?? It’s across the street from the entrance!!
Stayed there last April 2016. The win-first was horrendous! Maybe it has been improved?
C’mon you’re there for DL, not the Wi-Fi. Who cares if it was bad. I really hope you didn’t allow THAT reason ruin your trip. The hotel is nice and so convenient. We stayed there in April of 2016, and loved it. Yes it’s not the fanciest, but all you need is a clean room and shower, and this offers just that. The executive suite was perfect for my family of 5, and we all appreciated the breakfast that included boiled eggs, bread (for toast or cheese sandwiches), cereals, pastries, fruits, juices and coffee. I’m planning another trip for December of his year and it’s the first hotel I’ll be considering.
A family member left a piece of jewelry in our room. The ring with great sentimental value was not found . The problem is that took six phone calls to get this resolved. Excuses were made when we asked to speak to the manager. I assumed that the primary job of a hotel manager is resolving issues regarding their guests. This is apparently not the case at the Desert Inn.
This will be my last stay there…….Zero customer service rating.
My husband and I stayed here for a couple of nights a few years ago. We paid slightly more for a room with a large tub, thinking it would be nice to soak after a long day in the park. There was NEVER any hot water so we had to bathe in cold water every time.
The breakfast is horrid and I wouldn’t recommend it.
We usually stay farther away from the park and drive. Parking, however, is expensive but we’ve been able to purchase AAA tickets that included free parking.
One of the other main reasons we stay at the Desert Inn, besides the location, is that they have rooms (Family Parlor Suite) in which the couch/lounge area is actually a separate little area with a door that separates the two. This is a HUGE plus for us as we have a little one who needs his own space or else he would never go to bed if he saw Mom and Dad in the same room. It also allows us to not have to keep the lights off and talk in whispers as if we were sharing a room with him. HUGE plus!
Based on your review I just booked Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites for a night for my August birthday. I have been spoiled lately by staying within walking distance and this will be the closest one. I always thought these hotels would be out of my price range but it wasn’t. I knew it would be a little higher just because it is peak time, but using Hotels.com I found it affordable.
Recently stayed at the Desert Inn, mostly because of your recommendation. The location can’t be beat! The parks are right across the street. Two other pluses that you didn’t mention are that they have elevators (two of my favorite GNHs don’t) and a lovely rooftop patio with tables and chairs that has a perfect view of the fireworks. Other than those three positives, the place has an institutional-type vibe that is a total turn-off. The breakfast is very rudimentary and the eating area is hot, crowded, and uncomfortable. And full of screaming kids. It was inconvenient to be forced to valet park my car (especially since the valet did not retrieve my car for me but instead just told me where he parked it and made me go get it), and I don’t prefer parking in an underground parking lot since I am a single woman. The toiletries in the room were very cheap. There wasn’t even hair conditioner, which to a guy with hair 1 inch long is probably not that big of a deal, but for my daughter and I, who both have long hair, it was a very big deal. We can’t get a brush through her hair without conditioner. I also missed having teabags with the instant coffee in the room. And there was no plastic laundry bag. These may seem like small things but it all adds up. Having said all that, I would definitely stay here again because of the location and that rooftop patio. Watching the fireworks from there was absolutely magical!
We LOVE staying at Desert Inn and yes it is all about that LOCATION! The rooms are nice and big with all the three needs, Fridge, Microwave & Coffee maker! The Hotel has Free breakfast which is simple but hits the spot and is enough to get you by until later in the park or even better, just zip on back to your room since it is soooo close and grab a snack, take a power nap, jump in the pool,or change your shoes and head back to the parks!!
If you are too tired to be at the park for fireworks, go up to the 5th floor viewing outdoor deck and kick back there to watch them! We dig the Desert Inn!
We stayed here two years ago in May. Rooms were basic, but clean. Parking was fine, although a bit pricey. At the time we had a very new baby and an almost 3 year-old. We wanted to be able to walk to and from the hotel for nap time. It was a great choice for location as you said. My husband and daughter swam in the pool and said it was cold even though it was inside. The breakfast was the most meager of any I’d seen near Disneyland, but I’ve heard it’s slightly improved since the renovation.
We like the Quality Inns as they have a better breakfast and much cheaper parking. However, we’re staying at the Desert Inn again this May (same week as before) because the rate was $79 (booked months ago), and even with the added $15 for resort and parking fees it’s a good deal to be that close. My husband decided the proximity was more important than the breakfast for a week long trip. I hope we won’t be disappointed.
We just booked are room At this Motel for October. My husbands aunt has stayed at this hotel for years. And like you she says it is nothing fancy but it is clean and close to the park. So we are excited to take our 4 and 6 year old. thanks for doing such a great blog with good and honest reviews.
I just booked 3 rooms here for an upcoming trip. Not too bad at $99 a night. However, they automatically included the parking fee even though we won’t be driving. At $9 per room per night that adds up! Do you know if they will remove this charge or refund it when we check in with no car?
Thanks for all the great information and reviews! Just got back from a fantastic trip to WDW and you’re site was very helpful 🙂
In the past, we’ve gotten the parking fee removed at check-in, but you should definitely call to check on the current policy, as that was over a year ago.
How much does it cost to use the luggage lockers?
I just reserved 2 nights in August for $79 a night…although with fees and everything it is $110 a night.
I’m doing a month long road trip from Michigan, to Utah, to California with just 2 days at Disneyland. I’m staying with friends or family along the whole way (because I’m doing this on a budget). So right now I’m deciding if I want to stay the second night at the hotel, or drive an hour to one of my friends houses. (and it’s just me and the 3 kids!)
Do you know if I can park there at opening on my first day? And if I can park after checkout too? I should just call them, right?
So I did call them, if they have parking available you can park early for no fee, and then on checkout day you can stay until 2pm free, then pay an additional parking fee to stay until you leave.
I’m thinking I have a decent week Aug 25th/26th since it’s so close to schools starting that families aren’t going. But as we are in Michigan school won’t start until after Labor day- or Sep 8th this year!
My family and I have stayed at Desert Inn and Suite for years now. You are right on with your review. Our main priority is location, location. It is a perfect location , you have no wait for a shuttle, especially with little ones the last thing you want to do is wait for a shuttle in just a couple minutes you are back at your room . It is very clean, and they are always very nice. I would recommend this offsite hotel always .
Thanks for your feedback. Glad to hear someone else likes this hotel, too!
I never tried Desert Inn. I found that with discounts the Ramada Maingate ( 2 driveways down ) it was usually less expensive. They also have free parking and a decent free breakfast. They remodeled the back end including pool and Jacuzzi and are currently remodeling the front and that should be done by July. They usually have some type of promotional discount so call the hotel and ask. We were just there in December (15-18) and got $99 a nite room. As returning guests, they take good care of us so we have not had a reason to look elsewhere.
If we were not happy with Ramada Maingate I would give Desert Inn a try.
$99/night for the Ramada Maingate? Wow, I’ve never seen it for that. From what I’ve seen of it, it looks nice, and if I could find it for that rate, I’d probably jump on it. I guess I’ll have to pay closer attention…
Staying here this weekend for a last-minute Disneyland trip! We were originally planning to stay a ~10 minute drive away to save some cash dollars, but decided that it was worth an extra $20 per night to be right by the parks. We’ve stayed at a lot of the other Harbor Blvd hotels, but Desert Inn will be new to us. Thanks for the recommendation!
Yeah, I definitely would prefer to pay the extra $20/night and be able to walk to the parks. Convenience, for me at least, is well worth that! Have a great trip!
Tom, you mentioned the “lovely” Anaheim Plaza (don’t know if that is the infamous Bricker sarcasm or not =P ). I was considering staying there for my first ever trip in April. I have heard conflicting reports about it’s state, but since I am really just there for a bed and shower that doesn’t bother me. I love it’s location and price (and the huge pool). I did see Desert Inn has comparable price though (at the moment the cheapest rooms aren’t available). I take it you prefer the Desert Inn?
What does bother me would be leaving luggage out exposed (really early flight in and late flight out). I emailed them this week (no response) and can’t call (no phone at the moment) to get them to confirm their luggage storage situation. Is it worth walking the .5 mile just for a locker for a few hours (i.e. is it really that bad?)? I’ll take my ~$1000+ worth of camera gear straight to the park but my laptop and clothes, but would luggage storage be worth it, in your opinion, in case I stick with the Plaza?
I’ll put it this way: I would not stay at the Anaheim Plaza Inn again if you gave me a free room. That is not sarcasm. It’s been a few years since I stayed there, but I haven’t seen them raze the place and rebuild, so…
I would definitely use the lockers at Desert Inn if you do elect to stay at Plaza Inn.
I take it it’s more than poor service that turned you off. What makes it so awful? we booked at the plaza because it looks like exactly what we were looking for – inexpensive, close & a big pool for the kids. My options are dwindling since we’re there for the week of the Tink half. I trust your opinion so I’m a little worried that I need to find somewhere else fast and probably for a premium 🙁
We stayed here for two nights the week after Thanksgiving. I totally agree with your review. We were visiting family in San Diego and drove up in the morning. It was great to pull into the underground garage and walk to the parks. From the time we parked until we were on Main Street was 10 minutes.
They upgraded our party of five to a suite, which was great. I also don’t think you can overstate the convenience of the complimentary breakfast. It’s not a great breakfast, but it saves a ton of time and money.
Great review, Tom.
Oh man, I forgot to mention the breakfast at Desert Inn. Last time I was there, it was straight up awful. In fairness, most of the free breakfasts at Harbor Blvd hotels are awful. Maybe it has improved since I was last there?