Universal’s Aventura Hotel Review
Aventura Hotel offers budget to moderately priced accommodations within walking distance of Universal Studios Florida & Islands of Adventure theme parks. This review shares room photos, info about amenities, pros & cons, and how it stack up to other Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World resorts.
Being a theme park blog, we usually start these hotel reviews with a discussion of theme. Universal’s Aventura Hotel doesn’t really have one. Officially, it’s a “modern and stylish place to stay.” The hotel offers great views that are “underscored by a design that is vibrant, free-flowing and calming. It’s your chill zone, your party place, your hangout, your refuge. And it’s just plain cool.”
Some of that might be a bit of a stretch, but that’s the nature of marketing. Despite Walt Disney World’s repeated claims of things being magical, I’ve never seen a bunny materialize out of thin air there. Yet. Nevertheless, some of that description of Universal’s Aventura Hotel is pretty accurate.
I’d describe Aventura as a crisp and clean convention hotel. Not a super fancy one–more like a mid-tier one. It’s not where Goldman Sachs (or even Comcast) is hosting its executives, but I could see a Buc-ee’s bash here. (No disrespect to Buc-ee’s–it rules.)
Which is to say that Universal’s Aventura Hotel is more no-frills and no-fuss, while having some of the hallmarks of a convention hotel. This is evident in an array of offerings, like the in-room televisions, bars, rooftop viewing deck, and just the general composition of the tower.
In terms of specific amenities, Universal’s Aventura Hotel has a pool and splash zone for kids, fitness center, and Universal Studios Store. None of these require much commentary, so we’ll sprinkle in photos of each throughout this review.
It also has some dining options: Starbucks in the lobby, Bar Sol by the pool, BarVentura in the lobby, the Urban Pantry food court, and Bar 17 Bistro on the rooftop. Aside from the last one on the list, all of these are inferior to their counterparts at other Universal Orlando hotels. (I guess the Starbucks is also pretty consistent everywhere.)
This is probably as good of a place as any for a comparison to Walt Disney World hotels, and the obvious one is Gran Destino Tower. Another would be the Swan Reserve, the new wing of the Swan and Dolphin.
Universal’s Aventura Hotel is definitely not as nice either of those. The rooms are smaller and humbler, the design is more minimal, and it’s just a more barebones hotel overall. Aside from a few key features and amenities, Aventura is mostly a modern, utilitarian hotel–and it doesn’t pretend to be anything more.
Along with that, Aventura is also considerably cheaper–less than half the price of Gran Destino or the Swan Reserve for most dates. As far as pricing comparisons go, Universal’s Aventura Hotel is cheaper than Disney’s All Star Resorts for the vast majority of dates, and it blows those out of the water.
Aventura is also closer and more convenient to the parks than all of the above Walt Disney World hotels. Those are significant factors that further muddy the already imperfect comparison.
Speaking of location, there’s a walking path that connects Universal’s Aventura Hotel to Sapphire Falls, Royal Pacific, and then the Garden Walk to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida via CityWalk.
I personally find the Garden Walk to the parks to be lovely and something of a hidden gem, but it’s about a 20 minute walk and the route can be slightly confusing. In our experience, the buses have always been faster than walking from Aventura or Cabana Bay. The walkway really only gets the edge if you’re staying at Sapphire Falls (or closer), but being in control of your destiny or just enjoying a stroll can be nice.
As suggested above, Universal’s Aventura Hotel has shuttle buses that provide access to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk. These are usually shared with Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is located directly across the street from Aventura.
Buses can be crowded during prime times, but they’re also incredibly frequent. During our stays at Universal Orlando, we typically found there was a bus nearly every 5-10 minutes or less. During peak times, there were buses stacked one right after the other, making the wait time minimal.
Before we turn to the other amenities, let’s take a look at the guest rooms in Universal’s Aventura Hotel.
Above is a wide look that shows off almost the entire thing, including the building curvature outside. If you squint a bit, it almost looks like the building Tom Cruise climbed in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. (Perhaps you’ll have to squint a lot, but that’s what it reminded me of for some odd reason.)
These guest rooms are small and nondescript, so there’s really not a ton to say about them. They feature floor to ceiling views, which would’ve been a highlight if ours looked out on anything cool. (We could see Endless Summer and I-4, my most-hated highway.)
The rooms offer coffee makers, televisions, cool lighting, and a speaker system thing that I couldn’t figure out how to use (hashtag old man problems). Plus, tablet-based controls for pretty much everything in the room. For those keeping score at home, I could easily use that.
This is the standard room, which is 314 square feet in size. There’s also a deluxe room, which is 395 square feet, or a 575 square foot suite that sleeps 5 and features a special interior area for kids with two twin beds.
I cannot imagine a scenario where that suite is particularly attractive to families given the wealth of alternatives at Universal Orlando, but your mileage may vary.
Here’s a look at the bathroom, which is separated from the beds by three panels.
No complaints here. Like the room as a whole, it’s utilitarian, but it gets the job done.
The “smart” features are the highlight of the room, and ability to control everything from bed via the tablet makes me feel incredibly powerful. (My super power is clearly TV control.)
There’s really not much else to say about the rooms, so here’s a video shot by Sarah:
The biggest perk for Universal’s Aventura Hotel guests is early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park.
The downside is that, as with the other lower-priced hotels, is that Aventura guests do not receive unlimited Express Pass. If that’s something you’d otherwise buy, you’ll probably want to move up in resort tiers, as the value/cost of that is tremendous.
Bar 17 Bistro is excellent, and arguably the biggest and best selling point of Universal’s Aventura Hotel.
This rooftop lounge offers the best views at Universal Orlando–of both theme parks, the water park, pretty much every on-site hotel, and a lot more. There’s also an expansive viewing deck up here that boasts those same views. Of course, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to dine and drink at Bar 17 Bistro, so staying nearby and walking over for a nightcap might be your best bet.
Circling back to our hotel comparisons, the “best” comparison to Universal’s Aventura Hotel is probably Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Both are classified as Prime Value Hotels by Universal, they’re located across the street from one another, both offer direct access to Volcano Bay, and have identical rate charts (although actual prices can vary based upon availability and discounts).
Since budgets often dictate accommodations, the comparison makes sense. In literally every other way, it does not. Cabana Bay Beach Resort punches above its weight, offering great pools, great depth of theme, a formidable array of other amenities, and more.
Cabana Bay is one of our favorite theme park hotels anywhere, whereas Universal’s Aventura Hotel very much is not. (I could go on and on about the former–read our comprehensive Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Review for more.)
However, that’s not to say Universal’s Aventura Hotel is objectively worse and everyone should stay at Cabana Bay instead. While we personally far prefer it, we can objectively assess the two.
Aventura is a great option–a better one, in fact–for those who primarily view the hotel as a place to shower and sleep, prefer a condensed layout, and want quieter or less crowded accommodations. For solo travelers in particular (and perhaps even some couples), it’s easy to see some appeal with Aventura.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to recommend Universal’s Aventura Hotel to almost anyone else, though. Even then, we have reluctance, as visitors on a budget arguably might be better suited by one of the Endless Summer resorts. The existence of those hotels really cut into the target audience who will be best-suited by Aventura, to the point where it’s pretty minimal.
Universal Orlando’s hotel game is incredibly strong. While we have not yet completed our reviews of those resorts, we have finished the stays. Almost all offer a compelling selling point or distinct feature that makes them an easy ‘strong recommendation’ to someone. Aventura is arguably the biggest exception to that. It’s a fine hotel and there’s nothing necessarily “wrong” with it, but in a stacked lineup, Universal’s Aventura Hotel does little to impress or earn anything more than a tepid endorsement for a very narrow group of guests.
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Have you stayed at Universal’s Aventura Hotel? What do you think of it? Interested in staying here? What do you think of Universal’s v. Walt Disney World’s value resorts? What about on-site perks? If you’ve stayed at or even just visited both, how would you compare Cabana Bay and Aventura Hotel? Do you agree or disagree with our hotel review? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!
I think all Universal resorts give you a bigger bang for your buck in each category.
My friend stayed at Aventura a few months ago and liked it. So in August I booked a split stay, Aventura for first few days before moving to Royal Pacific.
Last year we did a split with Sapphire & Portofino.
Since Sapphire doesn’t have express pass, and Aventura is right next door so I can walk over and enjoy Sapphire pool and restaurants. Since it’s allowed at Universal.
Just went upstairs to bistro 17 and had a good dinner and spent 240$ on a steak and salmon and six drinks. Then was asked to leave my seat after I paid when there where other seat available. Rude and disrespectful would of left in about 25 min after finishing drinks but didn’t get time. Then after we said something at front desk they said there was a misunderstanding and that’s all bullshit. Go to cabana bay and save your money. Very dissatisfied in service. They act like it was our fault and that bs. And they frown on 10% tips we were told by our waitress. So I gave an extra 20$ and shortly after was asked to leave for someone else when there where plenty of seats elsewhere.
One look at those rooms and I’m out. Is that a TV for ants??
It was uncanny how when I was pricing a trip to Universal how Cabana Bay and Aventura were almost always the same price for a basic room
I will say that the VOLCANO VIEW rooms, while more expensive, were also more awesome and look worth considering. (Wouldn’t mind taking a down day where I just stare at it for an hour or two.)
My husband and I LOVE Aventura. But we always stay in the deluxe king rooms. They have a curved layout to them that allows your floor-to-ceiling window to actually comprise about 50% of your wall space. Phenomenal views! Plus, we love that there are rarely kids at Aventura.
i dunno why but im obsessed with that rootop lounge/bistro and the views. maybe its just the photos you took. do other universal hotels off similar rooftop lounging areas?
Loved the video. Thanks Sarah!
I would genuinely enjoy a “Tom rants about I-4 and/or Florida Toll Roads” post as someone who dealt with both more than I would have liked last week.
I’m sure there must be alternatives, but I have yet to find any that seem truly viable.
I love Aventura! I enjoy the location, with across the street to Cabana Bay and Volcano Bay entrance and short walk to Sapphire Falls to take the boat to Citywalk. Since it is smaller, the wait at Starbucks is not nearly as painful as Cabana Bay. And it has joke-tellling robots! I mean come on! 🙂
Thanks, this is useful! Glad to see more Universal coverage.
For our next “Disney” trip we are splitting our three nights between the Dolphin and Portofino, with four commando park touring days (with Genie+, Magic Carpet and Universal Express Pass). Testing out a strategy of (1) less Disney, (2) shorter trip, (3) paying upcharges for convenience.
Your tips are incredibly helpful.
I’ve always felt that this hotel was very sterile.
Absolutely–sterile and bland.
Portofino Bay is a strong choice, and the unlimited express pass (valid throughout your entire stay, including day of arrival and day of departure) is great. But what we appreciated most was the water taxi that picks up at the hotel, and drops off *inside* CityWalk. You clear security when you board the boat at the hotel, so no extra waiting, and you completely avoid the garages, and the always crowded security lines to get into CityWalk.
As a family with 3 kids, my husband and I were very much looking forward to having separate sleeping surfaces for all three teens, plus a king bed to share for ourselves. THAT was the draw for us. Ultimately it lost out when we considered the value of getting the Express Passes at Portofino Bay and gave the kids a choice of having their own beds or minimal line waits. For a family that feels they need the extra beds AND don’t mind paying for the EPs for everyone, I can see Adventura being a good option. The Family Suites at all the other hotels at UO are far more expensive.
Gran Destino feels moderately opulent, Adventura is high tech/streamlined. Totally different vibes…
But did you have the robot deliver you extra coffee, towels, etc. ?!?!?! A VERY cool perk at an otherwise ordinary hotel.
To me, the best feature if the hotel is its very close proximity to Saphire Falls, with its water taxi stop. A two minute walk saved me a lot of $. To the designers: would it kill you to put in a couple potted palms/ficus trees in the lobby – the place is incredibly sterile.
I guess it depends on the actual rates for your dates, but we found Sapphire Falls significantly better as a whole and worth the bit of a “splurge” (air quotes because it’s an absolute bargain as compared to Walt Disney World hotels).
Considering this option for our 1st Universal trip in May. Can you tell me which Universal resort you would recommend for over 45 couple with no kids coming along? Also checking on Cabana Bay and Hard Rock.
There’s really no one size fits all answer to that. If you want to spend a lot of time at the resort and/or want Express Pass, my recommendation would be Portofino Bay: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/review-portofino-bay-hotel-universal-orlando/
If not, probably Sapphire Falls or Cabana Bay.
We’ll (hopefully) have Universal hotel rankings by late November–that should help provide more clarity.