While we’ve been down to Florida with older kids, this trip was the first time taking one of the little guys. Four-year-old Caleb joined us, so we decided to check out Surfside Inn and Suites at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s the resort’s newest property and is designed as a budget-friendly option for families.
We absolutely love the Aventura Hotel (which opened last year), and for a few minutes we pined for it. After a full day in our two-bedroom suite, though, we absolutely appreciated the space and simplicity while traveling with a preschooler. Interested? Keep reading for our full review of Surfside Inn and Suites at Universal Orlando Resort.
Spacious, Bright Lobby
When you walk through the front doors, you’ll immediately feel like you’ve been transported to a beach resort. It’s bright and spacious with vaulted ceilings and seemingly endless windows. Families will love the fact, though, that there’s also ample seating in the lobby at Surfside Inn and Suites. Take a load off after lugging your bags and strollers through busy airports!
Along with the front desk, the lobby level of the Surfside Inn and Suites offers some convenient services and amenities for guests. They include:
- Tickets desk where passes can be purchased/printed for Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. It’s great because you won’t have to stand in line at the parks!
- Beach Break Café (cafeteria-style eatery with ample seating)
- Pool and Sand Bar (serving alcoholic drinks)
- Official Universal Studios store (great for souvenirs but also sundries and baby items)
- Luggage storage
- Access to parking garage and shuttle buses
By the time we left, we’d really grown to love the big lobby at the Surfside Inn and Suites. Even when large groups came off tour buses, it never felt cramped. Plus, all of the seating was great for families and tired guests. It’s a well-planned space!
One of the things that sets this hotel apart is that more than half of the rooms at the Surfside Inn and Suites are two-bedroom suites. We met plenty of families and groups who were taking full advantage of that! When you first walk in, you’ll see a main room with two queen beds, a surfboard, kitchenette and picnic table, and a double vanity in the distance. We loved ALL of these features. It really made the room feel like a home away from home.
My germaphobia about hotel rooms also was calmed by the fact that the room had laminate flooring instead of a carpet. Thank you, Universal! We were especially grateful for this after a day at Volcano Bay when we were still damp from head to toe.
The kitchenette really came in handy with Caleb on the trip. We kept snacks from the restaurant downstairs (more on that in a bit!) and nearby convenience stores in the fridge. Of course, the microwave, silverware, sink and ample storage made this vacation much easier, too!
When it comes to bathrooms, Josh is messy (haha!). He splashes water all over the place and leaves globs of toothpaste everywhere. I absolutely loved not having to share a sink with him, so I was thrilled that Universal put a double vanity in a “value” hotel room.
There was more than enough space, we were provided with ample linens, and we could seal off the toilet if things got a little…stinky 🙂 I did not love how cramped the toilet and shower area was, however, but it’s a small complaint compared to all of the other benefits!
The bedroom was great! We had a queen size bed, a small cupboard for luggage and jackets/hoodies, a television and a huge window. Our room overlooked the pool which was very nice.
Also, if we wanted more privacy, we could have easily closed the door, but still feel close enough to Caleb. It felt much more secure than trying to stay in connecting rooms.
The pool area at Surfside Inn and Suites is pretty great. It’s shaped like a surfboard, and is zero entry meaning it’s great for guests of all ages. Small children (being closely watched by parents!) can wade in the shallow end of the pool as it gets deeper very gradually. We’ll say that Caleb had a great time at Volcano Bay, but didn’t want to get in the pool so we stopped by and took some pictures.
There’s plenty of seating around and the poolside rooms (including ours!) allows you to keep an eye on the action without actually being out there. Josh’s grandmother actually stayed in a standard poolside room while we were there, and we were able to wave to each other from our windows!
Need a drink? You can check out the offerings at the Sand Bar! You can sit on the bar top or choose to lounge at one of the nearby tables. It’s tucked away so you won’t have to worry about being splashed if you don’t want to! I’ll readily admit that a couple days at theme parks with a small child had me scoping this out (even though I didn’t actually order anything)!
Beach Break Cafe
There is one restaurant at Surfside Inn and Suites, the Beach Break Cafe. Open from 7am-11pm, the menu consists of casual grub like burritos, pizza, salads, roasted chicken, and even power bowls. We sat for a meal of burgers (for us) and macaroni and cheese (for Caleb), and the service and food was okay. In fact, considering how incredible everything normally is at Universal Orlando Resort, we were surprised by how average our experience was at the restaurant.
The prices and selection are great, though. In fact, they are proud of the fact that no single item costs more than $12! So, this is a perfect option for families on a budget or who want the convenience of grabbing some food without having to venture outside of the hotel.
Where Beach Break Cafe truly came in handy, though, was with their quick grab items. We were absolutely shocked by how affordable the prices were for things that we could buy for Caleb on the go. Our lifesavers:
- Bananas (less than $1)
- Large Motts juice boxes ($1.25)
- Uncrustables peanut butter & jelly sandwiches ($2)
This was Caleb’s first real vacation and he was so absorbed by the action that he wouldn’t want to stop and eat. Then, when we’d get back to the room for a midday break or bedtime, he’d be ready for food. Those items became his staples for the duration of our trip. It was reassuring knowing we could take a quick elevator trip to get those types of things for him.
As is the case with all hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, transportation to and from the parks is free. From Surfside Inn and Suites, you can take a shuttle bus to either Universal CityWalk (where you can eat, see a movie, or head to Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure), or you could hop on the bus to Volcano Bay.
The commute is a little longer than when we stayed at the Aventura, but it was manageable. We did miss being able to take the water taxi, though! The Surfside Inn and Suites are located on the other side of the freeway, so it just doesn’t connect 🙂
We always rent a vehicle when we travel to Orlando. It makes getting to and from the airport easier, plus we tend to make trips over to Walt Disney World (we went to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this time!). There was a parking garage at the Surfside Inn and Suites and it was just a short walk from the lobby to our vehicle.
Perks and Benefits
One of the things we love best about staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel is that it comes with benefits! While the bonuses are tiered, we weren’t left out. Even though Surfside Inn and Suites is Universal Orlando Resort’s first “Value Property,” they don’t skimp guests on the perks. We really just love Universal and feel like they appreciate their customers. That’s why we always go back for more!
Here are some of the things you can enjoy, at no additional charge, when you stay at Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites:
- Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and select attractions at Volcano Bay, one hour before the theme parks open (with valid theme park admission)
- Complimentary shuttle buses
- Resort-wide charging privileges with your room key card
- Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel
- Wake-up call from one of your favorite Universal Orlando characters
If you’re planning to visit any of the parks or attend Halloween Horror Nights, it’s really so much more convenient to stay at a Universal property. Yes, you might find some room rates that are a little lower at nearby properties, but it could cost you time and/or money in the long run. Definitely weigh this if you’re considering staying at an off-site hotel. It could be worth the extra money!
During our first trip years ago, we stayed at a great Hampton Inn & Suites. It was a 15 minute commute every day, which meant we had to get up that much earlier. Then, we’d have to sit in line waiting for our turn to pay for parking. We enjoy ourselves so much more when we don’t have to drive, and after a long day at the parks, it’s so much easier to just hop on a bus and let someone else drive us home!
We weren’t sure what to expect from a Value Property at Universal Orlando Resort. If I’m honest, my OCD was a little worried about it. Could the room have been a little cleaner? Yes, but that’s based on what I saw with my germ-focused eyes. Overall, Surfside Inn and Suites did not let us down! The room rates are very reasonable, and you get a lot for your dollar when you consider how much you could save on quick meals, transportation, and time.
Honestly, we had such a good time that we are hoping to get back to Orlando for the Grand Opening of the Dockside Inn and Suites. It was under construction while we were there (it’s just across the street from Surfside Inn and Suites) and we can’t wait to see how it turns out. We got a good look at the progress so far. It looks like a larger version of the Surfside Inn and Suites. It’s massive!
When we’re traveling to Universal Orlando Resort as a family, we definitely won’t hesitate to stay at the Surfside Inn and Suites again. It was well-priced, reasonably clean, and very convenient if you’re planning to visit the parks. Is it time to book our next trip? We’ve been home a week and it already feels like it’s been too long!
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