Now that you've booked your flights, you're going to want to look for somewhere to stay. On my previous trips to Orlando, I've always opted to stay in a villa – mostly because I went for over 20 days each time. This year we're branching out and staying in a hotel, as we want to be closer to the theme parks, and it's only a week, so a hotel works out cheaper.
You can choose to stay “on site”, which is a theme park's hotel, or stay off site. Being on site costs a lot more, but you can enjoy perks such as longer park hours and free parking within the parks. Staying off site will save a lot of money and you can still get just as nice accommodation.
- Great for larger parties.
- Private swimming pool.
- Kitchen facilities mean you can save on eating out.
- There are villas to fit every budget – you can find a villa from £350 upwards.
Villa cons/things to consider
- If you're traveling between September and April you'll want to add pool heating, which often comes with a surcharge.
- You will need a hire car.
- You may be slightly further away from the parks. This hasn't been an issue for us before, as we've driven, and it takes 30 minutes from leaving the villa to pulling into a Disney car park, but we're looking forward to being closer this year.
- Lack of housekeeping – you're in charge of clearing up after yourself.
- More facilities.
- You can get away without hiring a car, especially if your hotel offers shuttle buses to the theme parks.
- Daily housekeeping.
Hotel cons/things to consider:
- Most, if not all, hotels in Orlando add a daily resort fee per room. This can be anything from $2-$30. This will be listed when you book the hotel, in the fine print, or you can Google the name of the hotel and “resort fee” to find out what it is.
- You will need to tip housekeeping daily (typically $1-$2)
Saving money on villas
- Book with the villa owner direct. My favourite place to look for villas is DIBB. You can either post your villa requirements, search for villas or even search through special offers for villa owners with particular dates to fill.
Saving money on hotels
If you're looking to book a hotel then I can strongly recommend booking through Hotels.com. Firstly, there's currently 8% cash back on hotel bookings – so for every £100 you spend on a hotel booking you'll receive £8 back through Quidco. In additional, Hotels.com run a loyalty scheme where for every 10 nights you rack up (not just 10 nights in a row) then you get a night for free! This is in addition to the great prices – I've always found Hotels.com to be the cheapest.
You can also book a “secret hotel” for a cheaper rate. A secret hotel is where a company like Expedia offer you a “secret” hotel for a cheaper rate. You can find out the location of the so called secret hotel by finding out whatever information you can from the website (such as amenities and trip advisor reviews) and with a little detective work (otherwise known as copying and pasting into Google), you can find out the name of the hotel before you book.
Another great way to get a bargain on a hotel is to “name your price”. Priceline offers you just that – you can bid each day to see if your lowest offer is accepted. It is important to remember that your bid is binding, and if it is accepted then you've booked that hotel. Priceline doesn't tell you the names of the hotels, but you can make a fairly good estimate on which hotel(s) they are, by narrowing down the location and the amenities on offer.
There's always plenty of accommodation in Orlando, so don't stress yourself out too much worrying about hotels selling out. A lot of the hotels and villas are mirror images of each other, so if your perfect accommodation is not available to you then you're sure to find something else.
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