If you’re a big theme park fan and make regular pilgrimages to Orlando, you know that trying to decide where to stay while you’re there can be as difficult as trying to decide which ride to go on next at Disney World. There are just too many options.
But fret no more. The smart choice is a joint property that includes the fabulous Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. The hotels are connected by a large convention hall, and because guests at either property can take full advantage of the other’s amenities, it’s kind of like getting two hotels for the price of one. For instance, if you book your stay at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, you can enjoy signing privileges at all of the Waldorf Astoria’s restaurants, bars, and shops, and enjoy the Waldorf’s pool, spa, and world-class 18-hole golf course.
The hotels are conveniently located right near Disney and the rest of the parks (there’s even a free shuttle that will take you there), but because they’re surrounded by a nature preserve, you feel like you’re a million miles away.
The Hilton Bonnet Creek is the more affordable and family-friendly of the two. Its Junior Suites are spacious and well-appointed, and there’s a separate sitting area with a queen-size foldout couch that makes them a good option if you’re bringing the kiddos along. The Hilton has several nice restaurants, but topping the list is La Luce, where the menu of Italian specialties includes entrees like linguine alla putanesca and a thin-crust prosciutto di parma pizza. The butterscotch pudding dessert, served with house-made toffee, is so popular it even has its own Facebook page. If you go, be sure to check out the beautiful panels depicting lush Italian landscapes that have been drawn, in chalk, by local artists. After dinner, head to the MYTH lobby bar for cocktails, grabbing a seat out on the patio by one of the fire pits if you can.
The focal point of the Hilton Bonnet Creek is the pool area. It covers a whopping three acres and includes a waterslide and winding lazy river. The pool at the Waldorf is nice, too, but more subdued. For the ultimate day by the pool, you can rent one of the Waldorf’s private cabanas, which come with complimentary soft drinks and fruit platter, a mini frig, high-def TV, and even wireless Internet access.
The Waldorf includes several notable eateries. Peacock Alley, the elegant bar just off the lobby, has a selection of scrumptious small bites you can order, like eggplant fries and lamb meatballs, but its specialty cocktails are what truly stand out. Its signature drink, in fact, is a crazy concoction made of lavender syrup, lemonade, Blue Curacao, and Bombay Sapphire that’s served in a frozen “egg” that actually lights up—you kind of have to see it to believe it.
One spot you won’t want to miss is the Bull & Bear, the Waldorf’s wood-paneled steakhouse. It’s best known for its enormous 38-ounce Tomahawk rib eye that’s dry aged for 32 days, as well as its tableside preparations of dishes like Caesar salad and Maine lobster. But everything you try here, from the mac and cheese with applewood smoked bacon to the “fried” chicken (ask them how it’s made, you’ll be amazed) to the dessert beignets, will elicit oohs and aahs around the table. Seriously, if you’re going to splurge on anything while you’re in Orlando, make it dinner at the Bull & Bear.
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando are such incredible properties that you may just find yourself skipping the whole park scene and staying at the resort the entire time. Maybe next time, Mickey.
To reserve your room at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, visit hiltonbonnetcreek.com. For a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, go to waldorfastoriaorlando.com.