Home » 8 Luxurious Hotels Worth Spending Your Money On (That Aren’t Owned by Disney!)

8 Luxurious Hotels Worth Spending Your Money On (That Aren’t Owned by Disney!)

pahudson, Flickr (license)

When you consider a visit to Central Florida, it’s only natural to assume your options are either to splurge for luxurious accommodations on Disney or Universal property, or to tighten the wallet and stay off-property somewhere a bit more cost-conscious.

But, believe it or not, there is another option: Luxury hotels that aren’t owned or operated by Disney/Universal.

I know, it might feel silly to spend a lot of money on your lodging without either the benefits of an on-property stay or the “Disney Bubble” feeling we all love so much. But, often, you can find something truly extraordinary in the Orlando area for a cost that is more in line with Disney’s moderate options.

If you’re a luxury traveler, or if you don’t have kids who need that Disney-style stimulation 24/7, consider staying at one of these extraordinary non-Disney luxury hotels.

The Swan and Dolphin

 pahudson, Flickr (license)

Image: pahudson, Flickr (license)

We’ll start with the obvious here: Yes, The Swan and Dolphin are “official” Disney resort hotels. They have all the same perks as Disney’s own resorts, they have full Disney bus transportation, and they have essentially all privileges except for those pesky MagicBands.

But that’s where the “official-ness” stops. These are full-on luxury hotels run by Marriott and Starwood — with all of the same touches you’d associate with those brands. There are spas, dozens of restaurants and shops, and wonderfully appointed rooms with magnificent views.

They don’t feel like Disney hotels — not really. They do, however, feel absolutely luxurious, and their location within walking distance of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios make them uniquely perfect options for non-Disney class with all the Disney perks.

The Bonnet Creek Resorts

 kungaloosh, Flickr (license)

Image: kungaloosh, Flickr (license)

The Bonnet Creek region of Walt Disney World property hosts a handful of smaller resorts that all add up to a pocket of luxury hidden inside Walt Disney World itself. Yes, it’s on-property, but if you wanted to avoid the Disney vibes during your entire vacation, it would be very easy to do.

There’s a Hilton, a Wyndham, a Wyndham Grand, and the famed Waldorf-Astoria. There’s a golf course, multiple pools and water features, bunches of restaurants, and tons of space to spread out and relax. Additionally, all of the resorts are fairly newly built, meaning they don’t have that dated-luxury feel so many hotels in Central Florida have — particularly the comparable spots in the Disney Springs Resort area.

Bonnet Creek is a resort within a resort, and whether you want a standard luxury hotel experience like at the Hilton or a high-end cosmopolitan vibe like at the Waldorf-Astoria, you’ll find your needs are met in truly four-and-five star manner here.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

 hyku, Flickr (license)

Image: hyku, Flickr (license)

If you’re truly ready to give the off-property experience a try, but you aren’t fully ready to tasting more of what Orlando has to offer, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress offers a decent middle ground.

If you wanted to, you could probably throw a football from the parking lot at the resort and land it firmly on the property of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. It takes a bit more time to drive over that way, and you aren’t on Disney’s official transportation system either, but the trade-off is the definition of posh and luxury right at your fingertips. With rooms that are big and comfortable, with great views, it’s hard to argue the trade offs aren’t worth it.

There’s a grand pool complex, tennis courts, a beach with watercraft, multiple restaurants, a spa, an art gallery, and so many other things on-site for you to enjoy. You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to, but in the event you do, Walt Disney World is just a short drive away. And the best part: the cost is right on par with Disney’s moderate resorts — but you get so much more. 

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld


Image: Renaissance

If you’ve driven to SeaWorld before, you’ve probably driven past the massive white and blue building just in front of the park. It is bold and regal, with the word “Renaissance” calling out from its massive facade.

It is, of course, the Renaissance Orlando resort — an older property, but one of the classic luxury hotels in the central Florida area. It is a bit overlooked, perhaps because it resides next to one of the area’s most controversial tourist attractions: SeaWorld. But, regardless of your feelings on the marine park, the Renaissance is a true gem of a resort.

Featuring a grand atrium, a handful of restaurants and shops, a beautiful pool complex, and easy access to both SeaWorld and its magnificent waterpark, Aquatica, the location is a lovely and luxurious bubble from which to enjoy your vacation. Yes, it’s a bit far from Disney property — and fighting the I-4 traffic isn’t a fun time — but it is right between Disney and Universal, making it a solid jumping-off point for travelers planning on visiting both. And, above all, the resort is beautiful, well-maintained, and comfortable — all things you should expect on vacation.

Plus, it’s comparable in price to Disney’s Pop Century. Considering all you get for the cost, that’s a steal.

JW Marriott Orlando

 nanpalmero, Flickr (license)

Image: nanpalmero, Flickr (license

If you’ve stayed at a Marriott before, you might wonder what the hotel chain is doing on this list. Yes, they’re classy hotels, but they aren’t on par with some of the other brands listed, like Hyatt Regency and Waldorf-Astoria. However, the JW Marriott is another type of hotel altogether.

Located a bit off the beaten path, the JW Marriott Orlando sits just beside a small lake — offering plenty of peace and quiet for vacationers hoping to escape the stress of daily life. It also offers luxury and sophistication that other Orlando-area resorts often lack.

There are no bright-colored water slides here. There are no Nickelodeon characters or Pokémon. There’s simply high-class regality and an otherworldly pool area. The rooms are spacious, but unpretentious. The restaurants are good, and a step up from most hotel food.

In all, the JW Marriott is a quiet bit of luxury — comfortable, but chic. And, all things considered, no more expensive than Disney’s moderate resorts.

The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando

 sarahsj, Flickr (license)

Image: sarahsj, Flickr (license)

Just next door to the JW Marriott, however, you have the option to take a step up from your step up. If you read that section about the JW Marriott, and thought to yourself, “This all sounds nice, but I need a bit more luxury. I don’t care about comfort and unpretentiousness — I want to feel like the king of the world,” well, there’s a hotel for you.

The Ritz-Carlton is renowned for its commitment to sophistication and precision. Their hotels have all the pomp you associate with staying in a luxury hotel in the 1950s — dedicated bell staff, uncompromising concierge employees, and white-glove treatment for every part of the hotel. 

The hotel is ostentatious, but not gaudy. It is extremely impressive, and it’s very clear that you aren’t on Disney property while you’re here. It is for vacationers who truly know luxury and demand it — even if they have to stay slightly further away from Disney property.

And, yes, it’s still cheaper than nearly all of Disney’s Deluxe resorts.

Bohemian Hotel, Celebration

 Maurício Padovani, Flickr (license)

Image: Maurício Padovani, Flickr (license)

Once you’ve made the commitment to looking off-property for your resort, you probably discover Celebration, Fl. A small, planned community just south of the Walt Disney World property, Celebration is a piece of small town America with fantastic shops, restaurants, and green space.

Go to the end of the town’s main shopping district and you’ll find the Bohemian Hotel — a beautiful spot that feels like a downtown hotel in St. Augustine, Fl. or even New Orleans. It’s lively, but still luxe. The rooms are smaller, but with gorgeous serenity. The property feels simultaneously urban and still escapist. It’s magnificent resort.

The Bohemian Hotel isn’t quite as much of its own world as the Hyatt Regency or the JW Marriott, but its location in downtown Celebration gives it an energy that is undeniable — and its classy-but-comfortable room design makes it feel worth its price tag. 

The Four Seasons

 Four Seasons

Image: Four Seasons

But, perhaps, you want the best.

Perhaps you are uncompromising, and you believe that when you go on vacation, you deserve to have it all. Perhaps you read that section on the Ritz-Carlton, and you said “this sounds pretty good, but why is it so far from Walt Disney World?”

The Four Seasons is famous for offering the best and most luxurious hotels on Earth. If you have stayed at one, you probably remember every second of it — how it felt to be that important to every member of the staff, what it was like to explore a hotel in which every inch was inspected with a magnifying class. The Walt Disney World version is no different.

It has its own enormous pool complex, as well as its own suite of restaurants that are each inventive and delicious. It feels like a world removed from Walt Disney World itself, but in reality, it’s so close that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the rooftop lounge. It is the perfect hotel experience, unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Yes, this is the one hotel that generally is more expensive than any of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts. But it’s also the only one that would be a steal at twice the price.