“Hard Rock” is not exactly a theme, at least not in the same way other Universal/Disney hotels use the word “theme.” California-styled Spanish architecture describes Hard Rock’s external design, and contemporary describes the interior. Lobby décor ranges from standard hotel fare to kinda-cool chic.
The rock angle comes from multiple museum-like displays featuring famous bands’ instruments, costumes, records, and more. (Actual artifacts could change since exhibits may be rotated.) And while that sounds less impressive than having the live band or performer onsite, there’s something breathtaking seeing Elvis Presley’s famous white jumpsuit in the lobby, or one of Elton John’s many high-heeled glitter shoes from the seventies. Celebrities may not stay onsite, but their clothes do. Given Elvis’ current condition – dead – that’s not such a bad thing.
The Hard Rock has a relatively small convention facility. And, like most Orlando park hotels, a great pool.
Who should stay here
The Hard Rock appeals to a very specific type of visitor, and you know who you are. It has mementos from at least four decades, so the appeal crosses generations. Visitors looking for a non-themed hotel – yet a type not found back home – should love the Hard Rock. It’s also a great choice for those seeking a “normal” hotel with a little Orlando pizzazz.
Who shouldn’t stay here
While the exhibits have a contemporary presentation, the hotel could still feel a bit like a museum, especially to kids who don’t remember most of the bands. Those seeking transport to a different world while vacationing should consider a different resort.
All Universal resort guests have free boat service (water taxi) from their hotel to CityWalk. From CityWalk, they can connect to another water taxi. Sidewalks also allow guests to walk to all hotels and parks, but it’s a hefty hike, especially in a steamy Central Florida summer.
Questions to ask when booking
The hotel circles the pool, so almost half the rooms have a pool view. If looking the other direction, ask about the scenery. Higher rooms on the outside could also overlook less pretty sites, such as parking lots and roads.
Hard Rock Hotel website: http://www.hardrockhotelorlando.com