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This Luxury Florida Resort Is a Serene Escape Right Next to Disney World — and It Just Unveiled Major Renovations

I visited the newly renovated Waldorf Astoria Orlando — here’s why it’s a great choice for your next Central Florida vacation.

<p>Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure</p>

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

As Travel + Leisure’s theme park expert, I visit Orlando, Florida, several times each year, typically staying on property at one of the branded Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando hotels. But the great thing about the ever-growing Central Florida hotel scene is that there are accommodation options for truly every type of traveler — from multi-bedroom home rentals to magical Disney hotels with immersive theming to luxury resorts that feel secluded even though the theme parks are just moments away.

The refreshed Waldorf Astoria Orlando — with reimagined common spaces and guest rooms by Parker Torres Design — falls into that latter category. With bright and spacious rooms and suites with plenty of luxe touches and theme park views, fantastic dining venues, an expansive pool area, a massive spa, and an 18-hole championship golf course, you don’t need to leave the resort to have a great vacation. But with the Disney World theme parks just a short drive away, the resort offers the upscale experience you’d expect from the Waldorf Astoria brand, with an extra sprinkle of pixie dust.

I visited the Waldorf Astoria Orlando this month shortly after its extensive renovations for a long weekend with my mom, and it was the perfect destination for a mother-daughter getaway. We’re admittedly big theme park people, so we loved being able to hop to Epcot and Magic Kingdom one day and rest our tired feet in the spa’s Himalayan salt room the next. Beyond family vacations, couples trips, and business travelers (the hotel has lots of conference space and ballrooms), I think it’s a great destination for a Disney girls trip thanks to its perfect combination of access to theme parks and luxe spots to unwind in peace.



Waldorf Astoria Orlando

  • A recent renovation led by Parker Torres Design transformed guest rooms, restaurants, and common spaces.

  • Bull & Bear is the hotel's signature restaurant, known for steakhouse favorites and creative versions of classic dishes.

  • As an official Walt Disney World hotel, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers exclusive benefits for guests visiting the theme parks.



Here, my review of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

The Rooms

<p>Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure</p>

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s recently refreshed rooms and suites are decorated in calming neutral and blue tones with plush fabrics and golden accents, creating a serene escape from the bustle of Central Florida’s theme parks. Five hundred and two guest rooms range from standard king and double queen rooms to sprawling four-bedroom suites ideal for larger families or groups of friends.

<p>Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria</p>

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria

I stayed in a double queen deluxe suite with a view of the Disney World theme parks, which was outfitted with a large bar area and dining table, a living room with a sleeper sofa and chairs, a bedroom with two queen-size beds, a closet, and a bathroom with a separate tub and shower. And let's be real — I love to judge a hotel by the quality of the in-room coffee and amenities. A Nespresso machine was available in the room for all our early-morning coffee needs, and Aesop bath amenities were a lovely touch.

Food and Drinks

<p>Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure</p>

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

Visitors and Orlando locals alike flock to the hotel’s signature restaurant, Bull & Bear. With a refined steakhouse feel and a menu featuring classic dishes like tableside Caesar salads, seafood towers, fried chicken, and steaks, Bull & Bear is a crowd-pleaser. But the restaurant also has a few surprises in store, including a $100 baked potato topped with caviar, jamon Iberico, and a meticulously crafted dessert simply called The Lemon. It looks just like a lemon, but the lemon skin is carefully removed before it’s filled with lemon curd, chantilly cream, and lemon sorbet.

<p>Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria</p>

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria

Breakfast is served at Oscar’s Brasserie; you can choose from the buffet or a la carte menu — I recommend the lump crab egg Benedict. You can find casual bites and cocktails at Peacock Alley, the hotel’s lobby lounge, or outside by the pool at Aquamarine. The croissant bar at Sir Harry’s Lounge is a morning must-visit for coffee and a cronut (you can also grab classic croissants, breakfast sandwiches, and more here).

The adjacent Signia by Hilton has several other dining outlets you can visit during your stay; I had a lovely meal — with a delicious flatbread, pasta, salad, and roast chicken — at La Luce, the hotel’s Italian restaurant.

Activities and Amenities

<p>Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria</p>

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria

It’s easy to forget you’re just minutes from theme parks when you play the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club’s 18-hole championship course. The Bonnet Creek Nature Preserve makes for a picturesque spot to tee off, and there’s a pro shop, putting green, and practice range for visitors hoping to sharpen their game when they visit.

A large, zero-entry pool, a serene cabana-lined pool, and a Jacuzzi offer plenty of space to splash around. Cabana rentals include space for up to six guests, a TV, lounges, and more. There’s also a 24-hour fitness center.

Guests can take advantage of the dining locations and amenities, including a winding lazy river pool, at the adjoining Signia by Hilton.

Disney World Perks

Waldorf Astoria Orlando is an official Walt Disney World Hotel. No, you won’t find Mickey wandering the halls, but you can enjoy a slew of fantastic, theme park–focused benefits when you stay at this resort. The hotel is located a short drive from the theme parks and Disney Springs, with free transportation to these locations included during your stay. Guests staying at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando can also take advantage of early theme park entry, when they (and other Disney World hotel guests) can enter the theme parks 30 minutes early every day. You can also book a Disney-view room and see how many park icons and attractions you can spot from your window. From my 14th-floor corner room, I could see Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot (along with several other Disney World hotels and Disney Springs), and we watched the Epcot fireworks from our window on our final night for a magical end to our trip.

Related: 18 Best Disney World Hotels

The Spa

<p>Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria</p>

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria Spa offers a range of spa and salon services including Hydrafacials, CBD massages, scalp and body treatments, Normatec leg recovery, manicures and pedicures, and hair cut and color services. The facilities are expansive, with 22 treatment rooms, hot tubs, steam rooms, and the Himalayan salt room (available for an extra charge). I had the Aromatherapy Splendor Massage, which included picking out my favorite oil scent, and it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. I also had my first salt room experience and really enjoyed the serene, salt-block-lined room. After a couple of 20,000-step days at the theme parks, there’s truly nothing better than getting a full-body massage, taking a dip in the hot tub, and laying back in the salt room to recover.

Family-friendly Offerings

<p>Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure</p>

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

Beyond the hotel’s family-friendly pools, multi-bedroom suites, and easy access to the Disney World theme parks, several kid-focused amenities make this hotel a great pick for families. The hotel offers dive-in movies, s’mores, the WA Kids Club, mini golf, lawn games, and access to the arcade and lazy river pool next door at the Signia by Hilton. Astoria After Dark, available Friday and Saturday nights, allows parents to grab dinner (romantic date night at Bull & Bear, anyone?) while kids have supervised fun at the kids club.

Accessibility

Mobility- and hearing-impaired rooms are available, and common spaces are accessible, including the pools, which have chair lifts. The main pool also has a zero-entry end.

Location

Waldorf Astoria Orlando is located in the Bonnet Creek resort area next to Walt Disney World, along with Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek, Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, and the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek. It is connected to and shares some amenities with the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The resort is just a short drive to Disney’s theme parks; it took us just over 10 minutes to get to Epcot and about 15 minutes to reach Magic Kingdom. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the closest major airport, and it typically takes about 25-40 minutes to get there, depending on traffic.

Related: T+L’s Guide to Orlando

<p>Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria</p>

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria

How to Get the Most Out of Your Stay

Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts is one of Hilton’s most luxurious brands, so travelers who have racked up status and points with the Hilton Honors program can take advantage of exclusive benefits and even free nights. Hilton Honors also offers co-branded credit cards with lots of perks for Hilton loyalists, and some other credit card brands (including American Express) allow you to transfer points to Hilton Honors. Maximizing these benefits and cashing out some of your Hilton Honors points could help you save significantly on your stay here.

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