A team of Oyster reporters spent weeks exploring 31 Orlando hotels. We slept in the beds, ate in the restaurants, tested the service, and lounged by the pools, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. In a town that revolves around kids (and kids at heart), it can be hard to find hotels that offer peace and quiet. If you’re headed to Disney on an adults-only trip, below are our favorite hotels for a (somewhat!) grown-up experience.
A throwback to Florida's grand old Victorian-style seaside resorts, the Grand Floridian, Disney's crown jewel, is expensive but equally elegant. Its upscale restaurants, full-service spa, and formal décor appeal more to adults than children. Tennis courts, a jogging trail, boat rentals, and a well-equipped fitness center add to the grown-up appeal.
Made to look like Atlantic City in the 1940s, the relatively subdued Boardwalk Villas rests beside a glittering stretch of great restaurants, bars, carnival games, and even art galleries on scenic Crescent Lake, within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The hotel also offers a great gym, a pool just for adults, and some of Disney's best suites, which are more like upscale condos.
Designed like an old town on the Mississippi Delta, the huge, 2,048-room Riverside is one of Disney's best "Moderate"-category hotels. Its guest rooms aren't as new as those at Coronado Springs, but its beautiful (even romantic) setting -- plantation-style mansions set amid bayous, rustic-looking wooden shacks, horse-drawn carriages, and meandering, magnolia-lined paths along the riverside -- makes it a great pick for adults.
This pastel-colored time-share property with apartment-style rooms offers the comforts of home in a calm, peaceful setting that's not too far from the parks, crowds, and craziness of Disney. And while other Disney resorts feel either too small and crowded or too grand and difficult to navigate, Old Key West's size feels just right -- 761 studios and large, kitchen-equipped condos, a great gym, three tennis courts, and numerous pools all set in a beautiful, riverside setting.
Although its Riverside neighbor bests it in some ways, the pastel-colored, Mardi-Gras-themed French Quarter has the benefit of being half the size of the Port Orleans Riverside (1,008 rooms versus 2,048), which means it can provide adults with relative peace and quiet in the mornings and evenings.
Coronado Springs, a 1,961-room resort near Animal Kingdom, caters to both vacationing families (Mayan-temple pool and waterslide) and visiting conventioneers (quiet pools, business center, Wi-Fi). Plus, its rooms are among Disney's best, especially in the "Moderate" category, given that the 2009 renovation brought down comforters and flat-screens.