When you’re in search of hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood, take a look at Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. At one block away from the entrance, it’s the closest hotel to the theme park. This alone is ideal for families traveling with small kids who take naps. It’s perfect for those who need midday breaks before returning to the park or dinner at CityWalk. And, it eliminates driving in LA traffic to elsewhere in the city.
My daughter and I checked in recently and were pleased overall, despite a few hiccups. We’ve stayed at both Hilton Universal City and the Sheraton Universal Hotel next door. What I have to share below will help you decide which of the two properties is best for your stay. If you book hotels and tickets using my links, I may be compensated.
WHAT I LOVE
- It’s the closest hotel to Universal Studios Hollywood.
- The easy shuttle ride to City Walk
- Earning Hilton Honors points
- King Corner Room with sofa bed (nice for families of four)
- Large breakfast buffet
GOOD TO KNOW
- It’s a large hotel, so service can feel impersonal.
- The Sheraton is only a few minutes further by foot to the park and shares the same shuttle.
- Self-parking ($30/night) costs a little bit more than parking at Universal Studios ($25/day)
Check-In (a Bit Bumpy)
As a Hilton Honors Gold member, I checked into the Hilton Universal City via the app. After a long day at the park, I was ready to put my feet up. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at the hotel around 4 p.m. (normal check-in time). I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I wasn’t happy.
We decided to sit in the Atrium Lounge to wait while snacking on a perfectly-fine satay appetizer paired with a drink.
Vin Diesel was also in the lobby (a wax figure), one of the ways the hotel ties in its location steps from Universal Studios Hollywood.
I thought it would be a matter of minutes before I received a text that our room was ready. After about an hour we paid the bill.
I asked the front desk to find us a different room which they did. The staff member upgraded our breakfast to full (only continental breakfast is complimentary with my elite status) and put us in an available upgraded room. Problem solved. I’m okay with it in hindsight.
We were in a King Corner room which is what I would recommend for families of four. It has a sofa bed in addition to a view of the pool, foothills, and freeway.
I’m a fan of the king bed with a sofa sleeper arrangement. I personally find a queen-sized bed a bit small to share with my 6’6″ husband.
I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of the bed portion room before all of our stuff took over, but they generally look like this.
The beds were very comfortable. Despite being near the freeway, we couldn’t hear it nor did we hear our neighbors.
I would say the rooms are very well insulated and of a generous size, which is nice. The bathroom was also generously-sized.
COMPARED TO THE SHERATONThe Sheraton bathrooms are generally smaller but the room decor there is more modern and fun with touches of old Hollywood glam.
Rooms for Large Families
Hilton Universal City offers connecting rooms and they will guarantee them for an extra $35/night plus tax.
Another option for families of six is the double queen suite which has a sofa sleeper in the living room.
Rollaway beds are only permitted in king rooms. The fee for a rollaway bed is $35/night plus tax. With a rollaway bed, the king rooms with sofa beds can sleep five people though it will be tight with all beds in use.
Shuttles to CityWalk and Universal Studios Hollywood
Both the Hilton Universal City and Sheraton Universal Hotel share a shuttle to Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk. You can walk, too, but after a long day at a theme park, a ride can be most welcome.
Starving and a little out-of-sorts after checking in, we decided to eat dinner off-property. It took maybe five minutes from Hilton Universal City to reach Universal CityWalk. The latter is now quite a fun entertainment area, with the chain restaurants one might expect near a theme park coupled with some unique offerings sprinkled in.
Craving Chongqing chicken, we chose delicious Dongpo Kitchen and then finished with a dessert I’d seen on Instagram, boba topped with cotton candy at Mini Monster.
Sure, it’s touristy, but we had a great time. I do believe that access to CityWalk is a perk of staying at a hotel near Universal Studios Hollywood.
With all of the dining options in Los Angeles, I’m not sure I would have visited CityWalk otherwise. Like Downtown Disney, it’s part of the overall park experience.
Hilton Universal City Dining Options
Buffet breakfast happens at the signature restaurant, Cafe Sierra. It is a sizable, perfectly fine buffet with dim sum, fruit, eggs, cereal, various hot items and more. Outside of breakfast, it’s known for weekend seafood buffets and for offering a mix of Chinese and Western cuisines.
Down the hall, the Coffee Corner coffee shop offers Peet’s Coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and grab-and-go snacks.
COMPARED TO THE SHERATONHilton Universal City offers a larger and tastier breakfast buffet. Both hotels have grab and go coffee shops (Hilton’s is larger).
The Atrium Lounge with its televisions and offerings is a nice place to unwind with a glass of wine. The food is just okay.
The pool also has food and drink service. You can order room service as well.
In addition to the free shuttle already mentioned, you can find amenities here that you’d expect at a large four-star Hilton property.
A (busy) but helpful concierge team will help you organize a day at Universal Studios Hollywood or other things to do in Los Angeles with kids or without.
Work off your Homer Simpson-sized donuts and other outrageous theme park delights in the 24-hour fitness center or outdoor swimming pool.
If you need to work, rest assured that the business center can help you stay connected and productive.
The Bottom Line
Again, the perks of staying at a hotel near Universal Studios Hollywood include not sitting in LA traffic while trying to cross town. You’re close to the park if small kids need a break or a nap. And, you have easy access to shops and restaurants of CityWalk.
You’re also right next to the 101 freeway, a major transportation artery, should you want to also visit Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm. (Don’t forget that Harry Potter fans should also visit nearby Warner Bros. Studios Hollywood.)
SIGHTSEEING TIPIf you plan to visit multiple L.A. attractions consider the Go Los Angeles Card.
To sum it up, it’s a midrange corporate hotel with good amenities. There are no five-star hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood, so if you need to stay near the park, it’s a good, comfortable choice though it won’t knock the socks off of luxury travelers.
At the time of this writing, self-parking is $30. However, if driving to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll pay $25 to park in one of their lots anyway ($10 if arriving after 6 p.m.).
Guests without cars can rent them through the hotel via Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Book Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City
As someone who books hotels for others and is a Hilton Honors Gold member, I can tell you that the best way to book Hilton Universal City is usually directly through Hilton with the Hilton Honors discount.
Joining Hilton Honors is free. Through the app, you can check-in with Digital Key and monitor your reservation.
I am positive that we will book into Hilton Universal City again. Whether I choose Hilton or Sheraton will depend on price. They both have advantages. If you’re looking for more robust dining and amenities, I would choose Hilton. If you prefer smaller, quieter hotels (though it’s not quite) that give you a sense of place, book the Sheraton.