Not every Universal Studios Hollywood guest knows that the park has two on-site hotel options, with the absolute closest being the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City.
Using the walking path along (and then over) Universal Hollywood Drive, you can go from the hotel property to the front gates of the theme park in less than 10 minutes.
That shaves off some minutes compared to the adjacent Sheraton Universal, but there, I had paid $105 less than the $290 I snagged through Hotels.com for my stay at the Hilton
Be warned that those prices will fluctuate quite a bit. The value proposition for both hotels, however, is the same if you’re a theme park guest: Is it worth it to stay on-site at Universal Studios Hollywood when you can experience the park in a single day?
When it comes to the room, the Hilton definitely beats out the Sheraton. Every part of the room offers more space, along with more comfortable beds and showers.
Take a look at my video room tour for more:
The Hilton’s amenities are closer to what you’d expect to find at a hotel next to a major convention center than a theme park, like having multiple lounge areas.
If you’re searching for a drink, you’ve got the Atrium Lounge inside the lobby, a poolside bar, and the newer Clubhouse Golf Bar, which features an indoor golf simulator to practice your swings.
Food options are more limited. The lobby’s Cafe Sierra serves buffets at varying times: breakfast on weekdays, a seafood and rib buffet on Saturday nights, and a champagne brunch on Sundays. An outdoor restaurant, Five on the HIll, is jammed into a small space next to valet parking and only operates from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., offering mostly flatbreads and seafood.
Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for a small menu of bar food staples at the poolside lounge, snacks at the Atrium Lounge, the inconsistently-open or room service. Really, you shouldn’t be settling for any dining option at the Hilton when City Walk offers much better variety — and operating hours — just up the hill.
The Coffee Corner offers the typical Starbucks-like fare in the mornings, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless there’s no wait. The location — like similar hotel coffee stands I’ve experienced — tends to be very understaffed, so the wait snowballs quickly with just a few people in line.
Coffee locations in City Walk and inside the park may look like they have longer lines, but the wait will be less thanks to having more workers.
Beyond the food, there is an outdoor pool.
The weather was too cool to take a dip on my visit, and while there’s nothing overly impressive about the pool area, it was better than what you’d find at most Disneyland-area hotels and nicely secluded.
Unlike Universal Orlando hotels, you’ll find little in the way in-park merchandise at the Hilton. There’s a small shop selling clothes, some snacks, and a few touristy items in case you wanted a spirit jersey that you could probably find at the airport.
There’s also a jewelry stand right out front of that store, just in case you needed extra reminding that this place is not catering to the typical theme park guest.
Proximity to the park
The Hilton Universal City Hotel is so close to the theme park via the walking path that it will take you less time to walk from the hotel than most guests parking by CityWalk.
There is also a complimentary shuttle bus shared with Sheraton Universal that runs on a roughly 15- to 20-minute loop, but walking will usually be faster, if you can stand a bit of an uphill climb.
As I wrote in my Sheraton Universal review, however, this perk doesn’t add as much value to the hotel as you may imagine. Even with the addition of Super Nintendo World, you only need one day at Universal Studios Hollywood. So you’re only likely to use that proximity once; ask yourself, is that really worth $300 per night? My guess would be no.
An exception would be if your trip includes Universal Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. You may appreciate being able to stumble your way back to your hotel room in the wee hours of the morning after a night of scares (and booze).
Like its neighbor, the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is not really a theme park hotel, but more like a business hotel that happens to be next to a theme park. If you’re looking for anything memorable or distinctive here that adds to your theme park trip, you’re not likely to find it.
It’s still a quality hotel with big, comfortable rooms that will put you as close as possible to the front gate. But considering the higher price and lack of consistent dining options, I’d recommend staying at the Sheraton instead if you absolutely want to stay on-site at Universal Studios Hollywood.
DISCLOSURE: This review is based on my own opinion and perspective. I paid for my own room, using a publicly-available deal from Hotels.com. The hotel was not aware that I was conducting a review, so I did not receive any special treatment or service.