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My Oasis in the Sunshine State
Quality Inn Plaza International Orlando (USA)
Member Name: StampedingTurtes
Quality Inn Plaza International Orlando (USA)
Advantages: Very clean, tidy, cheap, lovely, wonderful hotel! Nice location.
Disadvantages: Perhaps some people would not want to be on International Drive
~~~ Background ~~~
I went to Florida with my boyfriend last year. I had been before but he had not. We wanted a hotel on International Drive because it is so central for all of the attractions, but I was aware of how tacky some areas of the drive could be. Imagine my surprise when we ended up staying down at the bottom end of the drive which is comparatively classy compared to the garish, blackpool-esque top end of the drive! We stayed at the Quality Inn Plaza from the 21st August until the 4th September 2010 and we had a wonderful holiday.
~~~ Introduction ~~~
On arrival we were placed in a room facing the back of the building, away from International Drive. At first glance, this may seem like a good thing, being away from the main tourist area...WRONG! If you are in a room at the back of the building you are facing the I4 which is a very busy 8 lane interstate. It's busy 24 hours a day. On entering the room we realised instantly that we could hear the roar of the traffic over the air conditioning. So we went down to reception to ask to be moved. In typical American fashion, this was not a problem and we were instantly moved to another room on a side area of the hotel...but still towards the back. We could still hear the traffic. My boyfriend looked at me hopefully, thinking it would be alright. But, after a nine hour flight and a 4 hour diversion to Tampa, I was in no mood to take half measures. It was 10pm I wanted a quiet room!!! So we went back down and my boyfriend bravely approached the desk for the second time. Again, this was not a problem, the placed us in a lovely room on the front of the building in block C.
On entering the room we were relieved to find that we couldn't hear a single sound from outside. Success! We collapsed in a heap, followed by nice cool showers after the Florida heat!
~~~ The Room ~~~
The rooms have been refurbished between 2009 and 2010 and some were still being refurbished when we were there.
The room is your typical motel room. You open the door and are looking towards the back of the room which has a sink area, dressing area and bathroom. On your left or right depending on where the room is, you will find a large window with good, heavy, blackout curtains and lighter net curtains. Under the window is the individually controlled air conditioning unit - an absolute must if you are visiting Florida. We used to set the A.C. so cold that we would wake up shivering during the night!
The room had two twin beds with mustard coloured top sheets and lovely soft feather pillows. The beads had large, dark wood headboards. All of the furniture in the room matched this dark wood and the overall look of the room was clean and modern. None of your old style mish mash of colours on the beds and curtains!
On the wall opposite the beds there was a large standard lamp, a desk, a large TV unit with flat screen TV and a chest of drawers and a large wardrobe. All the storage space you need! There was also a nice armchair by the window and beside tables and lamps between the beds. The bedside tables had a radio alarm clock, plug points and a cupboard underneath which is where the room safe is located.
The room was very clean, neat and tidy. It was larger than we needed and would comfortably accommodate a family of four. We were very impressed. It has clearly been refurbished recently and everything was brand new.
The beds were fairly hard compared to your own bed at home but were remarkably comfortable! It was wonderful to have proper feather pillows!
~~~ The Bathroom and Dressing Area ~~~
The bathroom area is closed off from the rest of the room by sliding doors of the same dark wood as the rest of the furniture. This is really handy as it allows the sink area to be used as a wee dressing room. The sink area had a large mirror and a marble worktop. The area was large enough to use as a dressing table or to shave at. There is also a hairdryer, a small fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker with coffee etc there ready to use.
The bathroom was fairly small and a little bit stuffy, but it was very clean. There is a door which separates it from the large sink and kitchen area. There was a bath with a shower over it, a toilet, and a sink. Each room was provided with a 4 large bath towels, 4 smaller hand towels and a 4 face cloths. The towels were changed daily which was really useful as I usually had two showers every day, one in the morning and one before going out for dinner.
These bathroom and sink areas were very useful as they were closed off. This allowed me to get up and get ready earlier than my boyfriend and stand and blast my hair dry with the hotel hair dryer (hair takes an age to dry in the humid Florida air!)
~~~ The Hotel Facilities ~~~
The Quality Inn has a little shop called the Lite Bite Deli. It sells all of the usual essentials like water, juice, snacks, fruit etc. However, it is very expensive and I would avoid using it if possible. There are a number of other options which I will discuss in the next section.
There is also a restraint in the hotel called the Plaza Garden. We did not eat here as there were so many other choices which were cheaper and more inviting. As well as the restraint, the hotel has a gift shop selling T-Shirts and postcards and toys. It's very nice and there's great variety, but you tend to buy these sorts of things when you are out and about anyway so again, we didn't use it.
There are computers with pay as you go internet, phones, a post box etc all located in the reception area. One of the most helpful things we found is that there is a kiosk in the reception area where you can book various trips. We used this to book our day at NASA and Kennedy Space Centre. The girl there is very helpful and can tell you about various options for park passes and the iTrolly etc. She is a mine of information and I would recommend speaking to her about anything at all you have questions about!
The hotel also has three swimming pools. They are relatively small but absolutely lovely. They never seemed too busy, although, it being Florida, no one comes to sit by a pool. We went to the pool after a water park one day and it's lovely. The water is a nice temperature, it's quiet and secluded. Very relaxing away from the Florida Buzz.
There is a small play park at the back of the hotel but I doubt it is used often. The hotel has excellent parking space and a beautiful reception. The rooms are cleaned each day and at the end of the holiday it is generally accepted that you should leave the cleaner a tip as they are taxed quite highly and they really do a good job. We left about $30 (£20) which worked out at $2ish a day. This seems to be the generally accepted amount.
~~~ Hotel Information ~~~
Address: 9000 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819
Check in: 4pm. Check Out: 11am.
The hotel has 1020 rooms which are spread across six buildings just off of International Drive. It is rated as 3 star since the renovations and all rooms have wifi.
The hotel is about an hours drive from Orlando Sanford Airport and about 15 minutes drive from Orlando International.
The hotel provides free shuttle buses to Universal, SeaWorld and Wet 'n' Wild. It also provides a bus to the Disney parks but there is a small fee for this.
The hotel is pet friendly providing it is a small animal (less that 50lbs) which is kept on a lead at all times. They charge £10 per night per pet.
The hotel provide a variety of seasonal packages and activities. Most hotels in Florida will be affiliated with either Universal or Disney. This one is affiliated with Universal.
If you want to see photos of the hotel, here is a link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/52505735@N05/sets/721 57624609400068/
~~~ The Hotel Location ~~~
The hotel is at 9000 International Drive. This is at the bottom end of International drive across from Pointe Orlando. This is generally regarded as the classier end of International drive. It is certainly quieter and has much nicer restaurants.
Right infront of the hotel you will find your breakfast provider for the two weeks...Sizzler. $5 for a buffet breakfast. This is perfect for a busy holiday like this one, however, you are best to arrive early (before 8am) or late (after 10am) otherwise you have to stand in a queue before you are seated and the buffet is very busy. The food on offer is your general buffet fayre but tastes great and there's loads of fruit in the fruit bar and cereals as well as the cooked food.
The hotel is near a number of great restraints. The Olive Garden is just up the street, this is a lovely family Italian. There is also the Pointe across the road. This is a wonderful area full of great eateries! We ate here several nights. Our favourite restraint of the whole holiday was a 5 minute walk from our room - Maggiano's. It's a big, noisy, family Italian restraint. It serves massive portions for great prices and all of the food is absolutely wonderful. While we were there there was a giant Italian wedding going on in one of the function rooms. If you stay at the Quality Inn Plaza you simply MUST eat a Maggiano's. It's wonderful! There are also more upmarket black tie restaurants in this area such as the Oceannairre Seafood Room which is really divine - we loved out waiter John - but very very expensive.
As well as being perfectly located for food, the hotel is only a 20 minute drive to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Both of these parks are worth two visits each! Please do not try to get around both in the one day, YES you can walk between them, but it's not worth it, you will miss things out! It's an easy drive too, up I.Drive, turn left, turn right and you're there. It is also only a 15 minute drive in the other direction to Sea World and Aquatica.
Disney is a slightly longer drive, probably about 40 minutes depending on which route you take. Still, it's reasonably straightforward to get there. You pass under the Disney sign after about 25 minutes driving, but it takes a further 15 minutes once inside the Disney boundary to get to your chosen park gates and then to park. The Disney Parks are Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. All of them are worth at least one visit! I'd suggest do the Magic Kingdom twice to really take it all in.
I should also mention here that there are a number of shops near the hotel which are cheaper than the hotel shops. There is a Walgreen's across the street. This is kind of like a Boot's pharmacy crossed with a convenience store. They sell everything (socks, toys, booze, digital cameras, make up, toys, towels, souvenirs, sweets, proper food, sunglasses, coffee, stamps) and are fairly cheap compared to theme park prices or hotel shop prices. We bought our water and root beer and stuff here.
~~~ Conclusion ~~~
If...no... WHEN I go back, I plan to stay in this hotel again. It is clean, tidy, friendly and very convenient. It's in the nice bit of I. Drive and away from the tackiness of the top end. There is an I.trolly stop (No 23) right outside the hotel so it's convenient even if you don't have a car. However, I would recommend a car, it's just so much better to be independent. We got a sat nav which made driving pretty simple.
This is a perfect base hotel for sleeping in and getting ready. It is wonderful to come back from a hot, sticky, busy and stressful day at a theme park and enter an icy cold room with a crisp, fresh bed to spread out on. It's not a luxury hotel by any standards, but it has everything you need for a magical holiday in Florida. I would not hesitate to go back to this hotel. Infact, I'd go back tomorrow!
The Quality Inn Plaza has been taken over by the Rosen Corporation who have a very good name in terms of hotel/motel quality. There is another Rosen hotel next door and I think you can now use some of their facilities too.
If you visit Florida, I cannot recommend a better budget hotel. It costs what a budget hotel should cost, but the quality and location make much higher than a simple budget hotel.
Summary: Lovely better than basic hotel in the nice end of International Drive.
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