An I-Drive landmark for more than 20 years, the hotel is now one of Marriott's Autograph Collection. In a bold move from kitsch to classy, the hotel was transformed a few years ago from a pink and purple cartoon castle to a sophisticated refuge of white and silver, filled with art. The rooftop terrace offers views of Universal—and Hogwarts Castle—along with the nightly fireworks, and the 425-foot-tall Coca-Cola Orlando Eye observation wheel and its dining-and-entertainment complex. The courtyard's round, heated swimming pool offers a serene escape from International Drive's frenzy. Two restaurants, Café Tu Tu Tango and Vito's Chop House, are connected to the hotel by a walkway. Pointe Orlando, a popular dining, entertainment, and shopping complex, is nearby, as are the Orange County Convention Center, Universal and SeaWorld.
A car is not necessary, as transportation options are varied, but parking is $15 daily.
White-duvet covered beds with ornate headboards provide the centerpiece to the rooms, where the carpeting and decor continue the lobby's regal gold and purple theme. Ergonomic chairs offer comfort if you have to bring work along on the holiday, and a mini-fridge lets you keep drinks and snacks cool.
Pale marble tiles line the showers and walls of the otherwise ordinary bathrooms.
If a Bavarian hunting lodge had been built with Mardi Gras in mind it might look just like this. Gold and purple dominate, with gilded antlers, glittering chandeliers, mirrors, floor to ceiling amethyst panels and huge amethyst encrusted stalagmites welcoming visitors to this boutique hotel. A few arty chairs--two that look like Mardi Gras masks--allow for some sitting and resting, but the lobby, while worth exploring, is not designed for lingering.
The circular heated pool offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby I-Drive, surrounded by the building's wings and dominated by a fountain of ancient dolphins. Towels are provided for guests.
The spa, located near the pool, offers a variety of massages and services, including facials, body scrubs and couples massage.
Plenty of state of the art exercise equipment, including free weights, ensure that guests won't miss out on their workouts.
The Garden Bistro & Bar offers simple breakfasts and lunches, and Antlers Lounge serves up seasonal American cuisine for dinner. Connected to the hotel by a walkway are two full service restaurants: Cafe Tu Tu Tango features tapas and Vito's Chop House offers steaks and more.
The I-Ride Trolley takes guests along the whole length of International Drive, including stops at Sea-World and discount shopping malls. The hotel does not offer any shuttles to theme parks or airports, but ride-sharing services and taxis are reliable and speedy and the city bus passes nearby. To explore more widely, visitors would need a car; parking at the hotel is $15 daily.
Nearby International Drive is home to about as wide a range of eateries as can be found anywhere, many within walking distance, or just a hop away via the I-Ride Trolley. Nearby offerings include the high-end steakhouse vibe of Capital Grille at Pointe Orlando, tapas and Flamenco at Tapa Toro, or a bite of spicy tuna at Kotai Sushi, both at the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex (3-minute drive).
Drinking establishments are just as varied as the eateries on International Drive. Visitors looking for high-energy, Latin music fueled atmosphere will find it by the tequila-laden bucketful at Mango's Cafe (4-minute drive), a few blocks north of the hotel. Señor Frog's (3-minute walk) is the place people go to unleash their inner party animal, and consume mass amounts of frozen fruity alcohol. A much cooler experience is available at ICEBAR Orlando (9-minute walk), where everything is frozen, including the bar.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Location is everything, but in the case of The Castle, the location is gilded, literally, adding to the charm. The whole place is enchanting, in an ironic, kitschy way. Right at the heart of the entertainment area on I-Drive, only 10 minutes to Universal or SeaWorld, and about 20 minutes from Disney, The Castle offers convenience at a decent price.