Visiting a theme park is usually a recipe for running yourself ragged, so your choice of hotel should be easy – something close, offering easy access to the park, and with enough luxury amenities to soothe your crowd-tired spirit. If you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, the Sheraton Universal Hotel offers all that and more.
On my visit to Universal last month, the last thing I wanted to worry about each day was driving to and from the park. Although the Sheraton Universal offers a complimentary scheduled shuttle, we generally chose to walk as it gave us greater independence in choosing our times. The walk is about 10 minutes to CityWalk, a few minutes more to the admission gate to the theme park. If you’re a Pokemon Go fan, you’ll find plenty of Pokestops and Gyms along the way. I was traveling with a teen and these were important things to know.
Walking into the hotel lobby is a reminder that this is Hollywood, or at least under the Hollywood influence. The black and cream Art Deco decor is a backdrop for numerous Hollywood details. A wax figure out Duane Johnson (The Rock) greets you by the door, and behind the lobby counters are dozens of black and white photos of Hollywood stars. I recognized most, but see how you do – take a look in the photo above and see if you spot Telly Savalas, Richard Gere, Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin and others. Posters and other paraphernalia was on display around the lobby and seating area.
We stayed in an entry level room with two double beds and no upgrade was offered (my SPG status should have entitled me to an upgrade). Looking out the window we saw the back lots at Universal Studios, and many of the sound stages that we would see when we toured the next the day. The floor to ceiling windows made the room light and airy, and it was a comfortable room to work and sleep in (I did both). The bathroom was unremarkable, but did have the expected upscale amenities and products.
The hotel is undergoing extensive renovations, but we didn’t experience any hiccups while we were there. Rooms renovations happening on lower floors didn’t interfere with our stay, but I was unable to get a peek into what the new decor and layout will be like. The entrance and main lobby is set for renovation this fall and that may create more of a disturbance for guests. Or, it may just mean an opportunity for value-priced rates for putting up with a little construction. The restaurants, bars, and pool areas will also be undergoing renovations this fall and into winter. If those things are important to you, be sure to inquire directly with the hotel for the status of construction during your stay.
The pool is good sized for a hotel, and the deck surrounding it is spacious with plenty of lounge chairs along with various sized cabanas. We looked into renting a cabana by the pool (prices start around $100) as the sun was pretty intense, but decided against it as there were too many other things we wanted to do. Had I been traveling alone, however, I would definitely have opted for some poolside relaxation.
Although the primary reason for our trip was to go Universal Studios Hollywood, we did have one day to explore somewhere else. The teen wanted to head to Santa Monica Pier (he heard there were lots of Pokemon opportunities there), and a helpful discussion with the hotel concierge convinced me that it was possible without renting a car or incurring costly limo expenses. The hotel is also walking distance from the Metro, the Universal City stop on the Red Line. An all day pass is $7.50 and gives you access to most all of Los Angeles within an easy walk of the hotel. For reference, it took about 45 minutes and one connection to get to Santa Monica.
The Sheraton Universal is located at 333 Universal Hollywood Drive in Universal City, California. The nearest airport is Burbank. The hotel does not have an airport shuttle, but is about a $9 Uber ride away. LAX is about 30 minutes away.
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Photo credits: Some photos used were from Sheraton Universal.