12 solid hotels near Disneyland that aren’t stupidly expensive
When you wish upon a star, they say, it makes no difference who you are. When you book a Disneyland-adjacent hotel, however, it makes a big difference how much homework you do.
So I’ve been nosing around Anaheim, dodging unenchanted castles, sidestepping minuscule swimming pools and sniffing out small-print resort fees and parking charges, in the search for lodgings that both make sense and save cents. These are my 12 favorites.
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In their ranks you’ll find a water park or two (looking at you, Howard Johnson) and a few renovated old favorites (that’s you, Candy Cane Inn). And there are enough bunk beds in lodgings along Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue to accommodate all of Steamboat Willie’s progeny.
Before making my very subjective best-values list, I narrowed the field by using a few objective measures. I started by ruling out Disney’s three hotels, which cost a lot more than the rest. I further narrowed the list a lot by sticking to hotels whose rates for Saturday night, April 22, started below $270 (as of early March).
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I scoured reports from Disney devotees (including prolific hotel-watcher Tom Bricker) and citizen critics. I stuck to lodgings within a one-mile walk of the park entrance (hoping to avoid the park’s $30-a-day parking fee and the $6-per-day shuttle bus).
I paid extra attention to the 57 Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels (which means they’ve been Disney-vetted and Disney-affiliated, teaming up to offer vacation packages). I read enough American Automobile Assn. inspection reports to sink a Jungle Cruise boat. I checked out more than 20 hotels in person, most with daytime visits, some with overnight stays.
The list is alphabetical, because these 12 are all strong in their own ways — but for the record, I liked the Candy Cane Inn best. Also, I wished I could include the Courtyard Marriott Theme Park Entrance, which has a great water park and location, but its rates are over my self-imposed limit.
Here’s a little more about rates. The hospitality analytics company STR says the average daily rate at Disneyland-area hotels was $212.70 in January. That’s up 19% from January 2019. If last year is a fair guide, prices will rise another 15% by June.
On top of the advertised rates, consumers can expect to pay bed taxes (17% in the resort area), often hotel parking fees and sometimes resort fees (even at old motel properties). The result? In the time it takes for Tinkerbell to swing her wand, the tab for a $200 room can levitate beyond $250, as if by magic. And then there’s the gift shop.
However, you often can save money by booking midweek, using loyalty-program credits or mentioning your AAA membership (which saves you $10 some places, 10% in others). Paying in advance could save you $30 a night at many places (but if your plans change, you could be stuck with a bill).
Still curious about those Disney-run hotels? Their rates on my Saturday-night-in-April test date started at $761 (Disney’s Grand Californian), $593 (Paradise Pier Hotel) and $431 (Disneyland Hotel).
Now on to the bargains.
The Anaheim Hotel
Many of the hotel’s 306 units are in two-story buildings (no elevator), and the upstairs units in the 100 building are said to be good for fireworks-watching. Standard rooms are a relatively spacious 364 square feet, and furnishings deliver that Mid-Century Modern vibe (lots of orange armchairs and globe lamps). Many units have patios or family-friendly connecting doors.
The location is good. The property, which gets a three-diamond rating from AAA, is half a mile from the park’s front gate. There’s a fitness room and a laundry room (connected) and a concierge, which is a rarity in the neighborhood. Also, the hotel has its own loyalty program, the Anabella Club (which, under the right conditions, will give you a free night for every six you buy).
Drawbacks: No free breakfast. There is a make-your-own-pizza place, the Pizza Press, on-site offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Front Room Lounge in the lobby also serves burgers, sandwiches, salads and drinks.
Spring weekends start at about $239 a night, plus taxes, $20 parking and a resort fee of $7.50 per day. Weekday rates get as low as $184.
Best Western Plus Anaheim Inn
The guest rooms and suites are on three levels, with a tiny pool and a hot tub on the ground floor. There’s a fitness room. There’s no restaurant on-site but plenty on this busy block, and a continental breakfast is included. AAA gives this property three diamonds.
Guest rooms and suites, set on three levels, boast many shades of beige and brown.
Spring weekend rates typically begin at $269, plus tax, $15 parking and a resort fee of $5.
Cambria Hotel & Suites Anaheim Resort Area
One big asset is the guests-only water park area, which has a swimming pool, wading pool, large hot tub and a waterslide. The lobby is big, as befits a lodging with 352 rooms and 11 stories, and it has a fireplace.
There’s free hot breakfast, a bar and a fitness center. Seven restaurants stand next door: Starbucks, Luna Grill, Ono Hawaiian, the Habit, Jersey Mike’s, Yogurtland and California Fish Grill.
The design is contemporary and sleek, though the lobby’s curvy armchairs and sofas definitely carry Mid-Century Modern echoes. All rooms and suites have showers and tubs, and furniture is more grown-up than playful. (Even the bunk beds look subdued and mature.) The hotel gets three diamonds from AAA.
Spring weekend rates usually start at $256 nightly, but you’ll need to add another $30 for parking, a $19 resort fee and taxes. Weekday rates start as low as $155.
Candy Cane Inn
It has 171 units on two stories (no elevator), as much greenery as a motel layout will permit, a fountain in front and a breakfast patio next to the central pool. Also by the pool, there’s a hot tub under a gazebo. Fitness center too.
Candy canes? I couldn’t find any until I checked in. Then I saw that the front desk’s pens are candy-cane-shaped and on the countertop there’s a jar full of canes for hungry kids.
The expanded continental breakfast includes waffles, several kinds of cereal, baked goods and hard-boiled eggs. I didn’t see any bacon (a fact that surely would please Moana’s pot-bellied porcine sidekick, Pua).
In my upstairs room, the art included an enormous red rose mural in the bathroom (tall enough to qualify for any ride in the park) and a framed collage of hotel memorabilia (including a 1982 rate card showing a room rate of $30 nightly plus 6% tax).
As the old brochures show, once upon a time this hotel had a vintage sign with a pair of candy canes, crossed like swords on a royal family insignia. Where is that sign now? Could this be a case for Mira, Royal Detective?
Since the renovation, AAA has bumped the inn up from two diamonds to three. If my kid was 5 again, I’d book this place first.
The hotel has its own free shuttle bus, running hourly, even though it’s only two-thirds of a mile from the park entrance. Because it’s the only hotel on the Disneyland side of Harbor Boulevard, you don’t have to cross a busy street, and it’s got the most pleasant walk to the gate.
Spring weekend rates start as low as $239 plus taxes, with free self-parking and no resort fees. Weekdays: as low as $199.
Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center
But there are many positive notes to this five-story, 174-unit building. Its recent vintage is one, and the prices are another. It’s clear this site’s management is aiming at convention folks and Disney people staying less than a week. (It’s part of the Disney Good Neighbor hotel program.)
The small pool is neighbored by a large hot tub. There’s a fitness center, along with bikes you can borrow. Guest rooms are either studio suites, one-bedroom units or kids suites (that’s right, bunk beds), and they combine carpet and hardwood floors — a nice design touch. Bathrooms have showers, no tubs.
All units have two-burner stoves, which is great news for anyone looking to save money on meals, and one-bedroom units have full kitchens. (But there’s also free hot breakfast downstairs.) AAA gives it three diamonds.
Drawbacks: While the freeway is close, the nearest restaurants to the Element are a few blocks away, either on Harbor Boulevard or in the Anaheim GardenWalk mall (which has about 20 of them).
The hotel stands eight-tenths of a mile from the park entrance.
Spring weekend rates start at about $170, plus taxes and $22 for parking. No resort fees.
Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort
You’ll find Disney-themed rooms on the upper floors (Level 6 and above), with plenty of kid-friendly touches and better views toward the fireworks. Many units have bunk beds and most have tubs and showers. There’s also a game room and fitness center.
The hotel is half a mile from the park entrance and gets three diamonds from AAA.
Drawback: Before the pandemic, Pizza Hut Express and Seattle’s Best Coffee were available on the third floor (and the website seems to suggest that they’re still open), but both remain closed, so there are no restaurants on site. (Panera, McDonald’s and Mimi’s Cafe are a short walk away.)
Also, despite the Marriott connection, guests do not get access to the water park at the pricier Courtyard by Marriott next door. Sad trombone there. But still a good overall value.
Spring weekend rates start at about $248, plus taxes and $24 parking. No resort fee.
Hotel Indigo Anaheim
The four-story Indigo’s 104 guest rooms are pleasant, with hardwood floors and bold-colored rugs, but they’re not large. A standard double is about 320 square feet, with a shower (and no tub) in the bathroom. The pool is small, the fitness center compact.
The hotel’s downstairs Chambers Bar & Bistro, which used to serve dinner and drinks, is only serving breakfast (not free) at the moment. But my oatmeal with fruit was hearty and the property gets healthy marks from Tripadvisor travelers.
It’s seven-tenths of a mile by foot to the Disneyland entrance. This hotel gets three diamonds from AAA.
Spring weekends typically start at $229, plus taxes. Free parking, no resort fee.
Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground
And since a renovation in July, this HoJo seven-story tower building includes a “House of the Retro Future” suite that’s a 700-square-foot homage to the years from 1957 to 1967 when Monsanto sponsored a futuristic home in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. (Cost of the suite: $1,957 for a two-night stay.)
I stayed in a standard room, which was spacious, bright and clean, the bathroom small (with shower/tub). One niggle: The clock by my bed was 70 minutes fast.
The 296-unit complex covers 7 acres, which is a bigger footprint than most hotels in the area have. The two-story buildings don’t have elevators, because they weren’t required back in the day.
Drawback: The freeway’s hum was notable from nearly everywhere outdoors on the property, though barely audible once I was in my room after dark. (For security, guests use their key cards to enter each building.)
There’s no on-site restaurant these days (HoJo sends hungry guests to the Mimi’s Cafe across the street), but there’s a very big selling point for younger kids: a guests-only water park known as Castaway Cove. Ariel, the Little Mermaid, would approve.
There’s also a second pool, the Garden Pool, with a quiet, adult vibe. The hotel has an “approved” rating from AAA but no diamond ranking.
Spring weekend rates typically begin around $225, plus tax and $25 parking. No resort fee. An operator told me the hotel usually has a two-night minimum, but it rented me (booking anonymously) a single night on short notice.
It’s five stories, 264 units. Some units have full kitchens, so you can picture Chef Louis fixing the Little Mermaid a fried fish or two.
Design? Bland. But the rooftop pool and hot tub are reasonably sized. There’s a fitness room. And a free hot breakfast buffet.
It gets three AAA diamonds.
It’s about two-thirds of a mile by foot to the Disneyland entrance, and close enough to the convention center that you may have some business travelers among the Disney people.
Spring weekends typically start at $249, plus taxes, $28 parking, no resort fee.
Park Vue Inn
It has 86 minimally adorned rooms (including some suites with kitchenettes), which surround the medium-sized pool, hot tub and parking lot.
The compact lobby includes a fireplace and Craftsman furniture, and there’s ice cream on-site — a Cold Stone Creamery whose sugary goodness I could smell from the lobby. The inn is wedged between a Denny’s and an IHOP, both 24-hour operations. Which would Elsa and Anna choose, or would they stick with ice cream?
Spring weekend rates typically start at about $239 plus tax and a $10 resort fee (which is well-concealed on the inn’s website). Parking is free.
SpringHill Suites at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center
The hotel fills five floors with 174 units, all suites, all at least 380 square feet. There are bunk beds in kids’ suites. There’s a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and a CVS pharmacy downstairs.
When it comes to design, many rooms are business-generic (and bathrooms have all showers, no tubs). But kids’ suites are much livelier. The largest of them — at 590 square feet — sleep seven and face the park.
The hotel’s small (but Instagram-ready) rooftop pool, hot tub and deck offer views of Disneyland‘s nighttime fireworks.
There’s a fitness center, laundry room and a free hot breakfast buffet. The hotel gets three AAA diamonds.
It’s about two-thirds of a mile by foot to the Disneyland entrance. Like the neighboring Hyatt House and Hotel Indigo, it’s close enough to the convention center to draw business travelers along with Disney pilgrims.
Spring weekends typically start at $218, plus taxes, $28 parking, no resort fee.
Tropicana Inn & Suites
The Tropicana has a bigger pool than many of these neighbors (and a hot tub, as they all do), surrounded by parking and guest buildings, which are two and three stories high, 197 units in all. (There were only 32 rooms when the current family of owners took over in 1958. The family also owns the nearby Camelot Inn.)
Guests can get coffee and snacks on site at the Cove on Harbor Market. In the lobby you’ll see artworks based on vintage hotel signs. Also, don’t be surprised if staffers say “hello again,” even if it’s your first time there. (I think it’s part of the training.)
Worth noting: One housekeeper volunteered proudly that she’d be there for 20 years — a very good sign, I’d say.
Units have clever blue-palm wallpaper patterns. The park-view suites have balconies looking toward Disneyland’s fireworks. There are also family suites and kitchen suites. (The two-room kitchen suite, which includes two queen beds in each rooms, holds up to 10 people.)
Spring weekend rates typically start at about $269, plus taxes and $22 parking. No resort fee.
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