Edited by: Michael Y. Park
& Keri Stooksbury
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I stayed with my family at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City in August 2023. We chose this hotel for its proximity to Universal Studios Hollywood, and it delivered on that and more. Our 3 jam-packed nights at this hotel weren’t enough to enjoy all of the hotel’s amenities, but we enjoyed our stay.
Let’s look at my experience at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City.
The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is across Universal Hollywood Drive from Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s the closest hotel to Universal Studios and a perfect location for visiting the park. The Sheraton Universal Hotel is in the same area.
Though this hotel’s location was ideal for Universal Studios Hollywood, we found it convenient for hitting other attractions in the Los Angeles area. Because it was adjacent to U.S. Route 101/Hollywood Freeway, the location was great for going to places such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Channel Islands National Park.
We arrived in Los Angeles at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), so it took about 40 minutes to reach the hotel once we got our rental car.
We’d already had plans to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, and I had a Hilton free night certificate expiring within a month, so choosing the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City was a no-brainer.
I booked 3 nights using a combination of a Hilton free night certificate and points I earned with my Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. The 2 nights I used points for cost 80,000 Hilton Honors points each.
Had we paid cash, our stay would have totaled about $1,400. There’s no resort fee, but I wouldn’t have had to pay one on an all-rewards stay. There was a nightly parking fee of $40, though.
At a rate of 80,000 points per night, I got about 0.58 cents per point value out of my Hilton Honors points, slightly better than our average 0.5 cents per point valuation of Hilton Honors points.
We arrived around 9 p.m., and the lobby and hallways were full of people returning from a day at the theme park. We skipped the valet and went straight to self-parking, then rode an elevator to the lobby to check in.
The check-in desk had 2 people working when we arrived. Although there was a priority line for Diamond Hilton Honors members to the left, that side of the desk wasn’t manned at the time. I decided it would probably be a jerk move to enter that line and get someone to walk over to the elite side of the desk just for me. I was only the second guest in line, so I didn’t mind waiting my turn in the regular line while I took in the lobby’s sights.
Had there been a long line, I probably would have scooted over to the Diamond area, but we never saw the desk line get more than a few parties deep.
The front desk agent gave me a friendly welcome and thanked me for my Diamond status. After taking my credit card and ID, he explained how to reach our room and access Wi-Fi. He also confirmed that I needed parking and told me about the $40 per night charge.
I wasn’t offered an upgrade and didn’t ask for one because none of the options were appealing. I’d checked ahead for available rooms, and there were no suites. The other rooms were a corner King with a pullout couch or an executive floor room for the same room type we’d booked. This hotel had no executive floor lounge, so upgrading to an executive floor room would be mostly about the view, which I didn’t care much about.
The front desk didn’t tell me about my daily food and beverage credit of $15 per adult each night due to my Diamond status, but it was indicated on the Hilton app, so I knew it was available.Hot Tip:
Hoping for a room upgrade, but not sure it’s possible? Search for rooms just before you arrive to get an idea of availability. You can ask for an upgrade if you see a room you’d like.
As a Hilton Honors Diamond member, my benefits included:
We got all of these except an upgrade, receiving 2 water bottles as a welcome gift, bonus points, premium Wi-Fi, and a daily food and beverage credit.
I haven’t been impressed by Hilton Honors Diamond status, and this hotel didn’t do anything to change that. Unnecessary plastic water bottles are usually what we get for a welcome amenity, and I rarely use Wi-Fi. A food and beverage credit is nice, but, in practice, it’s never even close to enough to cover a full sit-down meal — and it’s only for 2 people, not the room’s occupancy. We haven’t encountered a Hilton with a functional executive lounge since pre-COVID-19 days.
Although I didn’t care about upgrading at this hotel, it’s odd that I’ve received no upgrades since reaching Hilton Honors Diamond status when I got upgraded fairly often with Gold status in the past.
I’ll happily take those 1,000 bonus points, though.
With high ceilings and a grand chandelier, the lobby was impressive. There were several large chairs and couches with small tables. I liked this area, though I found it very dim at night. During the day, this space was well-lit with natural light from the many windows and atrium.
Most of the on-site restaurants were next to the main lobby area, as were bathrooms, the patio and atrium, and elevators to the parking garage.
Another image on this TV flipped to a route map for the walking path to Universal Studios Hollywood. I got my husband to snap a photo when it came up so he could navigate for us the next morning.
There was a lovely atrium and patio just past the valet doors as we walked in.
The corridor to the guest room tower was around the corner from the check-in desk. There, we found the concierge desk, water refill station, shopping, a HydroMassage area, and the elevators.
This water refill station was handy and touted advanced purification with electrolytes.
We encountered a line for this station a couple of times. There’s another water station nearby in the fitness center.
There were 4 elevators running, and they were always fast.
Some of the best amenities at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City were the pool, fitness center, and laundry room.
According to the website, the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City has a shuttle to Universal Studios. It wasn’t mentioned at check-in, and I never saw it. However, we left the hotel well before 8 a.m. the day we went to Universal Studios Hollywood, so we were probably too early for it. I preferred the freedom of walking, anyway.
Parking at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City was $40 per night for self-parking or $50 for valet, plus tax. I didn’t love paying that much for parking, but it was the only thing we had to pay for on our bill.
Valet was just outside of the lobby and dining areas.
Down in the parking garage, we found Diamond member parking at the elevator doors. We went down an extra level to find an available spot.
Plenty of regular parking was available close to the doors, but prime garage parking made riding an elevator up to the lobby and another to our room slightly less annoying.
Although I took a parking ticket when I arrived, I got a key from the front desk that functioned as a parking pass with in-and-out privileges.
The Hilton app digital room key feature could also get us in and out of the parking garage.
Guest rooms were in a tower building, and the mezzanine above the lobby was dedicated to meeting space. There were seating areas and several meeting rooms on that floor, but none seemed in use when we visited.
Past the parking elevators were banquet rooms suitable for weddings and large events. This area had a secondary entrance on the path to Universal Studios Hollywood.
After 2 early mornings out the door, we’d planned to spend our last morning at the hotel, taking our time and enjoying a quick swim in the fabulous pool overlooking the hills. Unfortunately, our hopes for pool time were dashed by rain. Instead of having fun in the sun, we had to head out of Los Angeles with Tropical Storm Hilary at our heels.
I was so disappointed to wake up to rain on our windows the day we left. We’ll have to return to enjoy this pool.
The pool had great views — when it wasn’t rainy and dreary — and several cabanas to rent.
Oddly, it felt like the pool was hidden. There was almost no signage, and I didn’t see it on the map. It wasn’t connected to the lobby. I had to ask a valet, and he directed me to an outside set of stairs.
Sure enough, those stairs led down to the pool, but there were no signs directing us to it along the way. Another access option was the guest tower elevator, which you’d ride down from the lobby or guest floors. I expected to find signs to the pool in the elevator area, especially on the lobby level, but there weren’t any until I walked out of the elevator down on the first floor.
There was a designated smoking area on a landing of the pool stairs.
The fitness center — easy to find with signage near the elevators — was fairly large and had various kinds of workout equipment.
There were 2 rooms in the fitness center, 1 for weights and the other for cardio.
A handful of treadmills and ellipticals lined the cardio wall with windows.
Opposite the treadmills and ellipticals were bikes — including a Peloton — and a rowing machine. I love rowing and don’t always see these in hotel fitness centers, so I hopped on for a few minutes. It was nice and smooth.
The fitness center had many towels and a water station like the one in the lobby. It also had a basket full of earbuds.
I grabbed a free pair of earbuds, just in case, and later wished I’d taken more since my kids destroyed a couple of earbuds on our trip!
This hotel didn’t have a spa, but there were HydroMassage beds you could book time in.
Near the parking elevators was an information kiosk screen where you could find information about local attractions, shopping, restaurants, and more.
Between the front desk and elevators were a couple of shopping options. Outside the main gift shop was a jewelry kiosk.
The gift shop had lots of apparel and small items.
Downstairs between the elevators and the pool door were a couple of vending machines.
The iStore featured electronics accessories such as chargers, headphones, and earbuds — presumably nicer than the ones you could pick from the fitness center basket upstairs.
Next to the iStore machine was a CVS vending machine. This miniature pharmacy was impressive, with everything from cold and allergy medications to toothpaste and razors. It was handy for handling minor ailments or replacing toiletry items. We didn’t need anything from this machine, but it was nice to have it available, just in case!
Near the fitness center was the guest laundry area. We didn’t need to do laundry, but this would have been a nice spot to do it if we had! This room was open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Though the soap, bleach, and softener dispenser took coins ($1 per packet was needed), you could pay for the washers and dryers with your phone (washers were $6.50 and dryers were $3.50).
Bring coins for detergent and a phone for the washer and dryer — you’ll need both to do laundry.
Next to the washers and dryers was a wash basin with hand soap and paper towels.
There was even a small seating area.
We booked a 2 Queen room and received one on the seventh floor. Our room was just around the corner from the elevators, but we never had a problem with noise.
This room officially sleeps 4, but it was spacious enough for my family of 5. We used the space between the windows and a bed to set up an inflatable bed for my youngest and used extra pillows and sheets from the hotel room. I always think it’s weird my kids argue over who gets to sleep on the floor because they don’t want to share a bed — but I’m thankful they’re flexible enough to fit our family into standard rooms.Hot Tip:
The hotel offers rollaway beds for $40 per night upon request.
Like the lobby, I found our room dim at night. I took all of the room photos in this review with every available light turned on. Natural light kept the room cheery in the daytime, though.
Entering the room, the bathroom was to the left, and a coffee shelf was to the right, followed by the closet. Then it opened into the main living area with the dresser, beds, table, and additional seating.
This coffee station was immediately to the right as we entered the room. It was right across from the bathroom for easy water fills.
Next to the shelving was a closet with a safe, luggage rack, ironing board and iron, and extra bedding.
In front of a connecting room door was a bench. It was a weird place to sit but perfect for setting out clothes and bags for the next day.
Our room had 2 queen beds that we found comfortable. They had soft leather-tufted headboards. This bed was close to the bathroom wall.
An identical bed was closer to the window.
Between the beds was a nightstand with a drawer, shelf, phone, and lamp. The lamp had outlets.
Across from the beds was the dresser with a TV on top of it. It had 6 drawers and a cabinet with a minifridge inside.
The minifridge had drink storage and open shelving. The fridge door was slightly ajar when we arrived, and I noticed it wasn’t cool. I couldn’t find a dial or other adjustments, so I called the front desk. They sent a maintenance guy who figured out it needed a switch flipped way in the back. It worked great after that!
In front of the window was a work desk with a lamp and chair. It had an accessible outlet, so we mostly used this for charging devices. It was right next to a vent for the room with a hard breeze. My husband, who runs hot, loved it, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable working at this desk unless I turned off the unit.
There was another seating area between the window and a bed, featuring another lamp, chair, and small table.
We got a room with a Universal Studios Hollywood view. Yes, we could see Hogwarts from our room — but the windows were dirty.
The bathroom, just to the left of the entry door, was spacious, with a shower, sink, and toilet.
Shortly after check-in, we called maintenance to help with the minifridge and the toilet. The toilet handle wasn’t working, so we couldn’t flush it. Maintenance arrived ready to plunge the toilet — not necessary — but once I clarified the problem, he was back within minutes with the right tool for the job and got it fixed.
The shower featured an adjustable shower head and a grip bar on the wall with a small shelf in each inside corner. I appreciated being able to crack the door to turn on the water before getting fully inside the shower compartment.
However, the shower door had to be either open all the way or closed all the way. If we left it halfway open, it would slam itself shut loud and hard. I cringed every time it happened because it was noisy and I worried the glass would shatter.
Crabtree & Evelyn amenities — shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner — were in the shower.
Under the sink were towels for 4 and a hair dryer in a bag.
The bathroom sink featured a wall-mounted lotion bottle.
Next to the sink was Crabtree & Evelyn bar soap with a dish.
The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal Studios had several dining options during our stay: a cafe, lobby lounge, outdoor restaurant, golf clubhouse, pool bar, and room service.
We had $30 in daily food and beverage credit to work with. That would have been just a dent in the $95 per person Champagne Sunday brunch or the $139 per person seafood and prime rib buffet.
We skipped the buffets, so our credit covered a drink from the lobby bar, a sandwich and salad delivered via room service, and a couple of coffees and snacks from the coffee bar.
We spent more than $30 in a single day on room service, but our credit still covered the full amount on our final bill. It seemed we had a pooled $90 credit that wasn’t limited to $30 on a single day. Overall, we underspent our credit by about $15. Had I bothered to do the math, I would have grabbed more free snacks and coffee before we left!
Cafe Sierra was the hotel’s main restaurant, open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a seafood and prime rib buffet, and Sundays for a Champagne brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Inside near the atrium was the entrance to the Clubhouse Golf Bar & Lounge. It featured golf simulators, so you could practice your swing while you wound down with food and drinks.
It was open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Simulator prices are $40 per hour Monday through Thursday and $65 per hour Friday through Sunday with a food and beverage minimum of $15 per person (and a maximum of 8 people per simulator). Parking was included for the duration booked.
This small coffee shop near the parking elevators was frequently busy. It was open daily from 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with a small selection of coffee and tea drinks, pastries, and grab-and-go snacks, including bottled drinks and fruit.
FIVE on the Hill was a patio dining area just outside the front door between the valet and pool area. We probably needed to visit this restaurant to appreciate a nice view of the hills and eat what I’m sure was great food. But I thought it was weird to basically have a patio in the parking lot separated only by some barrels and sections of wall. Every car that entered the valet area drove right past it.
This dining area was open Tuesday through Sunday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The lobby lounge was always lively and open to the walkways near the parking elevators. It was open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. We grabbed an old-fashioned here on the way back to our room one night, and it hit the spot!
The hotel pool had a bar and grill open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering burgers, sandwiches, and drinks.
Room service was available daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. — with a 30-minute window of unavailability from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. during the breakfast-to-lunch transition. We were thankful for it when we needed a late-night snack after the theme park!
Parking for Universal Studios Hollywood was just across the street from the hotel entrance — but we could walk to the park from the hotel.Hot Tip:
Check with the hotel for a recommendation if you need an accessible route to Universal Studios Hollywood from the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. The path we followed involved a brief steep hill and stairs to reach the pedestrian overpass leading to the Universal Studios Hollywood entrance. If you have mobility issues, the shuttle might be a better option.
The path from the hotel to the Universal Studios Hollywood front gates took us about 10 minutes. We arrived just before 8 a.m., as I’d purchased early access to Super Mario World. A short commute made our on-time arrival at Super Mario World easy!
Super Mario World access was mission-critical for my game-obsessed family, so it was totally worth staying at the super-close Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City and paying for early access. When we left Super Mario World around 11 a.m., the crowds were too much. We would have spent much more time in lines and enjoyed much less without our early morning success! And there’s no way we could have tackled everything we wanted to do in the rest of the park without our early start, either.
You could buy tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood from the hotel. I was provided a link after booking, and the front desk offered tickets, too. However, I found the lowest price for 1-day Universal tickets was with my AAA membership, and I purchased our Super Mario World early access tickets directly from Universal.
When I booked our stay at the Universal Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, I intended to spend most of our time at Universal Studios Hollywood. Most people do that since the hotel is so convenient to the park.
But I discovered we’d be just under an hour from the harbor where you could catch a boat to Channel Islands National Park. Our 2 days at Universal Studios Hollywood quickly became 1 long day at Universal plus an island adventure day. I couldn’t pass up being within day-trip distance of a national park nicknamed the Galapagos of North America.
It worked out well since our second day at Universal would have been a busy Saturday, and we instead spent the better part of our day enjoying the natural wonder of an island.
The hotel’s location made taking the 101 over to Ventura Harbor, where we rode to the park on an Island Packers cruise, easy.
Service was consistent with what we expected at a Hilton hotel: understated but helpful when we needed it and generally efficient. Room service and maintenance requests were prompt and effective.
Check-in was prompt, but I wasn’t given important information about my food and beverage credit, directions to the pool or theme park, or details about the shuttle. But I suppose if they’d taken the time to explain all of these details to each guest, the check-in line would’ve been much longer. Overall, I was satisfied but would have liked clarity on the amenities, whether with signage or verbally at check-in.
Staying at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City was perfect for our visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. I would gladly stay at this hotel again, if only for the convenience of a quick walk to the park … and maybe to finally enjoy the pool on a sunny day in LA!
For rates and fees for The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, click here.
Yes, the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City offers a free shuttle to Universal Studios Hollywood.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the front door of Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City to Universal Studios Hollywood using the route recommended by the hotel.
Parking at Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is $40 per night for self-parking and $50 for valet. Both rates are subject to tax, which was $4 per night for self-parking — a total of $44 per night. Comparatively, parking at Universal Studios Hollywood ranges from $30 to $70 for all-day parking.
With an early start and thanks to the hotel’s location, we covered everything we really wanted to see at Universal Studios Hollywood in a single day. A second day would have been nice, though!
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