Great Cheap Offsite Hotels. No, Really Cheap.

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There are eternal struggles in the world that we are all aware of, and the same is true when planning a Disney trip.  One of the most often things is whether you should stay onsite or offsite when taking a trip to the World.  I’ve done it both ways, and there’s lots to be said for each. 

Front entrance to Best Western Lakeside

But for certain kinds of trips, there’s no consideration of onsite or offsite.  If you’re like me, sometimes you get an opportunity to take a last minute trip or perhaps a trip that has to be as cheap as possible.  Onsite hotels at Disney are not known for last minute flexibility or low prices, so offsite is your only choice.  If I may, I’d like to recommend a couple of extra cheap hotels that have been life savers for me in the past.

The first is the Best Western Lakeside, located on 192 West of the main entrance of Walt Disney World.  The hotel is located about 2 miles from the main gate, and provides easy in and out access.  If you are coming from Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot, it’s about a 10-15 minute drive to the hotel. 

The rooms are spacious, as much so as any rooms at Pop Century or the All Star resorts.  I’ll be honest, though, location and price are the big winners at this hotel.  There are, however, some other fun amenities at the Best Western Lakeside worth mentioning.  There are three pools, an onsite restaurant/food court, a Walgreen’s in the parking lot (who else makes a drugstore run every trip?) and a sports bar.  

View of the Best Western from the side. From the hotel website.

I have stayed there with my family before when we needed to make a quick trip at the last minute.  We got a fantastic rate, and from what it seems, the prices have not gone up that far since our last stay there.  For example, when looking for rooms over Memorial Day weekend, I found rates ranging from $41 (AAA rate) to $52 a night (no discount).  It’s a great rate for a hotel that close, that is clean, and comes with a refrigerator, two double beds and a coffee maker. 

The other hotel is not one I necessarily would recommend for families, but only because I have not taken my family there yet.  However, each of the last two years, I have stayed at the Howard Johnson Maingate East when on a solo trip, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially for the price. 

When I have the occasion to take a solo trip, I always look for the lowest price hotel.  After all, I plan to spend most of my time in the parks, and will only sleep in the hotel room, and usually don’t do much of that.  The Howard Johnson Maingate East is perfect for this.  Directly across from the city of Celebration, it’s a hotel for the traveler who doesn’t need a whole lot of amenities. 

For the price I paid last time I stayed there ($19 a night!!!) I was shocked to see a refrigerator, coffee maker and a king bed in my room.  The bed was extremely comfortable, and being the dead of summer, the room having fabulous air conditioning was also great.  I recently stayed in a $300 a night hotel in New York City that didn’t have air conditioning as nice as the Howard Johnson. 

Double room at the Howard Johnson Maingate East. From the hotel website.

The price is again the key feature of this hotel.  I have gotten lucky and managed to get this one for $25 or less a night for two years in a row off of Hotwire.  However, if you aren’t the type who enjoys bidding for travel, you can find a rate on the hotel’s website for around $39 a night.  Trust me, it’s well worth it. 

I would not recommend either of these hotels if you plan to be down at Disney for a longer trip.  I think 3-4 days is the maximum I would spend at either.  However, if you are someone who can take a quick side trip from another destination to spend time at the World or perhaps can make a quick getaway, I would consider either hotel a great choice.

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Posted on April 11, 2011

17 Responses to “Great Cheap Offsite Hotels. No, Really Cheap.”

  • What about offsite condos or townhomes? They are just THE BEST! Can be had for a steal and so much space!

  • Why wouldn’t you “not recommend either of these hotels if you plan to be down at Disney for a longer trip. I think 3-4 days is the maximum I would spend at either”?

    • Mainly because of space. The rooms are cramped if there’s more than a couple people. Also, the drive out of Disney isn’t bad if you’re there for a few days and are going to rope drop and then back for fireworks. However, if you are there for a week and want to lounge at the hotel and relax, neither of these are especially good choices.

      All depends on how you use your hotel, of course, and everyone is different, but when I take a week long trip, I usually like to spend some time at the resort and take it easy. Neither of these hotels have rooms I’d want to spend time relaxing in, not like a Moderate or Deluxe hotel, or even the theming of a Pop Century where you could hang at the pool.

      Both are perfectly good for laying your head on a pillow, grabbing a quick bite or grabbing a swim, but not a place that you would want to hang out for long periods of time.

    • This does look piormsing. I’ll keep coming back for more.

  • Thanks so much, Ryan! We’re planning a September trip where we’ll be driving down from Chicago. We need a nice, cheap hotel for one night before we check into a Disney resort for 10 days. These sound like great choices!

    • That’s exactly the perfect use for these types of hotels. When you don’t want to spend the money for a Disney hotel because all you’re going to do is sleep there, these hotels offer a nice cheap way to spend the night and get some rest.

  • I stayed at the Howard Johnsons Maingate East a couple of years ago and it was pretty good. Decent wi-fi included. For my trip last December I stayed at Studio 6 just past Old Town. Very basic, but after a day in the parks all I want to do is eat and crash. Both are great for solo travelers or folks on a tight budget. Usually I travel solo during the quieter times of the year, so dealing with traffic isn’t really an issue for me.

    A co-worker rents a condo every time and loves it.

    • Thanks for the tip on Studio 6, Phil. I have a solo trip coming in late July or early August, so I may check that out. I’m with you on the eat/crash mentality, especially solo.

      I’ve rented condos, but you can’t really get them for this cheap, in my experience. That’s not to say they’re not well worth the money, especially for the space, but my preference when I’m solo or in a hurry is to go super cheap on the hotel and spend more on food.

  • Does either of these hotels provide transportation to the parks or the airport?

    • Neither provide transportation to the airport, but both provide free shuttles to the airport according to their websites. It’s always best to call and confirm, but I believe both have shuttles to the parks.

      Keep in mind that the shuttles leave at a set time and return at a set time, so if you want more flexibility in your schedule, you’ll want to rent a car.

  • I have stayed at both Best Western and Howard Johnson East. Never a problem at both places. Best Western is nicer and it’s a quick drive to Animal Kingdom. Howard Johnson East is always the cheaper place in the Kissimmee area, but keep in mind they will collect a $4/nt. fee at check-in for a shuttle that will only go to Epcot.

    • I wasn’t aware the shuttle only went to Epcot. I have always used a car when at either hotel. The resort fee is pretty standard at hotels on 192 or around Disney property, and that added to the price did not bother me.

      Agree that Best Western is nicer and very close to Animal Kingdom. Both are supremely enjoyable for the price. Thanks for weighing in, Bill!

  • My son and I will be staying at the HoJo East for our trip at the end of May. Price with taxes was 34 bucks. Can’t beat it for one night before we check into CBR for a week.

  • I just came across your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really liked reading your posts on hotel disney & the prices of that hotels are cheap really nice.The images of that hotels are also too good.Thanks.

  • Do either of these hotels offer free Continental breakfast?