Save up to 90% on a Hartford Courant subscription. Click here to sign up now!
CT Now

Celebration Hotel

Celebration Hotel

Lobby & pool



Things to do

Summary: The Good, Bad, & Ugly

Rates & information

Online reservations

Life's not always perfect. But there's a town in Central Florida that's pretty darn close.

Just south of Orlando near Disney World is the small town of Celebration. If you go there, you'll think you've traveled back in time, to a simpler era. Houses have front porches and are fully decked during the holidays. There's a town square, corner grocery store and the streets are so clean you could eat off them. No, I'm not talking about the movie set from The Truman Show or the streets of Mayberry. This is a real town owned by the Walt Disney Company. Enough said.

Last month I visited the town after it opened its first hotel -- Celebration Hotel. With its Old-Florida style architecture and refined decor, the three-story hotel barely caused a ripple in the wholesome cityscape. The hotel's 115 rooms and suites overlook a scenic lake and the town's shopping district.

Adults who appreciate the peacefulness of a small inn will probably enjoy a stay at the Celebration Hotel. But those who yearn for action - especially children - will most likely be bored.

Lobby and poolWood floors, ceiling fans and black-and-white photos give the hotel lobby a bit of Florida nostalgia. A piano bar sits at one end of the room and a check-in desk at the other end - not a tall counter mind you, but a simple wooden desk with an attendant sitting behind it.

If you step out the back door of the lobby onto the patio you'll find the best seats in town: high-back wooden rocking chairs overlooking a natural lake setting. Just makes you want to sit a spell with a glass of cold lemonade -- unless of course, you'd rather take a dip in the whirlpool or heated swimming pool next to the lake.

GuestroomsIn a word, the rooms at the Celebration Hotel feel "restful." Maybe it was the morning sun pouring in from the tall windows or the big, four-poster bed with its plush comforter, but when I saw the room, I just wanted to curl up with a book and let those day-to-day hassles drift away.

The decor is reminiscent of the early 1900s with plenty of tan, green and berry colors. Furniture is made of a dark, heavy wood, including an armoire containing a 25-inch television. An old Florida map hangs on the wall and a ceiling fan whirls above on the high ceiling. Each room has three phones with two lines, voice mail and a dataport. The closet contains an electronic safe, iron and ironing board.

Stone-textured tiles cover the bathroom vanity, keeping with the natural Florida theme. Modern conveniences include a makeup mirror and hairdryer that are attached to the wall. The bathtub/shower unit is standard in size -- Too bad they didn't splurge for something more unique, like one of those roomy, claw-foot tubs.

If you opt for a suite, you get an extra sitting room with a pullout sleeper sofa and four phones (one is in the bathroom). The ceiling fan, however, is located in the sitting room instead of the bedroom.

Rates vary according to view and size of room. I'd suggest a lake-view room if you can afford to spend a little extra.

Where to eat?Room service is available 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the hotel's restaurant serves a breakfast buffet from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily. Eateries within a short walking distance include the Front Street Grill, Max's Cafe and Coffee Shop, Cafe D'Antonio, Colombia Restaurant, and Barnie's coffeehouse.

What to do?
Celebration's shopping district is a short walk from the hotel. Activities around the hotel are fairly low-key. Take a stroll around the lake promenade, or browse the handful of upscale shops and boutiques. A movie theater is a stone's throw away from the hotel. And, if you're feeling athletic, take a swing at the 18-hole golf course, work out in the hotel's small exercise room, or visit the nearby mega fitness center and spa. There's also a nice nature trail for joggers and hikers.

If you want to hit the theme parks, Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, Wet 'n' Wild, and SeaWorld are about a 15-20 minute drive down Interstate 4, eastbound.

You can reach the Disney World parks in about 5-10 minutes.

SummaryThis is a great place for a romantic weekend or a relaxing retreat. But it's not the best choice for a family with energetic youngsters. (They'll wonder where's the arcade and why doesn't the pool have a slide.)

So if you want to quietly unwind, stroll down quaint streets, and feel like you've somehow wandered into Pleasantville, head on down to Celebration, ya' hear.

Copyright © 2015, CT Now