MIAMI STOPOVER - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Our trip to Orlando this Easter had us flying in to Miami from Heathrow (via Milan – but that’s another story!) so we decided to book a hotel for one night before taking a leisurely drive to Orlando.
We used Expedia to find a hotel in Miami for our stopover. After a lot of searching we found what we thought would be a perfect place to stay. This was the Hotel Riu, with its grounds leading straight on to the beach. We had booked a room with an ocean view for the four of us (two adults, two children), and we were hoping we had made the right choice.
Miami airport has car hire off-site, so we caught the airport bus to the Dollar site and quickly picked up our car. We had our own sat-nav system with us, so finding the way to our hotel was very straightforward (the OV site also hires out sat-nav systems to ensure you never get lost!).
Hotel Riu operates valet parking, but on our arrival we were told the parking was full - however the guy told us that only one block away was a parking lot that we could use for free between 6.00pm and 8.00am. As it was 5.45pm, we parked temporarily by the hotel steps, unloaded our luggage and checked in. We were a little nervous of what we would find, but we needn’t have been. The reception area/hotel lobby was beautiful and the staff were extremely helpful. Check-in was straightforward and we were given a room on the 6th floor of the hotel.
The room did indeed have an ocean view – and what a view! We had a corner room, which gave us a little more space than a normal room. It was clean and comfortable (we are spoilt though, after staying in villas, hotels always seem cramped) and the view was amazing – lots of greenery and a freeform pool, leading to the boardwalk, the beach and miles of ocean – a fabulous view.
We parked the car (by then it was gone 6.00 and was free) and decided check out the beach. Glorious white sands greeted us and our two boys had great fun in the sea (paddling), building barriers against the tide and generally enjoying themselves. It was great to sit there, just unwinding after the long flight. A walk along the beach, then back along the boardwalk and a quick meal at the local Denny’s and we were ready to turn in.
As we were still on UK time, we woke early and were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise sitting on the balcony of our room. This partly made up for the sleeping arrangements (the boys had decided that they would not sleep together so for an easy life we each slept with one of the boys – another reason why we love staying in our villa is that they have a room each, bliss!)
We had a buffet breakfast in the hotel – this was really good value with a great choice of hot and cold food for every taste and we all enjoyed the meal. We fed the car parking meter with $4 ($1 per hour, great value and much cheaper than the valet parking charge) followed by a swim and play in the pool. The boys played table tennis with some other guests, then back on to the beach for a while, before checking out of the hotel at 12.00. We decided to look around the art deco district, before the drive to Orlando and our waiting villa.
If you are planning a trip to Miami, we would definitely recommend a short stay in the Hotel Riu and were only sorry we had not planned to spend a little longer in Miami, as it would have been good to explore a little more.
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