by Emily Moody
If I could go anywhere, obviously, Orlando would not be my first pick, but there is surprisingly another side to a city built around a cartoon character. Being a big fan of boutique hotels, I decided to check out the Mona Lisa Suites and the EO Inn, in hopes that my stay would be far away from a pair of big black ears and the fan club that comes along with it.
The Mona Lisa Hotel was the first stop on the two day getaway. In true Orlando fashion, the Mona Lisa is strangely located right off a busy road in the pre-fab, Disney created, City of Celebration. Check in was seamless and we trekked around the hotel to get to our room. I was surprised to open the door and enter a very lovely two bed, two bath suite complete with a kitchen. The rooms were huge, the beds were uber cozy and the bathrooms were fitted with modern Kohler sinks and a great walk-in shower. Each room has a private balcony that overlooks a giant pool (which I, unfortunately, did not get a chance to test out) and washer/dryer.
After getting situated and freshening up, my friend and I decided to take full advantage of the complimentary electric car service that the hotel runs. The friendly concierge will cruise you through the cookie cutter housing and into a little shopping district with a Disney-esque (what seems to be) man-made pond. The drive through the neighborhood makes me feel like I was teleported into The Truman Show with the perfectly manicured lawns and designer cars. This area was an eerily fascinating social experiment that I was soaking up. It made me wonder what people found appealing about the neighborhood. There are a few sub-par shops (aka tourist traps) that we hit up before settling down for a relaxing Italian dinner at Cafe D’Antonio, which proved to be delicious and locally owned! With our full bellies, we rang the hotel for our electric car and headed back to our room to get cozy with some free-wifi.
For under $200 a night you can stay at this four star hotel with First Class service. If you are travelling in a pair, I would suggest going for the one bedroom, but a two bedroom would perfectly suit a group of six comfortably. (There is also a pull out couch in the living area.) So if you are looking for something different than a run of the mill big box hotel, the Mona Lisa may be the perfect place for you.
Exhausted after some excellent shopping at the Barney’s Outlet, we headed to the EO Inn. This hotel is in a renovated building situated in the lovely Thornton Park area of downtown Orlando. It has views of the luscious park and assorted shops, restaurants and bars line the side streets. I was really looking forward to checking out this property after previewing their website, with images that showcase huge rooms with giant bathrooms. I was a little let down, however, that we were stuck in a room the size of something you would expect in Manhattan, but hey, it was cleanly decorated and had awesome products. Guests have access to the hotel’s jacuzzi, but it was so cold the night I was there that I neglected to investigate it. Rooms are affordable and range from $115- $175 a night. I would totally stay here again, next time I will just remember to spring for a bigger room.
So, if you want a quick getaway just in time for Valentine’s Day, take your sweetie a couple hours south to Orlando for the weekend or even just a night. Hit up a good concert, enjoy a tasty dinner and revel in the fact that you don’t have to make the bed the next day.