- Friendly staff
- Hot breakfast (and dinner)
- Patio bar overlooking square
- Good-sized rooms & bathrooms
- Offsite parking
- No Pool
If you are looking to stay in the downtown area of Ocala, there really is only one option – the Hilton Garden Inn Ocala Downtown. It is a fairly new hotel located in the heart of the Historic District and on the Downtown Square. To be totally upfront, we only booked this hotel because of its location. Hilton Garden Inns can be hit or miss, in our experience. With that said, we were very pleased with this property. The facilities were clean and well maintained, which you would expect from a newer hotel, and the staff was uber-friendly. That is exceedingly rare these days, unfortunately. From the unloading and check in experience, to the servers in the restaurant, to getting billing errors fixed after check out. Everyone was friendly and helpful.
For a “city” hotel, our room was well-sized too. We often opt for larger rooms or suites when we can so that our daughter can have her space and we can have ours. That was not available this time around but it also wasn’t an issue. Even with the two beds there was still a small sitting area and a work station as well as a roomy closet and bathroom. A family of four might be a little more crowded but for the three of us it was comfy. The room was very well appointed too. Obviously, you do not get high end with this price point; it was certainly better than a Hampton Inn though.
The hotel features a large balcony overlooking the square with a bar and plenty of seating. On the evening we arrived the place was hopping and the original Ghostbusters was playing on a huge drop-down screen, visible even from the square. If you find the weather, or the bugs, disagreeable there is also an indoor bar on the other side of the patio doors. This is also where you will find the restaurant which serves up a hot, made to order, breakfast in the morning in addition to dinner in the evening. We ate breakfast there during our stay and thought the food was great. Breakfast was included with our room rate but the prices were not bad if you find yourself paying out of pocket.
Our only, minor, warning about this hotel is that it does not have a pool. This hit our little one hard who had been looking forward to a hotel pool all week (it is often how she evaluates the hotels we stay in). To be fare, it does not say anything about a pool on the hotel’s site, we just assumed and that was totally on us. Luckily, the city has a small splash pad two blocks away so we were able to take her there in the afternoon to make new friends and cool off.