5825 International Dr.
Price We Found: $56 (Expedia).
Details: In a land of characterless chains, this is a two-level Southwestern-themed haven done in shades of terra-cotta and guacamole, with a well-polished saddle parked at reception. Continental breakfast is served in the Cantina, and even the designs on the otherwise standard-issue hotel bedspreads evoke the land of O'Keeffe and cowboy boots. This 159-room Kessler Collection property (the same group runs International Drive's Doubletree Castle, a not-on-our-budget faux palace perfect for a visiting princess and her family) has a lap pool, and guests may use the fitness facilities at the adjacent Sheraton.
The Red Horse Inn's Southwestern motif includes a saddle in the lobby.
(Anne Mcdonough -- The Washington Post)
Info: 877-936-4100, www.redhorseorlando.com.
21 RITZ EXPRESS INN AND SUITES
2407 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $49.95 (Hotels.com).
Though a bit scuffed, this 130-room property is the little hotel that could. It has a nice tiled pool surrounded by tropical landscaping and an angel fountain that mutes highway traffic. We're told management is trying to make the place a bit more resorty, with a fitness-room-in-progress and high-speed Internet coming for all the rooms. What we liked, though, were the subtle touches: The mugs, tablecloth and candles laid out for a repeat guest, the practical fridge/microwave unit, the breakfast nook that overlooks a wall mural of dolphins and sea critters.
Info: 407-933-2400 www.ritzexpress.com.
22 RODEWAY INN INTERNATIONAL
6327 International Dr.
Price We Found: $43.50 (Hotels.com) to $59.95 (Travelocity).
Details: The pool's rather small to accommodate a 315-room hotel, but the location is great: The Orlando Visitors Center is just across the street. Relax in your standard room with a video (rentals in the lobby run "from kinky down to kid stuff," according to an employee), get knock hockey happy in one of the two game rooms and end the evening with some sushi at the on-site Shogun restaurant. Breakfast at the Palm runs $5 (kids eat free).
Info: 407-996-4444, www.rodewayinnorlando.com.
23 SEVILLA INN
4640 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $39 (SideStep).
Details: If you can ignore the construction outside -- and find the driveway -- you'll be surprised at the mom-and-pop charm of this 50-room family-run property. Homey touches include bright, quilt-like bedspreads, a small vase of dried flowers by the microwave, the owner's granddaughter splashing in an amoeba-shape pool sheltered by tall palms and an even taller fence. There's no free ride to the parks, but you can take a $12 shuttle or a $1 bus -- the stop is just out front, along the excavated road.
Info: 800-367-1363, www.sevillainn.com.
24 SLEEP INN MAINGATE
8536 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $45 (SideStep) to $60 (Hotels.com, but it was $45 for three nights or more).
Details: This 104-room spot offers rooms with two different views: the parking lot (soon to be home to a Houlihan's) or the resident deer. The property sits back from the highway, on acres of pine forest, where Bambi, peacocks and other critters live. Though the small pool in the parking lot is a turnoff, the piped-in classical music drowns out incoming cars. The rooms are dorm-size, but the well-kempt furnishings are definitely post-grad. We especially liked the bathrooms: Instead of a tub, there's a large shower with a full-length glass door that creates the illusion of space. Breakfast is included, and is participatory -- you can make your own waffles and eat them, too.
Info: 407-396-1600, www.sleepinnorlando.com.
25 WELLESLEY INN KISSIMMEE LAKE CECILE
4944 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $59 (Travelweb).
Details: The 222-room Wellesley feels more like a full-service hotel than an amenity-sparse inn. The rooms have self-contained bathrooms (sinks inside) big enough for two to get ready at once; strong lighting (natural and by bulb); and enough space to spin around like the Mad Tea Party ride. Tucked behind Coconut Willy's pub and restaurant (its specials are posted near the check-in desk), the property has a large breakfast room just up the lobby's spiral staircase that overlooks Lake Cecile. An on-site store sells everything you may have forgotten, and the game room includes pinball, air hockey and a rockin' CD jukebox. There is also no shortage of water, as guests can walk from the spouting fountain in the driveway to the L-shape pool to a tiny pond with ducks to the lake with dock and Jet Ski rentals.
Info: 407-396-4455, www.wellesleyonline.com.