Loews Portofino Bay Hotel review

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is arguably one of the best resorts on property at Universal Studios Orlando. Themed after the seaport town of Portofino, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast, this resort spares no expense with its timeless decor and attention to detail. 

Once you step onto hotel property, you are immediately immersed in an idyllic, Italian dream. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the property itself exudes casual luxury at every corner. Nothing is overlooked, from the service to the pool to the boats in the harbor. It is all masterfully curated to inspire guests to pursue la dolce vita, the sweet life

It is easy to forget you are within walking distance from one of the world’s most thrilling theme parks. This might be one of the reasons Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is so adored; guests can feel as though they are a thousand miles away from the rush, while still having the excitement of the parks at fingertips length. 

The secluded location, the high quality of service, and the incredible Italian theming are all reasons noted by former and current guests regarding why they choose the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel time and time again. In this article, you will begin to understand what makes this hotel so beloved and praised, as well as whether this hotel would be a good fit for your next trip to Universal Studios Orlando.

What makes this hotel unique?

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is one of the most immersive resorts on Universal Studios Orlando property. Feelings of blissful relaxation and romance fill every crevice of the hotel, and it’s easy to feel transported to another time and place entirely. Modeled after the seaside town of Portofino, Italy, the hotel looks and feels very authentic to its European inspiration. 

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is classified as a Premier Resort on Universal Studios Orlando property. Other hotels in this group include the Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Staying at any resort on property will provide several perks but spending your trip at a Premier Resort will grant you the most perks out of any other category of hotels onsite at Universal Orlando. 

Two of the most valuable benefits provided to guests who stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, or either of the other two hotels in the Premier Resort category, include Unlimited Express Passes for each guest in the travel party, as well as priority seating at many of Universal Orlando’s restaurants. 

The Unlimited Express Passes themselves could be worth several hundred dollars, if not more, depending on the length of your stay and number of people in your group. This perk is included in your nightly room rate and provided to you upon your arrival. No need to worry about standing in line at Guest Services near the entrance to the parks to pick them up!

The hotel features many open-air common spaces, with several shops and restaurants located off the central outdoor piazza across from the harbor. As one strolls through the resort, they will walk along cobble-stoned streets and through beautiful scenery. Every moment spent on property is serene. Whether you prefer gelato or a nice glass of Italian wine (or both!), Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has something that will appeal to everyone. 

What are the dining options at this hotel?

Speaking of gelato, there is no shortage of sweet treats or dining options at this hotel. There are 8 different locations at this resort where you can grab a bite to eat or pick up a quick snack. The range of options provides guests with an abundance of cuisine based on their preferences and interests. From poolside quick service to dine-in table service, finding a dining style that suits you and your travel party at this hotel is easy. There is also a Starbucks onsite, which is a convenient perk because you can avoid the long lines for coffee inside the parks and at CityWalk when parks open. 

Being that Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is modeled after an Italian seaside village, it is expected that the main fare is Italian. It’s what the hotel is known for, and it’s what they do best. Loews Portofino Bay features the best Italian dishes at Universal Studios Orlando. Italian cuisine comes in many shapes and sizes at this hotel, and can be customized to guests’ preferences in most, if not all, scenarios. 

If you have specific requests or dietary restrictions, make sure to notify the front desk prior to check-in so that they can help accommodate you and your travel party as best as possible. The Loews Portofino Bay staff will truly go above and beyond to make you feel welcomed. 

Feeling like a night in instead of hitting the town? In-room dining is also available at this hotel. The best part about this hotel’s in-room dining is that it’s available 24-hours. No more midnight cravings or waking up before breakfast is available. With 24-hour in-room dining, you can have any food you’re craving whenever you’re craving it! 

Breakfast in bed after a long night partying at CityWalk sure sounds tempting to me. Open the window in your room or lounge on your balcony while enjoying a delicious meal and gazing out at the piazza or the garden. 

There are two designated bars onsite, The Thirsty Fish and Splendido Bar & Grill. Both offer light food options for those looking for a bite with their brew. Splendido Bar & Grill is located poolside and it’s an awesome option if you are looking for a more casual, laid-back snack while enjoying the waterslide or the hot tub. 

Burgers, fries, smoothies, and more are available poolside for your convenience and enjoyment. The Thirsty Fish is also a casual option but rather than located poolside, it is located harbor side off the piazza. Arrive for a champagne toast or a glass of wine just before sunset for a breathtaking view of the harbor. Light bar fare is offered at The Thirsty Fish, as well.

Bice Ristorante is a must for anyone looking for an elegant table-service experience. Resort casual or business casual attire is required at this restaurant. It is located just above the piazza overlooking the harbor, and it is a special experience for date night. 

What entertainment options are available at this hotel?

There are a variety of fun entertainment options available throughout each day at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. One of the most popular onsite events is Musica della Notte, an evening sunset musical show on the piazza. This show is performed every night at sunset to help guests enjoy a fun and relaxing evening. Because the show is an outdoor performance, the performance each night is contingent on weather, so make sure to check the forecast ahead of time or call the front desk for more information. 

For children, The Beach Pool provides plenty of fun entertainment and activities throughout each day. There are ping-pong tournaments, pool basketball, hula hoop contests, arts and crafts, and so much more. To stay up to date on the activities for guests of all ages during your stay, call the front desk or concierge. 

Important to note, too, is that what you don’t find at the hotel can easily be found at CityWalk. There is no club scene or nightlife scene at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel outside of the casual bar off the piazza. This is purposeful and done to ensure guests have a serene and peaceful experience whilst on hotel property. If you are looking to dance, sing, and indulge in good food and alcoholic drinks, head over to CityWalk for awesome nightlife. 

It’s only a short ride over on the ferry from the hotel, and the ferry operates until 2:30am each night. CityWalk is typically open until 2am, so this gives you plenty of time to finish partying and catch the final ferry back to the hotel. Worst case scenario, if you miss the ferry, you can always utilize the walking path back to the resort.

Who is this hotel best suited for?

This hotel is best suited for guests of all ages. There is truly something for everyone at this hotel and the entire family will be able to find enjoyment here. Though certain experiences onsite are certainly targeted more toward couples and adults, children can enjoy the arcade, The Beach Pool and waterslide, the Resort Kids Camp, and other fun activities on the piazza and throughout the resort. 

Minions, or rather children, might also enjoy a stay in one of the Despicable Me Kid’s Suites. These suites are 800 square feet and provide 1 king bed with a separate room that resembles Gru’s laboratory. The separate room has 2 twin beds for the kids and features Minion bedding and custom-designed missile beds. It will certainly be an experience the little ones won’t soon forget!

For adults and couples looking for a bit of privacy or time away from the kids, there are two separate pools that provide a bit more exclusivity and serenity throughout the day. The Villa Pool is adults-only and the Hillside Pool is open to adults and children but still maintains a peaceful atmosphere. There are also several walking and jogging paths throughout the grounds, as well as a complimentary fitness center. 

The Mandara Spa is also onsite to meet your wellness and pampering needs. At the Spa, there are steam and sauna facilities, as well as skin care, hair care, nail care, and massages available for an extra charge. A day at The Mandara Spa is a great way to unwind and feel rejuvenated after spending a long day at the parks. 

Up to two pets are also permitted on-property for a fee of roughly $100 per stay. To accommodate any four-legged guests, the hotel has a pet walking area onsite, and the grounds are large enough to give your dog or cat as much exercise as they need. Make sure to check with the front desk prior to your arrival to ensure you have the most up to date information regarding the resort’s pet policy. 

What types of accommodations are available at this resort?

There are three different categories of accommodations at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel: Standard Rooms, Club Level Rooms, and Suites

Standard Rooms at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel are 450 to 490 square feet and feature views of the property gardens or the bay. The largest option in this category at 490 square feet is the Deluxe Room, which features views of the bay and possibly the surround piazza. 

Club Level Rooms provide guests with slightly more square footage than a Standard Room, and grant guests access to the Portofino Club Lounge. The Portofino Club Lounge serves a continental breakfast and provides complimentary beverages and snacks to Club Level guests throughout the day. There are also Club Level Suites that provide access to the Portofino Club Lounge for guests wanting even more space and luxury.

Suites are also available without Club Level access and booking this option could slightly lower the nightly rate compared to a Club Level Suite. The accommodations in this category range from 650 to 2,725 square feet, making them the largest accommodations at the resort. This category encompasses the Despicable Me Kids Suite, as well as a variety of Hospitality Suites, and the coveted Governatore and Presidente Suites. If you are looking for maximum space to lounge and relax, Loews Portofino Bay Suites will exceed your expectations tenfold. The Suites at this resort are luxurious and evoke a European charm with balconies featuring breathtaking views. If you are looking to splurge, this could be a great option.

Any accommodation at Loews Portofino Bay is one worth staying in. There is some debate amongst past guests regarding whether the garden view rooms, or the bay view rooms are better, but I think it comes down to personal preference. I have stayed in both and loved both for different reasons. 

Garden view rooms provide a nice touch of privacy and seclusion, while bay view rooms feature spectacular water views perfect for watching the sunset. Regardless of which room or view you choose you can get a taste of everything just by strolling around the resort. 

Pricing per night will vary depending on a variety of factors, but perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors is seasonality. Prices for a Standard Room ranges anywhere between $300 to $550 per night, with prices for Club Level Rooms and Suites ranging well above that rate. 

Prices at this resort are among the highest out of every hotel on Universal Orlando property, and not just for the nightly room rate. Food and beverages at this hotel are likely to be priced higher compared to hotels in other tiers at Universal Orlando. 

Expect a weekend stay to cost around $650-$1,000 depending on the size of your travel party and whether you eat at the hotel or venture to other spots on Universal property. For a longer trip, perhaps a week-long trip, expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 or more. This price does not include the cost of purchasing tickets to the theme parks, but it does include the possible cost of accommodations at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, as well as the Express Passes for your travel party. 

Food and beverages can be estimated around $50-$200 per day depending on the size of your travel party and which dining options you eat at. These numbers are simply estimates and will vary depending on a variety of external factors. Room rates are available online at the official Universal Studios Orlando website. Simply enter the dates you expect to stay and check the availability for the resort.

Are there any cons?

There are not many cons that come to mind when thinking about this resort. The property is gorgeous, and the service is incredible. The only potential downsides are two-fold: the price and the distance away from the parks. Let’s unpack this a bit more, though, because these might not necessarily be downsides depending on your ideal Universal Studios Orlando vacation.

To stay at this hotel comes with a rather large price tag compared to several of the other hotels on property, and seasonality is likely to impact nightly rates, too. However, it is important to note that with the higher price guests also have access to Express Passes for every member of their travel party staying at the property for each day they are staying at the hotel. There are also other amenities such as multiple pools, a beautiful property, a waterslide, several dining options onsite, a spa, a fitness center, and so much more. It is important to note here that Loews Portofino Bay Hotel features the widest and most diverse set of amenities out of all the hotels on Universal Studios Orlando property.

Regarding distance away from the parks, this could be a pro or con depending on the interests of your travel party. Loews Portofino Bay is roughly a 15 to 30 minute walk away from the entrance to Universal Studios depending on your pace and stride. It is a beautiful scenic walk but this commute is important to consider if planning to visit the parks early or during a specific time of day. 

There is a ferry boat that can sometimes be a much more convenient option. The boat ride itself takes just 5 minutes to get from the hotel to CityWalk, but ferry boats can fill up rather quickly and you might be stuck waiting in line for the next ferry to arrive. Ferry boats are wheelchair accessible, and so too is the walking path. The walking path is paved and easy to access from resort grounds. 

You do not need a car to easily move around the resort, the Universal Orlando property, or to visit the parks themselves. The onsite transportation is effective and should get you where you need to go in a timely manner, though coordination might be necessary to ensure you get on the next available ferry or make it to the park entrance by opening hour. Shuttle buses are available to take you to other hotels on Universal Orlando property, but these shuttle buses do not provide guests transportation to the parks. 

If you do bring your own vehicle or a rental vehicle, you will be required to pay for parking at the hotel. Parking rates are not included in the nightly room rate, so be prepared to pay extra if you want access to your own vehicle during your stay. It might be more cost effective to utilize a rideshare service if you want to venture to other spots in Orlando during your trip. 

The parking fee at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel applies to both guests and those not staying at the hotel who might just be visiting for the day. The parking fee for guests is around $28 (plus tax) per vehicle per night. For daytime only visitors, parking prices range from $10 to $45 (plus tax). Be sure to call the hotel ahead of your visit to inquire about current parking rates. 

With parking costs being what they are, I would recommend you forego the car and utilize onsite transportation instead. The money you will save doing so can be applied to spa treatments, dining, souvenirs, and experiences that will likely prove much more memorable and worthwhile!

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This is by far my favorite hotel on Universal Studios Orlando property. This hotel has more amenities and perks available onsite than any other hotel at Universal Studios Orlando. From luxurious accommodations to multiple outdoor lounging spaces, this resort is expansive and extraordinary. 

Families, couples, and even solo travelers will feel an overwhelming sense of bliss and happiness during their stay at this resort. To match this level of excellence, I rate this resort 5 out of 5 stars. The high quality of service, immaculate attention to detail, and welcoming environment of the grounds make this the ultimate spot to return home to after a thrilling day at Universal Studios Orlando. 

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