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Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Review and Tour
So you’re planning a Universal vacation and trying to figure out where to stay. If you’re considering Portofino Bay Hotel and looking for Loews Portofino Bay hotel reviews, you’re in the right place!
Let’s get some quick facts on Portofino Bay and then go into more details:
- Of the three premier resorts, Portofino Bay is typically the most expensive
- The premier resorts come with a definite upside – free Express Passes for your entire party!
- Portofino Bay has 750 rooms
- Portofino Bay (along with all other Universal resorts) is pet-friendly
- The premier resorts are all within walking distance of the parks on the beautiful “Garden Walk.”
- All premier resorts (plus the moderate resort Sapphire Falls) have water taxis to City Walk.
- Steven Spielberg was the one who suggested that Portofino Bay be designed after Portofino, Italy.
- The Beach pool is considered by most to be the best pool at Universal and one of the best in Orlando.
I also have a Portofino bay video tour here.
The Beach pool at Loews Portofino Bay.
Where to buy Universal Tickets?
There are three ways to buy Universal Orlando tickets. You can buy tickets at the park, in advance online, or through a Universal Travel Agent.
Be careful about purchasing tickets online or anywhere else that is not official. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You don’t want to spend your valuable vacation time in an all-day timeshare presentation, do you?!
I highly recommend buying your tickets through an approved travel partner such as a Travel Agent or Undercover Tourist. Undercover Tourist offers great deals on all of the Orlando theme parks.
There are many really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (such as Undercover Tourist.)
Do you need a rental car in Orlando?
I like to get around as needed while on vacation, so I like to rent a car. I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
Discount USA Car Rental offers the best rates available whether you’re flying into Orlando or Sanford.
Portofino Bay Hotel Review
Now we’ve learned some fast facts about Portofino Bay Hotel, and know where to buy tickets and get rental cars. Now, let’s get to the Portofino Bay Hotel Review.
And, one of the biggest questions you might be asking yourself “Is Portofino Bay worth it?”
You might be wondering if Portofino Bay, or the other premier resorts at Universal, are worth the extra cost. Well, let’s go over some more details of Loews Portofino Bay Hotel so that you can decide for yourself.
Location of Loews Portofino Bay
City Walk is just a quick water taxi ride or walk away from Universal’s premier resorts. Although Portofino Bay is the furthest of the premier resorts, it’s only about a 12-minute walk.
You can, of course, take the Universal busses, but why do that when a water taxi is much more fun?! Water taxis arrive every 10 minutes or so, so you’ll never have to wait long.
If you’re able, I do suggest walking the garden walk at least once. You can also enjoy the butterfly garden outside the Hard Rock Hotel.
Express Passes at Portofino Bay
If you are visiting Universal during a busy time, an Express Pass is almost a necessity. Unfortunately, Express Passes are not cheap.
When you stay at a premier Universal resort, Express Passes are given to your entire party. If you arrive prior to check-in time, the front desk agents will print room keys that will work as your Express Pass until your room is available.
You can get your Express Passes as early as 7 AM on the day of check-in which isn’t common knowledge!
If you take advantage of getting your Express Passes early, you can check your bags with the nice team members at luggage services. They will take care of your stuff until your room is ready.
The check-in area at Loews Portofino Resort. Luggage services are in the far right corner.
The Rooms at Portofino Bay Hotel
On our recent trip, we opted for a “garden view” room. Well, this was laughable because it was actually a pool view room with a tree in the way. It was really a stretch to call this a “garden view” but it wasn’t a big deal.
You can check out my Portofino Bay room tour video here to see for yourself.
Other types of rooms include:
- Bay view
- Deluxe rooms
- Club rooms (with club access)
- Portofino Suites
- Hospitality Suites
- Villa Suites
- Despicable Me Kids Room Suites
- Governatore Suites (I lived in California when Arnold Schwartzenegger was Governor, so in my head, this is “Governator” even though I know it’s pronounced a little differently)
- Presidente Suite
It’s worth noting that while this is an upscale resort, it is a bit older. The suites have been newly renovated but I’m not sure if all of the rooms had. Some things around the resort did feel “old” and not in a “vintage” way.
Some of the rooms and suites also have balconies which most Universal hotel rooms do not.
Garden View Room Tour at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Here are some photos of my “garden view” room.
When you walk into the room, you see a Keurig and ice bucket on the right. There is also some storage underneath for snacks, etc.
I apologize for my lack of bed-making skills (let’s bring back housekeeping in hotels!) but these beds were the most comfortable beds in all of Universal.
I’ve stayed in every hotel except for the Hard Rock (soon!) and this was by far the best bed.
When you walk into the room, the bathrooms are on the left side.
The bathrooms in the Portofino Bay guest rooms are very spacious. Much larger than most of the other Universal hotels, even Royal Pacific!
Two sinks and a semi-creepy bathroom selfie. Along with the usual shampoo/conditioner/soup, there were also some manicure items and q-tips in the little jar.
The tub was also bigger than many of the other Universal hotel bathtubs. I just couldn’t get over how large the bathroom was.
The “garden” view, aka obstructed pool view. 😉
The desk and chair. The tile (or whatever it is) on the tabletop reminded me of the Hyatt Zilara Cancun rooms.
The rooms have a mini-fridge (no microwave, only in the suites) and not as many outlets as the newer Universal hotels. And yes, the rooms are on the darker side.
For some reason, I didn’t take more photos, but you can check out my YouTube videos for more in-depth room tours.
Restaurants at Portofino Bay Hotel
I did not try any of the restaurants at Portofino Bay Hotel. Having Celiac Disease (no gluten) means that Italian food and I are not necessarily friends. I’m also vegetarian and do not eat dairy making it even more challenging.
I probably would have tried some of the restaurants, but we were visiting during Mardi Gras, so I was enjoying all of the Mardi Gras food!
I do have blog posts about eating gluten-free at Universal and vegan food at Universal if you’re interested.
That said, Portofino Bay has some of the best restaurants in Universal including:
- BiCE Ristorante
- Mama Della’s Ristorante
- Sal’s Market Deli
- Trattoria del Porto
- and of course, Starbucks
Reservations are strongly recommended for BiCe Ristorante.
Another option for food is staying in a room with club access. I’ve heard that the food is very good. However, with my food limitations, this isn’t an option that I would typically choose.
If you do not have any food allergies or preferences I would recommend a club access room at Portofino Bay as they have quite a few options.
Perks of staying at Loews Portofino Bay
Early Park Admission:
Staying at any Universal Resort will give you early park admission. The parks are always quieter during this hour so this is a must during the summer or holidays.
The Beach Pool:
The Beach Pool has been named one of the best pools in Orlando. Yes, even when considering Disney pools! The Aquaduck slide is a must-do.
The themeing of Portofino Bay:
The rest of the Universal resorts look like, well, resorts! Portofino Bay is modeled after Portofino Italy and truly takes you away from the craziness of the theme parks.
It’s also worth noting that while Portofino Bay has one of the best pools for kids, it’s also noticeably quieter than resorts like Cabana Bay or Endless Summer.
The staff at Portofino Bay
Universal has incredible team members and the hotel staff are no exception. That said, other than my interactions with the front desk and luggage services upon check-in, I barely saw anyone else working!
It was honestly very odd. I didn’t see many team members around the resort. Maybe due to the setup of the resort, but I am not sure. If you need anything, you can always text for assistance.
Is Portofino Bay the best Universal hotel?
If you’re looking for a quieter and more upscale resort, Portofino Bay may be the best resort for you. The proximity to the parks, water taxis, and Express Pass make choosing a premier resort an easy yes if it’s within your budget.
Check out the links below for pricing during your dates:
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Loews Portofino Bay
- Loews Royal Pacific
- Aventura Hotel
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Universal Endless Summer Resorts – Dockside Inn and Suites and Seaside Inn and Suites.
Don’t forget, you get free Express Passes by staying in a Premier Resort. Premier Resorts include Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay, and Loews Royal Pacific.
Portofino Bay Hotel Review
I hope that this Portofino Bay Hotel Review helped you decide if this was the right Universal resort for you.
Make sure to check out some of my other Universal blog posts for more Universal travel tips.
- 2021 Universal Orlando Planning Guide
- Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Hidden Secrets of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 5 things to do at Universal Studios for Adults
Although I am a graduate of the Universal Orlando Resort Travel Agent Training Program, I only take on a few clients per month. Contact me now for more info.
If you plan to DIY your vacation, I understand that too! I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist if you choose not to use a Travel Agent.
There are a lot of really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (like Undercover Tourist) or an approved Travel Agent!
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