Where to Stay at Universal - The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Ultimate Guide

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Universal Orlando Resort Hotel Guide, Tips and Tricks. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.

A personal favorite vacation spot in the Orlando area, relax when you want to relax, party when you want to party. This resort is the perfect secluded experience at the bustling Universal Studios destination and the best hotel on the property in my opinion. Inspired by the beauty, romance and charm of the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy.


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An ideal vacation is one where I can park my car and never have to see it again until it's time to leave. Portofino Bay at Universal Studios fits this bill perfectly.

The hotel is smaller than other resorts, so there are less people to deal with and more time to relax during your time away. Multiple pools varying in ‘excitement-level’ give you options, from a quiet cabana at a pool with no one around, to one with a bar/restaurant and a water slide. Plus a secret third pool that I've personally had all to myself multiple times when staying at Portofino.
The waterfront is where you'll catch the water taxi to the parks in the morning. It features Starbucks and a few other cafes and shopping locations to start off your day. 
At sunrise there’s nothing more peaceful than starting your morning with a small bite harbor-side, watching the ferry boats pulling in and out of the Italian-themed waterfront, the captains flawlessly docking one after the other.

Portofino Bay also gives resort guests the ability to skip the regular lines at most attractions across the Universal Studios theme parks an unlimited amount of times! Just enter the ride's queue at the designated "Universal Express" entrance and enjoy your ride! You also are able to enter the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley" an hour before the public, take advantage of this as it's a great way to see the amazing area with just a few guests.

Learn all about the Portofino resort below, with some of my personal tips and favorite things to do at the resort. Pick this hotel for your next Universal family vacation, you won't regret it. -Austin



Map of the Portofino Bay Resort

For full resolution, click to open image > left click on image > "Open image in new tab." If on mobile: click to open image > long hold on image > "Open Image." 
As you can see the Portofino Bay has plenty of space to take a morning jog or stroll, as well as plenty of activities to make a whole day out of just checking out the resort offerings.

Also check out our interactive resort map below, you may find it useful when traveling to other hotel properties or to the parks and it's good to familiarize yourself with the resort.





Rooms at the Portofino Bay Hotel

Rooms are mainly standard hotel rooms that are quiet, clean, and perfect for taking a break on a busy vacation. They are average, but will you really be spending any time in them anyway? Suites are also available for those who need more room, the hotel has 750 rooms total.
Each room is equipped with the following amenities:
  • Telephones
  • Bathrobes
  • Cable Television
  • Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Coffee Maker
  • Fridge Loaded With Refreshments
  • Alarm Clock
  • Safe
  • Ironing board
  • Hair dryer
  • Wi-Fi

Room Options
Standard Garden View Rooms: Guaranteed a view of the beautiful gardens surrounding the Portofino hotel. Approx. 450 sq. feet.
Standard Bay-View Rooms: Wake up and draw your curtains to a view of Portofino, Italy. Approx. 450 sq. feet.
A deluxe double-queen room featuring a pull-out sofa.
Deluxe Rooms: Take in views of the Villa Pool or Garden Pool with a little extra space and room for up to 5 with a pull-out sofa on request. Approx. 490 sq. feet.
Themed Suites: Approx. 650 sq. feet, themed to Despicable Me with special beds just for the kids!
Despicable Me kids room. Room connects to adult room and does not connect directly hallway.
Club-Level Room living space.
Club Level Rooms: Various room options with access to club lounge and continental breakfast. Varies in size.
Governatore Suite: Up to 7 guests with access to exclusive amenities.
Presidente Suite: Up to 17 guests with access to exclusive amenities.

Call Universal's booking hotline for details: 1-877-801-9720
Check deals online: Prices vary based on season. We team up with aResTravel to offer our readers the best prices, they change frequently and may not offer the exact hotel you are looking for, but we suggest taking a look at the current offers by clicking here.


Pool Areas at Portofino Bay Hotel

Beach Pool: The largest pool at Portofino features a waterslide and daily timed activities and games. There's an outdoor bar and restaurant as well as poolside service available. This is the most popular pool at the resort and it also features hot tubs with waterfalls.
The Beach Pool
Villa Pool: More private and quiet compared to the Beach Pool, it is a deeper pool and more adult-oriented. Poolside service is available but there is no walk-up bar. It is located near the Beach Pool so you can grab a drink from there and walk it to the Villa Pool if you wish. A hot tub is tucked away on the far side of the pool.
The Villa Pool is one of the quieter areas at the resort. It also features a hot tub tucked away on the far side of the pool. 
Hillside Pool: Closed during the slower seasons, but the most private and unknown of the three. It is empty often and does not feature poolside service or a bar. It is a short walk to get to, and if you don't want to be around people you may like it. It is unthemed


Restaurants and Where to Grab a Drink at Portofino Bay Hotel

Multiple specialty restaurants and bars give you whatever your mood is feeling, at whatever time it may be. If you decide to dine at CityWalk instead, your room key gives you access to priority seating, so make sure to show it to the hostess wherever you decide to dine.

Trattoria del Porto: Casual Full Service. Open all day. You can dine indoors or outdoors overlooking the picturesque harbor. Children's play area with smaller tables and chairs, beanbags and a large TV showing cartoons.
Breakfast buffet offered in the morning, while Dinner brings a menu of soups, salads, small plates, steak, fish, pasta, and Italian fare. Starters range from $6-$20, with Main Courses running $15-$40.

Mama Della's Ristorante: Full Service. Open for Dinner. Take a seat by the fireplace and enjoy the sounds of strolling musicians.
The menu features authentic dishes from Tuscany, Naples, and Piemonte, plus family dining house specialties like Insalata Mama Della. Starters range from $8-$16, with Main Courses running $20-$38.

Bice Ristorante: Full Service. Open for Dinner. The network of Bice restaurants spanning the globe today began in 1926 in Milan, when Beatrice Ruggeri transformed her incredible home cooking into a booming restaurant business.
Offering Northern Italian cuisine and superb service in an elegant atmosphere. Fresh pasta is rolled daily to create the authentic menu of exquisite dishes, from seafood fettuccini to veal scaloppini and beyond. A children’s menu is also available. Starters range from $15-$24, with Main Courses running $23-$48.

Bar American: Casual Bar Service. Food may only be available at Dinner depending on the season. The place to grab a drink after you check-in or come back from a long day at the parks. Wind down and enjoy views of the waterfront with small appetizers and an extensive drink list with everything you could want.
Food options include a cheese platter, flatbread, wings, and burgers. Food options range in price from $12-$16.
Bar American offers great views of the canal.
The Thirsty Fish: Watch the sunset over the bay at this casual waterfront bar located on the Harbor Piazza. Unwind and catch up with the family as you sip and snack.
You'll find champagne, beer, wine and cocktail menus as well as small plates of shrimp, hummus, meats and cheeses. Snacks range in price from $9-$17.
The Thirsty Fish
Splendido Bar & Grill: The poolside restaurant located at the Beach Pool.
Enjoy a menu of pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more with poolside delivery service or standard table service. Starters range from $8-$16, with Main Courses running $12-$18.

Sal's Market Deli: Self service. Open daily. Steps away from the harbor, this local market features the warmth of a neighborhood delicatessen with the added character of Old World accents.
Stop in for a comforting selection of Italian staples like handmade pizzas, sandwiches, salads, meats, cheeses, and fresh fruit. Prices range from $9-$16.

Starbucks: Located in the harbor, available from early morning throughout the day.


Dogs and Cats at Portofino Bay

Pets are welcome at the Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Studios Orlando Resort. They carry a $100 fee at check-in and you will be placed in a pet-friendly room with no more than 2 pets in any one guest room. Pet-friendly rooms include Garden View and Bay View guest rooms.

There are plenty of places to walk your dog around Portofino as well as large grass areas behind the hotel. It is not a fenced-in area. In the morning you'll see plenty of dogs walking around the harbor, dogs are required to be leashed.
Large grass areas around the resort make this one of the best dog resorts on site.


Activities and Points of Interest at Portofino Bay Hotel

There's something always going on at Portofino and plenty of areas to explore and things to keep you busy.

Musica della Notte
"Music of the Night." A must-see event, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the sound of incredibly talented performers. Each evening at sunset the Harbor Piazza comes to life with a complimentary showcase of classic opera and “popera” favorites.

Harbor Nights at Harbor Piazza.
Harbor Nights
"Spend an enchanted evening on the Harbor Piazza enjoying live music and traditional opera as you sip wine and sample gourmet fare." -Universal Orlando. Available only on certain nights.

Walking and Jogging Paths
Jog around the hotel on paths that connect all the way to the edge of CityWalk. Jogging is not allowed once in the CityWalk area.
Walking/Jogging Paths and dog-walking areas are prevalent around Portofino.
Personalized Spa Care and Fitness
"Experience calming spa treatments customized to fit your needs at Mandara Spa. Indulge in pampering skin care, wraps, body treatments, hair and nail care, massages, a complimentary fitness center, and exclusive steam and sauna facilities." -Universal Orlando

Workout Room
Workout equipment is provided for guests, located near the Beach Pool.

Poolside Activities
Play at the pool all day long with ping-pong tournaments, water balloon tosses, pool basketball, hula hoop contests, and arts and crafts. Check at the towel hut for details!

Bocce
Located at the Villa Pool are a pair of Bocce Courts.

Arcade
An arcade with video games is located near the Beach Pool.

Shops at Portofino Bay Hotel
Shop fashionables at Alta Moda, have portraits done at Family Art Photography & Printing, and find treasured souvenirs at L’ancora, Le Memories de Portofino, or the Universal Studios Store.


How to Travel to CityWalk, Universal Theme Parks, Volcano Bay from Portofino Bay

Where to catch the boat for Universal City Walk + Theme Parks.
The taxi boat to CityWalk from Portofino is located on the water at Harbor Piazza. Walk past "The Thirsty Fish" bar and it will be on your left at the end of the dock. You will go through security before boarding the boat, and alcohol will have to be finished before boarding as it is not allowed on the ferry since the hotel has a separate liquor license from Universal CityWalk. 
The hotel, taken from the boat dock.

Where to catch the boat to CityWalk and theme parks.

How long is the walk to CityWalk and theme parks?
If you wish to walk to CityWalk and the parks, continue walking past the boat dock and follow the pathway. The walk is approximately 0.8 miles (1.3km) to Universal Studios, or 1.1 miles (1.7km) to Islands of Adventure. It's a quiet and scenic walk along a winding canal-side pathway.

(Below is a map of a quicker route to the Universal Parks and CityWalk, but it isn't the prettiest walk and it does go through the Hard Rock Hotel parking lots and across busy roads, so we do not recommend it for families.)
This path saves approximately 1/4-mile. We do not recommend this path for families or guests that do not want to cross roadways/walk in parking lots. Follow the posted signs at the hotel for the canal-side path to the parks.
Taking the Bus to Volcano Bay from Portofino Bay Hotel.
The bus to Universal's Volcano Bay can be found outside of the main entrance to Portofino, near the parking garage. Walk past the front desk, outside the hotel's main entrance, and catch the bus on your left at the designated bus stop.

FAQ

If you have any questions for our team of Universal Experts, just comment below, we usually get back to you within the day and are happy to share any tips and secrets!
  • How far is Portofino Bay to Universal Studios? Is taking the boat, bus, or walking quickest? Portofino is a bit of a walk to the parks and CityWalk compared to Royal Pacific Resort or Hard Rock Hotel. However, boat service is fast and proves to be faster than walking sometimes. The only time I would use a bus is for access to Volcano Bay. The walk is approximately 0.8 miles (1.3km) to Universal Studios, or 1.1 miles (1.7km) to Islands of Adventure. CityWalk is located in between the parks.
  • Can I walk or boat to Volcano Bay Water Park? Walking is around 2 miles. A bus should be taken to Volcano Bay Water Theme Park from Portofino. There's a way to get to Volcano Bay by taking two taxi boats; one to CityWalk, then transfer to the Sapphire Falls hotel. But you'll still have an approximate 0.35-mile walk through the hotel and to the entrance of the water park, so we do not recommend it unless you really hate buses, it will take about twice as long.
  • Any quicker walking routes to the parks? You can walk across the road and through the Hard Rock Hotel parking lot. It's not the prettiest walk but it will shave off almost 5 minutes vs. the winding canal paths. Check out the map above in the "How to travel to CityWalk" section, we have highlighted this route. 
  • Do I need to book early? There will always be space available on Universal property, but if you want a specific hotel during the busiest time of the year, then book early. Check out our crowd calendar.

2 comments:

  1. Can you boat to Volcano Bay Park if you transfer at City Walk?

    ReplyDelete
  2. We are looking to go during Christmas and are wondering how the crowds will be, do we need to book early?

    ReplyDelete

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