When we first started traveling to Universal Studios in Orlando, we generally just stayed off the property and tried to find a good deal. But when we recently traveled there and decided we wanted to be able to walk to the parks, we decided to look into property options. Loew’s Portofino Bay has been at the top of our list for a while. So when we got a great offer through Universal’s Annual Passholder appreciation days, we decided to try it! Here is our full review.
Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Studios
Loews Portofino Bay in Universal Studios Orlando is considered a premier hotel. Premier is the top tier at Universal. Universal offers four levels of hotels: value, prime value, preferred, and premier. So staying at Portofino Bay offers a few extra perks that the other levels don’t offer. We’ll talk more about that in this post!
Loews Portofino Bay atmosphere
Loews Portofino Bay is themed to an Italian seaside village, Portofino. With pastel-colored buildings, outdoor shops, and restaurants along the harbor, you might just actually feel like you’ve been transported to Italy. The atmosphere is relaxing and beautiful and felt very open, with plenty of space.
Rooms at Portofino Bay
Loews Portofino Bay offers three levels of rooms. Standard rooms, club-level rooms, and suites are available for guests to book. We stayed in a standard room, which was spacious at around 490 square feet. The rooms are decorated simply and elegantly. And our room has two queen beds, but guests can also opt for one king bed instead. Even though there wasn’t a balcony, this room was larger than Walt Disney World’s largest standard guest rooms at the Grand Floridian. My only complaint about the rooms at Portofino Bay is that the sink and vanity are all part of a very large bathroom, rather than being placed outside of the toilet and shower area. We are so used to this at Walt Disney World and it really does help when getting ready in the morning.
The room also had a desk, a chair, plenty of closet, and drawer space. There was even a Keurig for coffee or tea, which we appreciated as well.
The largest rooms, suites, range anywhere from 650 to 2725 square feet and these are perfect for larger parties who need more space.
Loews Portofino Bay offers guests a water taxi service to and from Universal CityWalk (which takes you to the Parks). The water taxi comes about every 15 minutes and is about a five-minute ride. In addition to the water taxi, there is a shuttle bus, which we were told at check-in that it is currently not always running. This may be due to a number of factors, but you can always check when you arrive if you prefer that method of transportation. There is also a beautifully landscaped walking path leading to the Parks as well. It’s well shaded and only takes about 20 minutes to walk the entire way.
Loews Portofino Bay offers a wide variety of dining options all designed around the theme of the hotel. They offer a variety of sit-down restaurants, quick-service restaurants, bars, a gelateria, and as we mentioned before, Starbucks. And they also offer room service. We weren’t there long enough to try any of the restaurants other than Starbucks, but you can find the full list of dining options available here to see if something strikes your fancy!
Activities at Loews Portofino Bay
Portofino Bay offers three pools, all perfectly themed to that of the resort. The Beach Pool, The Villa Pool, and the Hillside Pool are available to guests of the resort and each has its own unique qualities. For family fun, the sandy beach pool of The Beach Pool offers a water slide, a kids pool, and two jacuzzis. The Villa Pool offers private cabana rentals and upgraded lounge chairs and the Hillside Pool is perfect for a quieter and more serene atmosphere.
In addition to pools, Loews Portofino Bay also offers a game room, shops, and even a spa. And during sunset, guests of the resort are in for a treat with Musica Della Notte. Musicians perform live music by the harbor which is a really nice way to end a long day.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or looking to relax, Portofino Bay has you covered.
Pros of staying at Loews Portofino Bay hotel
Loew’s Portofino, as previously mentioned, is a premier hotel. So guests staying here have a few more benefits than other level hotels. In addition to the convenient transportation and ability to walk to Universal Studios, guests get a few more perks here.
The biggest perk of staying here is that you will receive Express Unlimited at no additional cost. All guests of Premier level hotels at Universal Studios receive Universal Express Unlimited pass for each guest. This is a huge value, especially if you have limited time. And with such an array of restaurants, it’s easy to find great food without leaving the resort. Guests staying here also have access to a spa, which is perfect for those looking for that real vacation feeling.
All guests of Universal Studios hotels also receive Early Park Admission, charging privileges to your room, and the ability to have merch bought in the parks delivered to your room for free.
Cons of staying at Loews Portofino Bay hotel
The biggest con of Loews Portofino Bay is that it can be quite pricey. It’s one of the most expensive hotels at Universal Studios. You can sometimes find a great deal through a third-party site, or during a sale. Most of the sales on hotels are usually offered to Annual Passholders, but sometimes Universal has great deals on vacation packages as well.
Another con that may or may not be a big deal, but I’d like to mention anyway, is that during inclement weather, the water taxi service doesn’t run. And, at least at the time of writing this, they don’t always offer replacement transportation. You can always take the walking path; but for some people, that might be a long way to walk to get back. There is a shuttle bus, but when we were here most recently we were told this is not always available. So just be sure to ask when you check-in so you can have a backup plan!
Is Loews Portofino Bay Hotel worth the price?
Depending on what your priorities are, it can be! We loved the setting, the ability to get Starbucks before getting to CityWalk or after a day at the parks, the openness of the resort, and the convenience of both the walking path and water taxi.
That being said, we also got a great deal on this hotel and probably would not have paid full price for it just because it really can be quite expensive. We also knew we would have some downtime to spend at our resort, so we were happy to be somewhere a little more spread out and peaceful. And if you had already planned on purchasing Universal Express Unlimited for your trip, then this can actually save you a lot of money depending on your party size and length of your trip.
But if you’re really just looking for a place to stay, it might not be worth it to you. There are many on-property and off-property hotels in the area that you can get for much cheaper.
Is Loews Portofino Bay hotel good for kids?
Loews Portofino Bay is good for kids, but their regular rooms may be a little lackluster for little ones. Portofino Bay does however offer a Despicable Me Kids Suite for Minion fans. These are super fun rooms and may add that little bit of whimsy to your stay at Portofino Bay if you’re traveling with kids. You can also find Jurassic World Kids suites at Loews Royal Pacific if that’s more your style as well.
Kids will also love the water taxi and there are fun opportunities for play like The Beach Pool and video game arcade.
Overall, we loved this resort and would happily stay here again! Have you ever stayed at Loews Portofino Bay? Let us know what you thought of it!
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .