What Everybody Ought to Know About California’s Portofino Hotel & Marina: A Review

Nicole Muj

With amazing views of the coast, to delicious food prepared by chefs Vasili Tavernakis and Paul Dinulescu at BALEEN Kitchen, to being walking distance from Redondo Beach Pier and downtown Redondo Beach the Portofino Hotel & Marina offers the best that Redondo Beach has to offer.

A “staycation” over the holidays is just what the doctor ordered with an overnight sojourn to the Portofino Hotel & Marina, located just 20 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport.

As you enter the lobby, one is immediately wowed by the Living Room Lounge, even more stunning, decorated for the season.

Portofino Hotel & Marina Main Lobby
Portofino Hotel & Marina Main Lobby

The lounge features nautical chic décor, dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water and glamorous chandeliers. The room’s centerpiece is a massive sandstone fireplace creating an inviting, elegant gathering place for cocktail hour or to enjoy live entertainment on weekends.

The hotel, with décor of sea-inspired shades and nautical elements, features five luxury suites and 161 guest rooms, with ocean or marina views with private balconies and 47-inch flat screen TVs. Amenities include complimentary beach cruiser bikes, a fitness center, business center and a heated pool overlooking the ocean.

Portofino King Guest Room
Portofino King Guest Room

The romance of the Mediterranean-inspired setting makes it the perfect spot for a wedding or special event, with more than 8,000 square feet of event space, eight meeting rooms and a pavilion with two ballrooms with windows offering 180-degree ocean views. Perched along the water’s edge, the seaside lawn also presents the perfect setting to exchange vows.

Balcony view from Portofino guest suite
Balcony view from Portofino guest suite

One of the most memorable moments of my stay was spending the night with a colony of California sea lions who live in the harbor. From my suite’s balcony, I was able to enjoy the chatty creatures, as well as watch the seals frolicking below by room.

The hotel is also home to the not to be missed, BALEEN Kitchen that serves eclectic, California fresh cuisine and boasts stunning views of the marina via its indoor, outdoor dining spaces and stylish upstairs lounge.

BALEEN Kitchen's pan-roasted diver scallops
BALEEN Kitchen’s pan-roasted diver scallops

Chefs Vasili Tavernakis and Paul Dinulescu have created innovative, seasonal menus for guests to enjoy brunch, lunch and dinner. The restaurant’s dinner menu includes cioppino, pan-roasted diver scallops, pork schnitzel with creamy polenta and mushroom-marsala sauce, or tapas such as Lobster sliders, seafood poke, lobster mac and cheese and duck carnitas. Brunch also offers a delicious array of food with dishes including huevos redondos and King Harbor benedict with dungeness crab, paired with handcrafted smoothies.

Also interesting is the hotel’s history. The Portofino Inn, named in honor of the coastal town in Italy, was first opened by race car star Mary Davis in 1965 to help to generate interest in the area’s King Harbor, which opened three years later. The property was a hangout for racers including formula one winner Peter Revson, and was the final destination of the first ever “The Cannonball,” a car race from New York to Los Angeles that was first run in 1971. In 1986, the hotel was purchased by Noble House and has remained one of the group’s top properties for over three decades.

Redondo Beach Pier
Redondo Beach Pier

Local attractions include downtown Redondo Beach, the local pier, whale watching, deep-sea fishing, Farmer’s Market, the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, shopping at Riviera Village and South Bay Galleria, scenic hiking trails, and a spectacular 27-mile coastal trail stretching from Malibu to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The hotel invites guests to experience an “endless summer” during each visit, no matter what time of year. I for one can attest that it definitely delivers on this promise. ■

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