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Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando 

5601 Universal Boulevard
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 503 1000
view web site ›'s insider take:

Re-creating the legendary Italian fishing village amid a buffer of lush vegetation a short stroll from Universal Studios, the luxe Portofino, which is run by Loews Hotels, hugs a private man-made harbor populated with anchored fishing boats, strolling musicians, and shops. Within the grounds, the reverie is embellished by trompe l'oeil murals, eight restaurants (including Bice, a successful Italian chain), three pools, a spa, and 460-square-foot rooms (on the large side for the city) accented with soft green bedding and pale inlaid woods. Universal boasts the property is its most sumptuous, and while it's truly comfortable, it's still at heart a very busy property catering to theme park vacationers. The tariff includes a free ferry to CityWalk, and best of all, the right to join the super-short "Universal Express" queues at most of the attractions at both Universal parks, a bonus that can easily shave hours of waiting time off a day's visit.

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